Michèle Barrett and Mary McIntosh
Narcissism and the Family: a Critique of Lasch
A crucial question for feminists is whether the gendered subjectivity of today really does follow the model of patriarchal authority elaborated in psychoanalytic theory. Juliet Mitchell has probably provided the best-known claim for the validity of psychoanalysis as the key to understanding how feminity and masculinity are acquired. In her account of ‘the making of a lady’, she argues that Freudian theory still gives the most accurate description of (not prescription for) patriarchal society, and that we ignore this analysis on pain of ignorance.  Psychoanalysis and Feminism, Harmondsworth 1974. In the present article we want to explore this question from a somewhat different angle, by looking at the work of the American cultural critic Christopher Lasch who, from a position sympathetic to psychoanalysis, argues that the family form it describes has now been largely superseded in late capitalism. His work has elicited considerable feminist criticism and provides a useful perspective from which to assess the broader controversy about psychoanalytic accounts of the family and the construction of subjectivity.
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- Jacques Lacan: The Mirror-Phase as Formative of the Function of the I
- Lacan Study Group: 'Psychoanalysis and Feminism'
- Christopher Lasch: The Freudian Left and Cultural Revolution
- Richard Wollheim: Psychoanalysis and Feminism
- Richard Wollheim: Reply to Critics
- Nancy Chodorow, Eli Zaretsky: 'Psychoanalysis and Feminism': Rejoinder to Wollheim