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Francis, J.J. (1968). Masturbation. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 16:95-112.

(1968). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 16:95-112


John J. Francis, M.D.

In his opening remarks, Manuel Furer said: "Masturbation is a ubiquitous phenomenon in our daily work, and as a clinical manifestation of infantile sexuality continues to raise far-reaching questions in reference to the drives and the ego and their collaboration in the act of masturbation, and in the masturbation fantasy. In recent times, there is increasing interest in the relationship of masturbation to the development of object relations." He also stated, "Freud described three periods of masturbation: first, the infantile period which raises questions about autoerotism, narcissism, and object relations; second, the oedipal period, which represents a culmination and unification of the partial drives under the primacy of the genital, into which is carried the complicated preoedipal history and from which individual sexuality receives a decisive organization by the resolution of the oedipus complex; and third, the last period of normal masturbation in puberty." He briefly drew attention to the growing body of differing opinions in the literature regarding the meaning of genital manipulation in the first two years, the fact that there is less controversy about the function of masturbation in the phallic-oedipal period, the effect of masturbation on structural differentiation in latency, and in puberty the part it plays as a normal sexual activity to facilitate object choice, although here it carries the danger of regression. The old question, "Is masturbation harmful?" continues to be a viable one.

John J. Francis presented a survey of the recent literature on masturbation, since the survey of the literature prior to 1961 given by Irwin Marcus at the panel on masturbation held at the meeting of the American Psychoanalytic Association in 1961.

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