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Grossman, W.I. Stewart, W.A. (1976). Penis Envy: From Childhood Wish To Developmental Metaphor. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 24S(Supplement):193-212.

(1976). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 24S(Supplement):193-212

Penis Envy: From Childhood Wish To Developmental Metaphor

William I. Grossman, M.D. and Walter A. Stewart, M.D.

NONE OF FREUD'S THEORIES of female sexuality and psychology has been subject to more severe criticism than his concept of penis envy. The persisting controversy over this issues suggests that the basic theoretical questions have not yet been clarified. And because the theory lacks clarity, its clinical application does not always produce the results expected. Our presentation centers on two such instances, offering clinical vignettes wherein problems in the interpretation of penis envy are demonstrated.

Both patients were in second analyses. In both first analyses, because the patients expressed envy of men and an inability to accept femininity, both analysts interpreted the unconscious penis envy to their patients. Both patients accepted the interpretation with apparent conviction, yet the analyses became stalemated. Freud's (1937) famous dictum that,

...with the wish for a penis and the masculine protest we have penetrated through all the psychological strata and have reached bedrock, and thus our activities are at an end

(p. 252) seemed at first to have been vindicated.

Neither of the second analyses, however, confirmed this view.

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