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Galen, A.F. (1982). A Brief Rejoinder to Elizabeth Waites. Psychoanal. Rev., 69(1):42.

(1982). Psychoanalytic Review, 69(1):42

A Brief Rejoinder to Elizabeth Waites

Amy F. Galen

Dr. Waites' article on “Female Self-Representation and the Unconscious” appears to be primarily an exposition of her view of the bearing of ego psychology on female psychosexual development, rather than a reply to my article “Rethinking Freud on Female Sexuality: A Look at the New Orthodox Defense.” Dr. Waites misinterprets the thrust of the argument when she states in her opening paragraph that “Galen emphasizes the concept of the unconscious, a concept she contends is denied by feminists.” Denial is not the issue here; the charge is rather that feminist-revisionists have misappropriated Freud's essential formulation of female psychosexual development to serve as a focal point for arguments which do not deal with primary, unconscious processes, but, rather, with broader psychosocial issues.

On a further note, I would like to point out that although I appreciate Dr. Waites' exhortation to broaden psychotherapeutic modalities with feminist perspectives, especially with regard to the development of coping strategies in a male oriented society, I am not convinced that Freud's essential schema warrants discarding in the face of a synthetic ego psychology. Freud's schema is a theoretical model which, although drawn from clinical observation, has an impact beyond the therapeutic realm. It is the systematization of the way girls reconcile their anatomy with the exigencies of assuming a place in the human social order-an order that is essentially male biased. Dr. Waites' charge that pessimistic assumptions (i.e., anatomy as destiny) must be challenged for therapeutic purposes is but a stopgap measure. Culturally valued achievements are those defined and perpetuated by men; true liberation for women will come when social institutions are redefined and recreated in the light of a feminist ideology.

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