Theories Of Female Sexuality English Literature Essay

An essay reviewing Freuds theories and utilizing his instance surveies as grounds to understand Freuds positions as a adult male and as a doctor in his construct of depth psychology. Did Freud see adult females as an inferior sex or did he merely neglect to understand them? -essay believes he merely failed to understand them largely. An essay takes a historical position that Freud ‘s thoughts on feminine gender were radical in their clip but seems trapped within that era and can non be applied to modern twenty-four hours adult females.

This essay is an eclectic argument-whilst admiting Freud ‘s patriarchal prejudice in his theories on adult females it refuses to reprobate him as a woman hater for his theoretical defects.

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Freud has frequently been portrayed as a woman hater preferring Procrustean thoughts by women’s rightists. However this essay aims to chase away the thoughts as Freud the willful bully of adult females and proposes that Freud was non deliberately misogynous in fact he believed himself a liberator of adult females ‘s gender. However it must be acknowledged that Freud does look stuck in a premier paradox, whilst emancipating adult females in some ways he besides entrapped them in a cosmopolitan clip specific bias with his theories.

Freud describes adult females as more vain, covetous, less moral and less active than work forces which is a instead dismaying description that is frequently remembered and brought up as a charge against him whilst the fact he was among the first to raise the inquiry of feminine gender is forgotten ( Nolan and Mahoney ) . His misogynism is stressed whilst the fact he gave hysterics a voice is overlooked.


One of the most of import facets to concentrate on in speaking about Freud is his work on crazes since it was this phenomenon that gave Freud many of his early instance surveies. After analyzing under Charcot in Paris, Freud came back with a position unlike many other doctors of the clip that craze was non simply linked to alterations in female genital organ ‘I regarded the linking of craze with the subject of gender as a kind of insult-just as the adult females patients themselves do ‘ . Later on Freud revised his theories including sexual ‘functioning ‘ of importance in all neuroticisms which adult females were peculiarly susceptible to. However it must be noted that should non be taken out of a context as a feminist claim against Freud, what he is stating is there are sexual differences between the sexes that have psychical significance ( a theory widely accepted in modern twenty-four hours life as like it or non there are cardinal sexual differences between work forces and adult females ) . It began when Freud realised that craze represented conflicted gender expressed through disease and the first instance he came upon was that of Breuer ‘s patient Anna O.Despite neber really handling Anna O it was her instance of hysertia that prompted Freud ‘s involvement and consqeuqnt building of the ‘talking remedy ‘ which led to the published work “ Surveies of Hysteria ” .It is of possibly of importance to observe that for a frequently construed misogynist Freud ‘s intetest was sparked by a adult female and non a adult male.

One of the most common statements women’s rightists take towards Freud is to utilize female craze as an illustration of Freud ‘s misinterpretation of adult females. By concentrating on the internal jobs experienced in craze he was disregarding the societal state of affairss that these adult females were placed within. Many of his patients were intelligent adult females who aspired to more than merely matrimony and hence found their lives creatively smothering and oppressive. Many women’s rightists have argued that craze was in fact diagnostic of adult females ‘s inferior societal standing and a reaction towards the subjugation faced by adult females.

However every bit Mitchell argues in Psychoanalysis and feminism Freud was n’t simply disregarding the societal jobs faced by adult females but to concentrate strictly on crazes as a societal response to external world and nil else is to deny the unconscious, a cardinal theory of Psychoanalysis. Furthermore it could be argued that by listening to his patients and giving their symptoms acceptance Freud was in fact emancipating adult females from the stereotype of the ‘madwoman ‘ and the weaker sex and admiting the loads placed on them to accept their topographic point in society.

Freud ‘s craze instance surveies

In speaking about Freud ‘s work on hysertia it is besides worthwhile to look into his work with female patients from a socio-historical position.

Many of Freud patients in surveies on crazes were extremist thought frequently originative adult females that deviated from the considered societal norms regarded of adult females at the time.There is besides grounds from Freud ‘s analysis of these adult females that he recognised that they did non conform to societal standards.The fact that Freud did non in any manner attempt to pull strings these adult females into suiting oppressive criterions indicates a certain grasp in the independency and individualism of adult females ( Suzanne Brom ) .

