How useful is psychoanalysis when viewed from feminist perspectives? Identify and discuss the main criticisms that have been made of the work of Freud, as well as the main strengths.

Essay by EileenmaloneUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, October 2006

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In this essay I am going to explore how useful psychoanalysis is when viewed from feminist perspectives. Feminist theory, it should be mentioned from the beginning of this paper, is not a unified theory. As women experience the social world differently (according to class, age or "race"), there exist different feminist standpoints within the feminist tradition - i.e. Marxist or Postmodernist feminists (and this explains the need to talk of Feminisms - in plural). (Smith D. (1987). In general though, feminist theorists in order to explain the marginal position women's issues hold in the social sciences - and why they are merely "added on" in the academic discourse, focus their critique upon traditional scientific approaches existing in the social sciences, offering alternative theories of knowledge. In addition, they attack concepts that originate from the founding fathers of each discipline. (Smith D. (1987). This is what brings us to look at Freud's work, the founder of 'psychoanalysis' and to look at the criticisms that have been made of his work, I also intend to identify the main strengths of psychoanalysis when viewed from feminist perspective.

Let it be known that this is a complex question, so therefore by providing specific evidence, also could be seen as arguable to others depending on individual beliefs. Therefore I have chosen to be selective, as no attempt will be made to be encyclopedic, rather I have selected some of the cardinal strengths within the subject matter.

In broad terms the influence of psychoanalysis has produced two major variants. This first of these is 'Freudian' feminist, who are inclined to stress the prior (pre - linguistic) importance of the mother. (Beasley, C (1999). The second groupings draw upon the work of Jacques Lacan, an interpreter of Freud's analytic method which provides a linguistic view of...