I haven't started out with a belief in penis envy or the oedipus complex. Instead, I've studied Freud as a psychologist who is interested in motivations (wishes) and have attempted to sketch out the economics of libido from psychic bisexuality to pscychosocial development. Along the way in my clinical practice I have encountered penis envy, fear of castration, dreams in which associations lead to the parents and which manifestly have sexual activity taking place, etc.
I still don't know the merit in analyzing these things when they occur... by analyze I mean to fully develop the phantasy. If penis envy is there and the woman protests that she never chose to be a girl then the question arises of who chose for her...
It is something that I plan to pay much closer attention to. It's possible that analyzing this fantasy might allow for the person to re-fuse with the father imago, for example, or deepen the defused transference to the analyst. However, it could also be that these phantasies are a parallel process going on and aren't important. The psychological wound (in defusion) is what is important to deal with and the doctor for example is not going to try to do any work on the blood that is escaping but close the wound.
I've discussed the "parallelism" between the ego and object drives many times. Most of the time I use object drive material to analyze ego drive problems:
With one patient a session began with her interest in being part of a threesome. This was analyzed and it led to a recent situation in which she remembered her interest to join a friend's intimacy with her boyfriend and strong anxiety of how her friend would be angry and disapprove if she made a move. As just a phantasy alone, the woman of the couple was much more central and the patient felt like she was having boring sex with the man and that by introducing herself into the situation she would "spice up" things.
Her fantasy also entailed that she would be given commands in the encounter and told what to perform on the couple. This led to a discussion about not having a will of her own or her feeling like she didn't want to exist. I believed that I could have went from fantasy here to instinctual phantasy by exploring this feeling and its relation to her association of feeling like she didn't want to exist when she was on occasion depressed in her bed at night. However, I left it to followed a preferred route...
As the session went on my patient continued to complain about a work situation that was tedious and in which people weren't receptive to he ideas. She felt like work was the drudgery of carrying out uninspired ideas and that there wasn't any excitement.
I interpreted that, just as entering the menage a trois would "spice up" the sex-life of her "beautiful" friend that she could spice up work with her ideas and save the authorities there from being boring. She responded with "they are killing me" and expressed the frustration of wanting to give and wanting approval but finding no authorities willing to do so.
This I see and feel to be liberating. It's progressive communication instead of the same complaining. It's an insight into her character and what she needs. It's also a chance for the defusion and transference that is directed to her "bosses" to be transferred onto me.
Should I have waited for many, many more sessions until these things were brought into the transference to me on their own? What would this have done? I would have wasted much more time and her money for her to be able to tell me "You are killing me" instead of her saying "they are killing me".