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Orbach, S. Eichenbaum, L. (1995). From Objects to Subjects. Brit. J. Psychother., 12(1):89-97.

(1995). British Journal of Psychotherapy, 12(1):89-97

From Objects to Subjects

Susie Orbach and Luise Eichenbaum

In the last few years gender-conscious workers in the field have shed light on the crisis in masculinity; they have deconstructed our fallacious notions of homosexuality, of heterosexuality and made the links between practices of exclusion and inclusion that marginalize not just women but vast sections of the population. A psychoanalytically informed feminism has been able to situate itself as social criticism. The interrogative scope of the gender-conscious psychoanalytic thinker has been enormous and has opened up important new ways for us to see and think about organizing the private and the public domain. Within psychoanalysis, a gender-conscious perspective has suggested important new ways of conceiving and working with women and men with a most important shift occurring in our understandings of feminine subjectivity. At its core, this shift has reshaped the view of woman as object, whether as analyst or analysand, to woman as subject.

A brief account of our own work across two continents traces this shift by looking at where we've been clinically, technically and theoretically. While our understandings have become elaborated over time, our initial observations, starting from our work in the early seventies in New York and then at The Women's Therapy Centre in London, continue to be useful.

The most striking feature of our work with women - and we are drawing now on the large pool of women from different class, age, cultural, sexual and political backgrounds and orientations - was the deep shame, resistance and confusion which coalesced around the issues of dependency, neediness and desire for attachment.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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