As far back as 1926 analyst Karen Horney objected to Freud's view of women, particularly his emphasis on biological explanations of female behavior. Freud and his followers characterized women as largely passive, dependent and masochistic. Within this framework psychoanalysts have, until recently, believed women's psychological development as a mirror image of the male's. Feminine identity, in the traditional Freudian view, evolved out of penis envy; thus women were significantly deficient in comparison to the more fully endowed male.
This excellent collection of innovative articles--largely by women analysts--reflects a more contemporary psychoanalytic vision of women. If the analytic stance of the past demanded neutrality and detachment, new psychological realities like the empty nest, the aging woman, or women-and-work require a more humanistic, empathic position from the therapist. The present as well as the past must be addressed when the patient is dealing with issues linked to the biological imperative.
Feminine psychology demands a change in Freudian orthodoxy. As this provocative book suggests, for psychoanalysis to be relevant today a fresh examination of theoretical perspectives must take place.