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Fischer, R.M. (1991). Pubescence: A Psychoanalytic Study of One Girl's Experience of Puberty. Psychoanal. Inq., 11(4):457-479.

(1991). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 11(4):457-479

Pubescence: A Psychoanalytic Study of One Girl's Experience of Puberty

Ruth M.S. Fischer, M.D.

Puberty is the coming of age, a time of sexual maturity, a coming to terms with one's body, a time of disengagement from parents and establishing relationships with peers. Burgeoning sexual maturity makes it necessary for the girl to confront her new body. Oedipal conflicts are revived, leading to regression and a reworking of infantile conflicts and relationships (Blos, 1979).

We have traditionally understood this as a time when the girl experiences a revival of awareness of her castrated state, which leaves her feeling inferior, humiliated, deprived, and envious, a time of renouncing her masculine strivings and accepting her femininity, renouncing her wish for a penis and substituting it with a wish for a baby. She is left infantile and dependent with a faulty superego, never totally abandoning her wish for her father (Freud, 1931; Deutsch, 1944). This is indeed a time of reworking of old feelings, feelings related to sexual difference and sexual maturity. It is not, however, a time of giving up masculinity and becoming feminine. The girl is already and always has been feminine.

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