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Schalin, L. (1989). On Phallicism; Developmental Aspects, Neutralization, Sublimation and Defensive Phallicism. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 12(1):38-57.

(1989). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 12(1):38-57

On Phallicism; Developmental Aspects, Neutralization, Sublimation and Defensive Phallicism

Lars-Johan Schalin

In psychoanalytical discussions, the authenticity of phallic drive energy has begun to be questioned by certain analysts. The traditional psychoanalytic opinion, according to which the phallic-oedipal phase is a step in the psycho-sexual development of the child, has been questioned. It has been stated that phallic behaviour principally serves a defensive purpose with a view to disguising the boy's passive feminine tendencies and to serving mainly as a reaction formation against the boy's envy towards the mother's socalled “inner space”. This is an astonishing statement turning established opinion upside down. Total revaluations have a confusing effect on thinking: “Oh!, it is not the girl who envies the boy's penis, but the boy who envies the mother's inner space”.

I have wanted to write this paper for three reasons. Firstly, the above-mentioned new opinion does not tally with my own long clinical experience. Secondly, the supposition that phallic acting out has a solely defensive purpose constitutes a logical absurdity, a contradictio in adjecto because all defensive behaviour, be it oral, anal or phallic, derives its energy from the corresponding partial drive in the child's psycho-sexual development. Thus, if defensive phallic behaviour exists, then phallic drive energy exists too. Thirdly, these new hypotheses are thankfully accepted by such female candidates who suffer from phallic problems and penis envy, from which the defensive thinking of these candidates is strengthened, rendering their own analyses as well as their understanding of phallic problems in general more difficult.

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