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Auestad, A.M. (1986). From Infant in the Snakepit to a Future Woman: About Preoedipal and Oedipal Problems in a Latency Girl in Analysis. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 9(2):123-144.

(1986). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 9(2):123-144

From Infant in the Snakepit to a Future Woman: About Preoedipal and Oedipal Problems in a Latency Girl in Analysis

Anne Marie Auestad, M.D.


Our mode of perceiving an relating to the material of a woman analysand will be coloured by our views about female development, i.e., what is central in feminine psychology including the decline of the oedipus complex. Sigmund Freud (1900, 1924, 1925, 1931, 1933) formulated hypotheses about woman's early experience of herself, about her primary penis envy, her later identity and her superego formation which needs to be revised, a revision which Freud himself encouraged women to undertake. Female identity has many roots, the early relationship between mother and child being central. A good early relationship will ensure self-esteem. Lack of self-respect and excessive vulnerability may be caused by early deprivation which again may be the cause of envy predominating over gratitude. Thus, envy may become an obstacle to receiving in the interaction with the primary object, and internalisation may be disturbed. In this way, the early relationship may cast a shadow on later self-development and object relationships, as well as on the development of sexual identity.

Several additional factors may cause penis envy - as a secondary defensive phenomenon - to dominate the personality. The relationship to a father and or a brother is relevant in this connection. Society's predominant views on women will also play a rôle. Father's mirroring of his daughter on her own terms will heighten the girl's selfesteem.


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