Seminar VII : 2nd March 1960 : p157 : Sigmund Freud & Infantile Sexuality

by Julia Evans on November 9, 2013

Seminar VII : 2nd March 1960 : Ch XII – A critique of Bernfeld : p157 of Dennis Porter’s translation : quote

To fail to recognise that sexuality is there from the beginning in the young child, and is an even greater factor during the phase that precedes the latency period, is to fly in the face of the whole Freudian enterprise and discovery. If so much insistence has been placed on the pregenital sources of sublimation, it is for that reason. The problem of sublimation is raised long before the moment when the division between the aims of the libido and the aims of the ego are clear, apparent, and accessible on the level of consciousness. If I may be permitted to emphasise here something that I have taught you, I would say that the term I use in the effort to articulate sublimation in relation to what we have to deal with, das Ding, or what I call Thing, refers to a decisive place around which the definition of sublimation must be articulated – even before I was born, and, oviously, therefore, before the Ichziele, the aims of the I appear.


1. During the Reading Group on 9th November 2013, Bruno de Florence remarked that this referred to Sigmund Freud’s Infantile Sexuality (1905) part II of Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality. The headings for this section are as follows:


Neglect of the Infantile Factor

Infantile Amnesia

[1] The Period of Sexual Latency in Childhood and its Interruptions

Sexual Inhibitions

Reaction-formation and Sublimation

Interruptions of the Latency Period

[2] The Manifestations of Infantile Sexuality



[3] The Sexual Aim of Infantile Sexuality

Characteristics of Erotogenic Zones

The Infantile Sexual Aim

[4] Masturbatory Sexual Manifestations

Activity of the Anal Zone

Activity of the Genital Zones

Second Phase of Infantile Masturbation

Return of early Infantile MasturbationPolymorphously Perverse Disposition

Component Instincts

[5] The Sexual Researches of Childhood

The Instinct for Knowledge

The riddle of the Sphinx

Castration Complex and Penis Envy

Theories of Birth

Sadistic View of Sexual Intercourse

Typical Failure of Infantile Sexual Researches

[6] The Phases of development of the Sexual Organization

Pregenital Organizations


Diphasic Choice of Object

[7] The Sources of Infantile Sexuality

Mechanical excitations

Muscular Activity

Affective Processes

Intellectual Work

Varieties of Sexual Constitution

Pathways of Mutual Influence


2) These title may seem a little startling even in the 21st century – over 100 years ago they were revolutionary. No-one had looked at children and their sexuality like this, before!