The Femininity-Complex in Men : 12th November 1929 : [1930] : Felix Boehm

by Julia Evans on November 12, 1929

Read before the German Psycho-Analytical Society on 12th November 1929

Published: International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, Vol 11 , p444-469, 1930

Available here

Quoted by Jacques Lacan:

Seminar VI : Session of 13th May 1959 : Chapter 20 : p258 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Availability given Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959 : from 12th November 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here

We begin to analyse homosexuals. I would ask you to refer at that moment to the work of Boehm as it began to organise itself between the years from 1929 to 1933 and beyond. He was one of the first. I am indicating this because it is quite exemplary. Moreover, I indicated the bibliography of homosexuality when I spoke to you of the importance of ……. articles. The development of analysis shows us that homosexuality is far from being a primordial instinctual exigency. I mean, identifiable with a pure and simple fixation or deviation of the instinct.

We are going to find in a second stage that the phallus, whatever the fashion it intervenes in the mechanism of homosexuality is far from being that of object. That the phallus in question is a phallus that one identifies perhaps hastily with the paternal phallus in so far as this phallus is found in the woman’s vagina. And because it is there it is, there it is dreaded, that the subject finds himself carried to extremes and to homosexuality.

Here therefore is a phallus with a quite different import, with a quite different function, and on a quite different plane to the one we first saw.

That is not all. After rejoicing, as I might say, at having caught this hare by the ears, on we go with the analysis of homosexuals, and we perceive that in fact – this is where I refer very specially to the works of Boehm which are particularly clear and confirmed by a vast experience – the image that we will encounter at a later date, in the analytic structurings of homosexuality, is an image which although it presents itself as an appendix – we attribute it in a first sketch to the woman, in so far as she is not yet supposed to be castrated – shows itself when it is circumscribed in a more detailed way as being something which is what one can call evagination, the extra- position from the interior of this organ.

That this phantasy, which precisely we have encountered in the dream, and which I analysed at such length for you, whose analysis I took up at such length with you, this dream of the inverted hood[i], of an appendix made up of something which is in a way the exteriorisation of the interior, this is something which in a certain investigative perspective proves to be the final imaginary term with which the homosexual of whom there is now question – and there are several analysed by Boehme – finds himself confronted when it is a question of showing him the day-to-day dialectic of his desire.

What does this means if not that here the phallus presents itself indeed in a radical form in which it is something, in so far as this something is to show in the exterior what is in the imaginary interior of the subject, and that in the last analysis one should almost not be surprised that a certain convergence is established between the imaginary function of what is here in the imaginary in a posture of extraposition, of extirpation, almost detached, but still not detached from the interior of the body, and which most naturally finds itself being able to be raised to the function of symbol, without nevertheless being detached from its radical insertion, from what makes it be felt as a menace to the integrity of the self-image .

Having given this glimpse, I do not want to leave you there, because this is not what is going to give you the sense and the function of o [a] qua object in all its generality. I have told you; the object in the phantasy, namely in its most completed form, in so far as the subject is desire, as the subject is therefore on the brink of this castrating relationship, the object is what gives its support to this position. Here I would like to show you the synchrony in which this can be articulated. I underline synchrony, because the requirements of discourse will also necessarily give you a formula which is a little diachronic. Namely that you are going to be able to confuse what I am going to give you here with a genesis.

References to Sigmund Freud

1) P445 : Freud says: ‘The matter is made more difficult to grasp by the complicating circumstance that even in boys the Œdipus complex has a double orientation, active and passive, in accordance with their bisexual constitution; the boy also wants to take his mother’s place as the love-object of his father – a fact which we describe as the feminine attitude.’ [p3214] Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction
Between the Sexes
: 1925 [p333 of Penguin Freud Library, Volume 7, On Sexuality]

2) P452 : Freud traces a strong craving to smoke to the pleasurably-toned act of sucking at the mother’s breast. [p1213] It is not every child who sucks in this way. It may be assumed that those children do so in whom there is a constitutional intensification of the erotogenic significance of the labial region. If that significance persists, these same children when they are grown up will become epicures in kissing, will be inclined to perverse kissing, or, if males, will have a powerful motive for drinking and smoking. If, however, repression ensues, they will feel disgust at food and will produce hysterical vomiting. The repression extends to the nutritional instinct owing to the dual purpose served by the labial zone. From: p98-99 of Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality : 1905 : Essay II, Infantile Sexuality : Part II, The Manifestations of Infantile Sexuality (Auto-erotism)

3) p452: One recalls the impressive description in Freud’s Drei Abhandlungen of pleasure-sucking in infants, He speaks of a kind of orgasm occurring after the child has been suckled. : [p1211] Thumb-sucking appears already in early infancy and may continue into maturity, or even persist all through life. It consists in the rhythmic repetition of a sucking contact by the mouth (or lips). There is no question of the purpose of this procedure being the taking of nourishment. A portion of the lip itself, the tongue, or any other part of the skin within reach even the big toe – may be taken as the object upon which this sucking is carried out. In this connection a grasping-instinct may appear and may manifest itself as a simultaneous rhythmic tugging at the lobes of the ears or a catching hold of some part of another person (as a rule the ear) for the same purpose. Sensual sucking involves a complete absorption of the attention and leads either to sleep or even to a motor reaction in the nature of an orgasm. : . From: p96 of Three Essays on Sexuality : 1905 : Essay II, Infantile Sexuality : Part II, The Manifestations of Infant Sexuality (Thumb Sucking)

4) P454 : ‘You have such a big widdler because you are so big’. Freud, ‘Analysis of the Phobia of a Five-year Old Boy. (Little Hans)’:1909 : p257 of Part II Case History and Analysis : Penguin Freud Library: Volume 8, Case Histories: Quote from James Strachey’s translation:

Freud: “He gave you a bigger widdler and a bigger behind.”

