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Miller, A.G. (1974). Discussion. Am. J. Psychoanal., 34(3):184-186.

(1974). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 34(3):184-186


Alan G. Miller, M.D.

Dr. Symonds has put into clear perspective the complex forces with which one works in coming to grips with a neurotic process and has focused on the special problems women face in their efforts to be liberated.

We as psychoanalysts have needed a comprehensive theory within which we could work with women who are now, often without our help and even more often in the face of our disapproval, trying to free themselves from the exquisitely painful both personally and culturally enforced neurosis. (This is one of the differences between the sexes. Men have all our help and understanding because we are so sure of their not wanting to be “feminine” in any way.) Dr. Symonds has provided us with her experience with and understanding elaboration of Horney theory and it behooves each of us to give this the full attention our patients deserve. The culturally sanctioned line of a woman's needing to adjust to the so-called facts of life is no longer tenable. Women are demanding more of psychoanalysts than “sublimate your energy to your fate as a woman” or an offering of the milksop “let me help ease your pain by explaining away your irrational, biologically-unmeetable complainings.”

Running throughout Dr. Symonds’ paper is a high regard for the individual caught in the intricate web of a neurosis, and it is with this theory as presented by her that we have a chance to make a positive contribution to the liberation of women.

To expand on some of her ideas: the firm basis for the theory is provided by the belief that each human being is a unique and creative blend of endowment, opportunity, and growth, plus, I would add, limitations and impediments.

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