The concept of the penis is something that has long been fascinating to Psychologists and psychiatrists. As a result, they have come up with all sorts of (wrong) funny theories that looks ridiculous when examined in today's society.
One scientist who was very interested in the penis was Sigmund Freud. However, Freud’s theories were so nuts that he would be considered a misogynist if he was alive today. He often belittled women and female sexuality, which ended up pitting him against female psychologists, who sometimes proposed weirder theories in return.
The Penis Envy
During the early 20th century, Sigmund Freud discussed what he called penis envy. Freud said that penis envy is a syndrome that exclusively affects women. As you probably guessed, it’s all about women becoming jealous of men’s penises and wishing they had penises of their own.
Freud claimed that penis envy first appears during childhood, right at the moment girls realize they don’t have penises. At the same time, they also notice that boys derive more pleasure from their penises than they do from their vaginas. So they get jealous of the boys and wish they had their own penises.
However, the girls understand that they will never own penises. So they forge closer ties with their fathers and prefer to birth sons to make up for their lack of penises. The theory was very controversial at the time and led to several other weird theories we will mention below. Modern psychologists say penis envy does not exist.
The Womb Envy
Sigmund Freud’s theory of penis envy drew the ire of several female psychologists of the day. One was Karen Horney, who responded by proposing the theory of womb envy, which she considered the opposite of penis envy.
Horney argued that women do not suffer from penis envy because they are never jealous of the man’s penis. Instead, it is the men who suffer from womb envy and are jealous of the woman’s uterus. Horney claimed that males develop womb envy the moment they realize a womb is needed to produce children. So they become jealous because they need to depend on women to have babies.
Interestingly, Horney still ascribed to Freudian schools of thought and agreed with a number of Freud’s other theories. However, it seemed Freud took his penis envy too far. Horney opposed several of Freud’s theories on female sexuality. She believed men and women have different roles in society, which Freud did not seem to believe.
Big Shoes Equal Big Penises
Some people believe you can tell the size of a man’s penis by looking at his shoes. Larger shoes (and therefore feet) indicate larger penises and vice versa. Several studies have proven that this is false. Penis size has no correlation with shoe size.
A 1999 study of several hundred Korean men indicated there is no correlation between shoe and penis sizes. The researchers measured several body parts, including the mouths, hands, and feet, of 655 men to determine if there was any association between the sizes of their penises and said body parts. The researchers found no correlation. However, they observed that there was some relationship between the length and circumference of the penis.The result of this study is backed by the results of several others, including one that involved 104 men. All showed that shoe size cannot be used to determine the size of the penis. Interestingly, a 1993 study of 63 Canadian men indicated that men with larger feet could be slightly more likely to have longer penises. However, that study is considered inconclusive.
The Castration Anxiety
Castration anxiety is another syndrome proposed by Sigmund Freud. Freud believed that boys suffer castration anxiety the moment they realize girls do not have penises. The boys are startled by the discovery and somehow deduce that the girls lost their penises as punishment for some misbehavior.
This causes boys to fear that their own penises could also be cut off as punishment. Freud called this castration anxiety and claimed that it often occurs during the phallic stage, one of the five stages of psychosexual development proposed by Freud.
The five stages are the oral, anal, phallic, latency, and genital stages, in that order. A part of the body is considered the most important (and therefore the highest priority to satisfy the needs of) during each stage of development except during the latency stage, when sex becomes secondary. For the other four, they are the mouth for the oral stage, the anus for the anal stage, and the genitals for the phallic and genital stages.
Freud believed castration anxiety was usually a result of the Oedipus and Electra complexes, which we will address in the next two entries.
The Oedipus Complex
Freud claimed the Oedipus complex manifests during the phallic stage—just like castration anxiety. However, the Oedipus complex comes first and leads to castration anxiety. Freud claimed that boys develop their first sexual feelings during the phallic stage. Curiously, they (unconsciously) direct those feelings toward their mothers. This was what Freud called the Oedipus complex: the sexual feelings a child directs to his mother.
Fortunately for human evolution, the boys quickly realize that their fathers have already taken their mothers. So they start to consider their fathers as competitors for their mother’s love. Then the boys figure out that women do not have penises. As we mentioned in the previous entry, the boys assume that women lost their penises after they were cut off as punishment.
The boys fear their fathers could cut off their penises, too, if the father should learn of the son’s feelings for the mother. So they suppress the sexual feelings they have for their mothers and ally with their fathers to save their penises. This marks the end of the phallic stage and the beginning of the latency stage, when the child has no sexual feelings.
The Electra Complex
Freud developed the theory of what he called the “negative Oedipus complex” or “feminine Oedipus attitude” at the same time he came up with the Oedipus complex. The negative Oedipus complex is the opposite and feminine version of the male Oedipus complex. Like the Oedipus complex, it supposedly occurs in the phallic stage.
Freud claimed girls are often closer to their mothers than their fathers at birth. However, that changes when they reach the phallic stage. Like boys, girls notice their lack of penises during the phallic stage. For some reason, they, too, believe that they used to have penises but lost them after they were castrated.
Instead of developing castration anxiety like boys, the girls develop the Electra complex. This causes them to dislike their mother, who they blame for their castration. At the same time, they forge closer ties with their father over his possession of a penis. However, the girl reignites her relationship with her mother as she enters the latency stage.
As mentioned, Freud called this syndrome the negative Oedipus complex or the feminine Oedipus attitude. That changed in 1913, when Carl Jung, a one-time associate of Freud, renamed it the Electra complex. Freud rejected the name.