Talk:Castration complex

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Sigmund Freud

Infantile Theory

Freud first described the castration complex in 1908, arguing that the child, on discovering the anatomical difference between the sexes (the presence or absence of the penis), makes the assumption that this difference is due to the female's penis having been cut off.[1]

The castration complex is thus the moment when one infantile theory (everyone has a penis) is replaced by a new one (females have been castrated).

The consequences of this new infantile theory are different in the boy and in the girl.

The boy fears that his own penis will be cut off by the father (castration anxiety), while the girl sees herself as already castrated (by the mother) and attempts to deny this or to compensate for it by seeking a child as a substitute for the penis (penis envy).

Phallic Phase

The castration complex affects both sexes because its appearance is closely linked with the phallic phase, a moment of psychosexual development when the child, whether boy or girl, knows only one genital organ - the male one.

This phase is also known as the infantile genital organisation because it is the first moment when the partial drives are unified under the primacy of the genital organs.

It thus anticipates the genital organisation proper which arises at puberty, when the subject is aware of both the male and the female sexual organs.[2]

Oedipus Complex

Freud argued that the castration complex is closely linked to the Oedipus Complex, but that its role in the Oedipus complex is different for the boy and the girl.

In the case of the boy, the castration complex is the point of exit from the Oedipus complex, its terminal crisis; because of his fear of castration (often aroused by a threat) the boy renounces his desire for the mother and thus enters the latency period.

In the case of the girl, the castration complex is the point of entry into the Oedipus complex; it is her resentment of the mother, whom she blames for depriving her of the penis, that causes her to redirect her libidinal desires away from the mother and onto the father.

Because of this difference, in the case of the girl the Oedipus complex has no definitive terminal crisis comparable to the boy's.[3]


Freud came to see the castration complex as a universal phenomenon, one which is rooted in a basic 'rejection of femininity' (Ablehnung der Weiblich-keit).

It is encountered in every subject, and represents the ultimate limit beyond which psychoanalytic treatment cannot go.[4]

Jacques Lacan


Lacan, who talks more often about 'castration' than 'the castration complex', does not discuss the castration complex very much in his early work.

He dedicates a few paragraphs to it in his article on the family, where he follows Freud in stating that castration is first and foremost a fantasy of the mutilation of the penis.

Lacan links this fantasy with a whole series of fantasies of bodily dismemberment which originate in the image of the fragmented body; this image is contemporary with the mirror stage (six to eighteen months), and it is only much later that these fantasies of dismemberment coalesce around the specific fantasy of castration.[5]

It is not until the mid-1950s that the castration complex comes to play a prominent role in Lacan's teaching, primarily in the seminar of 1956-7.

It is in this seminar that Lacan identifies castration as one of three forms of 'lack of object', the others being frustration and privation.

Unlike frustration (which is an imaginary lack of a real object) and privation (which is a real lack of a symbolic object), castration is defined by Lacan as a symbolic lack of an imaginary object; castration does not bear on the penis as a real organ, but on the imaginary phallus.[6]

Lacan's account of the castration complex is thus raised out of the dimension of simple biology or anatomy: 'It is insoluble by any reduction to biological givens.'[7]

Following Freud, Lacan argues that the castration complex is the pivot on which the whole Oedipus complex turns.[8]

However, whereas Freud argues that these two complexes are articulated differently in boys and girls, Lacan argues that the castration complex always denotes the final moment of the Oedipus complex in both sexes.

Lacan divides the Oedipus complex into three 'times'.[9]

  1. In the first time, the child perceives that the mother desires something beyond the child himself - namely, the imaginary phallus - and then tries to be the phallus for the mother (see preoedipal phase).
  1. In the second time, the imaginary father intervenes to deprive the mother of her object by promulgating the incest taboo; properly speaking, this is not castration but privation.
  1. Castration is only realised in the third and final time, which represents the 'dissolution' of the Oedipus complex.

