Sunday, May 26, 2019

Psychoanalysis & Women (ii)

Female experience                                     Langer Marie

In examining Freud’s writings “we find that his and other psychoanalytic references to ‘woman’ are in dialogue with an emphatically plural account of a multitude of ‘women.’ Freud’s description of women and his interactions with them comprise a large cast of characters, a pantheon of higher and lesser ideal-typical goddesses and mortals to complement an accompany Oedipus, Narcissus, Moses, and other in psychological glory ignominy. We also find actual, historically specific, late nineteenth- and twentieth-century named and nameless women in clinical cases and vignettes. [….]

Freud describes woman as subject of her own psyche, that is, as living experiences or self and conscious and unconscious mental processes, as subject to herself. Woman as subject expands into woman as subject-object, that his, object to her own subjectivity as she internally relates to and identifies with or against another internally experienced woman. 

Woman as subject and subject-object contrasts with woman as object in the masculine psyche. Freud depicts for us clinically and theoretically how men experience women, and we can also, by examining his writings on women, find clues ourselves as to how they are characterized or imagined to be by men. Freud also expands his investigation of woman as psychological subject or object by considering woman’s location in social-historical time and woman as object of cultural attribution or categorization.

Finally, Freud demonstrates for us a range of possible locations with the psychology and social organization of gender and sexuality. In his writings on sexuality and development, his cases, and his social theories, women are young girls, mothers (of daughters and of sons), daughters of mothers, daughters of fathers; they are heterosexual, lesbian, sexually inhibited or frigid altogether; they are substitute mothers, as nursemaids, servants, or governesses; they are wives, mother-symbols, or whore-like sexual objects of desirous or fearful men. This diversity stands as some response to the critique of singularity. It suggests that, although claims about limited class and basis [hence bias?] may be accurate, we miss, by looking only to cultural and social categories outside the relations of gender, the very great complexity and multiplicity of identities and social locations within it. Freud on women is a good place to begin to delineate this complexity and multiplicity. [….] 

Freud claimed that his understanding of women was ‘shadowy and incomplete,’ but he nevertheless developed a broad-sweeping theory about femininity and treated and discussed women clinically. For the most part, we admire his clinical accounts, his forthright defense of hysterical women, and his condemnation of the conditions leading to repression and hysteria in women. We admire also his toleration and understanding of variations in sexual-object choice and sexual subjectivity.”—Nancy Chodorow, from her essay, “Freud on women,” in Jerome Neu, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Freud (Cambridge University Press, 1992): 224-248.
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Klein MelanieMelanie Klein

Psychoanalysts who were women in the generative and formative years of—largely thus not exclusively Freudian—psychoanalytic philosophy (of mind), psychology, and therapy (in no particular order … and not an exhaustive list!):
  • Else Pappenheim
  • Sabina Spielrein
  • Margarethe Hilferding
  • Else Pappenheim
  • Lou Andreas Salomé
  • Marie Bonaparte
  • Eva Rosenfeld
  • Sylvia Payne
  • Isidor Sadger
  • Helen Schur
  • Marianne Rie Kris
  • Anny Angel-Katan
  • Dorothy Burlingham
  • Barbara Low
  • Helene Deutsch
  • Alice Bálint
  • Anna Freud
  • Frieda Fromm-Reichmann
  • Melanie Klein
  • Margaret Mahler
  • Annie Reich
  • Barbara Lantos
  • Frances Deri
  • Margit Dubovitz
  • Käthe Misch
  • Edith Buxbaum
  • Flora Kraus
  • Kate Friedländer
  • Muriel Gardinger Buttinger (née Morris)
  • Edith Gyömröi
  • Berta Bornstein
  • Edith Jacobson
  • Clara Happel
  • Karen Horney
  • Hermine Hug-Hellmuth (b. Hermine Hug Edle von Hugenstein)
  • Edith Jackson
  • Marie “Mimí” Lisbeth Langer (née, Glas)
  • Edith Sterba
  • Greta Bibring (Lehner)
  • Alix Strachey
  • Joan Riviere
  • Jenny Waelder-Hall
  • Eugénie Sokolnicka


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