In the instance of Frau Emmy von N it is clear that Freud had the extreme fondness and esteem for her describing her “ as remarkably educated and intelligentaˆ¦the moral earnestness with which she viewed her responsibilities, her intelligence and energy, which were no less than a adult male ‘s and her high grade of instruction and love of truth impressed us both greatly ” ( Freud 1909, pp 103-104 ) .From this description it can be argued that Freud idea of her as equal to a adult male and his remarks show that he did non see adult females inferior in their capacities.

Another presentation of Freud ‘s esteem of independent adult females can be seen in the instance of Fraulein Elisabeth von R in which Freud comments “ She was greatly discontented with being a girl.She was full of ambitious plans.She wanted to analyze or hold musical preparation, and she was indignant at holding to give her dispositions and freedom of opinion by matrimony ” .His fondness and blessing for her is apparent throughout the analysis although he does non straight province his esteem of her rejectioing the culturally imposed feminine criterion ( Suzanne bom ) .

Therefore it is surprising that in the instance of Dora that there is small defense mechanism against freuds actions towards a vulnerable sexually exploited immature girl.Dora is frequently used as a premier illustration by women’s rightists of ‘freuds inability to put aside male biass ‘ ( Gay ) , and to show a deficiency of empathy in freuds analytic Sessionss ( uncharacteristic of Freud ) .Moreover Dora ‘s refusal to hold with Freud on certain readings he raised which later led to her walking out on Freuds have made her somewhat of a title-holder among women’s rightists.

The instance of Dora, existent name Ida Bauer began in 1900 when she was brought to freud by her male parent hoping he “ would seek to convey her to ground ” .Freud had treated her male parent before this for a ‘diffuse vascular infection ‘ and was really familiar with the household and the acquaitances who were to play a big function in Dora ‘s hysteria.Her male parent suffered from ailment wellness which meant the household would often see watering place towns and it was in one of these resorts that the household met Frau and Herr K ( the Zellenkas ) whom they struck up a friendly relationship with.Dora ab initio became really fond of Frau and Herr K nevertheless this changed when her male parent and Frau K began to hold an matter and she began to go depressive, resentful towards them and even blackmailed her father many times to interrupt off all dealingss with the Zelenkas.In conveying her to Freud her male parent hoped that she would discontinue in her finding to interrupt him and Frau K apart.During the analysis it became evident that Herr K had propositioned Dora by a lakeshore on one of the household holidaies and in response she had fled and cut her holiday short.When stating her parents her male parent had summoned Herr K to explicate himself and he had denied everything claiming it was a phantasy of Dora ‘s due to her inordinate reading about sexual stuff which was accordingly excepted.On another juncture during analysis Dora had told Freud of another incident when she was 14 when Herr K had kissed her and she had felt a violent disgust in response.Freud far from admiting her reaction as a mark of the maltreatment of a immature miss interepretaed it as a hysterical symptom because a ‘healthy immature miss ought to hold felt a sexual excitement.It is here that Freud ‘s male bias peculiar comes into drama in his inability to see that an progress mde by an older adult male could be anything other than enjoyable to a teenage girl.In his work Freud besides mentions that holding met Herr K ‘he was slender, rather immature and of a prepossessing visual aspect ‘ proposing that Dora should hold been attacted to him and had no right to experience disgust.

From reading “ Fragment of an analysis of a instance of craze ” it is besides clear that Dora in confiding these incidences to freud, expected some confidence of her outrage at the adults.At one point she confesses that she felt ‘she had been handed over to Herr K as the monetary value of his digesting the dealingss between her male parent and his wife..’.It is besides clear Dora wanted Freud to hold with her in her use by the grownups and possibly even speak to her male parent on her behalf and convicne him of Herr K ‘s propisitons.However instead than holding with her it seems as if Freud became abashed ( possibly because he knew the household ) and ‘he declined to be manipulated by her into moving as her agent ‘ ( Appignanesi and Forester ) .Instead Freud attacked Dora impeaching her of being an confederate in the matter of her male parent and Herr K and to persude her of her really being in love with Herr K ( Appignanesi and Forrester ) .At another point in the analysis when Dora disagreed with his reading of her love for Herr K Freud wrote that in such a patient “ ‘No ‘ signifies the coveted ‘Yes ‘ “ .Therefore when Dora answered ‘No ‘ he ignored it and used it as farther verification of his analysis puting her in a inactive state of affairs and taking her voice away.Dora ‘s exultant walking on out of Freud as a reaction to him disregarding the societal sitations she had been placed in was regardedby Freud at first as a mark tht his analysis had been corrrct yet she did non desire to accept it ignoring what was supposed to be a show of feminie power from Dora.

