Putting out the fire by micturating – a theme to which modern giants, Gulliver in Lilliput and Rabelais' Gargantua, still hark back – was therefore a kind of sexual act with a male, an enjoyment of sexual potency in a homosexual competition. The first person to renounce this desire and spare the fire was able to carry it off with him and subdue it to his own use. By damping down the fire of his own sexual excitation, he had tamed the natural force of fire. This great cultural conquest was thus the reward for his renunciation of instinct. Further, it is as though woman had been appointed guardian of the fire which was held captive on the domestic hearth, because her anatomy made it impossible for her to yield to the temptation of this desire.
Of all the myths about the history of psychoanalysis, this seems to be the most widespread, and it is odd that it continues to flourish in otherwise well-informed circles. The view which Rycroft summarizes above not only was not original with Freud, it was a commonplace conviction of British and European philosophers and psychiatrists before Freud was twenty.
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