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Simon, J. (1977). Toward a New Psychology of Women, by Jean Baker Miller, Boston: Beacon Press, 1976 143 pages $9.95.. Am. J. Psychoanal., 37(3):263-265.

(1977). American Journal of Psychoanalysis, 37(3):263-265

Book Reviews

Toward a New Psychology of Women, by Jean Baker Miller, Boston: Beacon Press, 1976 143 pages $9.95.

Review by:
Jane Simon, M.D.

Jean Baker Miller states that her purpose in writing this book is “to understand the forces acting on and in women … to understand women … to lead us to an understanding of the nodal points for change and advance.” This is certainly a noble cause and as she states hers is (only) one of the many contributing books, “a part of the process” written in this time of rapid change and focus on women.

The author analyzes women's problems in terms of dominant (men's) versus subordinate (women's) positions in society. It is the dominant groups which define the acceptable roles for the subordinate, and the acceptable roles are those of providing services to the dominant. Of course the dominant groups desire to maintain the comfortable status quo, and, as Miller establishes later in the book, it is most beneficial to the subordinate women to break out of this mode. Society rewards the qualities engendered in men from the time they are born, reinforced by mother and society “… In the family setting, men very early in life acquire the sense that they are members of a superior group. Things are supposed to be done for them by those lesser people….”

Dr. Miller views women as stronger in their responsiveness to others, in their ability to get along in groups and in their ability to give. “Unlike other groups, women do not need to set affiliation and strength in opposition one against the other. We (women) can readily integrate the two, search for more and better ways to use affiliation to enhance strength and strength to enhance affiliation.

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