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Benedek, T. (1960). The Organization of the Reproductive Drive. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 41:1-15.

(1960). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 41:1-15

The Organization of the Reproductive Drive

Therese Benedek, M.D.


Psycho-analysis considers the organization of the reproductive drive a result of ontogenetic development. It develops from the post-natal 'undifferentiated phase' in which needful infant and need-gratifying mother are a symbiotic unit. From this state which Freud termed (from the infant's point of view) a 'state of absolute primary narcissism' (22) the reproductive drive evolves in continual interaction with those environmental factors which influence the personality development of the individual. When, through phasic thrusts toward maturation (directed by the dominance of the erotogenic zones) integration of 'genital primacy' is achieved, we assume that with physiological maturation the individual has also reached a degree of psychosexual maturity.

The term genital primacy refers to a drive organization which is consummated in hetero-sexual coitus reaching its climax in orgasm. This definition includes the heterosexual consummatory action of both sexes, but actually it was based on the model of the male. The reproductive function of the male, under the regulation of one hormonal group, the androgens, is discharged in one act, the aim of which is to deposit semen in the vagina. The female reproductive function cannot fit into this model, since the female sexual function has three phases. Heterosexual intercourse in the female, from the point of view of reproduction, is only a preparatory act. The care of the impregnated ovum during pregnancy and of the offspring after parturition by lactation are two other phases of the female reproductive function.

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