Customer Service | Help | FAQ | PEP-Easy | Report a Data Error | About
Tip: To turn on (or off) thumbnails in the list of videos….

PEP-Web Tip of the Day

To visualize a snapshot of a Video in PEP Web, simply turn on the Preview feature located above the results list of the Videos Section.

For the complete list of tips, see PEP-Web Tips on the PEP-Web support page.

Eckstein, A.R. (1933). The Problem of the Woman of Forty. Psychoanal. Rev., 20(1):19-37.

(1933). Psychoanalytic Review, 20(1):19-37

The Problem of the Woman of Forty

Alice Raphael Eckstein

D. H. Lawrence, who so often shows an amazing understanding of the psychology of woman, has said in his novel, The White Peacock: “This peculiar abnegation of self is the resource of a woman for escaping the responsibilities of her own development. Like a nun, she puts over her living face a veil as a sign that the woman no longer exists for herself. She is the servant of God, of some man, of her children, or maybe of some good cause. As a servant, she is no longer responsible for her self which would make her terrified and lonely. To be responsible for the good progress of one's life is terrifying.”

This penetrating statement is of profound significance when we consider the neurosis which often overwhelms a woman upon the approach of her fortieth year, that period of life which has been called the dangerous age because the libido sexualis announces an approach to the end of woman's biological fertility. But every end is also a beginning: life with its possibilities of an ongoing maturity is more powerful than death and the stagnation of an arrested development; thus, this is the moment that conflict breaks out between the biological libido which is nearing completion and that portion of the libido invested in cultural tasks—which is involved with the responsibility of individuation.

When a woman, through her service to the race with which it has always been possible for her to identify herself, evades the responsibility of her own development, she finds herself terrified and lonely; she is confronted with the prospect of many empty years when her services to the race can no longer repeat themselves in the form of duties rendered to husband, child, or to some good cause.

This responsibility for the good progress of one's life is one aspect of the problem of the fortieth year, an aspect as important as the sexual problem, which also renews its claim at this period of life.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

Copyright © 2021, Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing, ISSN 2472-6982 Customer Service | Help | FAQ | Download PEP Bibliography | Report a Data Error | About

WARNING! This text is printed for personal use. It is copyright to the journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to redistribute it in any form.