Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory

Nancy J. Chodorow, Author
Nancy J. Chodorow, Author Yale University Press $35 (286p) ISBN 978-0-300-04417-1
Reviewed on: 11/28/1989
Release date: 12/01/1989
If to Sigmund Freud, women were innately vain, jealous creatures, defective and forever limited, how can psychoanalysis, with such blatantly sexist assumptions, be of value to feminism? Because, writes Chodorow, Freud elsewhere claimed there is no predetermined, God-given ``femininity'' or ``masculinity.'' Furthermore, Freud saw the child's powerlessness as central to character development and neurosis. In 10 dense essays teeming with ideas, Chodorow, feminist and Berkeley sociology professor, explores issues such as the influence of maternal care on the emerging self, social oppression of women on the basis of presumed gender differences, Oedipal conflict, heterosexual identification and women analysts. She argues that women's selves are constructed more around relatedness to others, while men develop an identity through denial of self-other connections. Taking on two psychoanalytic heavyweights, Herbert Marcuse and Norman O. Brown, Chodorow finds that their individualist theories work against human solidarity. (Nov.)
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