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Balsam, R.H. (2003). The Vanished Pregnant Body in Psychoanalytic Female Developmental Theory. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 51(4):1153-1179.

(2003). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 51(4):1153-1179

The Vanished Pregnant Body in Psychoanalytic Female Developmental Theory

Rosemary H. Balsam

The author contends that the pregnant body—the premier icon of the mature female body—has vanished from our psychoanalytic theory of female development. Until we are able to restore this missing entity on a par with the phallus, the developmental theory for both sexes remains fixated in phallocentricism. The author traces some of the evidence for this claim in a brief overview of the literature, a study of the relevant aspects of the case of Little Hans, and a look at the history of medical teaching, in particular illustrations from the first dissections of female bodies in the sixteenth century, which demonstrate a view of the female body as essentially male. A puzzle remains about the marked tendencies that both males and females had, and still have, to distort the female body image. The author offers a clinical example, and the suggestion that the plasticity of the female form in all its developmental phases may underlie the paradoxical requirement that stable mental representations be established upon an elusive set of shifting images.

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