Individualizing Gender and Sexuality: Theory and Practice, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Individualizing Gender and Sexuality

Theory and Practice, 1st Edition

By Nancy J. Chodorow


232 pages

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Paperback: 9780415893589
pub: 2011-10-04
Hardback: 9780415893572
pub: 2011-10-11
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pub: 2012-05-04
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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.


"I feel that Chodorow’s most salient and certainly most influential insights have come from her edgy vantage point as a knowing outlier. Now from the center, her edginess and boldness still continue and we can all hope that new insights and challenges to our understandings of gender and sexuality will continue to be forthcoming." -Nancy Kulish, International Journal of Psychoanalysis

"Nancy Chodorow is the greatest gift to psychoanalysis that the social sciences and anthropology could have ever given us. An intrepid explorer, she combines a seasoned, scholarly feminist wisdom with prodigious clinical knowledge and expertise 'from behind the couch.' She maps here the whole theoretical territory of sexuality, gender, femininities, and masculinities. She traverses from the late 1960s onward her own intellectual, publication, and speaking history that has, in fact, guided the forward strides in these aspects of our field. You will find gems of the brilliance of her thinking in these papers, even in details in the footnotes, in her commentary on the contexts of each development, and in her own rich and evolving presence in the powerful and influential oeuvre." - Rosemary Balsam, Yale School of Medicine, Connecticut, USA

"No one has influenced the psychoanalytic view of gender as profoundly as Nancy Chodorow. For decades she has systematically deconstructed the received truths from Freud and other psychoanalytic thinkers while preserving faith in the psychoanalytic project as the most compelling method of understanding the human condition. In this wonderful new work, her brilliant and original thinking is summarized in an extraordinary collection of essays. As the title suggests, she refuses to fall back on facile generalizations. Instead, she asserts that psychoanalytic understanding is geared to the particular, the idiosyncratic, the unique, and the complex. This book will be of considerable value for the teaching of trainees in psychoanalysis and the mental health professions, but experienced clinicians will also benefit from spending time with the rich material between its covers." - Glen O. Gabbard, author of Love and Hate in the Analytic Setting (2000)

"In this retrospective collection, Nancy Chodorow's brilliance and breadth of knowledge shine. For those who saw The Reproduction of Mothering fly off the shelves in hardcover, as well as those who have just begun to read her, here is a behind-the-scenes view of a major thinker at work." - Muriel Dimen, editor of With Culture in Mind (2011)

"Individualizing Gender and Sexuality is an amazing compliation from one of the greatest thinkers of our time: feminist psychoanalyst Nancy Chodorow. The opportunity to read comments, revisions, and ideas from such a powerful thinker is a special gift. Chodorow's fabulous ability to write in a way that flows only adds to this experience. Chdorow is an absolutely beautiful writer. Her work is technical yet personal, clinical yet theoretical, all at the same time. Her work simply flows, which is no simple feat, given the level of theoretical discussion and the transtheoretical nature of her work." - Geneva Reynaga-Abiko, PsycCRITIQUES

"[Chodorow's] essays brim with incisive, wry, and at times humorous insights…I greatly enjoyed the evocative reach of this book. The changing incarnation of her feminist vision not only illuminates Chodorow's engaging book, but also may keep beckoning her in her treasure hunt of ideas. We would all be rewarded in jogging along." - Lora Heims Tessman, Ph.D., Contemporary Psychoanalysis, Vol. 48, No. 3

"In Individualizing Gender and Sexuality, Chodorow brings together psychoanalytic and sociological analyses to ponder the questions of gender and sexuality… She builds a convincing argument that gender requires as much pluralist theoretical understanding as the 'clinical individual' him or herself… I find this complex layering to be the key strong point of the book… It will provoke questions. It will push you in a critical almost archaelogical search for texts that matter… In many ways, this book is an invitation into an exploration on gender. Bon voyage!" - Aleksandra A Staneva, University of Queensland, Psychotherapy and Counselling Journal of Australia

Table of Contents

Psychoanalysis and Women from Margin to Center: A Retrospect. Part I: Theorists and Theory, 1905-2005. Freud's Three Essays on the Theory of Sexuality: A Reading. From Subjectivity in General to Subjective Gender in Particular: Rethinking Melanie Klein, "Mourning and its Relation to Manic-Depressive States." The Reproduction of Mothering: Reconsiderations. Prejudice Exposed: On Stephen Mitchell's Pioneering Investigations of the Psychoanalytic Treatment and Mistreatment of Homosexuality. Gender on the Modern/Postmodern and Classical/Relational Divide: Untangling History and Epistemology. Part II: Gender and Sexuality in Consulting Room and Culture. Glass Ceilings, Sticky Floors, and Concrete Walls: Internal and External Barriers to Women's Work and Achievement. "Too Late": The Reproduction and Non-reproduction of Mothering. Hate, Humiliation, and Masculinity. Beyond Sexual Difference: Same-sex/Cross-generation and Clinical Individuality in the Creation of Feminine and Masculine. Homosexualities as Compromise Formations.

About the Author

Nancy J. Chodorow, Ph.D., is a Training and Supervising Analyst at the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, on the faculty of the San Francisco Center for Psychoanalysis, a Lecturer on Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, and Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of four previous books and winner of numerous awards and fellowships. She is in private practice in Cambridge, MA.

About the Series

Relational Perspectives Book Series

The Relational Perspectives Book Series (RPBS) publishes books that grow out of or contribute to the relational tradition in contemporary psychoanalysis. The term relational psychoanalysis was first used by Greenberg and Mitchell (1983) to bridge the traditions of interpersonal relations, as developed within interpersonal psychoanalysis and object relations, as developed within contemporary British theory. But, under the seminal work of the late Stephen Mitchell, the term relational psychoanalysis grew and began to accrue to itself many other influences and developments. Various tributaries—interpersonal psychoanalysis, object relations theory, self psychology, empirical infancy research, and elements of contemporary Freudian and Kleinian thought—flow into this tradition, which understands relational configurations between self and others, both real and fantasied, as the primary subject of psychoanalytic investigation.  

We refer to the relational tradition, rather than to a relational school, to highlight that we are identifying a trend, a tendency within contemporary psychoanalysis, not a more formally organized or coherent school or system of beliefs. Our use of the term relational signifies a dimension of theory and practice that has become salient across the wide spectrum of contemporary psychoanalysis. Now under the editorial supervision of Lewis Aron and Adrienne Harris with the assistance of Associate Editors Steven Kuchuck and Eyal Rozmarin, the Relational Perspectives Book Series originated in 1990 under the editorial eye of the late Stephen A. Mitchell. Mitchell was the most prolific and influential of the originators of the relational tradition. He was committed to dialogue among psychoanalysts and he abhorred the authoritarianism that dictated adherence to a rigid set of beliefs or technical restrictions. He championed open discussion, comparative and integrative approaches, and he promoted new voices across the generations.  

Included in the Relational Perspectives Book Series are authors and works that come from within the relational tradition, extend and develop the tradition, as well as works that critique relational approaches or compare and contrast it with alternative points of view. The series includes our most distinguished senior psychoanalysts along with younger contributors who bring fresh vision.

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PSYCHOLOGY / Movements / Psychoanalysis
PSYCHOLOGY / Mental Health