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Socarides, C.W. (1963). The Historical Development of Theoretical and Clinical Concepts of Overt Female Homosexuality. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 11:386-414.

(1963). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 11:386-414

The Historical Development of Theoretical and Clinical Concepts of Overt Female Homosexuality

C. W. Socarides, M.D.

IN 1923, Georg Groddeck in succinct simplicity posed a question, the answer to which would greatly increase our comprehension of female homosexuality. It is natural that the boy should retain the mother as a love object, "but how is it that the little girl becomes attached to the opposite sex?" (41). Freud in his last work An Outline of Psychoanalysis(34) inferentially emphasized the importance of this issue in his famous statement: "If we ask an analyst what his experience has shown to be the mental structures least accessible to influence in his patients, the answer will be: in a woman, her desire for a penis, and in man, his feminine attitude toward his own sex, a precondition of which would necessarily be the loss of his penis."

Psychoanalysis has dealt intensively with one derivative of this problem, i.e., male homosexuality (60). Its counterpart, female homosexuality is relatively neglected. Its literature is meager in comparison both quantitatively and in the thoroughness and depth of scientific investigation, with some notable exceptions. Perhaps the inattention to this aspect is derived from the phallocentric culture in which we live (43), but in all probability the answer may lie in the "unconscious moralities that dwell in the more archaic layers of the unconscious mind" (38). In addition, few analysts even of long experience have had the opportunity to treat more than a very small number of overtly homosexual women. This may be due to society's attitude toward female homosexuality which differs markedly from that toward the male, i.e.,

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