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(1989). Meeting of the New York Psychoanalytic Society. Psychoanal Q., 58:180-181.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:180-181

Meeting of the New York Psychoanalytic Society

DISCUSSION: Dr. Susan P. Sherkow noted that Drs. Grossman and Kaplan took issue with and rejected any form of analytic thinking which categorizes traits or sequences of events in development. They argued that proper analytic technique is predicated upon the idea that, when the analyst listens to a patient, everything is subject to scrutiny. Nothing can be taken for granted; no assumptions about female psychology or sexuality can be allowed to influence the analyst's thinking. The precaution against the use of preconceptions in our analytic work is valid, but it is difficult to apply this to the study of female sexuality. While reductionism and categorical imperatives are to be avoided, there is one category that cannot be reduced: men are anatomically different from women, and the influences of their biological differences on their psychology must ultimately affect the analyst's thinking. Female sexuality, or the difference between the sexes, cannot be analyzed as a state of mind. Unfortunately, in their attempt to convey the relativity of ideas and events, the authors gave way to somewhat reductionistic thinking themselves.

Dr. Roy Schafer focused on Drs. Grossman and Kaplan's second commentary: Freud's having gone too far too soon in universalizing certain sequential and causal features of female development. Dr. Schafer suggested that the authors had not sufficiently appreciated the heuristic and clinical value of Freud's having laid out the three lines of female development (inhibited, masculine, and "normal feminine") as organizing narratives. There is an inevitable tension within analytic work between using story-lines in order to comprehend and assess clinical material and working closely with the individual aspects of each case in a way that allows new factors to be defined. The same tension appears with respect to the categorizations in Freud's thinking that were criticized in Drs. Grossman and Kaplan's first commentary.

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