It is then that the real father intervenes by showing that he really posesses the phallus, in such a way that the child is forced to abandon his attempts to be the phallus.[10]

Two Operations

From this account of the Oedipus complex, it is clear that Lacan uses the term 'castration' to refer to two different operations:

Castration of the Mother

In the first time of the Oedipus complex, "the mother is considered, by both sexes, as possessing the phallus, as the phallic mother."[11]

By promulgating the incest taboo in the second time, the imaginary father is seen to deprive her of this phallus.

Lacan argues that properly speaking, this is not castration but privation.

However, Lacan himself often uses these terms interchangeably, speaking both of the privation of the mother and of her castration.

Castration of the Subject

This is castration proper, in the sense of being a symbolic act which bears on an imaginary object.

Whereas the castration/privation of the mother which comes about in the second time of the Oedipus complex negates the verb 'to have' (the mother does not have the phallus), the castration of the subject in the third time of the Oedipus complex negates the verb 'to be' (the subject must renounce his attempts to be the phallus for the mother).

In renouncing his attempts to be the object of the mother's desire, the subject gives up a certain jouissance which is never regained despite all attempts to do so; 'Castration means that jouissance must be refused so that it can be reached on the inverted ladder (l'èchelle renversè) of the Law of desire.'[12]

This applies equally to boys and girls: this 'relationship to the phallus . . . is established without regard to the anatomical difference of the sexes.'[13]

On a more fundamental level, the term castration may also refer not to an 'operation' (the result of an intervention by the imaginary or real father) but to a state of lack which already exists in the mother prior to the subject's birth.

This lack is evident in her own desire, which the subject perceives as a desire for the imaginary phallus.

That is, the subject realises at a very early stage that the mother is not complete and self-sufficient in herself, nor fully satisfied with her child (the subject himself), but desires something else.

This is the subject's first perception that the Other is not complete but lacking.

Normalizing Effect

Both forms of castration (of the mother and of the subject) present the subject with a choice: to accept castration or to deny it.

Lacan argues that it is only by accepting (or 'assuming') castration that the subject can reach a degree of psychic normality.

In other words, the assumption of castration has a 'normalising effect'. This normalising effect is to be understood in terms of both psychopathology (clinical structures and symptoms) and sexual identity.

Castration and Clinical Structures

It is the refusal of castration that lies at the root of all psychopathological structures.

However, since it is impossible to accept castration entirely, a completely 'normal' position is never achieved.

The closest to such a position is the neurotic structure, but even here the subject still defends himself against the lack in the Other by repressing awareness of castration.

This prevents the neurotic from fully assuming his desire, since 'it is the assumption of castration that creates the lack upon which desire is instituted.'[14]

A more radical defence against castration than repression is disavowal, which is at the root of the perverse structure.

The psychotic takes the most extreme path of all; he completely repudiates castration, as if it had never existed.[15]

This repudiation of symbolic castration leads to the return of castration in the real, such as in the form of hallucinations of dismemberment (as in the case of the Wolf Man) or even self-mutilation of the real genital organs.

Castration and Sexual Identity

It is only by assuming castration (in both senses) that the subject can take up a sexual position as a man or a woman (see sexual difference.

The different modalities of refusing castration find expression in the various forms of perversion.

See Also


  1. Freud, Sigmund. "On the Sexual Theories of Children. 1908. SE IX. p.207
  2. Freud, Sigmund. "The Infantile Genital Organization." 1923. SE XIX. p.141
  3. Freud, Sigmund. "The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex." 1924. SE XIX p.173
  4. Freud, Sigmund. "Analysis Terminable and Interminable." 1937. SE XXIII. p.211
  5. Lacan, Jacques. 1938. p.44
  6. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.219
  7. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.282
  8. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.216
  9. Lacan, Jacques. Les formations de l'inconscient. ('The Formations of the Unconscious.') 1957-8. Unpublished.; seminar of 22 January 1958
  10. Lacan, Jacques. Le Séminaire. Livre IV. La relation d'objet, 19566-57. Ed. Jacques-Alain Miller. Paris: Seuil, 1991. p.208-9, 227
  11. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.282
  12. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. 324
  13. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits: A Selection. Trans. Alan Sheridan. London: Tavistock Publications, 1977. p.282
  14. Lacan, Jacques. Écrits. Paris: Seuil, 1966. p.852
  15. Lacan, Jacques. The Seminar. Book I. Freud's Papers on Technique, 1953-54. Trans. John Forrester. New York: Nortion; Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988. 53


The psychoanalytic definition of castration is rooted in the act feared by male children, namely, the removal of the penis.

