On the Genesis of the Castration Complex in Women : September 1922 (Berlin) : Karen Horney

by Julia Evans on September 1, 1922

Paper delivered at the Seventh International Psycho–Analytical Congress, Berlin, Sept. 1922

Published in International Journal of Psycho-Analysis Vol 5, 1924, p50

Available [here]

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Reference by Karen Horney to Sigmund Freud

P51 : Cf.Freud, ‘Tabu der Virginitat’, Sammlung klehier Schriften, Vierte Folge..

Taboo of Virginity : 1917 (Read as a communication to the Vienna Psycho-Analytical Society, 12th December 1917.) : SE XI,  p191—208

P58 : Cf. Freud, ‘ Uber Triebransetzimgen ‘insbesondere der Analerotik’, Sammlung kleiner Schriften. Vierte Folge.

‘On Transformations in Instinct as Exemplified in Anal Eroticism’ : 1917 : Sigmund Freud : Vol. 7: On Sexuality – Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality and Other Works, [trans. from the German under the general editorship of James Strachey, pp.295-302 & SE VII

P65 : In his papers entitled ‘Trauer und Melancholie’ 9 (Grief and Melancholia) :  Sammlung kleiner Schriften. Vierte Folge.

Mourning and Melancholia : 1917 : Sigmund Freud : SE XIV

See Richard G. Klein’s site www.Freud2Lacan.com : here

p65 : and ‘The Psychogenesis of a Case of Female Homosexuality’, 10 : INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF PSYCHO–ANALYSIS, Vol. I, p. 125.

See The Psychogenesis of a case of Homosexuality in a Woman: 1920: Sigmund Freud or here

p65 : and in his Group Psychology and Analysis of the Ego, Freud has shown more and more fully how largely the process of identification bulks in human mentality.

Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego : 1921 : Sigmund Freud :

SE XVIII p69-143 : published by Richard G. Klein at www.Freud2Lacan.com: available here

Availability of Other References

P50 : Manifestations of the Female Castration Complex : 1920 : Karl Abrahams or here

This text referred to by Sigmund Freud

In the last sentence of this paper, Some psychical consequences of the anatomical distinction between the sexes : 1925 : Sigmund Freud : SE XIX p241-258, Sigmund Freud quotes:

– Untersuchungen iiber die früheste praägenitale Entwicklungsstufe der Libido. I..Z., Jahrg. iv. Heft 2, S. 71-97, 1916.

Translated as The first pregenital stage of the libido : 1916 : Karl Abraham : Selected papers, London 1927: New York, 1953, Ch XIX : See The First Pregenital Stage of the Libido : 1916 : Karl Abraham or here

– On the genesis of the castration complex in women : September 1922 (Berlin)  : Karen Horney : International Journal of Psycho-Analysis Vol 5, 1924, p50

– Psychoanalyse de weiblichen Sexualfunktionen : Vienna : 1925 : Helene Deutsch

The Psychoanalysis of Women’s Sexual Function : 1925 – this appears to be a book.

As referred to by Jacques Lacan

Karen Horney is mentioned in The Meaning (or Signification) of the Phallus (Munich): 9th May 1958 : Jacques Lacan  : See here. The exact reference is not given so it may be Horney, K. (1926). The Flight from Womanhood: The Masculinity-Complex in Women, as Viewed by Men and by Women. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 7:324-339  rather than this one.  This has to be investigated…..  This second is the paper referred to by Sigmund Freud in Female Sexuality : 1931.

Paragraph 10 of Seminar IV : 9thJanuary 1957 : See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan : See  here

Para 12 : this little fact simply noted during one of these articles… it is a matter of something admitted by everyone… namely, that for the little girl, around this evolution and at the moment when she goes into Oedipus, it is exactly as substitute for this missing phallus that she starts to desire a child from the father. And one of these authors cited, as an example, the analysis of a child. :

Horney (1922) Op. cit. p58 : I wish especially to emphasize the strong impression I received in this case of the importance of the desire to have a child (from the father).

