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Cohler, B.J. (1989). What is the Relation between the Psychoanalytic Psychology of Women and Psychoanalytic Feminism?. Ann. Psychoanal., 17:251-261.

(1989). Annual of Psychoanalysis, 17:251-261

What is the Relation between the Psychoanalytic Psychology of Women and Psychoanalytic Feminism?

Bertram J. Cohler, PHD


Dr. Cohler

Nancy Chodorow is among the most eminent scholars in the study of gender and society. She has argued (Chodorow, 1974, 1978) that, while men are socialized into a plurality of adult roles, from earliest childhood, women are socialized to the role of mother. Her discussion, which expands on Komarovsky's (1950, 1956) earlier observation and anticipates Gilligan's (1982) later contributions, is also unique in the extent to which she integrates psychoanalytic and social-science formulations. Indeed, together with Parsons, Platt and Weinstein, and Smelser, Professor Chodorow is among the small number of sociologists explicitly concerned with the integration of psychoanalysis and sociology. This effort, so well demonstrated in her paper at this meeting, raises a number of important questions for study, including the relationship of social context and gender socialization, the contribution of earlier and more recent psychoanalytic perspectives in understanding this process, and integration of contributions from literature and the arts as a means for fostering increased understanding of the determinants of gender socialization.

Psychoanalysis and the Formation of Gender Identity

From the outset, it has been difficult for psychoanalysis to account for the construction of women's distinctive world-view in our society. This is in large part a result of the preeminent contribution of Freud's own self-analysis as the basis for subsequent psychoanalytic inquiry.

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