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Shainess, N. (1982). Antigone, the Neglected Daughter of Oedipus: Freud's Gender Concepts in Theory. J. Amer. Acad. Psychoanal., 10(3):443-455.

(1982). Journal of American Academy of Psychoanalysis, 10(3):443-455

Antigone, the Neglected Daughter of Oedipus: Freud's Gender Concepts in Theory

Natalie Shainess, M.D.


Freud turned to the Sophoclean drama of Oedipus in looking for a universal expression of an adolescent maturational problem. He overlooked some aspects of the problem — the parent-child power struggle, and also youthful rage in relation to restraints. Had he turned to a consideration of Antigone in terms of the girl's maturation, he would have noted a defiance out of ethical commitment rather than rage.

Aeschylus' Electra, on the other hand, is the perfect example of Freud's metapsychology of women, where an unresolved oedipal attachment to father continues into mature life, creating damage. In Freud's metapsychology of women, included among some rather undesirable views is that women have weaker superegos or consciences than men. If anything, the reverse is true (although this is subject to doubt!), because the producers of life, the nurturers, are more likely to value life. But certainly one could add that actual gender differences, beyond the biological ones relating to genital and reproductive differences, with their psychologic derivatives, are culturally rather than instinctually formed. Humans share all traits and Antigone, the daughter of Oedipus, is an excellent example of high ethical purpose and autonomy.

Considerations of gender differences, specifically various gender roles and gender psychology, have been of special interest recently. In a study of cognitive differences between the sexes, Jeanne Block reported many variables.

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