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Boehm, F. (1935). Anthropophagy: Its Forms and Motives. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 16:9-21.

(1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 16:9-21

Anthropophagy: Its Forms and Motives

Felix Boehm

In the Third Edition of Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie Freud described the earliest pregenital sexual organization, the oral or cannibalistic, in which the sexual aim is the incorporation of the object. In 'Mourning and Melancholia' he shows how large a part this phase of organization plays in melancholia, while Abraham, in 'The First Pregenital Stage of the Libido' and 'A Short Study of the Development of the Libido', indicates its great practical importance. Since the appearance of these studies, an increasingly lively interest has been taken in the effects produced by this, the earliest, sexual activity of childhood in diseases of later life.

In the first of the two papers I have mentioned Abraham analyses a case of 'schizophrenia simplex' and sums up the patient's characteristics as follows:

1. The oral zone predominated in importance over the other erotogenic zones. Pleasure in sucking was especially pronounced. The sucking of milk produced a state of gratification.

2. The functions of sexuality and of nutrition were associated in the act of sucking.

3. The patient desired to incorporate the object of his wish-phantasies. (He himself described this impulse as cannibalistic.)

According to Abraham, two of the most important and conspicuous symptoms in depressive mental disturbances are the refusal of nourishment and the dread of starvation. He traces both back to an unsuccessful attempt at regression to the oral-cannibalistic level of libidinal development. Sometimes the self-reproaches associated with these instinctual impulses are fairly transparent.

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