Freud's View on Women

Essay by charlotteswilliamsUniversity, Bachelor'sA+, April 2004

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In Freud's time, and since his death, his views of women and femininity have stirred much controversy. Psychoanalysis has been categorized as "...patriarchal and phallocentric..." (Sayers, 1991, p. 3) and Freud, himself, has been charged with viewing "...woman as a 'mutilated creature'..." and rejecting "...women as full human beings." (Gelb, 1973, p. 370). However, it seems somewhat strange, if Freud and his theories were so absolutely misogynistic, that so many women have been main proponents of psychoanalysis. Why, if his theories were so obviously created to deny women any power, were so many women attracted to psychoanalysis, women who chose to utilize Freud's ideas? This leads one to question the history that has been written of Freud and his dynamic, convoluted relationship with theories about the female sex; perhaps another interpretation can be put forward - a revision of sorts.

This essay, then, will first give a brief history of some of the early female psychoanalysts in order to provide some evidence of the involvement of women in the field.

Following this illustration, an exploration into feminist critiques of Freud will be given by first explicating the most common objection raised by feminists and then reviewing and analyzing two articles written by Canadian feminists. Once an idea of the relations between Freud and his critics has been gained, some of his texts will be subject to investigation and analysis. Further, the culture in which Freud was living will be briefly discussed. What will be forwarded is that Freud was a human being, fraught with contradictions, changing views and influenced by his culture, as are all human beings. Although at times reflecting patriarchal notions of the Victorian era, he also rejected some of them and did not claim that his theories were 'the final word'. In fact, he often stated that...