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Fowles, B. (1985). Psychogenesis: The Early Development of Gender Identity by Elizabeth Moberly Published by Routledge and Kegan Paul: London 1983; 87 pp.; hardback £9.95.. Brit. J. Psychother., 1(4):296-297.

(1985). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 1(4):296-297

Psychogenesis: The Early Development of Gender Identity by Elizabeth Moberly Published by Routledge and Kegan Paul: London 1983; 87 pp.; hardback £9.95.

Review by:
B. K. Fowles, A.A.P.S.W.

In this book Dr. Moberly has produced a new hypothesis concerning the psychodynamics of homosexuality and of transsexuality. This states that the condition is not caused, as has been believed, by close attachment and identification with the parent of the opposite sex, but by an earlier detachment and disidentification from the same sex parent, as a result of early trauma.

It is an attractive theory, especially since it seems to offer the opportunity for providing in therapy a later reparative relationship with a same sex therapist which could lead to further growth into heterosexuality, but Dr. Moberly, although she has put a great deal of work into her thesis, produces no real evidence for her case. Added to a book of only eighty seven pages she has more than twenty closely-printed pages of bibliographical references, but her use of all these largely consists of criticisms of the theories and findings of other writers, whose statements she rejects. Emphatically she repeats her own statement over and over again, whilst giving no results of her own research, nor any illustrations from cases in point. True, the first chapter concerns Freud's case of Schreber, written in 1911, but this example, perhaps by now out-dated, seems slim evidence on which to base a revolutionary new theory. I would have liked Dr. Moberly to have shared the content of her research programme with us. In the light of the lack of material her case comes across largely as dogma.

I found myself confused too by her arguments concerning damage produced by the father, a secondary love object; less so, of course, by that caused by the primary love-object, the mother.

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