Convinced that traditional medical explanations of emotional difficulties were invalid, Freud developed a radically new understanding of their genesis and treatment. Despite repeated rejections of his findings by the medical establishment, he painstakingly codified the revolutionary theory known as psychoanalysis.
Freud maintained that emotional difficulties had their roots in unhappy prior experiences that the sufferer had repressed. He argued that personality was divided into “id,” “ego,” and “super-ego” and that two of these dimensions existed in the unconscious. In exposing the role of the unconscious in man, he made a lasting contribution to our understanding of human nature.
Supported by his loving wife and six children, Freud ruled his house in the manner of a Hebrew patriarch. He was firmly convinced that woman is a castrated male who is cognizant of her castration and of her inferiority to man, and that her rebelling against “this unpleasant condition’ causes the conflict between the sexes. Despite this “insight,” however, Freud, by his own admission, remained forever puzzled by the female psyche.
Freud (l856-l939) --
ages, the problem of woman has puzzled people of every kind.
thirty years research into the feminine psyche I have not been able to answer . . . the great question that has never
been answered: “What does woman want?”
cannot solve the riddle of femininity. The solution must, I think, come from
somewhere else. .
. . We know
nothing whatever about the matter.
must be admitted that women have but little sense of justice, and this is no
doubt connected with the oreponderance of envy in their mental life; for the
demands of justice are a modification of envy; they lay down the conditions
under which one is willing to part with it.
difficult development which leads to femininity [seems to] exhaust all the
possibilities of the individual.
repression of their aggressiveness, which is imposed upon women by their
constitutions and by society, favors the development of strong masochistic
impulses, which have the effect of binding erotically the destructive
tendencies which have been turned inwards. Masochism is, then, as they say,
is really a stillborn thought to send women into the struggle for existence
exactly as men. .
. . It is
possible that changes in upbringing may suppress a woman’s tender attributes,
needful of protection and yet so victorious, and that she can then earn a
livelihood like men. It is also possible that in such an event one would not be
justified in mourning the passing away of the most delightful thing the world
can offer us-- our ideal of womanhood.
Nature has determined a woman’s destiny through beauty, charm and sweetness. Law and custom may have much to give women that has been withheld from them, but the position of women will surely be what it is: in youth an adored darling and in mature years a loved wife. -- New A Critique of Mill on Women
recognized the fact of her castration and with it the superiority of the man as
well as her own inferiority. But she rebels against this unpleasant condition.
relationship of the Oedipus and the castration complexes determines the
character of a woman as a social being.
cannot escape the notion (though I hesitate to give it expression) that for a
woman the level of what is ethically normal is different from what it is in a
man. We must not allow ourselves to be deflected from such conclusions by the
denials of the feminists who are anxious to force us to regard the two sexes as
completely equal in position and worth.