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Patterson, A. (2013). On Freud's “Femininity” edited by Leticia Glocer Fiorini and Graciela Abelin-Sas Rose Karnac, London, 2010, Contemporary Freud: Turning Points and Critical Issues series; 272 pp; £24.99. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 94(5):1043-1051.

(2013). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 94(5):1043-1051

On Freud's “Femininity” edited by Leticia Glocer Fiorini and Graciela Abelin-Sas Rose Karnac, London, 2010, Contemporary Freud: Turning Points and Critical Issues series; 272 pp; £24.99

Review by:
Anne Patterson

Freud's Femininity (1933) was an immediately controversial paper and this, in turn, is a controversial book. On Freud's “Femininity” belongs to the IPA series, Contemporary Freud: Turning Points and Critical Issues. According to Leticia Glocer Fiorini, series editor and co-editor of this volume, the series seeks both to present Freud's fundamental contributions and to show how these have been variously expanded, developed or rewritten according to differing psychoanalytic cultures. The challenge to the readers of any of the books in the series, then, is to find their own position amidst this psychoanalytic ‘polyphony’.

In Part I Freud's 1933 Lecture 32 Femininity is helpfully reprinted so that readers are encouraged to formulate their own ideas on the text before going on to those of the commentators in Part II. In this lecture Freud draws upon two earlier papers, Some psychical consequences of the anatomical distinction between the sexes (1925) and Female sexuality (1931), to summarize his attempts to investigate “the riddle of the nature of femininity” (p. 117). He further observes that: “… what constitutes masculinity or femininity is an unknown characteristic which anatomy cannot lay hold of” (p. 114). He acknowledges the influence of social factors and sets out the psychoanalytic task of exploring “how a woman develops out of a child with a bisexual disposition” (p. 116). For Freud, a woman's destiny turns upon the traumatic recognition of the significance of the difference between the sexes with all its consequences and implications.

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