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J Am Psychoanal Assoc. 1976;24(5 Suppl):285-304.

Sleep orgasm in women.


Some of the recent most challenging contributions to our knowledge of female sexuality were provided by direct observations as early as during the second year of life concerning genital self-stimulation and masturbation in girls. Other investigators have advanced the proposition that girls are capable of vaginal masturbation and possibly of experiencing vaginal sensation and stimulation very early in life. Our own clinical study on sleep orgasm, based mainly on data obtained from the analysis of one woman, leads to formulating the hypothesis that in some instances the nursing situation may provide sensations in the genitals (vagina), not only for the mother, but also for the baby. We assume that such sensations in the genitals of the infant female are not the result of mechanical stimulation of the genital organs--as described during the second year and later--but are the result of a "resonance" phenomenon whereby the infant's genitals, including the vagina, are stimulated from within. The observations of orgasm made by others and by the author should be considered the first tentative steps toward an understanding of the complex nature of female orgasm. Eventually, further studies might lead to distinguishing more clearly a sexual orgasm in a narrower sense from a sucking orgasm, from an anger orgasm, and from a stress orgasm--i.e. an unspecific genital discharge. Sleep orgasm can represent gratification of unacceptable disguised sexual wishes and can therefore occur after intercourse and orgasm experienced when awake. The study of sleep orgasm might be of value in relation to the general problems of female orgasm. I would like to close with a reminder that some of the formulations presented in this paper are quite obviously largely speculative.

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