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Fromm-Reichmann, F. Silver, A. (1995). Female Psychosexuality. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 23(1):19-32.

(1995). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 23(1):19-32

Female Psychosexuality

Frieda Fromm-Reichmann, M.D. and Ann-Louise Silver, M.D.*

Literature, formative art, and the poetry of every nation within our patriarchal culture describe women as mysterious and enigmatic beings. For instance, the Greek female sphinx you all know from the Oedipus legend was said to give a riddle to every man who passed the rock where she lived, killing him if he did not solve her riddle. Meanwhile, no tradition tells about any riddles given by her historical ancestors, the male Egyptian sphinxes. The Chinese fairy-tale princess, Turandot, along with her sisters from ancient Roman legends and those maidens in the English and French dramas of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and modern Italian and German dramatic and operatic literature all would only marry suitors who would solve their three riddles. These women would kill those who failed.

To mention one outstanding example belonging to the formative arts: Leonardo da Vinci's world-famous “Mona Lisa,” the prototype of a female portrait, smiles “enigmatically,” say the art historians unanimously. They state this mysterious smile is one reason for the portrait's glory. Fiction and poetry of the Middle Ages and the modern psychological literature are full of reports of the enigmatic woman. I cannot review them within the limits of this paper. Just mentioning these women will suffice to call the respective associations to everybody's mind.

For these last decades psychoanalysis, as a science that looked for new methods to investigate psychosexual problems, was expected to explain the enigma: woman. It did not, however, even though it gave us further insight into female psychology. On the contrary: Freud himself whom certainly nobody would suspect of being a mystic, recently talked about the “enigma femaleness,” and hopes to get further information about it from increasing scientific experience, and — from poetry.

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