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Lampl-De Groot, J. (1946). The Pre-Oedipal Phase in the Development of the Male Child. Psychoanal. St. Child, 2:75-83.

(1946). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 2:75-83

The Pre-Oedipal Phase in the Development of the Male Child

Jeanne Lampl-De Groot, M.D.

Not in all phases of the psychoanalytic study of infantile development were data drawn from the analysis of male and female patients equally important. The first insight into neurotic mechanisms in general derived from the treatment of women; in the Studies in Hysteria(2) by Breuer and Freud only female patients were described. The case of Dora (3) gave us the first insight into the importance of infantile events for development.

In a later phase, our knowledge of infantile sexuality was gained in the analysis of patients of both sexes. However, more was known about boys than about girls. The growth of the oedipus complex and its relation to the phases of pregenital libidinal development and the early object relation to the mother was first described for the male child, but the parallel processes in the girl remained in the dark for some time. Similarly, the development of the superego as it relates to the termination of the oedipal conflict and the castration threat, was understood as part of the boy's development before the sequence of analogous events in the development of the girl was understood.

Freud's paper, "Some Psychological Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction Between the Sexes" (4), discussed some differences of male and female development and demonstrated that the latter is more complex. The castration complex of the little girl does not obliterate the oedipus complex, but proves to be its forerunner; the content of the castration complex of the girl, the penis envy, pushes the girl into her sexual position as a female. But the earlier history of these developments remained obscure.

At this point, insight into the development of the girl preceded that of the boy: the pre-oedipal phase was first studied in connection with female patients. In 1927 this author (6) tried to point out that the female castration complex, and therefore the normal oedipus complex of the woman, was preceded by a negative oedipal constellation.

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