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Ablon, S.L. Harrison, A.M. Valenstein, A.F. Gifford, S. (1986). Special Solutions to Phallic-Aggressive Conflicts in Male Twins. Psychoanal. St. Child, 41:239-257.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 41:239-257

Special Solutions to Phallic-Aggressive Conflicts in Male Twins

Steven L. Ablon, M.D., Alexandra M. Harrison, M.D., Arthur F. Valenstein, M.D. and Sanford Gifford, M.D.


We have studied data that emerged in the analyses of male adult twins. As a result we have identified certain patterns of phallic aggression in twins and particular solutions to conflicts arising from this aggression. These patterns are consequent to competition between them for the birthright, the preferred position, and identification with the parent. Solutions to these conflicts include shifts between active and passive, feminine and masculine,

and phallic and receptive positions both in the characterological sense and in the phallic-active and the phallic-receptive sense. These shifts often involve an inhibition of phallic aggression and assertiveness by the potentially stronger twin.

Using material from the analyses of two adult male twins, we have illustrated how both analytic patients struggled with conflicts predominantly involving emergence as a man in the phallic direction. The vicissitudes of phallic aggression can be clearly delineated and analyzed by appreciating the intensity of the twin interrelationship and its effect upon the transference. Significant consequences of competition on the emergence of autonomy were illustrated by material from the cases, particularly with respect to the potential for regression into a passive dependent role. Finally, we showed that such observations about the development of phallic aggression and competition in male twins are meaningful and technically useful for the analysis of twins and also for analytic work in general.

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