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Sayers, J. (1988). Writing Out the Father? Recent British Books on Women and Therapy Reviewed. Brit. J. Psychother., 4(4):427-430.
(1988). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 4(4):427-430
Writing Out the Father? Recent British Books on Women and Therapy Reviewed
Cry Hard and Swim by Jacqueline Spring. Published by Virago, London, 1987; 179 pages; £3.95 paperback.
Catherine by Maureen Dunbar. Published by Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1987; 134 pages; £ 2.25 paperback.
Fed Up and Hungry edited by Marilyn Lawrence. Published by Women's Press, London, 1987; 236 pages; £5.95 paperback.
Living with the Sphinx edited by Sheila Ernst and Marie Maguire. Published by Women's Press, London, 1987; 265 pages; £5.95 paperback.
In 1932 Ernest Jones, then President of the British Psycho-Analytical Society, wrote to Freud expressing the hope that after neglecting the influence of the mother on the psyche for so long he would not now neglect the father as he had seemingly done in his 1931 essay ‘Female Sexuality’. These books to a greater or lesser extent do just that. After a decade of focussing on the evils of patriarchy it seems that some writers now commit the opposite error - attending so much to the mother that they forget the father.
Not that the sins of the father have been entirely forgotten. In particular, incest has now become a subject of major feminist concern and protest to which Cry Hard and Swim contributes by making public the author's own experience of sexual abuse by her father, its crippling effects on her subsequent sexual relations with men, and on her emotional relations with her children for which she was treated by their Child Guidance Clinic social worker.
Perhaps it was because, unlike Freud's patients, her therapist was a woman or perhaps it is because women are so much more physically present in the family than men that Spring dwells more on the women than men protagonists of her family drama.
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