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Lidz, R.W. Lidz, T. (1977). Male Menstruation: A Ritual Alternative to the Oedipal Transition. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 58:17-31.

(1977). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 58:17-31

Male Menstruation: A Ritual Alternative to the Oedipal Transition

Ruth W. Lidz and Theodore Lidz

The term 'male menstruation' often seems to elicit a reaction of disbelief bordering on shock, or a sense of having misunderstood. It does not refer to a phenomenon resembling hysterical stigmata but to a usage among at least three peoples—the Australian Aborigine, the Indigene of Papua/New Guinea, and the Mohave Indians. Here we shall examine its widespread practice in Australian New Guinea. We do not turn to the study of an esoteric ritual in a remote corner of the globe because of its curiosity, but because we believe it leads to some important insights into problems of sexual identity in the male and the relationship between masculine envy of women and the young boy's initial identification with his mother. These topics have aroused considerable attention in recent years both because of the psychoanalytically orientated studies of transsexuals by Stoller (1966), Greenson (1968), Socarides (1973) and others, and because of various challenges to the psychoanalytic emphasis on women's penis envy without a counter-balancing interest in men's envy of women's generative capacities (Bettelheim, 1971); (Greenson, 1966). It is evident from Jaffe's (1968) review of the psychoanalytic literature pertaining to masculine envy of women that the topic needs clarification. The examination of a way of life that differs profoundly from that of Western civilizations enables us to set aside some of our basic preconceptions and take a fresh look at some cardinal problems of human development.

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