Freud

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Many feminist critics have perceived Freud to be an active force in Victorian gender politics that claim women's inferiority. His attitudes towards women, as reflected in his psychoanalyses, consciously reflect the patriarchal assumptions of Victorian society, but unconsciously reject gender roles and stereotypes about women. Freud is therefore complicit in accepting sexist perceptions of women, but is not a perpetrator who attempts to entrench patriarchy by portraying women as inferior. Because Freud is a victim of the prevalent stereotypes of society, feminist critics are unwarranted in characterizing him as an instigator of female degradation. Rather, his skewed perceptions reflect the male-chauvinist beliefs of his surroundings and influences. Freud's relationships with his female patients indicate that he simultaneously identifies with and fails to understand women. In identifying with women patients, Freud demonstrates concern for the underlying causes of psychological affliction, namely the constricting nature of gender roles. This fixation with the feminine complaint is exemplified in particular by Freud's dream of Irma and his case study of Dora, two recalcitrant female patients who refuse to accept his theories. Freud's failure to completely understand his female patients, however, indicates that he has begun to question patriarchal assumptions by realizing that fulfillment of stereotypically female roles leaves women unfulfilled. Unfortunately, he has not acted upon this realization because he consciously sees women through the clouded lens of Victorian bias. Because Freud fails to bring his unconscious desire to reject gender roles to the conscious surface, he never completely frees himself from the sexist influences of Victorian society and therefore relinquishes the ability to fully cure his female patients. The gender roles that prevailed in Victorian society were reflections of science and nationality. The nuclear unit

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