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Montevechio, B. (1998). Discussion: Jean B. Sanville. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 3(2):197-204.
(1998). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 3(2):197-204
Discussion: Jean B. Sanville
Jean Sanville's paper helps us deepen our understanding and comprehension not only of gender conflicts, but also of cross cultural ones. In her clinical case these two are strongly intermingled, which makes the task more complex, but much more interesting. It is a challenge for a psychoanalyst to make observations about unconscious behavioral patterns cross culturally, and to invite dialogue about these, also across cultures. In my opinion, the first striking otherness that human beings discover in life is that there are persons of a sex different from one's own.
As Devereux (1977) wrote, the most original contribution of psychoanalysis is not its theory, but its methodology, the main task of which is the analysis of the idea that the human being has about self. In the case described, that analysis includes understanding the conscious and unconscious meanings the patient makes of her mixed cultural heritage and of being a woman. The clinical work involves Teresa and her female analyst, who is of the majority culture, in attempts to comprehend both culture and gender as they contribute to the analysand's view of self and surround.
Differences between self and other create tensions, and to handle them it is necessary to accept and understand the varieties of behavioral patterns that exist. But in a global world there is another problem: How to maintain cultural identity in the context of the hegemony of another culture, especially when the latter is promoted by the media as a new form of colonization.
In each antithetic pair, self-world, individual-society, femininemasculine, one element becomes the more predominant, imposing a pattern on the other. The meanings of the prevalent term include also those attributed to the opposite and to their interrelationship.
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