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The Information icon (an i in a circle) will give you valuable information about PEP Web data and features. You can find it besides a PEP Web feature and the author’s name in every journal article. Simply move the mouse pointer over the icon and click on it for the information to appear.

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Heiman, M. (1968). Discussion. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 16:406-416.

(1968). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 16:406-416

Discussion

Marcel Heiman, M.D.

Sherfey's paper on "female sexuality" (3) encompasses a wide and diverse territory. I shall select for my comments that area of her paper which is of particular interest to me, i.e., her interpretations of recent findings in embryology.

I shall begin with a number of Sherfey's statements which will give us a good picture of her views: "The early embryo is not undifferentiated: 'it' is a female." Until the influence of the sex genes is brought to bear (fifth to sixth week of fetal life), "all embryos are morphologically females." Therefore, "we can no longer refer to the 'undifferentiated' or 'bisexual' phase of initial embryonic existence" (p. 43).

Since, according to Sherfey, the early embryo is a female, "Female development pursues a straight course," while "male development 'can be considered as a deviation from the basic female pattern'" (p. 49).

"Therefore [Sherfey states] the primacy of the embryonic female morphology forces us to reverse long-held concepts on the nature of sexual differentiation. Embryologically speaking, it is correct to say that the penis is an exaggerated clitoris, the scrotum is derived from the labia majora, the original libido is feminine, etc… For all mammals, modern embryology calls for an Adamout-of-Eve myth" (p. 50).

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