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Tyson, P. (2003). Some Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Women. J. Amer. Psychoanal. Assn., 51(4):1119-1126.

(2003). Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 51(4):1119-1126

Commentary

Some Psychoanalytic Perspectives on Women

Phyllis Tyson

This is the final issue of JAPA under the stewardship of Arnold D. Richards, and we owe him great appreciation for the work he has done to advance our Journal. We have seen JAPA's new breadth in interesting formats and broad-ranging discussions such as those earlier this year on neurobiology and on the promise for psychoanalysis of the bridges being built to other branches of science. But this issue returns to the consulting room.

Indeed, most of the papers in this issue emerge from efforts to further our understanding of the adult patients with whom we work—especially our understanding of women. The mapping of this “dark continent” has preoccupied and perplexed psychoanalysts for more than three-quarters of a century, with the result that the continent is no longer quite so dark. But a generally accepted, comprehensive, and integrated theory of female development, psychology, and sexuality has yet to emerge. Important controversies remain unresolved, and some areas are still incompletely explored, poorly understood, or in need of a fresh look. The papers in this issue provide that fresh look, and in so doing make an important contribution toward the continually evolving and changing theory of the psychology of the female.

Inability to master conflicts of aggression is a theme that permeates many of these studies. Maladaptive ways of expressing (or avoiding) feelings of anger, hate, rage, envy, competition and the like, and maladaptive methods of resolving interpersonal conflict, are common themes in the analyses of young girls and women. Many of these authors discuss how inadequate solutions of conflict, intrapsychic or interpersonal, interfere with a woman's ability to make career choices, find a successful blending of family and career, or deal appropriately with her children. An inability to assume agency over aggression can also impede her capacity for independent thinking, independent expression of her own opinions, and independent exertion of power and control in her life.

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