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Kestenberg, J.S. (1976). Regression And Reintegration In Pregnancy. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 24S(Supplement):213-250.

(1976). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 24S(Supplement):213-250

Regression And Reintegration In Pregnancy

Judith S. Kestenberg, M.D.

IN RECENT YEARS, PSYCHOANALYSTS HAVE BEEN CHALLENGED to revise Freud's concept of femininity and to construct a new one that would be based on standards of female rather than male development. Many authors have contributed significantly to our understanding of childhood precursors of feminine identity, especially those influenced by parental attitudes. However, there is a universal reluctance to search for an answer to the baffling question: What are the endogenous sources of femininity and how do they manifest themselves in chidhood?

Few doubt that the oedipal yearning for the father is the childhood prototype of female heterosexuality. Clinicians confirm that the prevailing interest in the external genitals comes to a peak in the early phallic phase, is accompanied by penis envy and a desire to fill the role of the father in relation to the mother. No doubt, the high value placed on the phallus facilitates the feminine-oedipal wish to be penetrated and impregnated. But the idea that the girl's productive inside plays no role in her development other than to provide a receptacle for the penis, is not backed by clinical experience.


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