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Frenkel, R.S. (1996). A Reconsideration Of Object Choice In Women: Phallus Or Fallacy. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44S(Supplement):133-156.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44S(Supplement):133-156

A Reconsideration Of Object Choice In Women: Phallus Or Fallacy

Rhoda S. Frenkel

Within the context of Freud's theory of instinctual drives, analytic data from three female patients are presented which refute his concept that penis envy is the basis for female object choice. Contrary to Freud's theory, these patients did not feel their genitalia or genital arousal were inadequate. Rather, they believed their genital sexuality and fantasies were powerful and gratifying, but dangerous and bad. Their subsequent guilt and fears led secondarily to their defensive wish to have a penis to avoid their core conflicts; their penis envy was pathological. The data unequivocally demonstrate that the clitoris is not an inferior organ, but is the locus for the initiation of intense pleasure and occasional orgasm as early as ages four to six, when vaginal awareness also is present. In addition the material provides evidence that girls choose fathers to feel loved and valued, and that their wish for a baby is not a substitute for a relinquished wish for a penis. Observational studies and a vignette suggest that the instinctual drives of the genital phase coalesce with a change in object relations, forming an important motivation for a girl to switch her primary love object from her mother to her father.

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