The Psychology Of Women - A Psychoanalytic Interpretation - Vol I ~ Free Online

by Helene Deutsch

In 1944-5, Deutsche published her two-volume work, The Psychology of Women, on the 'psychological development of the female...Volume 1 deals with girlhood, puberty, and adolescence. Volume 2 deals with motherhood in a variety of aspects, including adoptive mothers, unmarried mothers, and stepmothers'. Mainstream opinion saw the first volume as 'a very sensitive book by an experienced psychoanalyst....Volume II, Motherhood, is equally valuable'. It was, however, arguably 'Deutsch's eulogy of motherhood which made her so the "back-to-the-home" 1950s and unleashed the feminist backlash against her in the next decades' — though she was also seen by the feminists as 'the reactionary apologist of female masochism, echoing a catechism which would make of woman a failed man, a devalued and penis-envying servant of the species'.

As time permits a more nuanced, post-feminist view of Freud, feminism and Deutsch, so too one can appreciate that her central book 'is replete with sensitive insight into the problems women confront at all stages of their lives'. Indeed it has been claimed of Deutsch that 'the ruling concerns of her life bear a striking resemblance to those of women who participated in the second great wave of feminism in the 1970s: early rebellion...struggle for independence and education...conflict between the demands of career and family, ambivalence over motherhood, split between sexual and maternal feminine identities'. In the same way, one may see that 'to cap the parallel, Deutsch's psychoanalytic preoccupations were with the key moments of female sexuality: menstruation, defloration, intercourse, pregnancy, infertility, childbirth, lactation, the mother-child relation, menopause...the underlying agenda of any contemporary women's magazine — an agenda which her writings helped in some measure to create'.

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