Female Oedipal Development

At the beginning of the female Oedipal development—during the first months of life—a little girl sees her mother's breast as both "good and bad. Then around 6 months of age, she begms to view the breast as more positive than negative. Later, she sees her whole mother as full of good tilings, and this attitude leads her to imagine how babies are made. She fantasizes that her father's penis feeds her mother with riches, including babies. Because the little girl sees the father's penis as the giver of children, she develops a positive relationship to it and fantasizes that her father will fill her body with babies. If the female Oedipal stage proceeds smoothly, the little girl adopts a "feminine" position and has a positive relationship with both parents.

However, under less ideal circumstances, the little girl will see her mother as a rival and will fantasize robbing her mother of her father's penis and stealing her mother's babies. The little girl's wish to rob her mother produces a paranoid fear that her mother will retaliate against her by injuring her or taking away her babies. The little girl's principal anxiety comes from a fear that the inside of her body has been injured by her mother, an anxiety that can only be alleviated when she later gives birth to a healthy baby. Accordhig to Klein (1945), penis envy stems from the little girl's wish to internalize her father's penis and to receive a baby from him. This fantasy precedes any desire for an external penis. Contrary to Freud's view, Klein could find no evidence that the little girl blames her mother for bringing her hito the world without a penis. Instead, Klein contended that the girl retains a strong attachment to her mother throughout the Oedipal period.

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