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Kirkpatrick, M. (2002). Clinical Notes on the Diversity in Lesbian Lives. Psychoanal. Inq., 22(2):196-208.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 22(2):196-208

Clinical Notes on the Diversity in Lesbian Lives

Martha Kirkpatrick, M.D.

Freud's Dark Continent of Female Sexuality Remains Poorly charted. Social taboos and the reproductive consequences of women's sexual lives obscured the understanding of personal desire. either homesexual or heterosexual, in the past. Contemporary women expect to experience sexual excitement and satisfaction. However, many women still disguise their disappointment or lack of passion from their partner and, at times, from themselves. Some are aware of both homosexual and heterosexual desires throughout life, others may discover new passions later in life, and some live satisfying lives with no experience of sexual desire. No recognizable or consistent pathway leads to a predetermined sexual orientation. In clinical practice, similar developmental events and internal conflicts are found in women with either predominant homosexual or heterosexual desires. Women's sexual life is highly variable.

One reason for this variability may precede any psychological development. High levels of testosterone in fetal life alter both genital structures and the brain in the male, while female genital structures and the brain continue their unmodified female form. Infant girls are not subject to the organizing effects of high levels of testosterone. The postnatal testosterone surge during the first three to six months reinforces male characteristics in boys. Perhaps this also enhances boys' earlier attention to their genitals, while freeing girls to be more object related.

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