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Glover, E. (1950). Problems of Bisexuality as Reflected in Circumcision: By Herman Nunberg. London: Imago Publishing Co., Ltd., 1949. 83 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 19:419-423.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 19:419-423

Problems of Bisexuality as Reflected in Circumcision: By Herman Nunberg. London: Imago Publishing Co., Ltd., 1949. 83 pp.

Review by:
Edward Glover

In this reprint of a lengthy article, Dr. Nunberg renders a considerable service to psychoanalysis by raising in a new form issues which have perplexed and to some extent divided psychoanalysts ever since Freud described the castration complex of the male. The subsequent discovery of the 'female castration complex', together with more detailed study of the negative Oedipus phase in both men and women, merely exacerbated psychoanalytic reactions which had already been provoked by the postulation of penis envy, and which are at times difficult to distinguish from more superficial manifestations of feminist or antifeminist feeling.

Dr. Nunberg is insistent that the term castration complex should, as Freud maintained, be restricted to the association of deprivation with the loss of the male organ. This insistence on the importance of the phase of 'phallic primacy' is open to the objection that it ignores to some extent the importance of passive zonal components in the male, and of both active and passive zonal components in the female. But at least it focuses attention on the paramount importance of genital elements in development. The modern and in itself legitimate tendency to concentrate on traumatic pregenital frustrations has had the unfortunate result of depriving the term castration of specific meaning and thereby diverting attention from the overriding importance of genital anxiety in human development. And the same may be said of attempts to establish major genital anxieties during the oral phase. Dr. Nunberg reminds us that whatever may have been the phylogenetic importance of pregenital components, the specific issues of incest and parricide must have determined the mental development of man.


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