The Reproduction of Mothering; Feminism and Psycohoanalytic Theory; Femininities, Masculinities and Sexualities; The Power of Feelings (Book Reviews)

Author:  Chodorow, Nancy
Publisher: New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999
Reviewed By: Marilyn Newman Metzl, Winter 2003, pp. 55-60

From Sociology To Psychoanalysis: The Works Of Nancy J. Chodorow

Books discussed in this essay: The Reproduction of Mothering (with a new preface): University of California Press, 1978, Feminism and Psychoanalytic Theory, New Haven, Yale University Press, 1991, Femininities, Masculinities and Sexualities—Freud and Beyond, The University Press of Kentucky, 1994

The work of Nancy Chodorow has had far-reaching and important consequences for psychoanalysis, for feminist theory and for how the sociological and analytic study of gender and gender categories. Nancy J. Chodorow is a psychoanalyst in private practice and a professor of sociology at the University of California-Berkeley. She is the author of the above-mentioned books as well as numerous articles, chapter contributions and commentaries in the fields of object relations and psychoanalytic feminism.

The Reproduction Of Mothering, (1978/1999)

When The Reproduction of Mothering was published two decades ago, it put the mother-daughter relationship and female psychology on the map. This book was recently chosen by Contemporary Sociology as one of the ten most influential books of the past 25 years. With a new preface by its author, this updated edition is testament to the tremendous impact that Nancy Chodorow’s work continues to exert on psychoanalysis, social science and the humanities. Rereading it enabled me to visit a “treasured old friend” with the experience that I have gleaned personally and professionally since the book was written. Chodorow’s work links psyche and culture, psychoanalysis and sociology. Her points in this book can be separated into four main ideas: 1) How most women come to think of themselves as heterosexual, 2) Why women have the urge to mother, 3) What personality traits are specific to women, and 4) How the pattern of male dominance might be understood and might be changed.

In the revised edition, Chodorow sharpens these critiques through revision. This is in keeping with the tradition of Freud, who forged new ground in areas such as the death instinct and the seduction theory, and then amended his theories after considering additional material obtained from his patients and from society. In the Preface, she discusses the progression of her thinking from 1978 until the present and writes now as the psychoanalyst she has become while remaining connected to the feminist sociologist and anthropologist whom she was when she wrote the book. In formulating her summary conclusions of psychological improvement for both sexes with shared parenting, Chodorow acknowledges the changed economy of 2003. The development of shared parenting has challenged the traditional mothering role resulting in a paradigm where mother and children have insufficient time for each other. In a touching coda, Chodorow acknowledges that her book was written from a daughter’s point of view, not realizing the enormous transformation that maturity and life itself would bring. I myself have often thought that I wish I could somehow contact patients I treated in my 20s, before marriage, before children and apologize for some of the interpretations that I made at that time. These interpretations were intellectually and theoretically driven, but impractical and probably insensitive now that I have personally experienced the tremendous growth, transformation and personal drain that come from combining professional growth, intellectual growth and parenting young children.

Chodorow describes her later thinking as considering the clinical individuality of personal gender, which includes the clinical individuality of any mother/daughter relationship. She professes that culture does not determine the personal meaning of gender or the particularity of any mother’s unconscious fantasies about her daughter. Instead, each of these is created with a characteristic emotional tonality for the individual (p. xii). In the initial segment of her book, she traces the classical model of Freudian development. Chodorow’s exploration of the Freudian model of female development indicates that a girl’s gender development is tied to her closeness to her mother. The female seeks privilege that the boy has attained: The boy is more valued by the mother as an object and is a source of her own Oedipal gratification and yet he has the need and the ability to detach himself from the mother. The female solves her conundrum by translating her envy of the male privilege into heterosexual desire. Chodorow provides an excellent analysis of Freud’s theories of gender and sexual development and has brought creativity, criticism and contemporary vision to her reading. She notes that much of Freud’s theory of the Oedipal conflict and the Oedipal revolution relies on happenstance. The father has to be in exactly the right place at the right time, as do the naked bodies of both sexes. Chodorow goes on to formulate an in-depth analysis of female and male development, and the summary of her hypothesis is that a girl’s desire for men can be said to result from her stronger desire for her mother. Chodorow continues with an elaborate description and explanation of heterosexual object choice. A girl’s identification with the mother must be differentiated into various aspects of female development, sexual development, courtship, heterosexual relationships and eventually motherhood. The girl’s resolution of her Oedipal complex creates a leitmotif with vestiges of her primary identification with her mother realized throughout her life.

