Manifestations of the Female Castration Complex : 1920 : Karl Abraham

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1920

P338-369 of Selected Papers of Karl Abraham : with an introductory memoir by Ernest Jones : Translated by Douglas Bryan & Alix Strachey : Hogarth Press : 1927

Full text of “Selected Papers Of Karl Abraham M D” : published by : available here

Text of ‘Manifestations of the Female Castration Complex’ : available at  /authors a-z or authors by date


1) First published in 1920 as “Äusserungsformen des weiblichen Kastrationskomplexes.”

2) Abraham, Karl. Manifestations of the Female Castration Complex, International Journal of Psychoanalysis, Vol. 3, 1922, 1-29

3) Selected Papers : Hogarth Press : 1927

Citations by Jacques Lacan:

– Seminar IV : 30th January 1957 : The Object Relation : See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here

–  Seminar IV : 27th February 1957, Para 47 : I would like to show you once more how this notion of the lack of the object is absolutely essential, simply in order to read the right psychoanalytic authors, among which I count Karl Abraham who wrote a simply admirable article on the castration complex in women in 1920 

[Probably p358 of Abraham : In the sphere of the female castration complex the tendency to disappoint can be formulated in respect of its origin as follows :

First stage: I rob you of what you have because I lack it.

Second stage: I rob you of nothing. I even promise you what I have to give.

Third stage: I will not give you what I have promised]

No this is the quote

p351  The following observation of a little girl of two is particularly instructive in this respect. One day, as her parents were taking coffee at table, she went to a box of cigars that stood on a low cabinet near by, opened it, and took out a cigar and brought it to her father. Then she went back and brought one for her mother. Then she took a third cigar and held it in front of the lower part of her body. Her mother put the three cigars back in the box. The child waited a little while and then played the same game over again.

The fact of the repetition of this game excluded its being due to chance. Its meaning is clear: the child endowed her mother with a male organ like her father’s. She represented the possession of the organ not as a privilege of men but of adults in general, and then she could expect to get one herself in the future. A cigar was not only a suitable symbol for her wish on account of its form. She had of course long noticed that only her father smoked cigars and not her mother. Her impulse to put man and woman on an equality is palpably expressed in presenting a cigar to her mother as well.

& p349 : The patient used to place herself in the evening between the lamp and the wall and then hold her finger against the lower part of her body in such a manner that her shadow appeared to have a penis. She thus did something very similar to what the two-year-old child did with the cigar.

Quotations from texts by Sigmund Freud


p345 ‘The Taboo of Virginity’ Freud : The Taboo of Virginity (Contributions to the Psychology of Love III) : 1917 (1918a) : Sigmund Freud : SE XI : p193-208

p359 Drei Abhandlungen zur Sexualtheorie, 4. Aufl., S. Sjf.: Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality: 1905d : Sigmund Freud, Published at see here 

P360 See Freud, ‘Beitrage zur Psychologic des Liebeslebens ‘, Sections I. and II. :

Possibly : A Special Type of Choice of Object made by Men (Contributions to the Psychology of Love I) : 1910 : Sigmund Freud : SE Vol XI

On the Universal Tendency to Debasement in the Sphere of Love (Contributions to the Psychology of Love II) : 1922 : SE Vol 11 : Available here

Further texts:

By Karl Abrahams : Available here

Of the clinic  : Available here


Note : If links to any text do not work, check If a particular text or book remains absent, contact Julia Evans.


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst, London & Sandwich, Kent


Further texts:

Lacanian Transmission here

Some Lacanian history here

Of the clinic here

Lacanian History here

Case studies from life – historical figures : here

Lacanian Transmission here

By Karl Abrahamhere

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Jacques Lacan in English or here

Translation Working Group here

Use of power here

By Julia Evans here