In psychoanalysis, the castration complex (along with the Oedipus complex) is a major organizing principle of psychosexuality (and, more broadly speaking, of mental life in general).

In psychoanalysis, the word "castration" is associated with several others that define it and that it in turn defines. These include "anxiety," "threat," "symbolic," "fear," "terror," "disavowal," and above all "complex." Beyond the everyday connotations of the term, the specifically psychoanalytic definition of castration is rooted in the act feared by male children, namely the removal of the penis. The essential connection between "castration" and "complex" derives from the fact that psychoanalysis views the castration complex, in tandem with the Oedipus complex, as the organizing principle of psychosexuality and, more broadly speaking, of mental life in general.

The metapsychological position of the castration complex was described relatively late in Freud's work, but the word "castration" appeared earlier, linked to various psychoanalytical notions the consideration of which makes it possible to trace his theoretical course chronologically.

Castration fantasies, the symbolic aspects of castration, and mythological references to castration all figured in The Interpretation of Dreams (1900a) and in The Psychopathology of Everyday Life (1901b). In the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality (1905d), where Freud dealt with sexual aberrations, infantile sexuality, and the metamorphoses of puberty, fear and anxiety concerning castration were evoked several times, and the subject became even more prominent in the later revisions of the book. In 1915, and again in 1920, the set of problems surrounding castration was clearly set in its Oedipal context, and castration was treated as a major theoretical and clinical notion.

In "On the Sexual Theories of Children" (1908c), in connection with the evasive answers that parents give to children's questions as to "where babies come from" and about sexuality in general, Freud noted the coexistence in children (bespeaking a first split in mental functioning) of an official version, that of the parents, and a set of firmly believed "theories." The first such theory was the belief that every human being had a penis. It was the collapse of this belief that would give rise to the castration scenario. It is notable that Freud from the outset took the psychosexual profile of the boy as his model; as a result he was led later to explain female psychosexuality by reference to that model. Meanwhile, already in this paper of 1908, he was pointing out how the clitoris was conceived of as "a small penis which does not grow any bigger" and the female genitalia were viewed as "a mutilated organ" (p. 217).

The case history of "Little Hans" (1909b) illustrated and rounded out Freud's discussion of the "sexual theories of children." In Freud's eyes, the castration complex was still a sort of psychopathological nucleus, frequently encountered, which had also left "marked traces behind in myths" (p. 8). This nucleus was amplified with a second surge of the castration threat, the moment of seeing, as when Little Hans (aged three and a half) saw that his newborn baby sister had no penis. This observation occasioned an act of disavowal: Little Hans decided that as his sister grew up, her penis would get bigger (p. 11).

Only later, however, in a deferred manner with respect to the two phases of the threat of castration, would castration anxiety make its appearance. Note that Freud long used the words "anxiety" and "terror" almost interchangeably with reference to the fear of castration; he eventually drew a clear distinction in Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (1926d [1925]), contrasting the "anxiety as signal" that triggered repression with the various terrors characteristic of psychosis. Although Freud's account of 1909 did not yet use the term "phallic," when he introduced the concept of the infantile genital organization in 1923, he claimed universality for it precisely under that heading.

In Totem and Taboo (1912-13a), Freud presented the myth that he believed was the basis of human socialization. The threat of castration and the murder of the father were themes present in Freud's writings in this vein throughout his work, concluding with Moses and Monotheism (1939a). "The Taboo of Virginity" (1918a) had a similar perspective, though it was concerned with more properly psychological issues. This paper was one of a trio of short works called "Contributions to the Psychology of Love." In the first, "A Special Type of Choice of Object Made by Men," the theme of castration was latent throughout, the object-choice under consideration being made from the "constellation connected with the mother" (the mother and the whore "basically . . . do the same thing") (1910h, pp. 169, 171). In the second paper, "On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love" (1912d), Freud described incestuous wishes as giving rise to an equivalent of castration, either in the direct form of male impotence or, indirectly, by means of projection, in the form of the debasement of the love-object. The third text, "The Taboo of Virginity," dealt explicitly with the castration anxiety precipitated in men by contact with women, universally recognized as a danger to male sexuality, that is to say, as always potentially castrating.

