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Temperley, J. (1993). Is the Oedipus complex bad news for women?. Free Associations, 4(2):265-275.

(1993). Free Associations, 4(2):265-275


Is the Oedipus complex bad news for women?

Jane Temperley

There has been a lengthy dialogue between psychoanalysis and feminism. In its more recent phase, during the last twenty or thirty years, Freud was at first often seen as the bastion and exemplar of prejudice against women. Then, largely via Lacan, the very theories of the castration complex and phallic monism, which had caused such objection among feminists, were seen instead to illuminate the position of women in a society which is structured by patriarchy in its language, thought and sense of individual identity. Classical psychoanalytic ideas about the castration complex were seen as providing an explanation of why, at levels far removed from conscious rationality, women are perceived, not as inferior, but as disadvantaged and marginalized. Psychoanalysis was turned to for help to explain the depth and intractability of the attitudes which disadvantaged and often disparaged women.


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