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Lampl-De Groot, J. (1933). Problems of Femininity. Psychoanal Q., 2:489-518.

(1933). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 2:489-518

Problems of Femininity

Jeanne Lampl-De Groot


Implicit in Freud's doctrine of bisexuality is the warning against too schematic an apposition of femininity in woman and masculinity in man. It is well recognized that no man exists whose masculine traits are not accompanied by more or less obviously feminine characteristics, and that likewise there are no women who fail to show masculine tendencies. Physical examination of the male reveals female residuals, while the female body shows vestigial male characteristics. Psychological investigation demonstrates bisexual elements even more strikingly; these are not only present, but are of important functional significance. Analytical experience reveals many feminine characteristics that man must confront in the course of his psychic development, and many masculine traits complicating the development of femininity. This psychic struggle takes place in the development of every man and woman, whereas the presence of physical rudiments of the opposite sex has little recognizable effect except in those rare cases of hermaphroditism where the reproductive function is impaired.

Demonstration of the processes and forces which affect the differentiation of the sexes in their embryonic development belongs admittedly to the field of biology. Freud pointed out many years ago that the discovery of the organic basis of psychic forces is also one of the tasks of biology. At present Bernfeld and Feitelberg are attempting experiments from which they hope to be able to deduce a physico-biological concept of psychic energy.

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