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Gentile, J. (2016). On Spatial Metaphors and Free Association: Phallic Fantasy and Vaginal Primacy. Contemp. Psychoanal., 52(1):21-50.

(2016). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 52(1):21-50

On Spatial Metaphors and Free Association: Phallic Fantasy and Vaginal Primacy

Jill Gentile, Ph.D.

The article ponders the growing appreciation for, and ubiquity of, metaphors of space in contemporary psychoanalytic thought and suggests that these metaphors might be understood as feminine signifiers. Psychoanalysis has historically privileged the phallic symbol, while keeping a feminine one obscured and unnamed. It is only by recognizing the sexual “somethingness” of vaginal space that we appreciate how vital it is to phallic potency, both metaphorically and actually. True personal agency and true phallic achievement, as with all of cultural and symbolic life, are predicated on a spatial foundation both real and metaphorical. An (in)ability to face the ultimate carnality of sexual symbols and to explicitly signify the female genital has consequences for free association as an encounter between the known and the novel, and for democratic free speech in the public sphere.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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