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Penis Envy

Well, I”m no psychoanalyst so I don’t even know if Freud’s theory is still big in those circles (pardon the pun)…but I have always thought that actually men must have womb envy, though most would not admit it, because women get as close as humanly possible to the miracle of birth…and I have wondered if subconsciously that could be one reason why some men begin the abuse of their parners as soon as they start showing during pregnancy… I.worked at a  battered women’s agency and it was so frequently the case….. 


February 17, 2008 - Posted by | culture, life, men, random, Vive le difference, women | , ,


  1. Violence is awfull and I really cannot understand how the brain of those male abusers function…

    But, even if exceptionally, there still are Babic women… (was it Babic the name of the famous opposite of penis envy case, when the jealous woman cut his penis?) I’ve just looked at a movie made after Zola’s “Germinal” and there was there an atrocious scene where a (middle-aged) woman cut the masculinity of the local grocery store owner… Brrr…

    Comment by iondanu | February 18, 2008

  2. I think the case you’re talking about was Lorena Bobbit. She did cut off her husband’s penis. As I recall, he was not jealous but terribly abusive…. I think when women do this it is also a case of “temporary insanity” which we so often hear about men who “snap” and kill their wives…but I’d better get off my soap box here..

    Comment by psychscribe | February 18, 2008

  3. Yeap, that is it: Bobbit! I wasn’t speaking of HIS jealousy but of HERS… It seems that, statistically, there are more chances to get killed by a member of your family than by a stranger… Sad…

    Comment by iondanu | February 18, 2008

  4. Well, that can hardly be considered penis envy, I think she was acting after the Salomonic judgement

    Comment by anangeli | February 18, 2008

  5. Bobbitt….the name is enough to make grown men weep….. 🙂

    I must say, and please forgive me if i seem ignorant here, I simply don’t understand why so many battered women continue to love their abusive partners, or conversely fail to leave them immediately, or return, knowing full well they will be subject to more of the same. I have heard a horror story about a situation where a women engineered things to try and get the man to explode and hit her, reasoning that it would be a display of at least “some kind” of emotion. Frankly, the history of domestic violence between the sexes bewilders me. I simply cannot understand it, or why anyone would accept it.

    Comment by kevmoore | February 18, 2008

  6. Wow Kev, there are whole books on this 🙂 But very briefly: psychologically, they may continue to love their abusive partners because of the Jeckyl and & Hyde syndrome the abusers almost always display…meaning the women wait for the kind side of the abuser to re-emerge…just like their abusive parents’ did…they will tell you ,”But I know that there’s a part of him that is so good and kind and loving…and that’s the part I still love.” And they’re right, there is…Both people have been attracted to, and become attached to, someone who feels familiar i.e. the parents…and they hope to get the love from the partner that they never really got from the parents…. Situationally: some women stay out of terror, no longer caring about what I just wrote. Abusers threaten to kill them and the kids (just think about all those news stories you hear) or worse. They threaten to take the kids, legally or otherwise. And statistically the most dangerous time for the victim is when she leaves…that escalates his rage and that’s when he’s most dangerous. Also, this can happen in reverse between the genders, but much less frequently. Also happens in lesbian couples as well.

    Comment by psychscribe | February 18, 2008

  7. That must be the same thing or similar to that Stockholm syndrome, isn’t it, psychscribe?

    For men, it seems that the most dangerous time is when they sleep…or are in alcoolic stupor…

    In 27 years of marriage I never had the least physical violence with my woman (that means she didn’t smack me either…) But, in my youth, I did damage to assiettes (I don’t remeber just now the English term)… latin blood… Mea culpa!

    Comment by iondanu | February 18, 2008

  8. Yes, actually it is similar to the Stockholm syndrome, Danu.

    Comment by psychscribe | February 18, 2008

  9. Your answer to Kevin is very good, Psych, thanks! You know, we always have deep discussions about this theme or similar ones, he really doesn´t understand why battered women don´t leave… but I guess your answer will help!
    On the other side I am asking myself if it is good for us that he understands. I am myself a very understanding person, I mean, I always find an explanation and almost always forgiveness for all human failures, but at the end, is it really good? Many times I have the feeling that I went too far with my tolerance and understanding, because it takes the ground under my feet, I mean the ground we all need to live in peace and safety…
    Perhaps it is healthier to simply reject all these failures and stamp them with “Bad and unforgivable”. But of course I am aware that this is a very dangerous premise…

    Comment by Miki | February 19, 2008

  10. Well Miki, I do think some things are bad and unforgivable…think pedophiles, think sadism, think Hitler….And also don’t forget that understanding something intellectually, like the battered woman syndrome, doesn’t mean that we can accept it emotionally…I can recoil at something I hear yet understand it at the same time…no?

