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Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory Hardcover – 28 Sep 1989


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′Nancy Chodorow . . . [has] made an enormously important contribution to our understanding the content of sexual difference.′ Times Higher Education Supplement <!––end––>

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In this major new work, Nancy Chodorow develops and amplifies themes first stated in her classic study The Reproduction of Mothering.
Chodorow re–examines some of the basic issues involved in the relation between psychoanalysis and feminism, bringing an original and incisive viewpoint to bear upon the many contested issues raised by debates over the past twenty years.

The work offers not only extensive discussions of pyschoanalysis and gender development, but brings to bear a wide range of sociological and anthropological material upon the questions that are analysed. The result is a novel series of interventions in the on–going discussion about the relevance of psychoanalytic concepts for feminism, women′s studies and the interpretation of gender differences. The book will be essential reading for those working in the fields of women′s studies, sociology, critical theory, psychology and psychoanalysis.


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In the early period of the contemporary feminist movement, feminists searched for a grand theory. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A SERIES OF ESSAYS ON THE RELATION BETWEEN THESE TWO DISCIPLINES 5 Jun 2013
By Steven H Propp - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Nancy Julia Chodorow (born 1944) is a feminist sociologist and psychoanalyst, and former professor at UC Berkeley; she has written other books such as The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender, Individualizing Gender and Sexuality, The Power of Feelings: Personal Meaning in Psychoanalysis, Gender, and Culture, etc.

She wrote in the Introduction to this 1989 book, "This volume traces my thoughts about the relations between feminism and psychoanalytic theory over the last twenty years, since the beginning of the contemporary feminist movement. The essays argue for the necessity to include psychoanalytic understanding... in feminist theory and feminist understanding... in psychoanalysis... They begin from my argument for the importance of women's mothering for the constitution of psychic life, and of experiences of self and other. They focus on the relations and psychologies of gender and sexuality." (Pg. 13-14)

She states, "Psychoanalytic feminism has a rather complex and sometimes underground prehistory... I locate its political and theoretical origins with Karen Horney, a second-generation analyst whose early essays on femininity forcefully challenge Freud. Horney asserts a model of women with positive primary feminine qualities and self-valuation, against Freud's model of women as defective and forever limited, and she ties her critique of both psychoanalytic theory and women's psychology to her recognition of a male-dominant society and culture." (Pg. 2-3)

She suggests, "As long as women must live through their children, and men do not genuinely contribute to socialization and provide easily acccessible role models, women will continue to bring up sons whose sexual identity depends on devaluing femininity inside and outside themselves, and daughters who must accept this devalued position and resign themselves to producing more men who will perpetuate the system that devalues them." (Pg. 44)

She observes, "My investigation suggests that ... We can only understand gender difference, and human distinctness and separation, relationally and situationally. They are part of a system of asymmetrical social relationships embedded in inequalities of power, in which we grow up as selves, and as women and men. Our experience and perception of gender are processual; they are produced developmentally and in our daily and cultural lives." (Pg. 112)

She asserts, "feminism demands a theory of how we become sexed and gendered. Freud has given us such a theory. He has given us a rich account of the organization and reproduction of sex and gender, of how we are produced as gendered and sexed. Psychoanalytic theory is almost by definition a theory of sexuality and the way sexuality develops in women and men. Freud shows us why we do not exist apart from our particular sexualization and gender identification, even though that sexualization and that gender identification are created." (Pg. 168) She adds, "[Freud's] anti-woman statements are not intrinsic to psychoanalytic theory and modes of theorizing or to clinical interpretation, but counter to them. This is why there... has needed to be, such extensive feminist critique and revision of Freud. But because the theory is so useful, this critique and revision have often been rich and provocative." (Pg. 173)

This book will be of keen interest to anyone studying feminism and psychology, or Freudianism in particular.
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