The beginning of sexual individuality

In order to discourse the statements environing Freud ‘s theories of childish gender it is first necessary to discourse what they constitute.

When first depicting the most of import phase of childish psychosexual development Freud assumed that the Oedipal Phase was the same for both male childs and misss, with misss running parallel alongside the development of male childs. It was n’t until 1924 that Freud realised his description of the miss ‘s development was unequal and revised the construct to research the nature of a miss ‘s Oedipus struggle in greater deepness.

The Oedipus composite is the cardinal struggle that leads to designation of gender within the psychosexual paradigm. It can besides be considered the most corrupting construct for women’s rightists and a premier illustration of the position of female lower status in depth psychology.

Pre-oedipal male childs and misss are the same, until they have passed through the Oedipus struggle kids have no venereal administration therefore misss can be seen as small work forces and treated that manner typically in Freud ‘s work. It is clear through this construct that he sees gender non as an innate given but something that comes about through individualization and interaction between libidinal thrusts and household members. Yet he still seems ill-defined how precisely muliebrity comes approximately, with male childs there is a clear cut Oedipal struggle stoping when the male childs identifies with his male parent for fright of emasculation, but with misss at that place does non look a clear cut option and the account that Freud offers if fraught with jobs. What does look certain is the flight of the misss oedipal phase is desire to be the object of masculine desire.

By following Mitchells statement and turning to Lacan in his rereading of Freud his theories seem less chauvinistic and do more sense. Lacan clarifies Freud ‘s otherwise phallocentric readings by suggesting that the Phallus should be taken as symbolic of power, something that is ne’er clarified in Freud ‘s work as he ne’er differentiates between the Phallus and the existent penis.Re-reading Penis enviousness in Lacanian footings suggests adult females desire non the existent male organ but the power and position associated with it. Sing the subjugation of adult females in a patriarchal, society at the clip is absolutely acceptable and non misogynous to presume that adult females felt less of import than work forces and desired or envied the freedom work forces had. This becomes less about phallocentrism and more Freud recognizing the sociologic position of adult females at the clip.

Masuclien V feminine


There can be no uncertainty that Freud ‘s theories were radical for his clip, he was a innovator stuck in a conservative Victorian society. Women still had few rights and were regarded as unstable, frail and inferior sex whose chief map in life was to get married, reproduce and be kept off from the work. Simone de Bouvoir sums up the status of adult females by proposing that ‘In short adult females were tools for work forces, making their kids, keeping their places and supplying sexual relsease when necessary ” .Between the terminals of the nineteenth century feminism was get downing to emerge as a rebellion against the restrictive norms of Victorian femininity.It ‘s big impact sparked the psychoanalytic involvement in the psychological science of adult females. In malice of feminist resistance to his phallocentric theories many adult females were attracted to psychoanalysis as it surveies gender and represented a opportunity to dispute pent-up codifications and recognised cognition. Many rational and politically extremist adult females entered the profession of depth psychology which Freud himself encouraged. Psychoanalysis was the first scientific discipline to face the survey of gender and expression for sexual differences within the person, through this it became a agency of placing female sexual repression and its importance to the person and societal development of adult females.

Freud the adult male

Freud ‘s thoughts on gender and the unconscious were radical in that they brought up the thought of female gender and the demand for sexual freedom in adult females. However in his work on the development of female gender, how a small miss becomes a adult female this is where the revolution ends and Freud succumbs to his patriarchal prejudice.

Possibly it is even apprehensible that Freud was ne’er able to work out the conundrum of muliebrity ( , he admitted himself that his decisions were ne’er fulfilling plenty ) as many adult females have protested it takes a being a adult female to cognize a adult female. Freud as a adult male in a male dominated inhibitory society it is just to state was at a disadvantage.

Freud seems such a contradictive and baffled man.On the one manus a radical mastermind within a inhibitory society and on the other manus a conservative businessperson. He married the perfect hausfrau in Martha yet admired most and spent a big trade of his clip surrounded by ‘masculine ‘ radically believing adult females such as his sister in jurisprudence minna bernays and lou-andreas-salome.Despite being a conservative household adult male he encouraged his girl Anna proudly in her psychoanalytic work and ne’er insisted that she marry or quash her rational chases.

