The Loss of Pleasure, or Why We Are Still Talking about Oedipus

Carol Gilligan, Naomi Snider

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article brings psychoanalysis to the fore in grappling with the question: Why does patriarchy persist? It highlights the psychological function of patriarchy as a defense against loss by connecting Gilligan's research on development with Bowlby's studies of attachment. Pathological responses to loss parallel the gender codes of patriarchal masculinity and femininity, which are internalized through an initiation that forces ruptures in relationship and subverts the capacity for repair. This parallel suggests that the gender roles, which uphold a patriarchal order, simultaneously defend against the loss of connection inherent in that order. The loss of pleasure and a change in voice signal the psyche's induction into patriarchy and highlight a potential within psychoanalysis to foster a healthy resistance against losses that otherwise appear necessary or natural.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-195
Number of pages23
JournalContemporary Psychoanalysis
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 3 2017


  • attachment theory
  • gender development
  • patriarchy
  • resistance
  • rupture and repair
  • voice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


Dive into the research topics of 'The Loss of Pleasure, or Why We Are Still Talking about Oedipus'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this