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Yorburg, B. (1974). Psychoanalysis and Women's Liberation. Psychoanal. Rev., 61(1):71-77.

(1974). Psychoanalytic Review, 61(1):71-77

Psychoanalysis and Women's Liberation

Betty Yorburg, Ph.D.

Social movements, whatever their goals and whatever the social injustices or psychological miseries they seek to remedy, must provide explanations for their existence. They must also define targets: groups or individuals who are either responsible for a no longer acceptable status quo, or who are believed to be a major impediment to the achievement of movement goals.

When the target that comes under attack, whether it is an occupational, religious, racial, economic, political, sexual, or generational group, or any combination of these, cannot realistically be shown to be the cause of the problems and frustrations that the movement seeks to resolve, movement members can be said to be engaged in the practice of scapegoating. This process, usually not conscious, is age-old, as witness the persecutions of the Christians in the troubled Roman Empire, the search for witches in plague-infested medieval Europe and in the sexually repressed Puritan colonies, and the violence against the Jews in the economically and politically bankrupt Weimar Republic of Germany.

The present Women's Liberation Movement has legitimate economic and political goals, and a majority of the American public, according to the public opinion surveys, supports these goals in important respects: equal access to opportunity and equal pay for equal work, for example. The leaders of the movement have only to continue their efforts against discrimination in the political and economic spheres to accomplish these goals.

The realm of the ideological, however—the realm of attitudes, values, and beliefs, as these affect sex role definitions and sex typing—is another matter.

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