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Laufer, M.E. (1986). The Female Oedipus Complex and the Relationship to the Body. Psychoanal. St. Child, 41:259-276.

(1986). Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 41:259-276

The Female Oedipus Complex and the Relationship to the Body

M. Eglé Laufer

WOMEN'S LIVES AND THEIR OWN VIEW OF THEMSELVES HAVE changed dramatically over the past 50 years since Freud wrote his last paper on the subject. Moreover, the opposition to Freud's view, voiced by some analysts at that time, has gained support both from analysts and women themselves. Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel (1984) said, "the works of Kestemberg, Galenson, Roiphe … have in my view invalidated and discredited the claims of the theory of phallic monism to be regarded any longer as the gospel truth. In fact, it is not simply a question of rejecting this infantile sexual theory as purely defensive, but of drawing the consequences of this rejection for psycho-analytic theory overall. If the girl stands in the first place not for deficiency, but primordially for receptacle, then our conceptions of psychosexual evolution must change direction or even be reversed, the site of what is most instinctual and animal to the human being must be rediscovered" (p. 169). I think what she is saying here expresses something that we have all been aware of for a long time in our clinical work.

Like Chasseguet, I have, of course, also been impressed by the findings of child and adult analysts who have shown convincingly that the little girl's awareness of her own body is not primarily that of lacking a penis.

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