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Freud's View On Women Essay

5107 words - 21 pages

In Freud's time, and since his death, his views of women and femininity have stirred much controversy. Psychoanalysis has been categorized as "...patriarchal and phallocentric..." (Sayers, 1991, p. 3) and Freud, himself, has been charged with viewing "...woman as a 'mutilated creature'..." and rejecting "...women as full human beings." (Gelb, 1973, p. 370). However, it seems somewhat strange, if Freud and his theories were so absolutely misogynistic, that so many women have been main proponents of psychoanalysis. Why, if his theories were so obviously created to deny women any power, were so many women attracted to psychoanalysis, women who chose to utilize Freud's ideas? This leads one to ...view middle of the document...

In light of these findings, one can no longer easily dismiss his work as misogynistic and, therefore, unworthy of review. Rather one should critically approach the works of Freud as a compilation of the thoughts of a human being, a cultural product and a possible source for ideas and insight.As stated above, the involvement of women in the development of psychoanalysis as a theory and a therapy can be seen as a sort-of paradox in light of the various charges of misogyny against Freud. A brief historical look at four of the early female psychoanalytic scholars, and their areas of interest, will demonstrate the extent of their involvement in the field. *1 The following information leads us to the conclusion that women were not simply "added" into the history of the discipline but were of the utmost importance in the development and extension of the theory. *2The first individual is Helene Deutsch who, in 1918, became the first woman to join Freud's Vienna Psychoanalytic Society. Her focus was to give a psychoanalytic account of women's psychology and explore issues of mothering, menstruation and menopause, the on-set of female adolescence as well as narcissism in both males and females. Deutsch was an active member of the psychoanalytic community, giving presentations and writing the first psychoanalytic book devoted to women's sexuality (Sayers, 1991).Karen Horney, born in 1885, was the first individual to initiate a psychoanalytically-based critique of Freudian patriarchlism. She developed the concept of womb envy, as a sort of counter to Freud's penis envy, and investigated the effects of sexual inequality and abuse on gender development. Horney is known for stressing the importance of social over instinctual determinants, especially in the area of a person's character development (Horney, 1926, Horney, 1935, & Sayers, 1991).The third individual is Anna Freud, Sigmund Freud's daughter. Anna did not have formal medical training and, therefore, was in some ways not able to enter the core psychoanalytic community. However, her work focusing on child analysis, ego psychology and the application of psychoanalysis to developmental psychology, paediatrics, law and social welfare, had a great impact on the extension of psychoanalysis into previously unexamined areas. She also became the editor and forerunner of journals that dealt with psychoanalysis, education and children (Sayers, 1991).Finally, Melanie Klein, who was a leader and prominent member of the British Psychoanalytic Society for many years, focused on early childhood experiences as well as psychoanalytically treating schizoid splitting and depression. Perhaps what Klein is most famous for is the development of the object-relations school, which gathered a large following and continues to have a great impact on current psychoanalytic theory *3 (Osborne, 1993 & Sayers, 1991).This condensed version of the history of four of the early female psychoanalytic scholars demonstrates that the...

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