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Blum, H.P. Galenson, E. (1978). The Psychology of Women. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 26:163-177.

(1978). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 26:163-177

The Psychology of Women

Harold P. Blum, M.D. and Eleanor Galenson, M.D.

This final panel in a series of four devoted to the psychology of women was introduced by Harold P. Blum, Chairman, with an overview of Freud's initial propositions concerning the female Oedipus and castration complexes, and Freud's proposal that the female personality is less well developed than the male's, and that it is characterized by a masochistic psychic structure with relatively weak ego and superego formation. Blum noted that the role of the mother and mothering had been somewhat neglected in the early literature. The wish for motherhood had been related, along with feminine traits in general, primarily to unconscious fantasies of castration and reparation.

Blum reviewed newer ideas about female psychology arising from the advance in our knowledge of ego psychology and of pre-and postoedipal development. Both innate and environmental forces have been taken into account. Femininity is normally primary and positive rather than secondarily compensatory in female development. We now believe that the female superego may be different in content and organization from the male, but it is not thereby inferior. Furthermore, the desire for motherhood, as well as maternal capacity and empathy, are consolidated in and depend upon the maternal ego ideal. Later unconscious conflict between instinctual wishes, such as infanticidal impulses, and the maternal ego ideal is very significant for understanding maternal psychopathology.

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