In the delusions of Dr. Schreber, castration was an obligatory emasculation, but an acceptable one in that it would afford him access to female "states of bliss," so much more voluptuous than male ones (1911c, p. 29). With "On Narcissism" (1914c), Freud appeared to reject the castration complex; in point of fact, however, his allusion to castration was part of a refutation of Adler's conception of "masculine protest" (pp. 92-93), while his clear account of the narcissistic hypercathexis of the penis tended on the contrary to reinforce the notions of the castration complex in boys and of penis envy in girls.

The metapsychological papers of 1915 contain no reference to the theme of castration. At the same period, however, Freud was at work on his case history of the "Wolf Man" (1918b [1914]), where castration played a prominent role in the "reconstruction" of his patient's infantile neurosis. The Wolf Man sought through identification to assume the passive position of his mother during sexual intercourse; he chose the fantasy of anal penetration by his father, implicit in which was a castration fantasy. In this case history Freud opted for several theoretical hypotheses related to castration. These included the definition of femininity; castration as at once feared as a narcissistic injury and desired as a precondition to penetration by the father; repression; erogenous displacement onto the bowel; splitting of processes of thought and ideation; and radical disavowal (Verwerfung, translated by Jacques Lacan as forclusion ("foreclosure"). All the same, castration as a complex was still not regarded by Freud at this time as an organizing principle of the psyche; he felt simply that as threat, anxiety, or fantasy it was sufficiently freighted with meaning to bring about reorganizations of the psyche.

In his paper "On Transformations of Instinct as Exemplified in Anal Erotism" (1916-17e), Freud returned to his earlier theoretical options and brought them together, notably with respect to female sexuality and anality. He presented female sexuality as centered on penis envy and on the wish for a child, the two being equivalent. A like set of equivalences obtained in the psyche, "as an unconscious identity," between feces, penis, gift, and baby—all of them part-objects, all of them small, "detachable" parts of the body (p. 133). In this way Freud came back to the idea of a "pregenital" phase (already mentioned in 1905) predicated on genital castration conceived as anal castration, just as an oral castration could be said to describe separation from the breast. The word "castration" thus came in all cases to indicate the sexual implications—even if they were deferred—of such separations.

"The Infantile Genital Organization" (1923e) was presented as an addition to, and a development of the Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. The paper stressed the fundamental difference between the pregenital organizations of the libido on the one hand and, on the other, the part played by the infantile genital organization in the two-phase institution of sexuality. The infantile genital phase was characterized by the primacy, in both sexes, of the cathexis of the male genital organ. The evolution of Freud's thinking here thus concerned not only the discovery of the anatomical difference between the sexes but also the fact that it was the presence or absence of a penis that gave full meaning to that difference. "What is present, therefore, is not a primacy of the genitals, but a primacy of the phallus" (p.142). The replacement of "penis" by "phallus" here clearly indicated Freud's new perspective. Further, and quite logically, he added that "the castration complex can only be rightly appreciated if its origin in the phase of phallic primacy is also taken into account" (p. 144). The sadistic-anal pregenital antithesis between active and passive gave way to the antithesis between phallic and castrated. The sexual polarity between male and female would not coincide with masculine and feminine until puberty.

"The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex" (1924d) rehearsed some now familiar arguments, but it did so from the phallic perspective proposed in "The Infantile Genital Organization." The phallic genital organization of the child succumbed to the threat of castration. This threat was conveyed first through what was understood and then through what was seen; when its full effect was felt, the child "turns away from the Oedipus complex" (p. 176). But the object-cathexes thus abandoned were replaced by identifications. The period of latency followed: libidinal tendencies were desexualized and sublimated, and the introjection of paternal authority formed the nucleus of the superego.