Chodorow’s discussion of gender issues, and how their resolutions influence adult object choice, is particularly fascinating. What happens when the girl does not become identical to her mother? What happens when the girl rejects aspects of her mother? When the girl has the image of her mother, which features of that image does she adopt, does she accept, does she pass on and why? What relationship do these issues have to the actual mother of her childhood? Chodorow’s discussion of pseudo-empathy hypothesizes a girl’s identification with her mother and then developing a form of sibling rivalry with her own children as they compete for the idealized internal image that the mother has of her relationship with her own mother. This results in the mother resenting all of her own offspring as competitors for the idealized mother.

One may wonder what role female sex drives (and awareness of sexual seductiveness and efficacy) play in this? Not all women consciously or unconsciously desire to be mothers and many in our society actively reject that role. This issue was particularly present during Chodorow’s discussion of the contrast between the female mothering instinct and the male sex drive, and should female sexuality as both a biological drive and an expression of female desire and female power. This formulation about women has come a long way since Freud’s Vienna where Hannah Decker spoke eloquently of Dora and the thinking in Freud’s time of women being psychologically and physically inferior to men and being seen in many cultures as baby machines and as purer creatures who had to be kept from the nastiness of full sexual realization in order to preserve their role as mothers. Another essay would be needed to discuss how this has played out in the Judeo-Christian world, but it is important to give women validity for the full range of their femininity and for the freedom to express themselves in whatever modality they choose.

In a key section of the book, Chodorow discusses the psychological development of adult females and adult males, giving reasons why women tend to be more empathic, due to the fact that their ego boundaries are less firm. She posits that if women are seen by society and view themselves primarily and exclusively as mothers then any liberation of women will continue to be experienced as traumatic by society. Chodorow makes a plea for a far fuller and more informed male responsibility for childcare and for women to strive for and to be granted economic and emotional freedom. She presents excellent reasons for change and presents us with a new model of a family that is potentially more life engendering and vitalizing for both parents and children.

Chodorow hypothesizes that in a society where mothers provide nearly exclusive care and certainly the most meaningful relationship to the infant, the infant develops its sense of self mainly in relation to her (p 78.) Insofar as the relationship with the mother has continuity, the infant comes to define aspects of itself in relation to internalized representations of aspects of its mother and the perceived quality of her care. The infant’s mental and physical existence depends on its mother, which the infant comes to understand. It experiences a sense of oneness with her and subsequently develops itself only by convincing itself that it is in fact a separate being from her. She is a person whom it loves with egoistic primary love and to whom it becomes attached. She is the person who first imposes on it the demands of reality. Internally, she also is important. Chodorow quotes Alice Balint, who argues that the essence of “love for the mother” (p 79) is that it is not under the sway of the reality principle, in contrast to the love for the father. The child knows its father from the beginning as a separate being, unless the father provides the same kind of primary relationship and care as the mother. It is very much in the nature of things, therefore, when the father expresses his own interests (p. 80). The child can develop true hate and true ambivalence in relationship to a father whose wants differ from those of his child. The child’s reaction to its mother in such a situation is not true hate, but confusion that it is part of the failure to recognize the mother’s separateness. Interestingly, children are more obedient to their father not due to any greater strictness on his part nor from the fact that he represents authority, but because the archaic foundations of an original natural identity of interests has never existed in relationship to the father.

According to Chodorow, a boy must attempt to develop masculine gender identification and learn the masculine role in the absence of a continuous and ongoing personal relationship to the father and without a continuously available masculine role model (p 176.) Psychologically, boys appropriate specific components of the masculinity of their father that they feel would otherwise be used against them, but they do not as much identify diffusely with him as a person. Boys are taught to be masculine more consciously than girls are taught to be feminine. When fathers or men are not much present, girls are taught the heterosexual components of their role whereas boys are assumed to learn their heterosexual role without teaching through interaction with the mother. Chodorow realizes that masculine identification is predominantly gender role identification. By contrast, feminine identification is predominantly parental. Girl’s identification processes are more continuously embedded in and mediated by their ongoing relationship with their mother and thus they develop affective relationships with others. In contrast, a boy’s identification processes are not as embedded or mediated by a real affective relationship to his father, thus the male tends to deny identification in relationship to his mother and rejects what he takes to be the feminine world. “Masculinity is defined as much negatively as positively.” Chodorow theorizes that feminine identification processes are relational whereas male identification processes tend to counter-relational, defined more by rejection than by acceptance.

