The Flight from Womanhood: The Masculinity-Complex in Women, as Viewed by Men and by Women : 1926 : Karen Horney

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1926


International Journal of Psycho-Analysis (IJPA) : 1926, Vol 7 : p324-339

Available at  /authors a-z or authors by date

Cited by Sigmund Freud

in Female Sexuality : 1931b : SE XXI p221-243 : Published at download here : Quote p391 of pfl : 

Thus, for instance, Karen Horney (1926) is of the opinion that we greatly overestimate the girl’s primary penis-envy and that the strength of the masculine trend which she develops later is to be attributed to a secondary penis-envy which is use to fend off her feminine impulses and, in particular, her feminine attachment to her father. This does not tally with my impressions.

Cited by Jacques Lacan

Seminar IV : 27th February 1957 : Paragraph 50 : see Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan  or here,  Para 50 : For let us not forget that after all, the little boy’s phallus is not much more robust than the little girl’s, and this, naturally, has been noted by good authors. Jones nonetheless noticed that Karen Horney was siding with his opponent – in this case, Freud.

p324 : A momentous step towards the understanding of the specifically feminine was made by Freud himself in discovering the existence of penis-envy, and soon after the work of van Ophuijsen and Abraham shewed how large a part this factor plays in the development of women and in the formation of their neuroses. The significance of penis envy has been extended quite recently by the hypothesis of the ‘phallic phase’. By this we mean that in the infantile genital organization in both sexes only one genital organ, namely the male, plays any part, and that it is just this which distinguishes the infantile organization from the final genital organization of the adult.1 According to this theory, the clitoris is conceived of as a phallus, and we assume that little girls as well as boys attach to the clitoris in the first instance exactly the same value as to the penis.2

1 Freud: ‘The Infantile Genital Organization of the Libido’. Collected Papers, Vol. II, No. XX.  [SE Vol XIX, p243-58] See  at here  
2 H. Deutsch: Psychoanalyse der weiblichen Sexualfunktionen, 1925. [The Psychology of Women in Relation to the Functions of Reproduction : April 1924 [1925] (Salzburg) : Helene Deutsch  or  here

-Probably P77 of Jacqueline Rose’s translation of  The Meaning (or Signification) of the Phallus (Munich): 9th May 1958 : Jacques Lacan  : See here : Quote : … not that interesting transmutations of the object from phobia into fetish do not occur, but their interest resides precisely in the different place which they occupy in the structure. There would be no point in asking these authors to formulate this difference from the perspective of object relations which is currently in favour. This being for lack of any reference on the matter other than the loose notion of the part object, uncriticised since Karl Abraham first introduced it, which is more the pity in view of the easy option which it provides today.

The fact remains that, if one goes back to the surviving texts of the years 1928-32, the now abandoned debate on the phallic phase is a refreshing example of a passion for doctrine, which has been given an additional note of nostalgia by the degradation of psychoanalysis consequent on its American transplantation.

A mere summary of the debate could only distort the genuine diversity of the positions taken by figures such as Helene Deutsch, Karen Horney and Ernest Jones, to mention only the most eminent.

Availability of some of Karen Horney’s references

P324 : Ref 1 : Freud: ‘The Infantile Genital Organization of the Libido’. Collected Papers, Vol. II, No. XX. :

The infantile genital organization: An interpolation into the theory of sexuality : 1923e : Sigmund Freud : SE Vol XIX, p243-58

P324 : Ref 3 : Freud: ‘Einige psychische Folgen der anatomischen Geschlechtsunterschiede’. Internationale Zeitschrift für Psychoanaluse, Bd. XI, 1925. : Also GW, vol 14, p26;

Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes : 1925j : Sigmund Freud : SE, Vol XIX, p254

P329 : Ref 11 :  S. Horney, ‘On the Genesis of the Castration-complex in Women’, International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, Vol. V, 1924.

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

Karen Horney is quoted by Sigmund Freud in the last sentence of Psychical Consequences : see above


– In this discussion I have already touched on a problem which Freud has recently brought into the foreground of interest:12 namely, the question of the origin and operation of the desire for a child. In the course of the last decade our attitude towards this problem has changed. I may therefore be permitted to describe briefly the beginning and the end of this historical evolution.

The original hypothesis13 was that penis-envy gave a libidinal reinforcement both to the wish for a child and the wish for the man, but that the latter wish arose independently of the former.

– 12 Freud: ‘ber einige psychische Folgen der anatomischen Geschlechtsunterschiede’.

See Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes : 1925j : Sigmund Freud : SE, Vol XIX p241-258

– 13 Freud: ‘On the Transformation of Instincts with special reference to Anal Erotism’. Collected Papers, Vol. II, No. XVI. :

On transformations of instinct as exemplified in anal eroticism (1917d) : Sigmund Freud  : SE XVII : p179-204

P335 :

Quote : We should then instead have to conceive of the libidinal interest in the penis as a kind of ‘partial love’, to use Abraham’s term. : 17 Abraham: Versuch einer Entwicklungsgeschichte der Libido, 1924. : A Short Study of the Development of the Libido, Viewed in the Light of Mental Disorders : 1924 : Karl Abraham :  See here

Quote : We might explain the process too by an analogy from later life: I refer to the fact that admiring envy is specially calculated to lead to an attitude of love.

With regard to the extraordinary ease with which this regression takes place I must mention the analytical discovery18 that in the associations of female patients the narcissistic desire to possess the penis and the object-libidinal longing for it are often so interwoven that one hesitates as to the sense in which the words ‘desire for it’19 are meant.

– 18 Freud referred to this in The Taboo of Virginity.  See The Taboo of Virginity (Contributions to the Psychology of Love III) : 12thDecember 1917 (Vienna) (1918a) : Sigmund Freud : SE XI : p193-208

– 19 German: Haben-Wollen.


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Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst


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Some Lacanian History : here

Topology : here

Lacanian Transmission : here

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