An important issue nevertheless remained unresolved, that of female sexuality, including its relationships with the Oedipus complex, with the superego, and with latency. Was it also characterized by a phallic organization and a castration complex? Freud maintained that the girl, realizing that a clitoris was not on a par with a penis, accepted castration as an established fact. For her the threat of castration and the superego were thus of lesser significance. A more general threat was that of the loss of love. Penis envy tended to be replaced by the wish to obtain an oedipal child from the father.

According to "Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes" (1925j), whereas castration was experienced by boys essentially as a threat, girls looked upon it as a reality to which they were already subject. Either alternative derived directly from the "primacy of the phallus" in both sexes. When the girl observed a boy and his penis, she recognized that she did not have a penis, and wanted to have one. Worse, she might develop a masculinity complex (the wish to be like a man) or, as a further step, disavow reality by "refusing to accept the fact of being castrated" (p. 253). Naturally, the consequences could sometimes be serious, ranging from feelings of unfair treatment to narcissistic injury, from jealousy to the sort of onanistic fantasy described in "'A Child Is Being Beaten'" (1919e). The mother, in such cases, though the original love object, was blamed for this effective castration.

With puberty, however, a powerful wave of repression would bear down upon all sexual activity in girls that was of a "masculine" stamp (clitoridal masturbation), clearing the way for the development of a passive and receptive femininity. Likewise, and at the same time, she would take her father as an object of Oedipal love and transform her penis envy into the wish for a child from him. In short, "In girls the Oedipus complex is a secondary formation. The operations of the castration complex precede it and prepare for it" (1925j, p. 256).

For Freud, therefore, the anatomical difference between the sexes was interpreted in the same way by both girls and boys. It is this Freudian account of female sexuality that has been most widely criticized.

Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (1926d [1925]) introduced Freud's second theory of anxiety: the earlier notion that the affect associated with a repressed idea was converted into anxiety was replaced with a conception of anxiety as an alarm signal that itself triggered repression. Anxiety and the castration complex were both central to this new conceptualization. Revisiting the cases of "Little Hans" and the "Wolf Man," Freud clearly expressed the view that "the motive force of repression" was anxiety in face of the threat of castration (pp. 107-8). He added that the fear of being devoured, bitten, and so on, as well as animal phobias, and phobias and imaginary fears in general, should also be attributed to castration anxiety, which for its part was the fear of a danger felt to be thoroughly real (Realangst). This theoretical picture explained what the three types of neurosis, hysterical, phobic, and obsessional, had in common: "in all three the motive force of the ego's opposition is, we believe, the fear of castration" (p. 122). Furthermore, whether with respect to pregenital forms (experiences of separation from breast or feces) or with respect to more developed forms (social or moral anxiety stoked by the superego), it was invariably the danger of castration that was feared, and distinctly not the danger of death, no representation of which existed in the unconscious. Nor was the "birth trauma" evoked by Otto Rank involved here.

The prototype of anxiety was the suckling's state of distress in the absence of its mother; from the economic standpoint, this biological situation implied an increase in the tension created by need. The pivot of anxiety—deferred, relative to that initial distress—was the castration complex. The heir of the castration complex was anxiety vis-à-vis the superego. In women, fear of losing the object's love played the same role as castration anxiety in men (p. 143).

Freud's paper on "Fetishism" (1927e) broached the issue of the disavowal of female castration. "Probably no male human being is spared the fright of castration at the sight of a female genital" (p. 154). For the fetishist, at the place where the penis ought to be, there was indeed a penis, in the variable (and often vivid) form of a personal fetish whose presence and employment implied a splitting of the ego: one part acknowledged the castration of women while the other disavowed it, in a single, perpetual process that protected the fetishist from the terror of castration.

