Freud - Complete Works
FEMALE SEXUALITYIDuring the phase of the normal Oedipus complex we find the child tenderlyattached to the parent of the opposite sex, while its relation to the parent of its ownsex is predominantly hostile. In the case of a boy there is no difficulty in explainingthis. His first love-object was his mother. She remains so; and, with thestrengthening of his erotic desires and his deeper insight into the relations betweenhis father and mother, the former is bound to become his rival. With the small girl itis different. Her first object, too, was her mother. How does she find her way to herfather? How, when and why does she detach herself from her mother? We havelong understood that the development of female sexuality is complicated by the factthat the girl has the task of giving up what was originally her leading genital zonethe clitoris - in favour of a new zone - the vagina. But it now seems to us that thereis a second change of the same sort which is no less characteristic and importantfor the development of the female: the exchange of her original object - her mother- for her father. The way in which the two tasks are connected with each other isnot yet clear to us.It is well known that there are many women who have a strong attachment to theirfather; nor need they be in any way neurotic. It is upon such women that I havemade the observations which I propose to report here and which have led me toadopt a particular view of female sexuality. I was struck, above all, by two facts.
The first was that where the woman’s attachment to her father was particularly
intense, analysis showed that it had been preceded by a phase of exclusiveattachment to her mother which had been equally intense and passionate. Exceptfor the change of her love-object, the second phase had scarcely added any newfeature to her erotic life. Her primary relation to her mother had been built up in avery rich and many-sided manner. The second fact taught me that the
of this attachment had also been greatly under-estimated. In several cases it lasteduntil well into the fourth year - in one case into the fifth year - so that it covered byfar the longer part of the period of early sexual efflorescence. Indeed, we had toreckon with the possibility that a number of women remain arrested in their originalattachment to their mother and never achieve a true change-over towards men.This being so, the pre-Oedipus phase in women gains an importance which we havenot attributed to it hitherto.