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Sullivan, H.S. (1926). Erogenous Maturation. Psychoanal. Rev., 13(1):1-15.

(1926). Psychoanalytic Review, 13(1):1-15

Original Articles

Erogenous Maturation

Harry Stack Sullivan

The theory of adolescent sexuality, as reflected in psychoanalytic writings, is in an unsatisfactory condition. One may summarize the doctrine of the male as the displacement by castration fear, of the phallic phase of infantile sexuality with as a result the latency period; also the genital localization by displacement from the other erogenous zones. This is highly plausible; it is an interpretation which would be accepted by almost any patient when confronted with the necessity of “explaining” (finding a causal series in) the vague recollections of events and the unclear affective experiences, which they bring up by free association from the period of early childhood. As in case of the “law” of talion expectation, there is a good deal behind the doctrine—quite enough to insure the experience of belief in dealing with retrospective phantasy to fill gaps in the associational material. In the therapy of the psychoneuroses, there is no acute need for a more precise formula. In the graver psychoses, however, where demonstrations of actual ontogenesis are seen, one feels the need for an explanation, not in sketchy outline, but in full—a fundamental hypothesis of sexuality.

Research in mental dynamics must have regard always for the dimension of time. The most appalling errors enter our speculations upon disregard of this factor.

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