Pregenital Patterning : 1952 : Phyllis Greenacre

by Julia Evans on January 1, 1952

Published as Greenacre, P. (1952). Pregenital Patterning. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 33:410-415

Available at  /authors a-z or authors by date

Referenced by Jacques Lacan

Seminar IV : 30th January 1957 : See Seminar IV : The Object Relation & Freudian Structures 1956-1957 : begins 21st November 1956 : Jacques Lacan or here : Probably Para 28 : All this can be seen, but we need analysis in order to see what is at stake a little more closely. That is, to see how it happens that each time, for whatever reason, the fetish gives way, exhausts itself, gets used up, simply gives out. What we see in romantic behaviour, and more simply in the erotic relations of the subject, comes down to a defense. You can verify this by reading, in the International Journal, the observations of Ms. Sylvia Payne, Mr. Gillespie, Ms. Greenacre, Mr. Dugmore Hunter, or in the Psychoanalytic of the Child.

Paper referenced by Phyllis Greenacre

P414 That the child may and frequently does go through a period of assumption that others’ genital organization is like his own or that his is like that of others is more likely a narcissistic phenomenon following rather than preceding actual observation of the differences, which may again be denied (2).  [2] JONES, ERNEST ‘The Phallic Phase’ Papers on Psychoanalysis 4th Edition, 1938 Bailliere, Tindall & Cox, London, pp. 571-804 :  See The Phallic Phase : given in Wiesbaden on 4th September 1932 [1933] : Ernest Jones or here 


From : 

Phyllis Greenacre (born 3 May 1894, Chicago, Illinois; died 24 October 1989 Ossining, New York) was an American psychoanalyst and physician who was a supervising and training analyst at the New York Psychoanalytic Institute.

Education and life

After taking a BS from Chicago in 1913 and an MD in 1916, Greenacre worked for some years under Adolf Meyer on experimental psychology. During this period she married and divorced her one husband, after having two children with him in 1921-2. She began psychoanalytic training in 1937, and thereafter rose to high prominence within the ranks of the American psychoanalytic establishment, before finally retiring at the age of ninety.


In an early publication from 1939, Greenacre explored the role of a severe sense of (unconscious) guilt in fueling surgical addiction. Two years later she published her once controversial but now classic study of childhood anxiety as manifested preverbally.

In the fifties, a study of fetishism in relation to body image launched her at fifty-nine into a two-decade long exploration of aggression, creativity and early childhood development. She also wrote on the family background of the imposter.

Her continuing interest in psychoanalytic training led her to a powerful warning against the dangers of boundary transgressions in relation to the transference: “The carrying through into a relationship in life of the incestuous fantasy of the patient may be more grave in its subsequent distortion of the patient’s life than any actual incestuous seduction in childhood”.


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 Julia Evans

Practicing Lacanian Psychoanalyst,  London


Other texts

On Lacanian History here 

Use of power here 

Lacanian Transmission here 

Some Lacanian History here 

Topology here

By Phyllis Greenacre here 

By Sigmund Freud here 

Notes on texts by Sigmund Freud : here 

By Jacques Lacan here 

Notes on texts by Jacques Lacan here 

Other texts on ‘Little Hans”  here  

By Julia Evans here