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(1962). Bulletin of the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis. XI, 1961: On Polygamous Women. Norbert Bromberg. Pp. 155-167.. Psychoanal Q., 31:583.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Bulletin of the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis. XI, 1961: On Polygamous Women. Norbert Bromberg. Pp. 155-167.

(1962). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 31:583

Bulletin of the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis. XI, 1961: On Polygamous Women. Norbert Bromberg. Pp. 155-167.

A syndrome, characteristic of a type of polygamous woman, and some of the forces that have shaped her character is described. Patients of this type are said to be so similar to one another that a composite picture can be drawn. Usually the patient's marriage is realistically sound and she does not really wish to dissolve it, although at the height of her compelling infatuation she may complain that her husband is too sober and undemonstrative. The husband is most often admired and respected by the patient as well as others; the lover is usually married and a depreciated male without the admirable qualities of the husband. The extra-marital relationship is always based on a momentary overvaluation; sadomasochism is an outstanding feature.

Bromberg describes the typical polygamous woman. The mother would be the more dominant parent and would have indulged in extra-marital affairs. As a child the patient would have felt extremely deprived and a sense of incompetence, worthlessness, and unattractiveness would develop. Praise and admiration would be sought with great intensity but never enjoyed when forthcoming. Penis envy would be intense. Such a woman is invariably an oral individual and there is great hunger for the penis-breast of the phallic mother. She has had great difficulties in identification; her extra-marital experiences derive in part from identification with her mother and in part from a regressive flight from her responsibilities as wife and mother. The quest for a penis derives not so much from a need to compete successfully with the man but for a symbolic satisfaction of her profound sense of deprivation. These patients have not only been deprived by their mothers but their fathers have also failed them. Because of identification with the frustrating father, the patient will marry a man who represents an ideal father. When the husband withdraws some of his support, the patient is thrown off balance. In the extra-marital relationship the man represents a phallic mother; the patient seeks not only acceptance and approval but also gratification of her hostility. In intercourse she not only 'repossesses' the penis but she metes out painful punishment to the phallic mother, represented by her lover. At the same time she revenges herself against her neglectful father, represented by the husband.

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Article Citation

(1962). Bulletin of the Philadelphia Association for Psychoanalysis. XI, 1961. Psychoanal. Q., 31:583

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