In an article published in the Radcliff Quarterly (Winter 2000), Chodorow discussed the concept of woman-mother as an obvious, taken for granted, world historical fact that had not been seen as worthy of noticing in any of the social science, psychoanalytic or popular literature. Chodorow suggested that the developmental centrality and power of maternal subjectivity “for many women the personal and emotional investment and sense of what it means to an individual unique woman to be a mother should be recognized.” Her concern is that many work places require mothers to return to work shortly after the birth of their child and well before that mother-baby pair can become attuned to one another. Chodorow is concerned that these work-share programs seem to be based on the belief that children do not need their mothers, and that mothers should not be particularly aided in their mothering. In other countries, such as Norway, working mothers can take almost one year off with pay after giving birth and three years with a guarantee of the same job. Norway has publicly funded childcare for children over age three, and a workday that goes from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., so that working parents can be with their children.

The author feels that the future of mothering depends on a number of different developments. On the economic and political level, policies need to foster and support mothering not just for the sake of children but for mothers themselves. She advocates for decent maternity leave policies, an end to punitive work practices and for family policies that might allow mothers to work less and spend more time with their families. Her plea is for the acknowledgment of maternal subjectivity and maternal identity, and that the “mommy track” be seen as positive rather than punitive and negative.

In her new preface, Chodorow acknowledges the criticism of her book as generalizing across gender lines and expressing concerns that she repudiated bodily experience and drives. In her attempts to create an account of female psychologies in which women are not appendages to their libido (p xiii.), Chodorow reiterates that in 1970 it was important to challenge the tyranny of biological explanations of gender which included a psychoanalytic theory that derived female psychology almost exclusively from reactions to genital difference in which presence or absence of the penis mattered extensively. Chodorow then concluded that she currently finds tension in her book between the book’s main contribution, an account of the psychological reproduction of mothering and its political afterward, and argues for equal parenting. She pays tribute to the feminist movement and acknowledges that many mothers indeed do wish to share parenting and that many fathers do wish to participate in the parenting experience. Chodorow does not claim that men cannot or should not be caretakers of children, but rather she notes that the call for equal parenting must be faced in light of the distinctive character of the mother/child bond.

Currently, our culture has changed and with it the roles of mothers and fathers have become more equal than could have been imagined in the 1970s. However, the issue of childbearing remains a reality, and it is from this biological realm, combined with its psychological implications, that this book must be considered both valid and groundbreaking. Chodorow feels that she has evolved now to the point where she is “more respectful of the ways in which individuals do in fact create their emotional reality and sense of personal meaning and less absolute about how they ought to create it.” Chodorow’s journey to this point has been a delight of innovative thinking for our time.

Feminism And Psychoanalytic Theory (1991)

In this book, Chodorow presents papers written over the past 15 years combining previous essays with new essays from which she gleans some original, interesting and provocative thoughts and questions. In The Reproduction of Mothering, Chodorow argued that males become dominant due to inadequacies in the mothering that they received, and in the turning from mother to father as an object of identification. Chodorow expands on this argument in the later book by accessing research of Chasseguet-Smirgel and Grunberger. Of particular interest is the finding that men, in their attempt to deny their own needs for love, often become intolerant of those who can express the need for love (p 75.) Women have not repressed these needs and still want love and confirmation and may be willing to put up with limitations in their masculine lover or husband in exchange for some evidence of caring and love. Men must defend themselves against the threat of intrusion by women and at the same time, because needs for love do not disappear through repression, tend to find themselves in heterosexual relationships. According to Chasseguet-Smirgel and Bibring, when a boy’s mother has treated him as an extension of herself, and at the same time as a sexual object, he tends to continue to use his masculinity and possession of a penis as a narcissistic defense. In adulthood, he will tend to look on relationships with women for narcissistic-phallic reassurance rather than for mutual affirmation and love (p. 76).

In Chodorow’s estimation, if the shadowy father could become more visible and more participatory in family life, the emotional attitudes inherent in both sexes would disappear. Chodorow feels that because women have maintained a close identification with their mothers, their inner lives are far richer than those of men, and they do not need the other sex with the same intensity that men crave women. Chodorow argues that men fall in love more romantically than women because the affective side of their natures has been repressed. This appears to be the basis for male aggression against females.

