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Schafer, R. (1974). Problems in Freud's Psychology of Women. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 22:459-485.

(1974). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 22:459-485

Problems in Freud's Psychology of Women

Roy Schafer, Ph.D.


Freud's ideas on the development and psychological characteristics of girls and women, though laden with rich clinical and theoretical discoveries and achievements, appear to have been significantly flawed by the influence of traditional patriarchal and evolutionary values. This influence is evident in certain questionable presuppositions, logical errors and inconsistencies, suspensions of intensive inquiry, underemphasis on certain developmental variables, and confusions between observations, definitions, and value preferences. Under three headings—The Problem of Women's Morality and Objectivity, the Problem of Neglected Prephallic Development, and The Problem of Naming—I discuss Freud's generalizations concerning ego and superego development in boys and girls, penis envy, biologically predestined procreativity, the role of the mother, the fateful linkages male-masculine-active-aggressive-dominant and female-feminine-passive-masochistic-submissive, and other topics as well. In general, it is argued that Freud's generalizations concerning

girls and women do injustice to both his psychoanalytic method and his clinical findings.

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