Advertisement

Clinical Social Work Journal

, Volume 46, Issue 1, pp 1–7 | Cite as

Not Good at Friends: Bringing a Woman’s Friendships into the Frame in Psychodynamic Psychotherapy

  • F. Diane Barth
Original Paper

Abstract

For many women in therapy, friends and friendship are often an ongoing source of support and encouragement as well as conflict and pain. This “psychological sea” (Rangell in J Am Psychoanal Assoc 11:3–54, 1963) frequently acts as a quiet background to any therapeutic process, playing a largely unexamined role in a wide range of relational and psychodynamic areas. When these relationships move into the foreground of therapeutic exploration, they are often understood as contemporary repetitions of familial and historical relational patterns. I have found, however, in my own work and in the work of clinicians I teach and supervise, that women clients’ friendships can sometimes hold keys to important, unarticulated and even unrecognized relational and intrapsychic issues of their own, sometimes separate from or only marginally related to family dynamics. This article examines some of these patterns and the psychodynamics they may reveal.

Keywords

Women’s friendships Myth of women’s friendships Femininity Womanliness Conflicts in women’s friendships 

Notes

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

F. Diane Barth, LCSW, declares that she has no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

This article does not contain any studies with human participants or animals performed by the author, F. Diane Barth, LCSW.

References

  1. Adler, G. (1985). Borderline psychopathology and its treatment. Hillsdale, NJ: Jason Aronson, Inc.Google Scholar
  2. Barrett, L. F. (2017). How emotions are made: The secret life of the brain. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.Google Scholar
  3. Barth, F. D. (2014). Integrative clinical social work practice: A contemporary perspective. New York: Springer.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Basch, M. F. (1980). Doing psychotherapy. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  5. Benjamin, J. (1991). Father and daughter: Identification with difference—A contribution to gender heterodoxy. Psychoanalytic Dialogue, 1, 277–299.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Boulanger, G. (2007). Wounded by reality. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  7. Bowlby, J. (1999) [1969]. Attachment and loss (Vol. 1, 2nd ed.). New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  8. DeAngelis, T. (2002). New data on lesbian, gay and bisexual mental health: New findings overturn previous beliefs. Monitor on Psychology, 33, 46. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/monitor/feb02/newdata.aspx.
  9. Diamond, L. M. (2008). Female bisexuality from adolescence to adulthood: Results from a 10-year longitudinal study. Developmental Psychology, 44, 5–14.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  10. Diamond, L. M. (2012). The desire disorder in research on sexual orientation in women: Contributions of dynamical systems theory. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41, 73–83.  https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-012-9909-7.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  11. Eichenbaum, L., & Orbach, S. (2014). Between women: Love, envy and competition in women’s friendships. Seattle: Amazon Digital Services LLC.Google Scholar
  12. Freud, A. (1963). The concept of developmental lines. Psychoanalytic Study of the Child, 18, 245–265.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  13. Freud, S. (1920). Beyond the pleasure principle. In J. Strachey (Ed., & Trans.), The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud (Vol. 18, pp. 1–64). London: Hogarth.Google Scholar
  14. Fung, H. H., Carstensen, L. L., & Lang, F. R. (2001). Age-related patterns in social networks among European Americans and African Americans: Implications for socioemotional selectivity across the life span. International Journal of Aging & Human Development, 52, 185–206.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Gitterman, A. (2014). Handbook of social work practice with vulnerable and resilient populations (3rd ed.). New York: Columbia University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Goleman, D. (2011). Are women more emotionally intelligent than men? Psychology Today. Retrieved from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-brain-and-emotional-intelligence/201104/are-women-more-emotionally-intelligent-men.
  17. Hubert, C. (2006). Best friends: When it comes to relationships, there’s no match for the bond between women. Sacramento Bee. Retrieved from https://www.wcwonline.org/2006/best-friends-when-it-comes-to-relationships-theres-no-match-for-the-bond-between-women.
  18. Johnson, K. V. A., & Dunbar, R. I. M.(2016). Pain tolerance predicts human social network size. Scientific Report, 6, 252–267.Google Scholar
  19. Jordan, J. V. (2009). Relational-cultural therapy. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association (APA).Google Scholar
  20. Kendall, S., & Tannen, D. (2015). Discourse and gender. In D. Tannen, H. Hamilton & D. Schiffrin (Eds.), The handbook of discourse analysis (2nd ed., pp. 548–567). Chichester: Wiley.Google Scholar
  21. Kernberg, O. F. (1974). Mature love: Prerequisites and characteristics. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 22, 743–768.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  22. Levinson, D. J. (1996). The seasons of a man’s life. New York: Random House.Google Scholar
  23. Mahler, M., Pine, F., & Bergman, A. (2000). The psychological birth of the human infant: Symbiosis and individuation. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  24. Miller, J. B. (1976/1986). Toward a new psychology of women. Boston: Beacon Press.Google Scholar
  25. Mollenhorsta, G., Volkera, B., & Flapa, H. (2014). Changes in personal relationships: How social contexts affect the emergence and discontinuation of relationships. Social Networks, 37, 65–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Newman, M. L., Groom, C. J., Handelman, L. D., & Pennebaker, J. W. (2008). Gender differences in language use: An analysis of 14,000 text samples. Discourse Processes, 45, 211–236.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. O’Connor, P. (1992). Friendships between women: A critical review. New York: The Guilford Press.Google Scholar
  28. O’Connor, P. (1999). Women’s friendships in a post modern world. In R. Adams & G. Allan (Eds.), Placing friendships in context (pp. 117–135). London: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rangell, L. (1963). On friendship. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, 11, 3–54.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  30. Rose, S. M., & Hospital, M. M. (in press). Women’s love and friendship. In C. B. Travis, & J. W. White (Eds.), APA handbook of the psychology of women. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.Google Scholar
  31. Rubin, K. H., & Bowker, J. (2017). Friendship. In M. Bornstein, M. E. Arterberry, K. L. Fingerman & J. E. Lansford (Eds.), The SAGE encyclopedia of lifespan human development. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE.Google Scholar
  32. Simon-Thomas, E. R. (2007). Are women more empathic than men? Retrieved from https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/article/item/women_more_empathic_than_men.
  33. Sullivan, H. (1953). The interpersonal theory of psychiatry. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.New YorkUSA

Personalised recommendations