In "Female Sexuality" (1931b) and throughout the New Introductory Lectures on Psycho-Analysis (1933a), especially in the lectures entitled "Femininity" and "Anxiety and Instinctual Life," Freud reasserted the importance of the structuring role of the castration complex. He reiterated his general position as follows: "The danger of psychical helplessness fits the stage of the ego's early immaturity; the danger of loss of an object (or loss of love) fits the lack of self-sufficiency in the first years of childhood; the danger of being castrated fits the phallic stage; and finally fear of the super-ego, which assumes a special position, fits the period of latency" (p. 88).

The closing pages of "Analysis Terminable and Interminable" (1937c) addressed what Freud continued to look upon as an anti-analytical enigma, even, in a sense, a scandal: men would not understand that passive submission to a master does not amount to castration, while women could not admit that they have no penis and that this is their nature. In short, men's fear of castration and women's penis envy corresponded to a refusal of femininity (i.e., of castration) by both sexes—a refusal graven in the "bedrock" of the biological (pp. 250-53).

In the myriad forms in which it manifested itself in mental life, as interpreted theoretically by Freud, castration was omnipresent, and closely bound up with the Oedipus complex; if female sexuality was something of a stumbling-block for it, the concept was firmly anchored to the difference between the sexes and the difference between the generations. Starting out from empirical observations, such as those in the case history of "Little Hans," Freud's theoretical path led him beyond clinical experience into fundamental questions of epistemology. Castration turned out to be more than the fantasy of a child under threat; embedded in the Oedipus complex and theoedipal situation, this fantasy emerged not only as an organizing principle in the psychic life of the individual but also as prototypical of the "split" which, as distinct from fusion, made possible individuation and the secondary processes (temporality, succession, language, psychical working-out, thought, and so on). In this perspective, Jacques Lacan laid much stress on symbolic castration, making the phallus responsible for the organization of difference, hence for splitting, and hence for the symbolic order, though at the same time he continued to endow this order with the sexual aura specific to the human condition.

It was precisely this anthropological dimension that would seem to have been misapprehended by most English-language authors. For Melanie Klein, admittedly, the castration fantasy continued to play a predominant role in the development of childhood psychosexuality, but it intervened at a late stage, even though she spoke of an early Oedipus complex. As early as the nineteen-twenties, Sándor Ferenczi and Otto Rank had been critical of the castration complex, while, later on, Freud's account of the link between castration and femininity had, not unjustifiably, been questioned. Castration had barely any place in the theoretical and clinical contributions of D. W. Winnicott, whose definition of femininity was highly original; nor did it have much significance for Wilfred Bion, and it had even less for Heinz Kohut, for whom the Oedipus and castration complexes refer merely to late, relative, and contingent events in mental life.

Another conceptual difficulty that should not be overlooked is that attending the relations between the castration complex and the death instinct. It is notable that Beyond the Pleasure Principle (1920g) pays scant attention to the castration complex, whereas Inhibitions, Symptoms and Anxiety (1926d [1925]), largely focused on the castration complex, makes no mention of the death instinct.

In its role as organizer of mental life, the castration complex sometimes fails, either because it has not been sufficiently developed to be effective, or because it is apparently overwhelmed. In such cases the subject finds himself grappling directly with instinctual disintegration and exposed to the ravages of the destructive instincts. In psychotic functioning, castration anxiety, so far from playing a structuring role, itself constitutes a terror operating in the same mode as archaic fears of dismemberment.

The fact is that two different perspectives are present here. While Freud undoubtedly considered that the castration complex played a basic organizing role in mental life as a stage in which the anxieties and distress of an earlier time—even the earliest time—were revived in a deferred manner, he simultaneously looked upon it a stage in the formation of the superego. And it was thanks to the part played by the superego that instinctual renunciations would eventually be effected under the pressure of unconscious feelings of guilt and the need for punishment.

Although such instinctual sacrifices were injurious to the individual, they were essential to the "process of civilization," that is, to the development of conscience and thought. This process was subject, like the individual, to that instinctual duality which, we must not forget, was based at once upon an antagonism and an inextricable connection between the life and the death instincts. The great lesson of Civilization and Its Discontents was that "This conflict is set going as soon as men are faced with the task of living together" (1930a, p. 132). Living together indeed requires at the very least the symbolic marks of sacrifice (circumcision, for instance), and such marks are planted on the sexual body, thus clearly demonstrating the power of the notion of castration in the various registers of human reality.

