castration (fear of castration; castration-anxiety; castration complex) A central concept in psychoanalytic theory. Without an at least rudimentary understanding of this concept one does not get to first base in psychoanalytic theory. In a most general sense "castration" denotes the loss of "the phallus," taken as the symbol of power and authority in a patriarchal culture. The term is frequently employed to help analyze the dramatic tensions in narratives and in images. As meaning in a patriarchal culture is often dynamically structured around idealizations of "the phallus," castration and fear of castration plays a large role in the construction of narratives and in iconography. (see also: repression)