The essay, Psychoanalysis, Psychoanalysts and Feminism, ties together her questions about the relationship of feminine/feminism, and Freud, confirming that Freud does give us a prime example of distorted ideology about women and women’s inferiority, an ideology which feminists must confront, challenge and transform (p 176.). Chodorow argues that Freudian theory does not just suppress women but gives us a theory concerning how people, women and men, become gendered and sexed, how femininity and masculinity develop, and how sexual inequality is reproduced, a task which no other major classical social theorist has made central to their thinking. Freud tells us how nature becomes culture and how this culture comes to appear to be experienced as “second nature” or natural, arguing that the social organization of gender happens through transformations in consciousness in the psyche and not only through social and cultural institutions. Freud and psychoanalysis tells us how people become heterosexual in their family development, how the original love of one’s mother translates into heterosexuality rather than lesbianism, how a family structure in which women mother, produces in men a psychology and idealization of males and of male dominance, masculine superiority and the devaluation of women and things feminine, and how women develop maternal capacities through their relationship to their own mother.

Both Chodorow and Freud suggest that these processes do not happen smoothly, and that these combinations and permutations are fraught with contradictions and strains. If issues are not resolved adequately and at appropriate times, people develop conflicting desires, discontent and neuroses. In spite of a push towards heterosexuality, women still want relationships and closeness to women, and male heterosexuality is embedded in Oedipal devaluation, fear and contempt of women as well as a fear of the overwhelmingness of mother and of acknowledging emotional demands and needs (p 177.) Chodorow views male dominance on a psychological level as a masculine defense and a major psychic cost to men built on fears and insecurities rather than on straightforward power.

Chodorow proceeds to discuss the difficult minefield of the relationship between men and women. She writes about her difficulty in finding a convincing explanation for the virulence of male anger, fear and resentment of women and aggression towards them. Similar is the focus on the ways in which society places value on women for “being” whereas men are prized for “action.” In her view, the female functions as object while the male functions as subject. This comes about, according to the author, because female development is more complex than male development due to the female’s prolonged, intensive and unconscious identification with her mother. The end product of this closeness, in many societies and across civilizations, is that women become defined by their relationship to others yet maintain a secure sense of identity as women.

In rethinking the Oedipus complex, Chodorow agrees with Freud that the girl’s Oedipal develops much later than the boy’s, and the boy engages in early Oedipal conflict and resolution in order to escape from the overwhelming and intrusive presence of his mother. While Freud feels that this is a positive event, Chodorow feels that in order to separate so early and so profoundly, the boy pays a price by repressing his feminine self in order to break his tie with his mother and not feel close to her. This results in a lifelong rejection of aspects of his own feminine self, and a pervasive rejection of “the feminine” in culture and society.

According to Chodorow, these differences have complex implications for later relationships. The complexities of this situation are illuminated by sociological and clinical findings (p 74.) Conventional wisdom has it, and much of our everyday observation confirms, that women are more often the romantic ones in our society, the ones for whom love, marriage and relationships matter. However, several studies point to ways that men love and fall in love romantically, and women sensibly and rationally. Most of these studies argue that, whereas women can be economically dependent on men, women must in fact make rational calculations for the provision of themselves and their children. Chodorow suggests that women’s apparent romanticism is an emotional and ideological mask for their economic dependence. She postulates that the reason for women initiating divorce at an increasing rate in current society is due to the income available to them, to recession hitting masculine jobs as much as feminine jobs, and to the feminist movement removing the stigma of divorce. According to Chodorow, this process is furthered by men themselves, who persist in maintaining distance as a result of their own Oedipal resolution, which has led to the repression of their affective relational needs (p 35).

This work is a valuable contribution to students and practitioners of feminism and of psychoanalytic theory. A knowledge of how we become who and what we are, and how subtle unconscious process are at work from earliest infancy yields patterns of misunderstanding, inequality and prejudice that exist within our culture as well as within each one of us individually. According to Chodorow, psychoanalysis is a theory that enables people to examine their life situation, to make sense of it and therefore to act to change it.

Femininities, Masculinities And Sexualities, Freud And Beyond (1994)

