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Tyson, P. (1998). The Psychology of Women, Continued. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 46(2):361-363.

(1998). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 46(2):361-363

The Psychology of Women, Continued

Phyllis Tyson

The psychology of women remains a topic of lively interest for psychoanalytic audiences. The papers in this issue by Dianne Elise, Karen Gilmore, and the team of Jennifer Downey and Richard Friedman—not to mention the book review section on feminism and female psychology—attest the variety of ways in which aspects of the psychology and sexuality of women are approached. Indeed, in spite of the many discussions on the subject there remains a tendency to equate female sexuality and female psychology, although even Freud admitted that the psychological issues a woman faces are not limited to sexuality. This tendency to equate the two is a holdover from the days when gender had not yet become an object of study, when all the psychological issues specifically related to one's biological sex were placed under the rubric of sexual identity. Robert Stoller attempted to address this problem, pointing to the ambiguities of relating sex and identity, for the word sex may refer to one's biological sex but is also used colloquially to refer to various aspects of eroticism. As for identity, it refers to far more than biology, and much more than one's biological sex contributes to the sense of identity. Stoller therefore suggested the term gender identity as more representative of the combination of the biological, psychological, sociological, physiological, and genetic factors that together contribute to one's sense of identity as male or female. The concept of gender identity was readily accepted, particularly in the United States, and quickly became coin of the realm. Unfortunately, Stoller's distinctions have of late been obscured, gender having become the politically correct term for biological sex; this semantic shift has occasioned a loss of the psychological implications the term once carried with regard to the sense of idenity.

The concept of gender makes it more possible to study related subjects separately yet in relation to each other.

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