Feminism and Its Discontents: A Century of Struggle with Psychoanalysis

Mari Jo Buhle, Author Harvard University Press $54.5 (452p) ISBN 978-0-674-29868-2
Psychoanalysts have made many attempts to modify the central importance Freud initially attributed to the concept of penis envy in female psychological development. According to Buhle, professor of history at Brown University, the transformations of psychoanalytic understandings of women can be seen, to a large extent, as responses to feminist criticisms. Although it's unquestionable that feminism has influenced psychoanalysts' revisions of Freud's theories about women, this history of the relationship between psychoanalysis and feminism fails to clarify how the most significant modern psychoanalytic theories of female psychology differ from Freud's and, consequently, what feminism's role has been in influencing these changes. Nowhere does the author discuss the real conceptual differences between recent psychoanalytic theories of women's psychological development and Freud. Rather than addressing the substance of post-Freudian theories, this book simply describes them. For example, Margaret Mahler's account of the early interactions between mother and infant is presented schematically and as a counterpoint to Freud's ""masculine bias."" Remaining unexplored, therefore, is the extent to which modern psychoanalytic theories preserve, rather than destroy or overturn, the core of Freud's views on women in the light of feminist criticism. (June)
Reviewed on: 05/18/1998
Release date: 05/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 452 pages - 978-0-674-00403-0
Ebook - 442 pages - 978-0-674-02907-1
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