Freud on Women: A Reader

Overview

Ever since Freud made his first major statements about female sexuality and psychology, his views have been the focus of intense debate—both within psychoanalysis and without.By now, the lines of battle have become so many and so criss-crossed that it is not easy to see the original causus belli clearly. This anthology will encourage current and new generations of debaters, and discourage the circulation of simplistic versions of what Freud supposedly said about women.
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Overview

Ever since Freud made his first major statements about female sexuality and psychology, his views have been the focus of intense debate—both within psychoanalysis and without.By now, the lines of battle have become so many and so criss-crossed that it is not easy to see the original causus belli clearly. This anthology will encourage current and new generations of debaters, and discourage the circulation of simplistic versions of what Freud supposedly said about women.
Chronologically arranged, this first volume to collect Freud's writing about women shows clearly how his views arose, then were refined, systematized, and revised. Certain theories stayed constant—such as the notion of universal bisexuality—while others changed. Elisabeth Young-Breuhl, in her comprehensive introduction, illuminates the theory and tracks the core elements. Each selection, based on the James Strachey translation, carries a brief commentary; and an annotated bibliography covers field developments since Freud's death. While appreciating the genius of Freud, this anthology aims not to present a point of view but to allow readers to discern for themselves the evolution of Freud's thinking.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
“A definitive anthology.”
Choice
“A definitive anthology.”
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Freud held that women suffer from penis envy and hate their mothers for sending them into the world ``insufficiently equipped.'' He believed that women feel that their babies are a compensation for not having a penis. He also maintained that libido is ``masculine,'' that masturbation is harmful and that the girl who engages in clitoral self-stimulation is marked by a ``masculinity complex'' and strong bisexuality. Critics charge that Freud's bizarre notions demean women by positing feminity as failed masculinity. Wesleyan professor Young-Bruehl, biographer of Anna Freud and Hannah Arendt, insists that the critics are wrong. What the founder of psychoanalysis actually argued, she claims, is that feminity develops from an innate bisexuality that is universal in women (and in men). Her unconvincing introduction to this chronologically organized anthology of Freud's essays, case material and letters reads like apologia. (July)
Library Journal
Freudian scholar Young-Bruehl chronologically assembles Freud's writings on women while remaining mainly neutral regarding feminist critiques of his views. Hoping to ``discourage . . . simplistic versions of what Freud supposedly said about women,'' she has selected about 20 entries, the pivotal one being ``Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality'' in which Freud expressed his belief in human bisexuality. By means of a lengthy introduction, commentaries, and an annotated bibliography, she documents Freud's evolution in thinking about female psychology, including his concepts on narcissism, mother attachment, penis envy, and woman's ``flexible'' superego. General readers may feel overwhelmed by the jargon and scholarly style, but this title will doubtless find a welcome place in most feminist and/or psychology collections.--Janice Arenofsky, formerly with Arizona State Lib., Phoenix
Booknews
An anthology of Freud's writings on the subject of women, containing letters and excerpts from the psychoanalyst's publications, presented chronologically to show how Freud's ideas were refined and revised over time. The important introduction by Young-Bruehl letters, Wesleyan U. traces the historical evolution and illuminates the theory. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR booknews.com
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393308709
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 8/28/1992
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 399
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.90 (d)

Meet the Author

Elisabeth Young-Breuhl is professor of letters at Wesleyan University and a member of the Gardiner Seminar in Psychiatry and the Humanities at Yale University. She is the author of highly praised biographies of Hannah Arendt and Anna Freud.

Elisabeth Young-Breuhl is professor of letters at Wesleyan University and a member of the Gardiner Seminar in Psychiatry and the Humanities at Yale University. She is the author of highly praised biographies of Hannah Arendt and Anna Freud.

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