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Notes on Ferenczi's Theory of Femininity

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The author discusses Ferenczi's theory of femininity in terms both of its orientation to Freud's constructivist view on the same subject and its intimate connections with his own phylogenetic speculations. She underlines the significance of Ferenczi's assumptions about the universality of the “trend of maternal regression” and its determining role in genital sexual union. Due to the absence of a “real” penis in women, Ferenczi postulates that female development is marked by a whole series of regressive moves and renunciations, from urethrality to anality (i.e. from activity to passivity), the “abandonment” of the clitoris in favour of the vagina, and a regressive secondary-narcisstic cathexis of the entire body. The author criticizes Ferenczi's reduction of woman to the “mother” function and relates this view to recent femininity theories emanating from the French school of psychoanalysis, which follow him in this respect. There is a brief discussion of the author's own approach to establishing a theory of femininity. She situates her theses in the framework of the tensions obtaining between Ferenczi's unsatisfactory theory of femininity as a “defective” condition and his bold and laudable attempt to provide Freudian metapsychology with a biological foundation.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: December 31, 1998

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