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Torsti, M. (1994). The Feminine Self and Penis Envy. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 75:469-478.

(1994). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 75:469-478

The Feminine Self and Penis Envy

Marita Torsti


This paper examines the integrative role of inner genitality in the formation of penis internalisations, which form part of the feminine self. Penis envy, operating simultaneously with the anxiety arising from a realisation of the introitus under the influence of inner genitality, organises functioning inner and outer female penis structures. This three-dimensionality of inner genitality, penis envy and anxiety for penetration is the condition of a functioning femininity. In the light of an analytic case history, the author follows the thawing out of a phallic defence position and the awakening of the obstructed genitality. Phallicity is seen as a traumatic defence structure, which prevents the development of functioning penis identifications. In the phallic mental world, the penis takes on an idealised and concrete meaning. Its desirability is denied, and the woman excludes her inner genitality from her relationship to it as an object. When most obstructed in her womanhood, a woman becomes a phallus herself. She lives in an imitative identity, in which the internalising psychic functions have come to a standstill. In such a mind, the ultimate purpose of defence is to avoid annihilation anxiety.

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