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Loewenstein, R. (1935). Phallic Passivity in Men. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 16:334-340.

(1935). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 16:334-340

Phallic Passivity in Men

R. Loewenstein


A number of psycho-analytical papers have recently appeared which deal with the evolution of the genital function in men and in women. In particular, its first stage, i.e. the phallic phase, has been studied by various psycho-analysts, beginning with Freud and including Marie Bonaparte, Helene Deutsch, Jeanne Lampl-de-Groot, Ruth Mack-Brunswick, Ernest Jones, Fenichel and Radó.

In the course of a conversation Madame Marie Bonaparte informed me of her investigations in connection with 'the passive phallic phase in little girls'. The notion of such a phase, considered in relation to what we know of the development of the genital function in boys, seems to me to throw light on certain peculiarities in the genital behaviour of a large number of men who may or may not suffer from disturbances of potency.

Let us briefly review the facts, beginning with those of a pathological character, for the element of exaggeration in the latter enables their characteristics to be clearly seen.

It is well known that, in many men who suffer from disturbances of potency, inhibitions, such as collapse or total absence of erection, make themselves felt in certain circumstances only. In some cases this occurs whenever the sexual partner makes the slightest show of resistance, while, in others, coitus is impossible unless the woman not merely consents but takes the initiative.

We know that the inhibition from which these men suffer has its source in the fear of castration and that this fear is associated with episodes in their childhood. In analysis it often transpires that, as boys, they made an attempt to seduce their mother, or a mother-substitute, behaviour which called forth a rebuff or a threat. Such attempts at seduction are generally of a childish character, as is natural at that stage of sexual development, and they would hardly be recognized for what they are by adults ignorant of such a possibility.

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