Critical Psychophysical Passages in the Life of a Woman

pp 17-36

Early Female Development

From Birth through Latency
  • Dale MendellAffiliated withThe Psychoanalytic Institute, Postgraduate Center for Mental HealthTraining Institute for Mental HealthNational Institute for the Psychotherapies

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The physiological maturational steps in a woman’s life are accompanied by a series of psychological changes. How does a young girl become a person who anticipates, greets, and encompasses within the scope of her intrapsychic being those uniquely female events, from menarche to menopause, which she will encounter, many of them totally without volition? How does she develop the capacity for adjusting to her ever-changing body and reintegrating her perception of herself after each psychophysical event? This chapter describes some of the precursors of these integrative capacities by discussing the little girl’s developing relation to her body and the meanings that body assumes.