Previously published in Examiner
Part 4 of the language seriesSigmund Freud on Hysteria
There is good reason why Betty Friedan opposed a lot of Sigmund Freud’s view on women. She especially opposed the controversial Penis Envy Theory. However, the great doctor had more up his sleeve than penis envy. His entire view on womanhood was questionable and even controversial in his time. In a paper he wrote in 1925, called ‘The Psychical Consequences of the Anatomic Distinction Between the Sexes’, he stated, “Women oppose change, receive passively, and add nothing of their own.”
According to Donna Stewart, M.D., a professor and chair of women’s health at the University Health Network, Freud was indeed a man of his times and he believed that a woman’s temperament and actions were governed by her reproductive system.
Note from this Montreal mental health examiner
A cat and dog are governed by their reproductive system. When they are in heat they go out and look for a mate. These forces are governed by nature, a biological instinct that requires very little thought. This in essence is what Freud thought about women. He did not recognize an intellect in women. Furthermore, he believed that women felt disadvantaged being women and they really wanted to be a man, hence his Penis Envy Theory. As if that is not enough, he felt girls gravitated towards their fathers during the phallic stage and resented their mothers for not giving them a penis – The Electra Complex . The Electra Complex is an equality controversial theory.
Not only feminists in the 1960’s but also, female psychoanalysts such as Karen Horney found his theories on women very condescending.
Freud’s landmark work with a woman by the name of Bertha Pappenheim, known in his case study as Anna O, is where Freud coined the term hysteria to name and categorize her symptoms of partial paralysis, hallucinations, and amnesia. He first theorized that the reason for hysteria was due to sexual abuse in childhood, but later changed his theory to repressed sexual fantasies.
For courses on Language, Cognition and Perception in Montreal, McGill University l has excellent courses and diplomas and degrees, in neuroscience, behavioural sciences, health sciences and psychology.
Department of Psychology Concordia University – Cognitive Science