"Analysis of a Phobia in a Five-Year-Old Boy" (Little Hans); Anxiety; Aphanisis; Biological bedrock; Disavowal; Exhibitionism; Fascination; Father complex; Fetishism; Fright; "From the History of an Infantile Neurosis (Wolf Man)"; Identificatory project; Masculine protest (individual psychology); Oedipus complex; Penis envy; Perversion; Phallic mother; Phallic stage; Phobias in children; Phobic neurosis; Primal fantasies; Psychanalyse et Pédiatrie (Psychoanalysis and pediatrics); Psycho-sexual development; Self-mutilation in children; Sex differentiation; "Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Difference between the Sexes"; "Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defence"; "Taboo of Virginity, The"; Unconscious fantasy.

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  • ——. (1901b). The psychopathology of everyday life. SE,6.
  • ——. (1905d). Three essays on the theory of sexuality. SE, 7: 123-243.
  • ——. (1908c). On the sexual theories of children. SE, 9: 205-226.
  • ——. (1909b). Analysis of a phobia in a five-year-old boy. SE, 10: 1-149.
  • ——. (1910h). A special type of choice of object made by men (Contributions to the psychology of love I). SE, 11: 163-175.
  • ——. (1911c [1910]). Psycho-analytic notes on an autobiographical account of a case of paranoia (Dementia paranoides). SE, 12: 1-82.
  • ——. (1912d). On the universal tendency to debasement in the sphere of love. (Contributions to the psychology of love II). SE, 11: 177-190.
  • ——. (1912-13a). Totem and taboo. SE, 13: 1-161.
  • ——. (1914c). On narcissism: an introduction. SE, 14: 81-105.
  • ——. (1916-17e). On transformations of instinct as exemplified in anal erotism. SE, 17: 125-133.
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  • ——. (1919e). A child is being beaten. SE, 17: 175-204.
  • ——. (1920g). Beyond the pleasure principle. SE, 18.
  • ——. (1923e). The infantile genital organization (an interpolation into the theory of sexuality). SE, 19: 141-145.
  • ——. (1924d). The dissolution of the oedipus complex. SE, 19: 171-179.
  • ——. (1925j). Some psychical consequences of the anatomical distinction between the sexes. SE, 19: 241-258.
  • ——. (1926d [1925]). Inhibitions, symptoms and anxiety. SE, 20: 75-172.
  • ——. (1927e). Fetishism. SE, 21: 147-157.
  • ——. (1930a). Civilization and its discontents. SE 21: 57-145.
  • ——. (1931b). Female sexuality. SE, 21: 221-243.
  • ——. (1933a [1932]). New introductory lectures on psycho-analysis. SE, 22: 83-268.
  • ——. (1937c). Analysis terminable and interminable. SE, 23: 209-253.
  • ——. (1939a). Moses and monotheism. SE, 23: 1-137.
  • Lacan, Jacques. (1991). Le Séminaire VIII. Le transfert (1960-61). Paris: Seuil.
  • Laplanche, Jean (1980). Problématiques II, Castration, symbolisations. Paris: Presses Universitaires de France.

Seminar XI castration 11, 73, 77-8, 89, 102, 104, 118, 253 castration complex (complexe de castration)


Phallic Phase

The castration complex affects both sexes because its appearance is closely linked with the phallic phase, a moment of psychosexual development when the child, whether boy or girl, knows only one genital organ - the male one.

The castration complex

The phallic phase is a moment of psychosexual development when the child -- whether boy or girl -- knows only one genital organ - the male one.

The phallic phase is also known as the infantile genital organization.

(because it -- the phallic phase -- is the first moment when)

The partial drives are unified under the primacy of the [genital]] organs.

It thus anticipates the genital organisation proper which arises at puberty, when the subject is aware of both the male and the female sexual organs.[1]

  1. Freud, Sigmund. "The Infantile Genital Organization." 1923. SE XIX. p.141