Hans: “Yes”

Freud: “Like Daddy’s; because you’d like to be Daddy.”

Hans: “Yes, and I’d like to have a moustache like yours and hairs like yours” (He pointed to the hairs on my chest.)

5) P456 : In ‘The Economic Problem of Masochism’ Freud says ‘from the final genital stage are derived of course the situations characteristic of womanhood, namely, the passive part in coitus and the act of giving birth’. Collected Papers, Vol. II, p. 261 OR p419 of PFL, Volume 11, On Metapsychology, The Economic Problem of Masochism : 1924 : quote : and from the final genital organization there arise, of course, the situations of being copulated with and of giving birth, which are characteristic of femaleness.

6) P460 : Freud’s remarks in ‘The Ego and the Id’ on the substitution of an identification for an object-cathexis and on the introjection of a lost object. : p367 of PFL, Volume 11, On Metapsychology: The Ego and the Id: 1923: Part III, The Ego and the Super-Ego (Ego Ideal) : [p3098] If the ego were merely the part of the id modified by the influence of the perceptual system, the representative in the mind of the real external world, we should have a simple state of things to deal with. But there is a further complication.

7) P463 : Speaking of perversion Freud says: ‘It is brought into relation with the child’s incestuous object-love’ with its Œdipus-complex. It first comes into prominence in the sphere of this complex, and after the complex has broken down it remains over, often quite by itself, the inheritor of its charge of libido, and weighed down by the sense of guilt that was attached to it’. : ‘A Child is being Beaten.’ Collected Papers, Vol II p187 : p178 of PFL Volume 10 On Psychopathology : A Child is being Beaten ( A contribution to the study of the origin of sexual perversions) : 1919 : [p2859] The most obvious result of such a discussion is its application to the origin of the perversions. The view which brought into the foreground in this connection the constitutional reinforcement or premature growth of a single sexual component is not shaken, indeed; but it is seen not to comprise the whole truth. The perversion is no longer an isolated fact in the child’s sexual life, but falls into its place among the typical, not to say normal, processes of development which are familiar to us. It is brought into relation with the child’s incestuous love-object, with its Oedipus complex. It first comes into prominence in the sphere of this complex, and after the complex has broken down it remains over, often quite by itself, the inheritor of the charge of libido from that complex and weighed down by the sense of guilt that was attached to it. The abnormal sexual constitution, finally, has shown its strength by forcing the Oedipus complex into a particular direction, and by compelling it to leave an unusual residue behind.

8) P467 : In his paper ‘Some Psychological Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes’ Freud says: ‘but we shall, of course, willingly agree that the majority of men are also far behind the masculine ideal and that all human individuals, as a result of their bisexual disposition and of cross-inheritance, combine in themselves both masculine and, feminine characteristics, so that pure masculinity and femininity remain theoretical constructions of uncertain content ‘.  : p342 of PFL, Volume 7 On Sexuality : Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes.: 1925 or IJP, Vol. VIII, P. 138. : Quote from James Strachey’s translation: We must not allow ourselves to be deflected from such conclusions by the denials of the feminists, who are anxious to force us to regard the two sexes as completely equal in position and worth; but we shall, of course, willingly agree that the majority of men are also far behind the masculine ideal and that all human individuals, as a result of their bisexual disposition and of cross-inheritance, combine in themselves both masculine and feminine characteristics, so that pure masculinity and femininity remain theoretical constructions of uncertain content.

9) P488 : In this connection I recall Freud’s words: ‘After a woman has become aware of the wound to her narcissism, she develops, like a scar, a sense of inferiority, When she has passed beyond her first attempt at explaining her lack of a penis as being a punishment personal to herself and has that that sex character is a universal one, she begins to share the contempt felt by men for a sex which is lesser in so important a respect, and, so far at least as maintaining this judgement is concerned, she clings obstinately to being like a man.” : p337 of PFL, Volume 7 On Sexuality : Some Psychological Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes.: 1925 or IJP, Vol. VIII, P. 138. : Quote from James Strachey’s translation: After a woman has become aware of the wound to her narcissism, she develops, like a scar, a sense of inferiority. When she has passed beyond a punishment personal to herself and has realized that that sexual character is a universal one, who begins to share the contempt felt by men for a sex which is the lesser in so important a respect, and, at least in holding that opinion, insists on being like a man.

Other references

P458 : Eisler, A Man’s Unconscious Phantasy of Pregnancy in the Guise of Traumatic Hysteria.’ This Journal, Vol. lI, 1921, p. 235. : Availability given here : A Man’s Unconscious Phantasy of Pregnancy in the Guise of Traumatic Hysteria—A Clinical Contribution to Anal Erotism : 1921 : Michael Josef Eisler or here :

[i] See Analysis of a single dream : 1936 [1937] : Ella Sharpe :Availability given here

Other texts referring to ‘Little Hans’ here