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Castration Anxiety


Castration anxiety is a psychoanalytic concept introduced by Sigmund Freud to describe a boy’s fear of loss of or damage to the genital organ as punishment for incestuous wishes toward the mother and murderous fantasies toward the rival father. The anxiety is validated by the boy’s discovery of the anatomical difference between the sexes.


Castration anxiety was first mentioned by Freud (1909) in connection with the Oedipus complex and his discovery of the sexual theories of children, as in the case of Little Hans, a 5-year-old boy with a phobia that he would be bitten by a horse. Freud (1917) indicated that castration is not merely a boy’s fantasy, but is intensified by environmental factors such as parents or nannies threatening to cut off his penis or offending hand at the time of his early masturbation. Fenichel (1945) similarly emphasized that castration anxiety could be increased by family relational factors including parental seductiveness, exposure to...


  • Anatomical Difference
  • Genital Organ
  • Depressed Mother
  • Emotional Neglect
  • Physical Defect

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Correspondence to Graeme Taylor .

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Taylor, G. (2016). Castration Anxiety. In: Zeigler-Hill, V., Shackelford, T. (eds) Encyclopedia of Personality and Individual Differences. Springer, Cham.

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