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Kanefield, L. (1985). Psychoanalytic Constructions of Female Development and Women's Conflicts About Achievement. Part I. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 13(2):229-246.

(1985). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 13(2):229-246

Psychoanalytic Constructions of Female Development and Women's Conflicts About Achievement. Part I

Linda Kanefield, M.S.

Psychoanalysis and Female Development

To many feminists, Freud's theories have served to vindicate and perpetuate the subordination of women. His early formulations about the development of femininity and female sexuality are a source of continuing controversy within both psychoanalytic and feminist communities (Mitchell, 1974; Miller, 1973; Strouse, 1974, Howell, 1981). Acknowledging this disharmonious debate, some recent theorists have begun to reconstruct and reinterpret developmental theories of female identity and sexuality (Blum, 1977; Mendell, 1982; Klebanow, 1981; Chasseguet-Smirgel, 1970a). Many theorists now believe that Freudian thought, with modifications, can be pivotal to the ultimate aim of liberating people to change themselves and their world.

This paper recognizes the richness that psychoanalytic theory offers to the understanding of women, and to the complex relationships in which women experience themselves. The arguments presented rest on the position that internal representations of the self, and of the self in relation to others, extend to levels of fantasy and subjectivity as well as to realistic perception. Furthermore, these internal representations reflect, interact with, and propagate cultural relations between the sexes (Person, 1980; Chodorow, 1978). Such a perspective will be used to conceptualize and illustrate the dynamics that underlie women's conflicts about their own autonomous achievements.

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