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Wimpfheimer, M.J. Schafer, R. (1977). Psychoanalytic Methodology in Helene Deutsch's the Psychology of Women. Psychoanal Q., 46:287-318.

(1977). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 46:287-318

Psychoanalytic Methodology in Helene Deutsch's the Psychology of Women

Miriam J. Wimpfheimer, B.A. and Roy Schafer, Ph.D.


Although Helen Deutsch's The Psychology of Women contains a wealth of descriptive material about women's problems, the methodology employed by Deutsch in reaching her conclusions about femininity is marred in several ways. Her evolutionary-adaptational bias and natural science approach led to the attribution of questionable biological bases to behavior and to the neglect of social factors and learning. Her concepts and language reveal an unquestioning adoption of Freud's metapsychology and lead to a perception and interpretation of psychological events according to the specific cast of that approach. She confuses her values with definition and observation. A re-examination of the thought of Deutsch seems fitting in these days of ever more extensive reconsideration of the views of Freud and other major psychoanalytic thinkers on the psychology of women. In addition to furthering our understanding of her insights, the study of Deutsch's methodology and its pitfalls contributes to a more critical understanding of the values and preconceptions that influence popular thinking about women and to a deeper grasp of problems inherent in psychoanalytic methodology.

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