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Gullette, M.M. (2000). Response. Gender and Psychoanalysis, 5(2):149-154.

(2000). Gender and Psychoanalysis, 5(2):149-154


Margaret Morganroth Gullette

The Forum is a powerful institution for firing up conversations. I am honored that my essay has been chosen, grateful for Carolyn Stack's generous praise, impressed by her close reading, and encouraged by the way she used my essay as a springboard for her investigations. Likewise, the Forum gives me the opportunity to think broadly and speculatively beyond my essay, summarizing some new directions that dialogues about culture, psychoanalysis, and age and gender theory might fruitfully take right now with regard to postmaternal women in discourse and in the flesh.

The first is to ask for more work at the interface between psychoanalytic interpretation and contemporary American cultural criticism. Carolyn Stack and I both employ an interactive model. She has given an elegant example in suggesting how the paranoid-schizoid position, a two-person psychological problem, can be used to understand social prejudice. Going the other way, from society to the dyad, I ended by suggesting that problems suffered by younger adults (whether social, economic, or personal) are displaced onto midlife mothers imagined as still in overintense dyadic relations with their adult children. This displacement has the effect of infantilizing and depoliticizing younger adults and othering actual postmaternal women, often by pathologizing them—in representation and social life and possibly in clinical settings.

How could theorists or clinicians avoid this danger? First, they can depathologize midlife mothers.

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