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Lichtenstein, H. (1970). Changing Implications of the Concept of Psychosexual Development—An Inquiry Concerning the Validity of Classical Psychoanalytic Assumptions Concerning Sexuality. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 18:300-318.

(1970). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 18:300-318

Changing Implications of the Concept of Psychosexual Development—An Inquiry Concerning the Validity of Classical Psychoanalytic Assumptions Concerning Sexuality

Heinz Lichtenstein, M.D.

SUMMARY

The paper investigates the validity of the classical psychoanalytic assumption of the "exemplary function" of sexuality, which was defined by Freud (1908) as the principle that sexuality lays down

the pattern of behavior. Such an investigation seems warranted (1) because clinical observations do not confirm a clear correlation between emotional maturity (i.e., the capacity to establish stable object relations) and the ability to obtain full satisfaction through genital orgasm (genital primacy) (Fenichel, 1945); (2) in view of the findings of ego psychology that sexuality can no longer be considered the invariant among the factors influencing human individuation, but only as one among numerous other variables. Following Eissler's (1958) proposition that orgasm is a primitive and archaic means to ascertain "emotional conviction of truth," the paper suggests that sexuality is the earliest and most basic way available to the growing human personality to experience an affirmation of the reality of his existence. In the course of ontogenesis, other methods, as yet poorly understood, of feeling affirmed in the reality of one's existence as a person develop, but sexuality, because of its role in establishing the earliest means of such affirmation, retains a unique psychological function among the other ontogenetic variables. Since the concept of genital primacy in the classical sense can no longer be maintained, some suggestions concerning its modification more compatible with the findings of ego psychology are introduced.

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