UNDERSTANDING WOMEN: A Feminist Psychoanalytic Approach by Luise & Susie Orbach Eichenbaum

UNDERSTANDING WOMEN: A Feminist Psychoanalytic Approach

Email this review


The therapist authors of What Do Women Want (1982, p. 1370) here pitch their feminist psychological theories to a more specialized audience--one at least familiar with the way defenses work in and out of therapy, the processes of transference and countertransference, etc. Their basic assumptions, however, are still questionable. Eichenbaum and Orbach, co-founders of women's therapy centers in London and New York, think we should view women within the confines of their social and cultural constraints. Then we can address their problems using women therapists, women's workshops and psychodynamic therapy groups, and occasional couples counseling. (No evidence exists, however, that women are more effective than men in treating women, and the authors offer no such proof.) Women therapists are encouraged to empathize strongly and vocally: women, we're told, are terrified of exposing the ""little girl"" within--for fear that others will reject their ""insatiable"" neediness--so the therapist must show special tenderness toward that aspect of her client's personality. However, the idea that women repress such feelings (in response, ostensibly, to clues from their mothers) is contraverted by women's much greater recourse to therapy, and, in the experience of most therapists, their far greater willingness to expose their fears and needs. The book is a serious attempt to present a new therapy package, but also seriously skewed--and not in a class with Jean Baker Miller's Toward a New Psychology of Women as a conceptual approach.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1983
Publisher: Basic Books