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Bernstein, A. (1974). The Genital Psychoanalyst. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(2):257-267.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(2):257-267

The Genital Psychoanalyst

Arnold Bernstein, Ph.D.

The title of this essay derives from the concept of the genital character described by Karl Abraham1 and Wilhelm Reich.10 A genital psychoanalyst, whether male or female, is one who has achieved a genital character structure; that is to say, he is reasonably unneurotic, free from sexual disturbance, and not obsessed by infantile moral imperatives. In short, a genital psychoanalyst is free from a pathological superego and has fully resolved the Oedipus complex. Such persons are comfortably able to separate words from deeds and thoughts from actions and hopefully will refrain from misconstruing the thesis proposed in this paper to be that psychoanalysts engage in sexual relations with their analysands. The difference between advocating that one talk about sexual relations and feelings and advocating that one act out such thoughts and feelings is not a subtle one. It is the former that this paper advocates, not the latter. Needless to say, the perfect genital character is an ideal never actually realized, and accordingly, every actual psychoanalyst will have to confront and deal with the problems that will necessarily arise from both his own and his patient's immaturity in respect to the genital goal.

One of the less obvious biological functions of breast feeding is the restorative role played with respect to the mother's reproductive organs. After the womb has been emptied of its burden, its tonus and shape must be recaptured and the post-partum physical effects of the birth trauma erased. Considerable part of this convalescent process is played by sexual excitement and the accompanying uterine contractions, secretory flow, and tumescence. Sexually healthy females may therefore be expected to suffer less from untoward birth sequelae and so-called female disorders than those who are frigid and neurotic.

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