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Moscovitz, S. (2021). The Psychoanalytic Ear and the Sociological Eye: Toward an American Independent Tradition, by Nancy J. Chodorow, London, United Kingdom: Routledge, 2020, 290 pp., $44.95. Psychoanal. Psychol., 38(1):88-90.

(2021). Psychoanalytic Psychology, 38(1):88-90

The Psychoanalytic Ear and the Sociological Eye: Toward an American Independent Tradition, by Nancy J. Chodorow, London, United Kingdom: Routledge, 2020, 290 pp., $44.95

Review by:
Seymour Moscovitz, Ph.D.

Nancy Chodorow has long been acknowledged for her integrative thinking, bringing together her background in anthropology and sociology with her later psychoanalytic training and practice. In her sixth and most recent volume, The Psychoanalytic Ear and the Sociological Eye: Toward an American Independent Tradition, Chodorow (2020) has assembled a highly informative collection of papers extending her previous investigations. She rightly takes her place alongside the integrative thinkers (Erik Erikson, Hans Loewald) she most admires.

In her influential The Reproduction of Mothering: Psychoanalysis and the Sociology of Gender, Chodorow (1978) described the intergenerational transmission of the mothering role as part of social structure, not biology. As a sociologist, her direction might have moved toward macrolevel phenomena, but Chodorow sensed that to understand the individual fully it was necessary to explore the intrapsychic realm.

The title of her current volume is itself an illustration of its integrative aims. The reference to sensory modalities alludes to Chodorow's contribution to a panel on “Analytic Listening and the Five Senses” at an American Psychoanalytic Association (APsaA) meeting in June 2011 (Chodorow, 2012). Chodorow remarks on the senses brought to clinical work and notes in particular her “good ear” for “rhythm, voice, and timbre” (p. 752). If psychoanalysis requires an attuned ear, sociology may need an observant eye with a wide lens.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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