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Deri, S. (1990). The Aged and Women: Partners by Prejudice. Psychoanal. Rev., 77(4):519-523.

(1990). Psychoanalytic Review, 77(4):519-523

The Aged and Women: Partners by Prejudice

Susan Deri

In this paper I will describe a psychodynamic pattern that provides an unconscious link whereby the aged and women become partners by, and victims of, prejudice.

Both craving for power and the fear of helplessness seem to be motivating forces that lead to depriving both of these groups of their full human dignity. Here, the role of limiting constraints is important. Men, for whom life centers on feeling powerful, will not take kindly to yielding to limitations. This will arouse anger, humiliation, anxiety, and the defense of denial.

Biology, physiology, and anatomy represent fundamental constraints on human life. They also define the limits of possible changes. We do not know the exact range of effect of these limits, but, for the sake of the most basic reality principle, we must keep in mind that they do exist. The biological givens need to be acknowledged to avoid impairment of reality testing. Any biological constraints, including our genetic blueprints, are easily met with resistance and denial, particularly in a society where the manipulations of behavior and the subjugation of forces of nature prevail and are treasured legacies from the days of the pioneers.

The most difficult constraint to accept is the only one of which we are positive; namely, that the individual as a continuously evolving organism is moving along the dimension of time in one irreversible direction: toward death.

Much of human behavior, conscious as well as unconscious is predicated on the denial of this one unalterable biological constraint.

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