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Harris, A. (1997). Aggression, Envy, and Ambition: Circulating Tensions in Women's Psychic Life. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(3):291-325.

(1997). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 2(3):291-325

Aggression, Envy, and Ambition: Circulating Tensions in Women's Psychic Life

Adrienne Harris, Ph.D.

A theoretical argument is proposed to enable us to read the obstacles to and dangers of aggression, ambition, and assertion in women's development. Using the work of Riviere, Torok, and Winnicott, it is argued that the negotiation of separation and rapprochement, anxieties about aggression's meanings and the power of envy in identifications and object ties (particularly with one's mother), impact on women's experience of their own aggression. Various developmental difficulties, to which girls are more susceptible than boys, leave women more burdened by omnipotence and less able to easily distinguish different forms of aggression. The power of the maternal imago as an element in a child fantasy contributes to a more problematic evolution of aggression in women's development, and its outcome.

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