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Applegarth, A. (1984). Early Female Development. Current Psychoanalytic Views: Edited by Dale Mendell, Ph.D. New York/London: SP Medical & Scientific Books, 1982. 256 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 53:114-117.
(1984). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 53:114-117
Early Female Development. Current Psychoanalytic Views: Edited by Dale Mendell, Ph.D. New York/London: SP Medical & Scientific Books, 1982. 256 pp.
Review by: Adrienne Applegarth
This is a small but very full book. It consists of eight essays by different authors, all within a broad psychoanalytic framework but representing quite different points of view, both in general and in the specific field of female psychological development. The chapters are arranged roughly chronologically, but not all aspects of female development are covered. Rather, the effort seems to be to lay emphasis on aspects of development which have not been sufficiently elaborated in traditional psychoanalytic theory, which are to be challenged, or which need to be more fully integrated with newer discoveries and theories.
The first chapter, "On the Origins of Gender Identity," is by Ruth Formanek. The author undertakes a review of the processes leading to the establishment of gender identity, which she understands as being the individual's self-attribution of gender. She begins with a discussion of biological factors, including the genetic and hormonal, as they mutually influence one another in utero and beyond. She touches upon the well-known possibilities of genetic factors being overridden by experiential ones, as various studies by Money and others have shown, but she does not attempt a full review of the topic. She then goes on to discuss a whole group of findings from infant research that reveal functional differences between boys and girls. Among the topics considered are exploration, aggression and irritability, play behavior, dependency and attachment, perception, language, and parental response. In her discussion, she is quite clear about the difficulties involved in such research and the limits upon what may be concluded. She then turns to a partial review of the psychoanalytic views of female development, emphasizing the studies involving childdevelopment rather than reflecting upon the full range of analytic writing on the subject, especially in recent times. However, she raises interesting questions and provides a worthwhile discussion of them. In a final section, she discusses the relationship between gender identity and the sense of self, considering the development of both in the framework of primary process and secondary processthinking.
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