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Greenacre, P. (1951). Respiratory Incorporation and the Phallic Phase. Psychoanal. St. Child, 6:180-205.

(1951). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 6:180-205

Respiratory Incorporation and the Phallic Phase

Phyllis Greenacre, M.D.

A little boy of four years played with a feather imprisoned between his cupped hands. He opened his hands, waited for the light summer breeze to take it away, joyfully recaptured it and began to play over. Occasionally he helped Mother Nature by blowing on it himself. The child played in this way, teasing the feather into recurrent activity for several moments; then turning to his mother he said with comical infantile sagacity, "Do you see what I've got here, Mummy? It is a devil, and it is going way way through the air and it's going into Midge's mouth and then she will be a devil!" Midge was his eight-months-old sister. This makes us think of the broken bits of glass which got into Kay's eyes in the Andersen fairy tale of the Snow Queen. This child was a wistful, precocious little boy, who until the birth of his sister had been the sole focus of the love and attention of both parents, perhaps the more so in that they had had to travel much and the endearing child was the pivot of all home activities to them. He was now distinctly at the phallic phase, interested in his organ, of which he was proud. When he drew pictures of people he put a small penis where the legs joined the head, even though he omitted the body. He had undoubtedly heard some talk of church, God and the devil from his religious grandmother, and distinctly placed God in the airy medium of the sky. When someone remarked that something smelled to high heaven, he asked in surprised tones, "Do you mean God?" He was clearly fascinated by movement, and seeking explanations.

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