Not all men love women, nor do all men hate them, nor does the one attitude exclude the other. There has been a good deal of speculation and little factual knowledge concerning the characteristics of the two sexes and their interaction, though this area of behavior is secondary in importance to bread-winning behavior only. From the inception of sexual reproduction, that is since females began to bear children, the child-versus-mother relationship has been the first social and emotional experience in everyone’s life. The first prenatal impressions are intrauterine: the first serious shock of separation is childbirth; the first sensations of hunger, thirst, satiation, comfort, warmth, and security are experienced in the context of child-mother relationships. But the respective parent roles are changing rapidly, and these changes must have affected the personalities of the offspring.

These sociological changes in family dynamics have produced new psychological phenomena. The neonates need today, as never before, tender love and care, and their feelings of security (and power) depend on being accepted by the parents. Today’s toddlers and preschool children fear their fathers much less than the previous generations did. Rarely does a mother threaten the child with «telling on him» to the father; in a great many contemporary families maternal authority has become equal to or greater than the paternal.

It is therefore not surprising that breast envy has become a phenomenon. Some of my male patients have had dreams indicating their wish to be a woman. In some dreams the breasts have appeared as a cherished possession, and the confusion of penis and breast has been quite frequent.

On the basis of my clinical observations, I venture to hypothesize that neither men nor women can completely resolve their Oedipal involvements, whether the positive ones (with the parent of the opposite sex) or the negative (with the parent of the same sex). Some residuum of the «first love» for the parent or the parent substitute seems to remain forever in almost all people.

Although there is a good deal of evidence for the universality of the Oedipal involvement (though it is necessarily different in different cultures), one may doubt the universality of penis envy. In over twenty-five years of clinical practice in this country, I have had a great many women patients. Going through my case reports, I noticed that the penis envy was more frequent among the older generation, brought up in traditional father-controlled families with clear male supremacy, than in the younger generation of women brought up in families with tenuous or nonexistent father supremacy. Freud’s observation of identification with the stronger parental figure seems to have been corroborated by my cases.

The male wish to be a woman was noticed by a few psychoanalysts a long time ago. Some men, who are not homosexual at all, identify with their mothers and later with their girlfriends. In some cases, feminine men deny that becoming a girl may mean the loss of the penis, and they emphasize that they actually do have a penis, but they act as if they were girls clearly identifying themselves with the powerful mother.

This gradually increasing incidence of breast envy requires further analysis in a sociocultural perspective. It seems that many ideas, theories, and even empirical studies have been influenced by the sociocultural setting. For instance, Terman and Miles found in 1936 that men are self-assertive and aggressive while women are compassionate and sympathetic. But these were the ideas of the thirties. Today, several studies indicate that aggressiveness is not limited to one sex only. Women emerge not as infants or mothers or both, but as people displaying as many diversified personality types as the other sex does (Wolman).


Share and Enjoy:
  • Digg
  • Sphinn
  • Facebook
  • Reddit
  • StumbleUpon
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter

Related Posts: