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Kestenberg, J.S. (1971). A Developmental Approach to Disturbances of Sex-Specific Identity. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 52:99-102.

(1971). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 52:99-102

A Developmental Approach to Disturbances of Sex-Specific Identity

Judith S. Kestenberg

In a rich and thought-provoking paper, Morgenthaler (1969) suggested that the profound disorganization or lack of integration in patients, who suffer from deviations of sexual identity, is due to a disharmony between developmental lines(Freud, A., 1965).

The homosexual's phallic activity is dissociated from the triangular relationship which normally matches the phallic drive organization (Bacon, 1956); (Morgenthaler, 1962); (Socarides, 1968). He cannot tolerate differences and craves dyadic relationships which are based on sameness of organs (Freud, 1920a) and discharge forms (Kestenberg, 1962). Because he lacks object constancy and sexualizes the aggression that normally upholds identity boundaries, he panics and reverts to regressive forms of gratification. His perpetual oscillations between self-and object-cathexes have the same rhythmic quality as oral sucking and biting. His ambivalent idealization and denigration of the object reflect the tendency of the anal toddler who treats his mother as he does his faeces, over-estimating her value and discarding her as worthless.

The homosexual seeks lost harmony in many ways. He does not clearly fit into any syndrome. Neither a baby nor an adult, he falls in love violently like an adolescent and quarrels just as violently. Dressing up in fancy clothes like a toddler, he upholds the external landmarks of current prepuberty culture to justify his fictitious 'third sex' identity. To fit him and his relatives, the fetishists, transvestites and transsexuals, into a developmental framework, we may have to revise or amplify the hierarchy of stages in the development of sex specific identity.

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