    Comment by psychscribe | February 19, 2008

  11. Uurgh.. Freud.. thank god he’s no longer alive, I would’ve sued his sorry-ass a thousand times!

    Comment by supersizeme | February 20, 2008

  12. Well, Psych, I do think too that these things are bad and unforgivable!!! I thought it was clear that I was not speaking about these extreme things…
    And yes, it is much easier to forgive intellectually than emotionally…

    Comment by Miki | February 20, 2008

  13. Miki, when I re-read your post I get it that you were talking in more every day terms 🙂

    Comment by psychscribe | February 20, 2008

  14. Interesting comments on this, I’ve just read through the comments, its a psychological thing, abuse, I would describe it, as being in ”layers of the severity of abuse”.. and the abused’s tolerance levels and in many cases the abuser is either Jekyll & Hyde as said above or the abuser’s a very sophisticated abuser, can abuse in small doses, where the abused feels it may be trivial, and so doesnt do anything abour it, and when it does gradually build up (could take years, decades) to get to the extreme, the victim has gotten used to it, hence they dont feel alarmed enough to want to leave? I’ve seen this happen with a couple, with my own eyes, from childhood onwards, and most abusers sadly, they do do it more subtle, they just chip away at a person, until eventually theres nothing left of their victim, Its not always a case of short bursts of extreme physical violence.

    Stockholm syndrome, thats just ideotic, but I think a womans naturally meant to be the nurturing sort and all that sympathising with ”troubled” fools cant be helped with some women and their hormones, so yes thats another case that comes from abuse.

    Comment by supersizeme | February 21, 2008

  15. supersizeme: I agree completely with you about how insidious the tolerance of abuse can be. I also have seen this many times, exactly as you describe it. However I must take issue with your calling the Stockholm syndrome idiotic. I’ve also seen this myself many time. May I respectfully ask where you’re coming from on this?

    Comment by psychscribe | February 22, 2008

  16. Actually, I do apologise, I dont really understand the whole of the Stockholm syndrome, all I know is there was some girl who was kidnapped in Australia and she developed it with her abductor, started feeling affectionate towards him, I just found it really unusual and perverse for feelings of affection to develop from such awful situations, especially since he took away all of her childhood, she was with him for so many years, and he was so deranged, but then we dont really know what passed between them, but I saw it like she had suffered severe psychological trauma which onset the syndrome?
    Thats the only case I’ve heard of it, and I honestly cant grasp it, but you’re right I shouldn’t have said ”ideotic” to describe it.

    Comment by supersizeme | February 22, 2008

  17. I think the case you’re referring to Supe, was in Austria, the girl was Natascha Kampusch..and, whilst Stockholm syndrome seems to be a bona fide condition, there are a lot of strange aspects to the case. The police investigated stories that she had been “given” to her captor on several occasions before he eventually took her, and he was known to the family. Whatever the truth, its clear that she wept at the news of her captor’s death, but one supposes that would be logical, as he had represented, for eight years, the only constant companion in her life.

    Comment by kevmoore | February 22, 2008

  18. Yes, thats the one Kev, yeah she was abducted as a child and released as a late teen, which is really sad, she lost out on her childhood and adolescence, I only read/heard the media’s views on it, whether it was the truth or twisted somewhat I cant really say.

    Comment by supersizeme | February 22, 2008

  19. supersizeme & kev: kev said it perfectly in regard to stockholm syndrome…for 8 years he was the only constant companion in her life..captives of any kind can develop an attachment to whoever gives them food, shelter, affection..whoever takes care of their basic needs….just as abused children love their parents despite horrific treatment…its the whole dependency thing..which takes us back to battered women who feel so dependent on their partners…

    Comment by psychscribe | February 22, 2008

  20. I hope supersizeme would not think this ideotic because it’s true and proved: there are women who fall (fanatically) in love with serial killers and murderers… A movie sample is Dead Man Walking with Susan Sharandon and Sean Penn. The relatively recent case of Karla (also a movie) when the woman in the couple, Karla, helped and even more, his sexual partner to rape and kill other young women, including her younger sister… Of course, this cases are extreme but there is something here: a strange , perverse attraction of some (not stupid) women toward some really bad and wicked men…

    Comment by iondanu | February 23, 2008

  21. Hmm.. well its a strange world, a mixed bag of all sorts, I guess I’ll just have to accept that such unusual things do happen.

    Comment by supersizeme | February 25, 2008

  22. danu: in my opinion, things like you describe cross the line of pathology into pure evil, including on the part of the woman.

    Comment by psychscribe | February 25, 2008

  23. the cases in the UK of Myra Hindley, and rose West, both willing particpants in horrific acts of torture and murder with Ian Brady and Fred West respectively, really shocked the country to the core. certainly in hindleys case, people found it easier initially to believe she fell under Brady’s “spell” rather than acted of her own accord. but they came to realise that evil knows no gender.

    Comment by kevmoore | February 25, 2008

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