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Young-bruehl, E. (1996). Gender and Psychoanalysis: An Introductory Essay. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 1(1):7-18.

(1996). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 1(1):7-18

Gender and Psychoanalysis: An Introductory Essay

Elisabeth Young-bruehl, Ph.D.

In the last few years the major American psychoanalytic journals have each published a full volume or a symposium entitled “Gender,” or “Feminine and Masculine Gender Identities,” or “Sexuality/Sexualities,” or “Female Psychology” (the last also the title for the 1996 supplementary volume of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association). The collections make it very clear that in the past two decades a great change has been coming over the theory and practice of psychoanalysis, a change in which old controversies about femaleness and maleness, and about femininity and masculinity—now called “gender”—have been reenvisioned and related to a world profoundly changed since the 1905 publication of Freud's Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality.

The introductions to these journal volumes and symposia have necessarily been historical, as, of course, have the introductory paragraphs of the articles they contain and the first chapters of the shelves of recent books to which they allude. So, many dozens of brief histories focused on psychoanalysis since the early 1970s now exist, each one reflecting the theoretical and clinical allegiances of its author while surveying the more or less common territory. At the same time, from outside psychoanalysis, cultural historians, academics from women's studies and gay and lesbian studies, literary critics, philosophers, social scientists—among them specialists in a novelty, “gender theory”— have offered a profusion of other tours of the new psychoanalysis, some meant to track an expedition of interdisciplinary discovery and some meant to mark a spot for more and future controversy.

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