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Loewenstein, R.M. (1950). Conflict and Autonomous Ego Development During the Phallic Phase. Psychoanal. St. Child, 5:47-52.

(1950). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 5:47-52

Conflict and Autonomous Ego Development During the Phallic Phase

Rudolph M. Loewenstein, M.D.

In this paper I shall first present an observation made by a mother on her child, and then fragments of an analysis centering around the problem of learning to walk. They represent the two opposite approaches to the study of child development: direct observation, on the one hand, reconstruction in the analysis of an adult, on the other hand.

The observation was made by a patient of mine on her ten-month-old boy. It was first told to me shortly after the event, and repeated a year later, with hardly any variations. The mother is a very intelligent woman in her thirties, endowed with an unusual sense of observation and psychological insight.

She described how her little boy, lying undressed in his crib, playing with his arms and legs, sat up, kicking his feet back and forth, his heel touching his penis several times. The baby "looked down" to see what it was. His protruding abdomen prevented his seeing the penis. He started playing with his navel, pushing it in, then did the same with his stomach, and then suddenly saw his penis. With his right index finger, he slowly touched his penis, barely coming in contact with it, then looked up at the mother, with his face wreathed in smiles, repeating this two or three times, and each time with an expression of discovery. "Not convinced yet," he got up, crawled in the crib, again sat up, looking down, and when he did not see anything, looked back over his shoulder. Then only he pushed his stomach in with one hand and looked down, with the other hand touched his penis two or three times with an expression of delighted discovery.

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