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Heyman, A.N. (1984). Meeting of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 53:351-352.

(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:351-352

Meeting of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

Arlene N. Heyman

DISCUSSION: Dr. Helen Davidoff-Hirsch stated that penis envy is an extremely complex concept, which must be considered from many points of view: structural, dynamic, economic, genetic, and adaptive. She said that Freud always entwined it inextricably with the girl child's relationship to her mother. She agreed with Dr. Nininger that Freud's concept of penis envy is troubling; it does not do "justice to the full richness and range of the female character as we know it today." Citing the work of Dr. Jacobson as well as her own clinical experience, Dr. Davidoff-Hirsch stated that an important factor in the girl's renunciation of the wish for a penis is the discovery of her own genital and the regaining thereby of her self-esteem. She also cited the importance of the work of Mahler and of Galenson and Roiphe for our understanding of female development. According to their observations, in all girls, there is an upwelling of genital awareness at about seventeen months, with penis envy and mood change of some degree. Dr. Mahler emphasized that the normal female infant's sexual awareness is biphasic: the awareness of the lack of a penis and then the discovery of the vulvar region. In disagreement with Dr.

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