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Jaffe, D.S. (1968). The Masculine Envy of Woman's Procreative Function. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 16:521-548.

(1968). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 16:521-548

The Masculine Envy of Woman's Procreative Function

Daniel S. Jaffe, M.D.


The man's envy of woman's procreative function has several sources:

1. The sequence of experiences which are universal and include:

a. The experiences of the oral phase which provide the first identifications with the mother and the association of her body and functions with the sense of internal fulfillment.

b. The contributions of the anal phase to the passive-receptive incorporativeness, which is the principal pregenital determinant of the feminine tendency in men.

c. Phallic cathexes which advance the equation of the mother's organs with penis and child, and the desire to possess all that the mother has inside of her as a defense against castration.

d. The castration threats of the oedipal phase which may strengthen passive feminine identification as a defensive tendency.

e. Difficulties in settling adolescent bisexual conflicts, which may prolong an identification with the mother.

f. Aggressive drives which, when increased by any factors at any genetic level, are of primary importance in producing conflict regarding tendencies and identifications.

2. The conflict between regression toward narcissism versus preservation of object cathexes, which is a residue in adult life of the conflicts of each antecedent developmental phase. The regressive tendency revives feminine identification (proceeds via homosexuality to the narcissism represented by the womb), and even in daily normal functioning presents a challenge to the phallic image of the self. The phallic self is reaffirmed through restitutive tendencies from whatever early experiences provided strength-giving identification with the intact father and the procreative mother.

3. The historical and cultural processes which emphasize matriarchal elements reinforce the masculine envy and the masculine need to usurp feminine organ modes and functions for reassurance of wholeness. Competing patriarchal influences in a culture provoke in the mothers conflicts over their identifications, from which ensue tensions affecting mutuality in mother-child relationships and reciprocal envy and identification conflicts in the males.

The patterns of development and regression, with evidences of conflict, may be recognized in analyses of men where resolutions are sought by sublimations based on identifications with the mother's good insides; or alternatively, symptom formation expresses the anxiety over such identifications, on account of projected incorporative and castrative threats.

The therapeutic process is one which includes the acceptance of regression, with new reintegrative (including constructive feminine) models offered, via the analyst's capacity to deal assimilatively with the patient's conflict products (interpretively, and with neither destructive incorporation nor castrative rejection). From

this, the conflict-free component of maternal identification becomes more readily available.

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