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Rosen, H. Zickler, E. (1996). Feminist Psychoanalytic Theory: American And French Reactions To Freud. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 44S(Supplement):71-92.

(1996). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 44S(Supplement):71-92

Feminist Psychoanalytic Theory: American And French Reactions To Freud

Helen Rosen and Elaine Zickler

Ever since Freud's observations on women and their psychology were published, there have been revisions, expansions, and reactions to his ideas. Most recently, feminist psychoanalytic theorists from the United States and France have been fertile in producing revisions to traditional psychoanalytic theory about women. Reviewing the disjointed psychoanalytic traditions of the two countries provides a context for understanding the different approaches to feminist thinking that each country has produced. American feminist psychoanalytic theorists tend to stage reversals of traditional Freudian theory, while the French feminist psychoanalytic theorists have had to position themselves intellectually and politically with reference to the teachings of Lacan. This paper examines selected contemporary theorists from these two countries—Jean Baker Miller, Nancy Chodorow, and Carol Gilligan from the United States and Julia Kristeva, Luce Irigaray, and Helene Cixous from France—and discusses the difficulties of constructing a theory of sexual difference that avoids the pitfalls of either biological essentialism or its reverse, social constructionism.

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