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Brenner, C. (1950). Meeting of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 19:142.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:142

Meeting of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

Charles Brenner


The stutterer equates his ego with his mother's phallus (less often her breast) castrated (ablated) from her body. Coincidently he feels his own body to be castrated like hers. Both the 'mental ego' and 'physical ego' of the stutterer consequently remain incomplete in their functions. The stutterer remains fixated to passivity, since activity is thought to be fraught with terrible danger. Any activity is 'pseudo activity' which is passively oriented. Stutterers therefore have never been able to make 'whole' (satisfactory) identifications. Clinical material from the analyses of several patients is adduced.

Dr. Bertram D. Lewin said that all his patients who were stutterers came from broken homes, or had been separated from their mothers. One patient had an unconscious fantasy of her body as phallus and breast. Lewin suggested that 'nuclear passivity' is precisely the wish to be eaten up which he thought might be based on sensations perceived by the infant as it became drowsy at the mother's breast after suckling. Dr. Margaret Ribble said she had observed two types of phallic mothers. The first type experienced delivery as a castration and rejected the infant as soon as it was born. The second type treated the infant as a maternal phallus as long as it was tiny and helpless but rejected the child when it began to walk and talk, i.e., to become independent. Ribble speculated that rejection at this stage in the infant's development might well result in stuttering.

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