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Lipshitz-Phillips, S. (1995). Feminism and Psychoanalysis; A Critical Dictionary. : Edited by Elizabeth Wright et al. Oxford: Blackwell. 1992. Pp. 485.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 76:867-868.

(1995). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 76:867-868

Feminism and Psychoanalysis; A Critical Dictionary. : Edited by Elizabeth Wright et al. Oxford: Blackwell. 1992. Pp. 485.

Review by:
Susan Lipshitz-Phillips

This dictionary represents a milestone in the annexation of psychoanalysis by academics and feminists in Europe and America. For those students reading this book now, the days before Lacan was translated and crossed the Channel and the Atlantic are presumably the Dark Ages. It must be difficult for them to imagine the near-hysterical reactions to the first theory of patriarchy put to early feminist conferences some twenty years ago.

The outrage expressed then at the loss of plain English and at the radical challenge to classical empiricist psychology and extant radical politics is reminiscent of the reception given to psychoanalysis in the early days. Freud' s experience of his audiences' disbelief when confronted with his theory of infantile sexuality demonstrated a powerful collective resistance to the idea of the unconscious, and in this case it is arguably a similar demand for recognition of the unconscious that made the theory unpalatable. However, some feminists began to pursue the study of psychoanalytic psychology as it became clear that the theories of sexual politics could not ignore this unconscious dimension in the way that classical Marxist writings had done.

At first glance the tone and topics of this book might suggest that the shock impact of psychoanalytic and Lacanian theories has waned and that they have become culturally acceptable. So although the book generally presupposes a basic grounding in these ideas, it is well written and clear enough to be accessible to the non-specialist reader for whom feminism is a modern fact.

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