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Phallus

 

Explanations > Psychoanalysis > Concepts > Phallus

Description | Discussion | See also

 

Description

The phallus is used in psychoanalysis either as a symbol of ultimate male power or the female lack.

In the male sense, it symbolizes creation, ultimate power, omnipotence and even godhood. However, this ultimate quality is also unattainable and hence also indicates lack.

In the female sense, it connotes general lack, loss and an aching sense of incompleteness. Women desire the phallus and hence are attracted to men.

Discussion

Lacan saw the phallus as the symbolic function, the bearer of the 'Law of the father'. In the symbolic register, it 'covers over' the division of the subject from the mother. It is a position of unreachable 'fixity' from which the subject could speak as if it were the author of its own meaning. It represents exchange, communication and representation.

Taking up a position relative to the phallus enables the child to position itself sexually, either 'having the phallus' or 'lacking it' (often framed as 'being the phallus'). This becomes particularly significant during gender discovery and the Oedipus Complex, where the boy may re-present himself to his mother as 'having the phallus' and the girl as 'being the phallus', both on the assumption that the mother desire the phallus.

See also

Desire, Infant sexuality, Jouissance

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