Social Change and Psychotherapeutic Implications

  • Carol C. Nadelson
  • Malkah T. Notman
Part of the Women in Context: Development and Stresses book series (WICO)


Psychotherapists see women who are successful in many areas, but who are in conflict about their aspirations and activities. Since therapists are influenced by the same cultural, familial, and intrapsychic factors as their patients, they may find their objectivity clouded by their own values and attitudes, so that it may be difficult for them to examine with their patients the conflicts presented:

An important example that is now being brought most forcefully to our attention has to do with the radical transformation currently taking place in the conceptualization of the position of women in our society, the rapidly changing reality of being a woman in today’s world. I submit that many of our familiar usages and the comfortably established assumptions underlying them, concerning such psychoanalytically salient conceptions in our understandings of the psychology of women, as our notions of passive and active, of “normal masochism,” and of so-called feminine and masculine attributes and behaviors, must necessarily be profoundly affected by the changing meanings enforced by the changing realities of the new woman’s world. To not be aware of or be unable or unwilling to accommodate to a social reality that has been so profoundly transformed within our generation is to unnecessarily and perhaps irreparably burden the delicate balance of transferences and countertransferences on which the progressive resolutions of our therapeutic analytic task depend. If the analyst and analysand have profoundly different visions of this reality—of the “proper” or normal role of women in society—an analytic impass may readily ensue in which, the structure of the relationship being “tilted”(Greenacre) the way it is, the patient is the more usually bent into pseudocompliances with analytic interpretive pressures, though it can oppositely take the course of active withdrawals by the patient of major segments of psychic functioning from the analytic arena.1


Social Change Gender Identity Psychotherapy Supervision Salient Conception Intrapsychic Conflict 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1982

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol C. Nadelson
    • 1
    • 2
  • Malkah T. Notman
    • 3
    • 4
  1. 1.Department of PsychiatryTufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  2. 2.Department of PsychiatryTufts-New England Medical Center HospitalBostonUSA
  3. 3.Tufts University School of MedicineBostonUSA
  4. 4.Boston Veterans Administration Medical CenterBostonUSA

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