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Stein, R. (1995). Reply to Chodorow. Psychoanal. Dial., 5(2):301-310.

(1995). Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 5(2):301-310

Reply to Chodorow Related Papers

Ruth Stein, Ph.D.

The serious attention and appreciation Nancy Chodorow has given my paper, for which I am deeply grateful, enables me to try to continue a dialogue with her, and with myself, that touches, to my mind, on some of the most pertinent problems facing us today. Not only is there the problem of retheorizing gender, but also the broader issue of the relations and clashes between clinical ways of working and understanding and contemporary cultural theorizing. I believe we need a double position, either in us or in the patient (I'm thinking of another analysand, who has been undergoing analysis while at the same time reflectively writing about cultural issues of gender), that will contain and embrace a dialectic relation between cultural (meta)theory and more immediate analytic experience. We require immediate clinical experience and broader cultural thought to help us mediate and decide among “intermediate” psychoanalytic theories. I say this at the beginning of my response to Chodorow because I notice that our discourse, both hers and mine, proceeds mainly on two levels: the immediate, particularized clinical level (affects, idiosyncratic sexual practices, style of speech, conscious and unconscious identifications, etc.), and the more abstract, metatheoretical level (different strands of feminism, issues of constructivism, and perhaps deconstructionism), where self-conscious and somewhat bewildered, we move, among different perspectives, in an effort to come to terms with this multiplicity. This is significant, I think, in that it reflects our lack of a one-theory support system.

Essentially, Chodorow argues, and tries to demonstrate through my case cum text, that one cannot generalize about gender, that there are traps where we fail to notice the cultural constructedness of gender, that we are uncertain with the present juxtaposition of conventional psychoanalytic knowledge and newer, so-called postanalytic, ideas, some of which are more in the nature of reflexive, subversive epistemologies than of alternative theories.

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