A adult male who could do a dismissive epigram about adult females such as and so subsequently turn to a co-worker and say that adult females were baronial animals whom work forces could larn from.Freud tended to turn away from political positions which is why he was possibly non a staunt advocator of the adult females ‘s release motion but on the other manus he was n’t opposed to it either.

It must besides be pointed out that in the universe of academe Freud displayed no male bias against adult females, non merely did he object to suggestions that depth psychology be closed tro adult females but he treated female co-worker with nil but regard and encouraged their enterprises within research.

Amidst his conservative values there lurks a adult male of broad benevolence, a adult male who strove for sexual freedom in both sexes, allowed adult females into his profession and one time refused to reprobate homosexualism “ … It is a great unfairness to oppress homosexualism as a offense and a inhuman treatment too.. ”

Frequently misunderstood by many women’s rightists as ‘prescribing normalcy ‘ when in existent fact he strove towards a universe of individualism, non to bring around but to recognize struggles within oneself and take self-understanding “ our purpose will non be to rub off every distinctive feature of human character for the interest of a conventional ‘normality ‘ , nor yet to demand that the individual who has been ‘thoroughly analysed ‘ shall experience no passions and develop no internal struggles ” .

Freud can be seen as a adult male in front of his clip in some ways and in others simply an era of the clip he lived in. A adult male full of contradictions about muliebrity, stretched between his enlightened theories and his topographic point as a conservative adult male in a inhibitory society. It is interesting to inquire whether Freud ‘s theories on adult females would hold been different had he lived in our clip.

Freud and the patriachal society

Mitchell arugues in Psychoabalysis and feminism that freuds analysis of the psychological science of adult females takes topographic point within an analysis of patriarchate itself.She suggests that his theories give us the beignnings of an account of the inferiosed and ‘alternative ‘ psychological science of adult females under patriarchy.It can be argued that one of Freud biggest contributiosn to female psychological science is his reocngition and observation of patriarchate.

Freud posits the beggiining of patriarchate in his work Totem and Taboo in which he suggests it began with the cardinal host and the slaying of the cardinal male parent who represents the grade of patriarchy.In a pre-social era the male parent was all powerful and had rights over all adult females so a set of boies joined together against him to take ownership of these rights.However after the slaying the boies felt ambivalency over the title and realised they could non all have these rights.In response the instead was made into a totem as a response of their guilt and becomes more powerful in death.He suggests this is the start of societal jurisprudence and morality.In relation to the Oedipus complex the male child realises himself as the inheritor to the jurisprudence of the male parent and the miss learns her topographic point within this law.Mitchell suggests that the odeipus complex itself is a patriahcal myth and possibly they ground why Freud rejected a electra composite in adult females as basically they can non simply have a parallel development.Women bear more Markss from the Oedipus composite because it is into the adult male ‘s universe that a adult female enters.As both sexes grow up and leanr to populate in society they both want the male parents place but come to gain that merely the male child will be allowed to make so.

Irigaray argues that within a ‘dominant phallic economic system ‘ womens genitalias are seen as inferior to the phallus and womens pleasance comes secondary to that of mens.Women are aroused more by touch than by sight and come ining into a ‘dominant scopic economic system ‘ signifies their relagation to passiveness as the beaitufl object to be gazed at by work forces, her ain pleasance is put aside.

Michele Montrelay- It is non plenty to give an history of feminine gender from a phallocentric point of position ‘

Feminine gender is invariably elaborated as a map of phallic mentions.

If seeking to understand Freuds believing in the analysis of the female we should take a Lacanian attack in re-reading freud.The Phallus should non be identified with the phallus, instead than meaning anatomical world the Phallus designates the values and thoughts that the penile organ respresents ( Smirgel )

In concslusion when reading and reviewing Freud ‘s theories it is of import to put them in the context of a socio-historical perspective.Whilst Freud ne’er did to the full understand the conundrum of feminity nevertheless his work became the starting point for many other female psychonalysts such as Karen Horney and Melanie Klein to take up the challenge and bring forth theories more relevant to a modern society.We must besides non bury that whilst Freud theories may see misognyitci to modern adult females were at the clip radical within the Victorian patriahcal society.Not merely did freud infer many of his theories from early instance surveies of adult females but he besides opened up a extremist profession for adult females to set about at a clip when adult females were discourage against instruction and academia.So whilst his theories do hold a patriarchal prejudice there is still much to be learnt from his theories which women’s rightists such as Juliet Mitchell have taken up the undertaking.


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