Point Of View

Point Of View

Whatever Became of Feminism?: Harriet Lerner on the Legacy of the Women's Movement

January/February 2011

Psychoanalyst Karen Horney's questioning of Freud's idea of penis envy was perhaps the first notable challenge by a woman to the veiled sexism embedded in psychotherapy's conventional wisdom, and paved the way to other assaults on the impact of patriarchal cultural values within the profession. By the late '70s and early '80s, through the work of the Women's Project in Family Therapy and other feminist contributors to the field, feminism had become a major force, shaping not only theory but clinical practice. These days, however, it's hard to find much attention being paid to the idea that gender politics looms large in the issues that clients bring to our offices.

For 30 years, psychologist Harriet Lerner has been one of the leading feminist thinkers within the profession, as well as an enormously successful author who brings the insights of therapy to a large general audience. Her 10 books, including Women in Therapy, The Dance of Anger, and The Dance of Fear, have sold more than two million copies and been published in 35 foreign editions. She recently spoke about her body of work, and addressed the question of the continuing impact of feminism…

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