, Volume 1, Issue 1, pp 45-60

Psychosexual development, maternalism, nonpromiscuity, and body image in 15 females with precocious puberty

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Abstract

Fifteen females with a history of idiopathic sexual precocity were selected without known sampling bias. They had been followed for as long as 18 years. They showed various behavioral characteristics as a group, but were also individually unique. If the IQ permitted, they benefited socially from school acceleration. Left to their own devices, the majority preferred friends nearer to them in physique age rather than chronologic age. Play interests, though influenced by the age of playmates, showed no features unique to the precocious onset of hormonal puberty. About half of the girls had occasional moody or depressed spells and wanted to be left alone. Maternalistic interests were strongly represented; only one girl was a tomboy. Masturbation and sexual play in childhood were rarely confirmed, and in no instances were totally contrary to family or community mores. No consistent progression of erotic dream content was discerned. Dreams of having a baby were rare, but antedated intercourse dreams, which were also rarely reported and did not include sensations of climax. Whereas the youngest age of having a serious boyfriend was 8 years, and the youngest age of intercourse, 11, the majority of girls did not report romantic and sexual involvements before the middle teenage years or later. In the three instances of marriage, the youngest was at age 21. Motherhood has so far been achieved by only one patient. She delivered her first child at age 11. The visible appearance of early sexual development and early advanced statural growth created a problem in childhood human relationships for most of the girls, regardless of what they said, and regardless of their skill or ineptitude in handling it. They all benefited even from minimal counseling, as did their parents. Early appearance of physical sexual development does not automatically lead to premature engagement in erotic activity or promiscuous sexual behavior. Such activity and behavior require appropriate experience and facilitating knowledge of erotic opportunities.

Supported in research by Grant 5K03-HD18635 and Grant 2R01-HD00325, USPHS.