Freud Felt That Women are Hysterical

Carol RoachStarred Page By Carol Roach, 9th Jun 2015 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Guides>History

In the struggle for women's rights which stems well over a century, some women made great strides in changing the social mores of the day. The plight of the poor is an ongoing topic in women’s issues and women’s rights.

Incorporating non gender specific words into our language

Incorporating non gender specific words into our language

We are used to saying firefighter, policeman, and actor, which is no longer considered gender specific. However, many people of the feminist era thought that this idea was absolutely crazy, how could language affect the way we think?

Think about it; fireman, implies that only a man does or can do this job, it does not leave room for a woman to do it. If people continue to say fireman, it is unconsciously ingrained in their belief system that firefighters can only be men. Again, remember the James Brown classic that we already spoke about in the previous article, “It's a Man's, Man's, Man's World.”

This fight for non gender specific words to be included in our language was not widely embraced at the time. Many people criticized the feminists and dismissed their views. The feeling of the day for many was, “Here goes those crazy feminists again acting hysterical and totally irrational, don't they have anything better to do then burn bras and pick at language?”

The emotions ran high on both sides of the issue.

Hysterical feminists

Hysterical feminists

I have chosen the word hysterical to describe the feeling society had about feminists, to illustrate the point that feminists of the era were trying to make. Hysterical is a word that has always been associated with women. When did you last hear of a man that was hysterical?

To answer that question I will be bold enough to say the answer is never, or very rarely at best. Men were perceived to be logical never hysterical.

Sigmund Freud on Hysteria

Sigmund 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.

Freud typecast women by the term hysteria

My opinion

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.

to be continued

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And Actor, Betty Friedan, Equal Pay, Feminism, Firefighter, First Wave Of Feminisn, Gender Inequality, Policeman, Prohibition, Recap On Feminism, Rosie The Riveter, Second Wave Of Feminism, The Temperance Movement, Women And The Law, Women As Property, Womens Issues, Womens Liberation, Womens Rights

Meet the author

author avatar Carol Roach
Retired therapist and author of two books, freelance writer, newsletter editor, and blogger. I write, health, mental health, women's issues, animal , celebrity, history, and SEO articles.

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