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Fischer, R.S. (2002). Epilogue. Psychoanal. Inq., 22(2):296-298.

(2002). Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 22(2):296-298


Ruth S. Fischer, M.D.

Homosexuality is a Topic that is being Revisited. There is Concern that, once again, women will be defined by male psychology. Indeed, this is already taking place as male homosexuality is studied and assumptions are made about women.

In an effort to counter this tendency, we look at lesbianism within the context of our newer understanding of female psychology. Included are such concepts as primary femininity, core gender identity, and the early genital stage of development with female genital sensations impacting on intrapsychic organization. Parent-infant interactions are considered as they influence gender identity and gender role. Gender identity and gender role are appreciated as separate from sexual object choice. The particularities of female superego development are included as well as maternal and paternal identifications and ambivalence in the mother-daughter relationship. The various determinants of connections and separations as well as cultural influences are considered. Our focus is a clinical one as these new ideas are incorporated into our clinical understanding and technique.

In focusing on homoerotic object choice in women, two factors are noted by all the contributors: (1) a greater fluidity of object choice in women's lives than in men's lives and (2) women's greater comfort with, and seeking of, intimacy, Kirkpatrick, a pioneer in this field, notes the differing importance placed on intimacy in women as opposed to genital sexual release, a priority for men. She relates this to an organizing effect of testosterone on the brain.

Also noted is a greater tolerance with ambiguity in relation to boundaries. It is felt that this relates to the greater fluidity of object choice. It also relates to all of the particularities of the girl's development, which foster connection, fusion, and interconnectedness rather than separation and autonomy. These include anatomical, object relational, and cultural influences. Notman wonders how much of this is determined by the variability of the female body.

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