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Roiphe, J. (2005). CONSTRUCTING AND DECONSTRUCTING WOMAN'S POWER. Edited by Beth J. Seelig, M.D.; Robert A. Paul, Ph.D.; and Carol B. Levy, M.N.M.P.H. London/New York: Karnac, 2002. 142 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 74(4):1178-1185.

(2005). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 74(4):1178-1185

CONSTRUCTING AND DECONSTRUCTING WOMAN'S POWER. Edited by Beth J. Seelig, M.D.; Robert A. Paul, Ph.D.; and Carol B. Levy, M.N.M.P.H. London/New York: Karnac, 2002. 142 pp.

Review by:
Jean Roiphe

Given that the topic of women and power is both important and timely, what is striking about this book is that it seems to offer little that is innovative for a psychoanalytic audience. This is not because the essays are not written by thoughtful and smart psychoanalysts—the roster is a talented group who have made many valuable contributions to psychoanalysis. Further, much of what is said in these essays is sound, so that the volume serves as a good basic primer for those outside the field interested in learning about psychoanalytic views of women and power.

I think the explanation for the sometimes Polonius-like tone of these essays may lie in the inherent limits in what psychoanalytic data can diagnose about societal issues. A consideration of some notorious historical blind spots in psychoanalytic theory making—in particular, our errors regarding female psychology and homosexuality—would suggest that we are much better situated to recognize the ways in which an individual is having difficulty making an alloplastic adaptation to the environment than to know from our particular psychoanalytic vantage point if the environment itself is diseased.

[This is a summary or excerpt from the full text of the book or article. The full text of the document is available to subscribers.]

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