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November 25 , 2007

Individualizing Gender and Sexuality

Theory and Practice


Nancy Chodorow, in her groundbreaking book The Reproduction of Mothering, quite simply changed the conversation in at least three areas of study: psychoanalysis, women's studies, and sociology. In her latest book, Individualizing Gender and Sexuality, she examines the complexity and uniqueness of each person's personal creation of sexuality and gender and the ways that these interrelate with other aspects of psychic and cultural life. She brings her well-known theoretical agility, wide-ranging interdisciplinarity, and clinical experience to every chapter, advocating for the clinician's openness, curiosity, and theoretical pluralism. The book begins with reflections on Freud's Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality, followed by considerations of Melanie Klein and Stephen Mitchell, as well as on her own work and on the postmodern turn in psychoanalytic gender theory. Subsequent chapters address contemporary clinical-cultural issues such as women and work, women and motherhood, and men and violence. Concluding chapters elaborate on the multiple ingredients and the personal affective, conflictual, and defensive constellations and processes that create sexuality and gender in each individual. Ending with a chapter on homosexualities as compromise formations, Chodorow deepens her account of clinical individuality and sex-gender transference-countertransference while bringing her readers back to Freud and to the many strands that followed, as she consolidates a consistent line of interest in sexuality and gender, theory and practice, sustained over a lifetime.
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