Psychoanalytic Reflections on a Gender-free Case
Into the Void
Edited by Ellen L. K. Toronto, Gemma Ainslie, Molly Donovan, Maurine Kelly, Christine C. Kieffer, Nancy McWilliams
Routledge – 2005 – 328 pages
The past two decades of psychoanalytic discourse have witnessed a marked transformation in the way we think about women and gender. The assignment of gender carries with it a host of assumptions, yet without it we can feel lost in a void, unmoored from the world of rationality, stability and meaning. The feminist analytic thinkers whose work is collected here confront the meaning established by the assignment of gender and the uncertainty created by its absence.
The contributions brought together in Psychoanalytic Reflections on a Gender-free Case address a cross-section of significant issues that have both chronicled and facilitated the changes in feminist psychoanalysis since the mid 1980s. Difficult issues which have previously been ignored (such as the pregnancy of the therapist or sexual abuse regarded as more than a fantasy) are considered first. The book goes on to address family perspectives as they interact and shape the child’s experience of growing up male or female. Other topics covered are the authority of personal agency as influenced by the language and theory of patriarchy, male-centred concepts that consistently define women as inferior, and the concept of gender as being co-constructed within a relationship.
The gender-free case presented here will fascinate all psychoanalysts interested in exploring ways of grappling with the elusive nature of gender, as well as those studying gender studies.
E. L. K. Toronto, Introduction. Section I: Gender Unbound. E. L. K. Toronto, Case Presentation and Discussion. E. L. K. Toronto, The Feminine Unconscious in Psychoanalytic Theory. Section II: Suspending Certainty in the Consulting Room. M. Walsh Donovan, Case/Section Commentary. J. Alpert, Childhoods Driven Wrong. B. Gerson, An Analyst’s Pregnancy Loss and Its Effects on Treatment Disruption and Growth. J. Sarnat, Working in the Space Between Psychoanalytic and Trauma Oriented Approaches to Stories of Abuse. Section III: Family Relationships: Shifting Perspectives. N. McWilliams, Case/Section Commentary. C. C. Kieffer, Selfobjects, Oedipal Objects and Mutual Recognition: a self-psychological reappraisal of the female Oedipal victor. M. Walsh Donovan, Demeter and Persephone Revisited: Ambivalence and Separation in the Mother-Daughter Relationship. R. Lax, Boys’ Envy of Mother and the Consequences of this Narcissistic Mortification. N. McWilliams, Mothering and Fathering Processes in the Psychoanalytic Arts. Section IV: Beneath the Bedrock: The Gender of Desire. G. Ainslie, Case/Section Commentary. P. Young Eisendrath, The Female Person and How We Talk About Her. D. Elise, Woman and Desire: Why Women May Not Want to Want. Section V: Multiplicity: Postmodern Revisions of Gender. C. C. Kieffer, Case/Section Commentary. L. Layton, Who’s That Girl, Who’s That Boy. V. Goldner, Ironic Gender, Authentic Sex. G. Gerber, Gender Stereotypes and the Change Toward Greater Personal Maturity in Psychotherapy. S. Knoblauch, The Music of Masculinity: Clinical Attention to Tone and Rhythm in Gender Construction. K. Leary, Race in Psychoanalytic Space. M. Dimen, Afterword.
Ellen L. K. Toronto is a founding member and past president of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Council, and is in private practice in Ann Arbor, Michigan.
Gemma Ainslie practices psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in Austin, Texas, and is Vice-President of the Austin-San Antonio Psychoanalytic Society.
Molly Donovan is a psychologist in private practice in Washington, DC, and is on the faculty at both the Georgetown University Medical School and the George Washington University.
Maurine Kelly practices psychoanalysis and psychotherapy in Bethesda and Silver Spring, Maryland, and is on the faculties of the Washington School of Psychiatry and the George Washington University.
Christine C. Kieffer is a Child/Adolescent and Adult psychoanalyst on the faculty of the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis.
Nancy McWilliams teaches for the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University and for several psychoanalytic institutes.