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Reichbart, R. (2019). FEMININE LAW: FREUD, FREE SPEECH AND THE VOICE OF DESIRE. By Jill Gentile with Michael Macrone. London: Karnac, 2016. 290 pp.. Psychoanal Q., 88(2):438-441.

(2019). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 88(2):438-441

FEMININE LAW: FREUD, FREE SPEECH AND THE VOICE OF DESIRE. By Jill Gentile with Michael Macrone. London: Karnac, 2016. 290 pp.

Richard Reichbart

This is a book which I found myself rooting for, and which fulfilled some of my wishes, very much disappointed others, and delighted me in

unexpected ways. It is an ambitious work, in fact a tour de force, in the way that it draws seamlessly on many different sources, and in its attempt to bridge the gap between “free association” in psychoanalytic practice and “freedom of speech” in our democratic political and legal ethos. In the writing of it, Gentile apparently surprised herself by discovering the concept and importance of exploring what she refers to as “feminine law,” denied and neglected by the masculine way we think legally. And so there are three concepts melded together here: “free association,” “freedom of speech,” and “feminine law.”

I was rooting for this work for two reasons. There has been a tendency to deny the importance of “free association” in clinical practice or actually oppose both it and the employment of any version of the fundamental rule, most strikingly by Ogden who contends the patient’s privacy should not be infringed upon by a statement of any kind resembling the fundamental rule. While Gentile only glancingly acknowledges this controversy when she speaks of relational psychoanalysis (Ogden in fact is cited approvingly in places), she establishes in no uncertain terms throughout the book the importance of “free association” in clinical practice.

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