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Phallic and seminal masculinity: A theoretical and clinical confusion

Figlio, Karl (2010) 'Phallic and seminal masculinity: A theoretical and clinical confusion.' The International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 91 (1). pp. 119-139. ISSN 00207578

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Both inside and outside psychoanalysis, the word, 'seminal', is used to praise a creative contribution to science and culture. Rarely, however, does it refer to male procreativity, to the structures and functions that subserve it or to the anxiety related to a threat to it. This situation becomes evident in the concept of castration anxiety, which typically refers, with Freud, to cutting off the penis and not to extirpating the testicles. This phallic theory has been debated, repudiated and ignored. While there is an alternative literature on non-phallic masculinity, it is scattered and rarely refers to seminal function. Freud's theory meets his requirement for a well-articulated representation of absolute loss as an experience, but this clear structure – and its repudiation – obscure the observation and theory of the internal world of the male. I propose the concepts of 'seminal masculinity' and 'seminal castration', which I ground in Melanie Klein's concept of depressive anxiety. I contrast them with phallic masculinity and phallic castration anxiety, which I ground in her concept of paranoid–schizoid anxiety. I argue that they meet Freud's requirement that castration be a potential experience and that understanding masculinity demands such a basis.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: ambivalence; castration anxiety; masculinity; procreation, semen
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Psychosocial and Psychoanalytic Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Jim Jamieson
Date Deposited: 13 Jan 2012 14:26
Last Modified: 13 Jan 2012 14:26

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