The Early Development of Female Sexuality : 1st September 1927 (Innsbruck) : Ernest Jones

by Julia Evans on September 1, 1927

Read at the Tenth International Congress of Psycho-Analysis, in Innsbruck, on 1st September 1927


International Journal of Psycho-Analysis (IJPA) : vol viii : 1927 : p 459-472

Ernest Jones : Papers on Psycho-Analysis : Fifth Edition : 1948 : p238-451

La Psychanalyse : Vol 7 : 1964 : To accompany Guiding Remarks for a Congress on Feminine Sexuality : 1958 [Presented in Amsterdam, 5th September 1960] : Jacques Lacan : Information and details from here

Available at  /authors by date or authors a-z

Links to Jacques Lacan

Seminar IV, 5th December 1956 : See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here for further information and notes on this session

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

p77 of Jacqueline Rose’s translation of The Meaning (or Signification) of the Phallus (Munich): 9th May 1958 : Jacques Lacan  or here : Quote : if only for the starting premise on which he constructs his argument, signalled by the term aphanisis, which he himself coined. For by correctly posing the problem of the relationship between castration and desire, ….. : Jones used the Greek term “aphanisis” to refer to the “total, and of course permanent, extinction of the capacity (including opportunity) for sexual enjoyment”;

see p461 of this text : Quote : For the main blow of total extinction we might do well to use a separate term, such as the Greek word ‘aphanisis’.

If we pursue to its roots the fundamental fear which lies at the basis of all neuroses we are driven, in my opinion, to the conclusion that what it really signifies is this aphanisis, the total, and of course permanent, extinction of the capacity (including opportunity) for sexual enioyment. After all, this is the consciously avowed intention of most adults towards children. Their attitude is quite uncompromising: children are not to be permitted any sexual gratification. And we know that to the child the idea of indefinite postponement is much the same as that of permanent refusal. We cannot, of course ,expect that the unconscious, with its highly concrete nature, will express itself for us in these abstract terms, which admittedly represent a generalization. The nearest approach to the idea of aphanisis that we meet with clinically is that of castration and of death thoughts (conscious dread of death and unconscious death wishes). I may cite here an obsessional case in a young man which illustrates the same point, He had substituted as his summum bonum the idea of æsthetic enjoyment for that of sexual gratification, and his castration fears took the form of apprehension lest he should lose his capacity for this enjoyment, – behind them being of course the concrete idea of the loss of the penis.

So maybe, for Jones, the fear of aphanisis is more fundamental than that of castration in both sexes, castration being only a “special case” of aphanisis in boys.

Seminar VI, 7th January 1959 : p84 of Cormac Gallagher’s translation : Further information Seminar VI: Desire and its interpretation: 1958-1959 : from 12th November 1958 : Jacques Lacan or here


Seminar VI : 3rd June 1959 : Ernest Jones & the term castration complex by Julia Evans on 16th April 2014 or here

References to Freud

P460-461 : Freud has justly remarked in connection with the pregenital precursors of castration (weaning and defæcation, pointed out by Stârcke and myself respectively) that the psycho-analytical concept of castration, as distinguished from the corresponding biological one, refers definitely to the penis alone – the testicles at most being included in addition. : No exact reference to Freud given.


Three Essays on Sexuality : 1905 : Sigmund Freud : SEVII p123-245, Published at see here 

Essay II Infantile Sexuality, 

Section [5] The sexual researches of childhood : p113 of James Strachey’s translation, Vol 7 of pfl : Quote : CASTRATION COMPLEX AND PENIS ENVY

Quote : This conviction is energetically maintained by boys, is obstinately defended against the contradictions which soon result from observation, and is only abandoned after severe internal struggles (the castration complex). The substitutes for this penis which they feel is missing in women plays a great part in determining the form taken by many perversions. The assumption that all human beings have the same (male) form of genital is the first of the many remarkable and momentous sexual theories of children. It is of little use to a child that the science of biology justifies his prejudice and has been obliged to recognize the female clitoris as a true substitute for the penis.


Section [6] The phases of development of the sexual organization : Pregenital organization :

p116-117 of James Strachey’s translation, Vol 7 of pfl :

Quote : We shall give the name of ‘pregenital’ to organizations of sexual life in which the genital zones have not yet taken over their predominant part. We have hitherto identified two such organizations, which almost seem as though they were harking back to early animal forms of life.

The first of these is the oral or, as it might be called, cannibalistic pregenital sexual organization. Here sexual activity has not yet been separated from the ingestion of food; nor are opposite currents within the activity differentiated. The object of both activities is the same; the sexual aim consists in the incorporation of the object – the prototype of a process which, in the form of identification, is later to play such an important psychological part. A relic of this constructed phase of organization, which is forced upon our notice by pathology, may be seen in thumb-sucking, in which the sexual activity, detached from the nutritive activity, has substituted for the extraneous object one situated in the subject’s own body.[1] [p1224]

1 [Footnote added 1920:] For remnants of this phase in adult neurotics, cf. Abraham (1916). [Added 1924:] In another, later work (1924) the same writer has divided both this oral phase, and also the later sadistic anal one, into two sub-divisions, which are characterized by differing attitudes towards the object.


From p14 – the Introduction to ‘Female Sexuality : The Early Psychoanalytic Controversies’ : Edited by Russell Grigg, Dominique Hecq, and Craig Smith : Rebus Press, 1999 : Quote : Obvious too is the reason why arguments become more intense with Freud’s insistence on the phallic phase in his work on ‘The Dissolution of the Oedipus Complex’ (1924d),  SE XIX p173-179 Published at see here. But it is as though the controversy is now taking place on two levels. It is as though Freud is now alone. For both Freud’s opponents and his defenders look for answers in biology or anatomy even though they take object-relations as the focus of their discussions.

In point of fact Freud reacted by accusing his oppenents of looking for answers outside the psychoanalytic field of inquiry, disapproving of what might be called this return of biology.

Quote from Letter to Carl Müller-Braunschweig : 1935 : Sigmund Freud, published as ‘Freud and female sexuality: a previously unpublished letter’, Psychiatry, 34 (1971) : p328-9 : I object to all of you (Müller-Braunschweig, Horney, Jones, Rado, etc.] to the extent that you do not distinguish more clearly and cleanly between what is psychic and what is biological, that you try to establish a neat parallelism between the two and that you, motivated by such intent, unthinkingly construe psychic facts which are unprovable and that you, in the process of so doing, must declare as reactive or regressive much that without doing so is primary….In addition I would only like to emphasize that we must keep psychoanalysis separate from biology just as we have kept it separate from anatomy and physiology.

And yet, here there is also a turning point in Freud’s work: emphasis is placed increasingly upon the mother-child dyad. It is, moreover, at this point that Freud reformulates the question of the substitution of objects in Oedipal terms: ‘how’ rather than ‘why’ the little girl changes love objects. (See Some psychical consequences of the anatomical distinction between the sexes : 1925 : Sigmund Freud : SE XIX : p251 )

P464 : Freud [5] holds that it is the comparative unsatisfactoriness of this solution which automatically guides the child to seek for a better external penis, and thus ushers in the Oedipus situation where the wish for a baby gradually replaces that for a penis. : Freud, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, Vol. VIII, P. 140 :

This is ‘Some Psychological Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction Between the Sexes’ : 1925j : Sigmund Freud : About 7 pages from the beginning. : p340 of pfl : Quote : So far there has been no question on the Oedipus complex, nor has it up to this point played any part. But now the girl’s libido slips into a new position along the line – there is no other way of putting it – of the equation ‘penis-child’. She gives up her wish for a penis and puts in place of it a wish for a child: and with that purpose in view she takes her father as a love-object. Her mother becomes the object of her jealousy. The girl has turned into a little woman.

P465 : so we have to recognize that many clinical phenomena depend on the defensive function of regression, recently insisted on by Freud.[18] Freud, Hemmung, Symptom und Angst, 1926, S. 48, etc. :

Inhibitions, Symptoms & Anxiety : 1926d : Sigmund Freud : SE  XX p75-175 : Download from at Part 1 & Part II  

p259 of James Strachey’s translation, Vol 10 of pfl : Quote : At any rate, we can see that repression is not the ony means which the ego can employ for the purpose of defence against an unwelcome instinctual impulse. If it succeeds in making an instinct regress, it will actually have done it more injury than it could have by repressing it. Sometimes, indeed, after forcing an instinct to regress in this way, it goes on to repress it.

P467 : If the ‘condition of dependence’ (cp. Freud’s phrase; “Liebesbedingung’) is not fulfilled the individuals, : no reference is given or has been found:

Jacques-Alain Miller describes it, in Love’s Labyrinths : See Lacanian Ink Vol 8, published by here : or published by the Journal of cfar  here  : as ‘There is an aspect of contingency in love. Love depends on chance meetings. There is a tuché of love, to use Aristotle’s term, a “chance encounter.” But psychoanalysis emphasizes an element of necessity in love that is opposed to luck: the automaton of love. The great discoveries of psychoanalysis concerning love are from this register. Analysis allows a subject to close in on what makes him fall in love and what makes him desire. This is what Freud called “the condition of love” (Liebesbedingung).

P468-469 : I would even venture the opinion that when Freud postulated a ‘phallic’ stage in female development corresponding with that in the male, i.e. a stage in which all the interest appears to relate to the male organ only with obliteration of the vaginal or pre-vaginal organs, he was giving a clinical description of what maybe observed rather than a final analysis of the actual libidinal position at that stage;  No reference is given :

Possibly The dissolution of the Oedipus complex : 1924 : Sigmund Freud : SE XIX p173-179    Published at see here  

p320 – 321 of James Strachey’s translation, Vol 7 of pfl : Quote : At this point our material – for some incomprehensible reason – becomes far more obscure and full of gaps. The female sex, too, develops an Oedipus complex, a super-ego and a latency period. May we attribute a phallic organization and a castration complex to it? The answer is in the affirmative; but these things cannot be the same as they are in boys.

P472 : Freud’s ‘phallic phase’ in girls is probably a secondary, defensive construction rather than a true developmental stage. : no reference is given :

Possibly ‘Some Psychological Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction Between the Sexes’ : 1925j : Sigmund Freud : p339 of James Strachey’s translation, Vol 7 of pfl : Analyses of the remote phallic period have now taught me that in girls, soon after the first signs of penis-envy, an intense current of feeling against masturbation makes its appearance, which cannot be attributed exclusively to the educational influence of those in charge of the child. This impulse is clearly the forerunner of the wave of repression which at puberty will do away with a large amount of the girl’s masculine sexuality in order to make room for the development of her femininity.


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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London


Further texts

By Ernest Jones here

Of the clinic : here

From other LW working groups : here

Translation Working Group here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

By Julia Evans here