The Significance of Masochism in Mental Life of Women : 27th July 1929 Oxford [1930] : Helene Deutsch

by Julia Evans on July 27, 1929


Part 1

Read at the Eleventh International Psycho-Analytical Congress, Oxford, July 27, 1929.


1) International Journal of Psycho-Analysis : Vol 11 : p 48-60

Available at  /authors a-z

Referenced by Jacques Lacan

Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan : Information & Notes here

– Seminar IV : 28th November 1957

– Seminar IV : 9th January 1957 : p3 of Earl’s Court Collectives’ translation :

Quote from Jacques Lacan : And exemplifying this movement, which is given to us as being always essentially unconscious, in a case where, to sum it up, an analysis had allowed a child to bring to light this image of the little girl who, having been in the process of analysis and regarding herself as seeing more clearly than anyone else of what happened in her unconscious, woke up every morning following some insight or other, asking if the father’s little child had come and if it was to come today or tomorrow, and she asked this every morning with anger and tears.

Quote from this paper by Melanie Klein :  “I heard of the little daughter of an analyst mother who, at the time when she was experiencing penis-envy, was consoled with the prospect of having a child. Every morning she woke up to ask in a fury: ‘Hasn’t the child come yet’? and no more accepted the consolation of the future than we are consoled by the promise of Paradise.” (p. 30)

References to Sigmund Freud

P48 : Footnote 3 Freud: ‘Some Psychological Consequences of the Anatomical Difference between the Sexes’ (This JOURNAL, Vol. VIII, 1927). The argument in this paper of Freud’s is that the Oedipus complex does not develop in girls until after the phase of phallic onanism. : Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes: 1925j : Sigmund Freud

P49 : Direct observation of children shows beyond question that these first onanistic activities are informed with impulses of a primary sadistic nature against the outside world. (4) 4 In his paper on ‘The Economic Problem in Masochism’ (Collected Papers, Vol. II), Freud points out that the important task of the libido is to conduct into the outside world the instinct of destruction primarily inherent in living beings, transforming it into the ‘instinct of mastery’. This is effected by means of the organ of motility, the muscular system. It appears to me that part of these destructive tendencies remains attached to the subject’s own person in the earliest form of masturbation, which has as yet no libidinal object, and that it is thus intercalated between organic pleasure and motor discharge into the outside world. At any rate I have been able with some degree of certainty to establish the fact that children who are specially aggressive and active have a particularly strong urge to masturbation. (I am speaking here of the earliest masturbation, which is as yet autoerotic). We see too that in little children frustration may provoke an outburst of rage and at the same time attempts at masturbation. :

The Economic Problem of Masochism: 1924 : Sigmund Freud

P49–50 : In his paper ‘Some Consequences of the Anatomical Difference between the Sexes’, Freud sees in the turning of the little girl to her father as a sexual object a direct consequence of this anatomical difference. In Freud’s view, development from the castration to the Oedipus complex consists in the passing from the narcissistic wound of organ-inferiority to the compensation offered: that is to say, there arises the desire for a child. This is the source of the Oedipus complex in girls.

In this paper I shall follow up the line of thought thus mapped out by Freud. After the phallic phase, where the boy renounces the Oedipus complex and phallic masturbation, there is intercalated in the girl’s development a phase which we may call ‘post-phallic’; in this the seal is set upon her destiny of womanhood. Vaginal cathexis, however, is as yet lacking. :

Some Psychical Consequences of the Anatomical Distinction between the Sexes: 1925j : Sigmund Freud

P50 : The narcissistic estimation of the non-existent organ passes smoothly (to use a phrase of Freud’s) ‘along the symbolic equation: penis—child, which is mapped out for it’. But what becomes of the dynamic energy of the libido which is directed towards the object and yearns for possibilities of gratification and for erotogenic cathexes? : Reference not found


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


Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst in Earl’s Court, London


Further posts:

Some Lacanian history : here

Of the clinic here

By Helene Deutsch here

By Sigmund Freud here

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud here

By Jacques Lacan here

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here

Translation Working Group here

Use of power here