Other Linked Commentaries:

P14 & 20 of Introduction – I to ‘Jacques Lacan & the École Freudienne: Feminine Sexuality’: 1982 : Juliet Mitchell or here

P14 : That the castration complex operates as an external event, a law, can be seen too from a related preoccupation of Freud’s. Some time around 1916, Freud became interested in the ideas of Lamarck. This interest is most often regarded, with condescension, as an instance of Freud’s nineteenth-century scientific anachronism. But in fact by 1916 Lamarck was already outmoded and it is clear that Freud’s interest arose not from ignorance but from the need to account for something that he observed but could not theorise. The question at stake was : how does the individual acquire the whole essential history of being human within the first few short years of its life? Lamarkian notions of cultural inheritance offered Freud a possible solution to the problem. In rejecting the idea of cultural inheritance, Freud’s opponents may have been refusing a false solution but in doing so they missed the urgency of the question and thereby failed to confront the problem of how the child acquires so early and so rapidly its knowledge of human law. Karen Horney’s ‘culturalist’ stress – her emphasis on the influence of society – was an attempt to put things right, but it failed because it necessitated an implicit assumption that the human subject could be set apart from society and was not constructed solely within it : the child and society were separate entities mutually affecting each other, there; in this she takes for granted exactly that which she intends to explain. For Horney there are men and women (boys and girls) already there; in this she takes for granted exactly that which she intended to explain.

Freud’s concept of the castration complex completely shifted the implications of the Oedipus complex and altered the meaning of bisexuality.

P20 : In the mid-twenties the focus of the concept of the castration complex may well have contributed to a change of emphasis away from itself and towards a preoccupation with female sexuality. When the well-known names associated with the discussion – Horney, Deutsch, Lamp-d Groot, Klein, Jones – join in, their concern is less with the construction of sexual difference than it is with the nature of female sexuality. It is from this time that we can date what has become known as the ‘great debate’.

P28-29 : Introduction – II to ‘Jacques Lacan & the École Freudienne: Feminine Sexuality’: 1982: Jacqueline Rose or here

P28-29 : …. Normal sexuality is, therefore, strictly an ordering, one which the hysteric refuses (falls ill). The rest of Freud’s work can then be read as a description of how that ordering takes place, one which the hysteric refuses (falls ill). The rest of Freud’s work can then be read as a description of how the question of femininity, because its persistence as a difficulty revealed the cost of that order.

Moreover, Freud returned to this question at the moment when he was reformulating his theory of human subjectivity. Lacan took Freud’s concept of the unconscious, as extended and developed by the later texts (specifically Beyond the Pleasure Principle : 1920  : SE XVIII and the unfinished paper ‘Splitting of the Ego in the Process of Defence : 1940 : SE XXIII) as the basis of his own account of femininity (the frequent criticism of Lacan that he disregarded the later works is totally unfounded here). He argued that failure to recognise the interdependency of these two concerns in Freud’s work – the theory of subjectivity and femininity together – has led psychoanalysts into an ideologically loaded mistake, that is, an attempt to resolve the difficulties of Freud’s account of femininity itself. For by restoring the woman to her place and identity (which, they argue, Freud out of ‘prejudice’ failed to see), they have missed Freud’s corresponding stress on the division and precariousness of human subjectivity itself, which was, for Lacan, central to psychoanalysis’ most radical insights. Attempts by and for women to answer Freud have tended to relinquish those insights, discarding either the concept of the unconscious (the sign of that division) or that of bisexuality (the sign of that precariousness). And this has been true of positions as diverse as that of Jones (and Horney) in the 1920s and 1920s and that of Nancy Chodorow (1979) speaking from psychoanalysis for feminism today.


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, Earl’s Court, London


7th December 2018 : To request a copy of any text whose weblink does not work, contact Julia Evans: je.lacanian@icloud.com : For fuller details, see Notice : Availability of texts from LacanianWorks by Julia Evans or here


Other texts

Of the clinic here

Use of power here

Some Lacanian History : here

Topology : here

Lacanian Transmission : here

By Karen Horney here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here