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Rangell, L. (1991). Castration. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 39:3-23.

(1991). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 39:3-23


Leo Rangell, M.D.


Castration is not a metaphor within the array of psychoanalytic theories, but a pathological belief operative in the unconscious, which originated during the period of childhood sexuality. Of the two major anxieties, separation and castration, castration anxiety is the most overlooked in clinical discourse and theoretical awareness.

Castration conflicts have a developmental history and are composed of phases as much as separation-individuation is. These extend from the preoedipal to the oedipal years and beyond and, as separation conflicts, persist throughout life. Clinical material is demonstrated from across the diagnostic spectrum and all developmental levels. Phylogenetic studies are corroborative.

As loss of love is a wider derivative of separation anxiety, castration anxiety radiates out to wider fears of invasion and injury to the body. The transference neurosis is more attuned to encompass separation than castration conflicts. This stratum of psychopathology makes reconstruction and the recovery of historical data indispensable.

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