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Carlisle, J.R. (1978). BLUM, HAROLD P., M.D. (Ed.). Female psychology: contemporary psychoanalytic views. New York, International Universities Press, Inc., 1977. Pp. 454.. J. Anal. Psychol., 23(4):372-374.

(1978). Journal of Analytical Psychology, 23(4):372-374

BLUM, HAROLD P., M.D. (Ed.). Female psychology: contemporary psychoanalytic views. New York, International Universities Press, Inc., 1977. Pp. 454.

Review by:
John R. V. Carlisle

This book contains a collection of seventeen papers published under the aegis of the Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association. In his introduction the editor states: ‘The fundamental contributions of psychoanalysis have provided the wellspring for the contemporary understanding of female psychology and have influenced a broad spectrum of research on this subject.’ This is in fact the opening sentence of the book. So, with a build-up like that, who would not set off to the wellspring? But what a journey it proved to be, and no short one at that. There are vast deserts of jargon to toil wearily through, mirage upon mirage of ‘scientific’ promise to chase after and mountains of generalisations to exclude the view. At page 454 I was still looking out for signs of the wellspring. I must have missed it; but I did see Freud peering here and there into the distance. He is quoted on page 6 by Kleeman: ‘We know less about the sexual life of little girls than of boys. But we need not feel ashamed of this distinction; after all, the sexual life of adult women is a “dark continent” for psychology.’ (1926). Blum in his introduction gives the impression that he now believes the light has come. Is there any evidence of that in these papers?

Let me refer to the jargon first. All disciplines have their jargon, but, like weeds in the garden, it tends to proliferate to unmanageable proportions unless rigorously and regularly dealt with.

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