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Alexander, F. Kansas, T. (1935). Concerning the Genesis of the Castration Complex. Psychoanal. Rev., 22(1):49-52.

(1935). Psychoanalytic Review, 22(1):49-52

Concerning the Genesis of the Castration Complex

Franz Alexander, M.D. and Topeka Kansas

Translated by:
C. F. Menninger, M.D.

I want to describe the psychological conditions relative to which one of my patients remembered an important dream of his childhood, the connection of which with a significant experience of his childhood furnishes a convincing confirmation of our representation of the genesis of the fear of castration. The dreamer was a young artist who suffered from temporary impotence. A childhood dream, which he had completely forgotten, he remembered during an analytic session in which a recent dream was being analyzed. The recent dream, which brought back to his consciousness the dream of childhood, was as follows:

I see an acrobat or boxer with a yellow vest in the typical posture which an acrobat would assume, in order to demonstrate his physical pozver or strength. He held his legs straddled in a particular manner.”

To “boxer” there came into his mind the gymnasium apparatus which he had bought the previous day for exercising and to strengthen his muscles. The great significance which the patient attached to physical strength had become known to us in a previous hour. The wish to be strong was in him a substitute for the lessened sexual potency and was to help him overcome the unpleasant feeling of inferiority. The overestimation of bodily strength is quite frequent in patients who suffer impotency.

With “yellow vest” he associated gold and gold money. Money filled for him the same role as physical strength; it was a substitute for genital potency and a means of overcoming the inferiority caused by the impotence. This method also, i.e.,

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