This book contains an intense and complex overview of the work of Sigmund Freud and others (from Klein to Lacan), and their work on psychoanalysis, on sexuality and on gender. The book is based on a series of lectures Chodorow presented at the University of Kentucky, and argues that, although Freud’s psychoanalytical theories and practices are controversial, they must be interpreted in the milieu in which they were written. If one is willing to understand and “accept” the limits of the historical contexts in which they were written, Freud’s theories have much to offer contemporary psychoanalysts. In the first chapter of her book, Chodorow discusses Freud’s clinical formulation of “normal femininity,” and discusses the relationship between sexuality and gender differences. According to Chodorow, a woman’s choice of a male sexual object or lover is typically so different developmentally, experientially, and dynamically from a man’s choice of a female sexual object or lover, that it is not at all clear whether we should identify these by the same term (p. 35). Chodorow focuses on specific theorists and indicates trends in psychoanalytic writings and thinking that warrant reflection. Her plea is for more explicit attention to the development of heterosexuality in both men and women and for more explicit attention to the development of love and passion in homosexuals. She indicates that psychoanalysis does not have an adequate developmental account of “normal heterosexuality” although all sexuality results from psychological struggle, and needs to be accounted for. She contrasts this with the rigorous psychoanalytic examination of homosexual development and argues that an important ingredient in any women’s or man’s love or sexual fantasies, erotic desires, and behavior will be found in his or her particular unconscious and conscious appropriation of a richly varied and often contradictory cultural repertoire which has been presented directly through what we think of as cultural media and indirectly through parents, siblings and other early parental figures (p. 79).

Interestingly, Chodorow postulates that a consistent thread running through the stories of psychology and culture is the accommodation that most men and women have to make to deal in psychological terms with male dominance. Men have social and familial power and cultural superiority, and Chodorow presents examples of their sexual dominance as well. Chodorow deals with the question of how men and women love and indicates that there are as many kinds of masculine and feminine love as there are men and women, and these views are shaped by personal psychology, by family and by the culture in which one exists. Chodorow calls for an individual investigation of how any person’s sexual orientation, organization, erotic fantasies and practices result from anatomy, from cultural evaluation and construction, from intra psychic solutions to conflict, from family experience and from gender identity. All of these will enter the individual case of how any woman or man loves (p 91).

Chodorow, like Freud, uses clinical experience to portray gender and sexual variability and to challenge cultural and psychoanalytic normalization. At the conclusion of the book she argues that, since psychoanalysts have nearly a unique access to many peoples’ sexual fantasies, identities and practices, they should use this access to help us fully understand gender and sexuality in all of its forms (p. 92). A caution about generalizations pervades the book with a request to analyze patterns of gender differences as a means to make differences intelligible, but to avoid interpreting generalizations as universal, which would deny the specific individuality and cultural difference that exists among men and women (p. 90). Although this book does not answer the question it raises, it posits that there are as many solutions for what makes one a sexual being as there are humans in the world, and rejects any categorization of normal versus abnormal sexuality.

The Power Of Feelings (1999)

In this book, Nancy J. Chodorow makes a case for depth psychology and psychoanalytic interpretation. Chodorow is dedicated to reclaiming the “power of feelings” which she sees as the capacity of unconscious fantasy to process interpersonal experiences and the culture in which they exist in a manner specific to each individual. By so doing, and by interacting with other people and with one’s own interior environment and doing it with personal meaning, a behavioral change can occur. In this work, Chodorow discusses and critically analyzes psychoanalytic theories that are deterministic and see the present as wholly determined by the past or see gender-specific behavior and responses as the result of biological programming. Chodorow discusses anthropological theories as the product of social structure that yields a cultural dialogue. Capacities that develop innately are projection and interjection and infants using these capacities before they acquire language.

Feelings cross disciplinary boundaries and raises questions about the place of feelings, and argues for the integration of psychological experience which is both transformative and subtle. The book is organized in four sections. In the first section, psychoanalysis is described as a theory about the development of personal meaning in the clinical encounter. The second section focuses on gender as an aspect of self-creation layered by subjective, social and cultural processes. In the third section, psychoanalytic theory and clinical practice are contrasted with anthropological theory and field situations. The final situation discusses psychoanalysis as a grand theory of mind and a primary method for the ongoing generation of self and a meaningful life.

According to Chodorow, a person develops psychological strategies over a lifetime such as fantasizing, projecting and introjecting, and each individual takes what they need from their culture in order to develop. Each person thus has a need to understand their own self and to create a life story that makes their unconscious and conscious experience intelligible. This book, containing a discussion of recent trends in anthropology, describes the relationship between culture and individuality and utilizes theory to illustrate and illuminate clinical practice. She utilizes her own clinical work to demonstrate the importance of the consulting room and the distinctive relationship between analyst and analysand. The author views the past as “always drawn into the present.” She departs from the traditional Freudian position of clearly delineated psychosexual stages of oral, anal and genital, feeling that such delineations are constraining. We continuously create and recreate the meaning of ourselves in relationship to others and always with feelings and emotions. She makes a plea for the psychoanalyst to recognize the individuality of each patient and to negotiate a specific and personal meaning to deal with the emotions and fantasies that arise in the clinical setting.

