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Zabarenko, L.M. (2001). The Power of Feelings: Personal Meaning in Psychoanalysis, Gender, and Culture: Nancy J. Chodorow, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999, 320 pp., $27.50. Psychoanal. Psychol., 18(2):406-410.

(2001). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 18(2):406-410

The Power of Feelings: Personal Meaning in Psychoanalysis, Gender, and Culture: Nancy J. Chodorow, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1999, 320 pp., $27.50

Review by:
Lucy M. Zabarenko, Ph.D.

From Nancy Chodorow, feminist, sociologist, analyst and pungent commentator on psychoanalytic conceptualization comes her latest salvo: The Power of Feelings: Personal Meaning in Psychoanalysis, Gender and Culture. Analyst–readers unacquainted with her work are in for treats like a benevolent humbling, inviting bafflements, and extirpation of any tendency to smugness or hidebound thought. Those familiar with Chodorow will appreciate the update since Femininities, Masculinities, Sexualities: Freud and Beyond (Chodorow, 1994) and “Theoretical Gender and Clinical Gender(Chodorow, 1996), her contribution to the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association Supplement, “The Psychology of Women.” This latest collection of essays is in four sections: Psychoanalysis, Gender, Culture, and Conclusions, with the heaviest emphasis, almost 40% of the text, on culture.

Trying to keep track of her unfolding views is a little like Alice chasing the rabbit: Chodorow's reasoning is fraught with swift, unexpected turnings, and just when you might think you have locked onto a direction, she will turn a corner and you need to scurry to catch up. It makes for fascinating reading. Furthermore, this is a voice that does not spring from the usual disciplines that inform analytic scholarship: medicine, psychology, or the style of nineteenth century natural science.

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