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Davidson, L. (1975). Comments and Criticisms. Contemp. Psychoanal., 11:255-258.

(1975). Contemporary Psychoanalysis, 11:255-258

Comments and Criticisms

Leah Davidson, M.D.

To the Editors:

What follows is a slightly edited version of some remarks I presented at the Vth International Forum of Psychoanalysis, Zurich, September 3, 1974.

Despite the new ideas of the feminist movement, most women who come to treatment do so because of some personal or intramarital unhappiness or for psychosomatic symptoms, rather than to "liberate" themselves.

Younger women, who do come seeking themselves and for issues of personal autonomy are still in a minority. On the other hand, a great number of young men, between the ages of 18 and 35, come for issues of individuation and growth. It is certainly more pleasant, countertransferentially, to work with these young men who know their own worth and seek a direction much more quickly than do women. The transference is frequently highly erotized and, as such, potentially much more flattering to a woman analyst's vanity. When introjection of the analyst as the "good object" is involved, there is less anxiety in the analyst being the "good transitional woman" for the man in his development, rather than the "good nurturing mother" for the woman.

In short, our societal relationships with their strong preferential treatment of the mother—son relationship, are typically reflected in the interaction and transaction between woman analyst and woman patient.

Thinking through and working through these issues with women, I have come to observe that what gets in the way is the large quantities of competitiveness and envy that seem to occur and recur in every female to female analysts. This is true not only of the young women who are seeking a role model in the analyst, but also of older single, divorced, married or widowed women in their forties and up who return to careers late in life, whose "liberation" is frequently from the aftermath of being housewives and mothers and from their own mid-life depressions.

Envy and competition seem to be a problem especially in those social contexts where the emphasis is on material goods, and the aquisition of men as sexual objects.

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