In developing her theories beyond the reproduction of mothering, Chodorow has expanded her theory to posit that gender is unique to each individual and that even gender has personal meaning that is constructed and changed. Although Chodorow rejects the idea of a fixed notion of masculinity or femininity, she feels that everyone does construct a sense of male or female self, and we all possess the ability to create a personal meaning as we blend our innermost self with the culture in which we are growing. The great strength of this book is the work done by Chodorow to move theoretical formulations into encounters in the psychoanalytic environment. The author makes a plea for focusing on the present. Theory informs practice, but it is the day-to-day encounter between the analyst and the analysand that yields the direction in which the work must go. Chodorow maintains a “both-and” approach in response to the conundrum that she approaches rather than “either-or” approach as a psychoanalyst and as a clinician and enjoins both clinician and feminist to experience the power of the psychological. “Feminism recognizes differences” she writes “but it defines them politically rather than individually in terms of political, social, identities like race, class and sexual orientation (p 70). According to Chodorow, psychoanalytic understanding of the power of transference, projection and introjection run counter to feminist assumptions about the exclusive cultural or political construction of gender and gender meanings (p 71).

Chodorow argues throughout the book that if cultural meanings matter, they matter personally. They are projectively constructed, animated and creative. Reciprocally selves and emotions, however culturally labeled are, like gender, introjectively reshaped partially through unconscious fantasy through the unconscious inner world that develops from birth onward. Emotions may be culturally recognized or unrecognized, but they are directly felt and become implicated in unconscious aspects of the self and world (p. 171). Psychoanalysis allows for recognition and understanding of the personal meanings that create psychic life and give it “a glow.” Analysis enables an enfolding of the split off or repressed aspects of psychic life into the centered unknown that makes continuities of discontinuities (p 272). People fear that entering psychoanalysis will eventually stop a writer from writing or a painter from painting, that neurosis is the root of creativity and that psychoanalysis wishes to remove the latter along with the former. However, it is only the split off unconscious fantasy that cannot inform creativity or otherwise make life fuller. Unconscious fantasy, if not split off, has a potential to deepen experience and to enhance creativity (p. 273). Chodorow’s quest has been to direct the light of understanding towards the ways in which we create personal meaning and to explore the use and generation of intersubjective, cultural, and social meaning in the process of creation. She concludes her book with an affirmation of the personal and psychological. Chodorow asks that all of us become more conscious in our every day experience and sensitize ourselves to the power of feelings all around us. She feels that by doing so we can make a difference in our world.

Chodorow’s vision of psychoanalysis focuses on emotional life and views this as the space where individual fantasy and perception of reality are created. Her view is that psychoanalysis is a method for investigating meaning and that meaning is not merely discovered but actually created in the unconscious out of the immediacy of experience. It is our job as analysts to deconstruct the meaning in the here and now and insist that feeling is the playground for the psychoanalytic method.

In this book, Chodorow allows us to investigate psychoanalysis as theory, and psychoanalysis as a practice of therapy. As many reviewers have indicated, Nancy Chodorow certainly has “a passion for psychoanalysis.” Her clear, concise and far-reaching analysis of the complex problems underlying the impact of society upon the individual holds a magnifying glass to many of the practices and values with which we live so comfortably. In reading her book we may learn to examine some of these practices, and come to understand how they develop and how we may have come to accept them. Chodorow’s concern is with feelings that are enmeshed within stories about self in relation to others and about the inner and outer world both generated and created. In this lucid and insightful journey through theoretical formulations, Chodorow explores and illuminates the works of Loewald, Erickson, Winnicott, Schachtel, Klein, Mitchell, Bollas, Ogden and others, viewing the works through a contemporary lens combining her knowledge of psychoanalysis, gender studies, and cultural anthropology, helping the reader to understand the implications for contemporary society as well as developing an understanding of what is useful compared with what is narrow or rigid. The final chapter, containing her personal views, is revealing about the depth and sincerity of the author, and the depth and complexity of her understanding and theoretical formulations.

Reviewer Note

Marilyn Newman Metzl is a psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice in Kansas City, Missouri. She is Director of the Kansas City Institute for Contemporary Psychoanalysis, an affiliate of the National Institute for the Psychotherapies in New York and a training analyst with KCICP. Dr Metzl is President of Section IV of Division 39 of the American Psychological Association. A special “thank you” is extended to Jonathan M Metzl, MD for editorial assistance.

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