A Story of Her Own is a reformulation of the psychoanalytic concept of the "female oedipal complex"--a term that encompasses the triangular development phase and the important conflicts and experiences in girls and women. Inspired by the mythic role in human experience and in the unique aspects of femininity, Nancy Kulish and Deanna Holtzman formulate a new name--"The Persephone Complex"--for this concept. They integrate traditional psychoanalytic theory, contemporary theories and data about female development and psychology, and clinical experience with female patients into a comprehensive theory that is not based on male models. With accumulated knowledge from their clinical work, they present new psychoanalytic and therapeutic perspectives on the experience of girls and women attempting to uncover a sense of agency in their lives. They touch upon the unique ways women cope with their sexuality and feelings about their bodies; with feelings of anger, competition, and jealousy; and with their ever-evolving relationships with their mothers, fathers, peers, and lovers.
--Articulates a new perspective on an important aspect of psychoanalytic theory about women that has not been organized and brought together until now
--Integrates data and writings from multiple disciplines and vantage points about female development
--Enacts and illuminates an original theoretical and clinical approach to the understanding of the crucial triangular developmental phase for females and related issues of competition, sexuality, and the maternal relationship
"Writing with great clarity and accessibility, Kulish and Holtzman neatly synthesize a century of psychoanalytic thought on female psychosexuality. The authors challenge and rework accepted theory as they interweave fairytale, folklore, and myth, including the delightful Baubo figure lifting her skirts. A welcome focus on the female body and sexual pleasure, the book presents 'a female story' of love, loss, sexuality, jealousy and competition."—Dianne Elise, Ph.D., associate editor, Studies in Gender & Sexuality
"An encyclopedic critique and synthesis of the relevant psychoanalytic literature, A Story of Her Own is a remarkable contribution to the psychoanalytic understanding of the female personality. These distinguished psychoanalysts propose a major revision of the theory of female development. Traditional concepts of the female Oedipus complex are replaced with a new model of the firls' triangular situation, the myth of Persephone instead of Oedipus. the female Persephone vividly depicts the cyclical female experience, encompassing pregnancy, birth, rebirth, and death, as well as bisexuality. Persephone balances loyalties and relationships to both parents, a rival for father's love, while retaining her mother's love and love of her mother.
Drawing upon psychoanalytic practice, Nancy Kulish and Deanna Holtzman further enrich our knowledge integrating interdisciplinary studies of mythology, ethnology, literature, and art. Elucidating and challenging traditional formulations, they provide fascinating and original ideas, rewarding for all analytically oriented readers."—Harold P. Blum, M.D., training analyst and clinical professor of psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine; executive director, Sigmund Freud Archives, Library of Congress
"A vital shift in psychoanalytic theories of female development is proposed in a highly engaging, as wel as scholarly discourse. Drs. Kulish and Holtzman offer a compelling argument for the use of the term, 'the Persephone Complex.' This has deep and far-reaching implications for understanding the mother-daughter relationship in the developmental stage of traingulation and its psychological legacy into adult life. Kulish and Holtzman's authority, the depth and contextualization of their research, detailed literature reviews and vivid clinical examples, contribute to an impressive, inspiring and innovative contribution to psychoanalytic literature in a post-feminist era. 'The Persephone Complex' is likely to become an accepted addition to the lexicon of psychoanalysis. I highly recommend this book to all who value the continued life of psychoanalytic thinking."—Joy Schaverien, Ph.D., Jungian psychoanalyst in private practice, UK; member, the International Association of Analytical Psychology; author, Desire and the Female Therapist; editor, Gender Countertransference and the Erotic Transference
"The authors' ideas are both compelling and nuanced, reflecting an enlightened contemporary structural approach informed by gender and feminist, object relational, and intersubjective perspectives. there is fascinating material as well on the meaning and role of language, myth, and metaphor. Their review of the vast literature on female psychology is clear and systematic. the book contains much that will be of immediate practical value to the practicing clinician, demonstrating from multiple angles how the authors apply their ideas in helping their patients nurture and liberate their passion, pride and authority as women. Abundant and detailed clinical material illustrates such things as the interplay in women's lives between dyadic and triadic, separation and individuation, and family and work, as well as the special problems common to all women's lives, such as female aggression, shame, guilt, and issues with their female bodily life and sexuality. All clinicians, be they men or women, will find especially useful the extensive material on the common countertransference problems that arise in the treatment of women patients and the egosyntonic theoretical beliefs that contribute to these problems."—Gerald I. Fogel, M.D., training and supervising analyst, former director and founding member, Oregon Psychoanalytic Institute
"The place of the formerly so-called "Oedipal complex" for females is brilliantly clarified here. These authors' work has culminated in this welcome integration, as they find the maintenance of Oedipus both vexed and tangential to a more telling emotional portrait of how females developmentally enter object triangulation. Along the path to the authors' preferred "Persephonal complex," the reader is treated to scholarly and persuasive arguments founded on comprehensive considerations of others' papers in the field; a wise appreciation of the role of myths in the psyche, unconscious meanings, sex, aggression, language, history and culture. This trenchant presentation ought necessarily to upset psychoanalysts' familiar, favorite but limiting tropes. The reward is a new vision revealing the clinical plentitide and complexity of a mother's relation to her daughter as well as a father's. The book is a well-realized patient updating of the core of Freud's legacy. Psychoanalysts and academics should take these proposals to heart."—Rosemary H. Balsam, M.D., supervising and training analyst, the Western New England Institute for Psychoanalysis; associate professor of psychiatry, Yale Medical School
About the Authors
Nancy Kulish, Ph.D. is an associate professor in the department of psychiatry, school of medicine at Wayne State University, and adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Detroit. Dr. Kulish is in private practice in Birmingham, Michigan.
Deanna Hotzman, Ph.D. is a training and supervising analyst and past president of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. Dr. Holzman is associate professor in the department of psychiatry, School of Medicine at Wayne State University.