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Who was Helene Deutsch Rosenbach, and what were her contributions to the field of...

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enotes | Valedictorian

Posted March 3, 2014 at 11:17 PM via web

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Who was Helene Deutsch Rosenbach, and what were her contributions to the field of psychology?

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Michelle Ossa | College Teacher | (Level 3) Educator Emeritus

Posted March 13, 2014 at 7:08 PM (Answer #1)

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Helene Deutsch was a pioneer in the field of psychology and psychoanalysis. She was born in 1884 and died in 1982 at the age of 97! Her fruitful life was not without scandal. As a feminist with rapport issues with her own mother, Helene obtained a very distinct view of gender roles from a very early age. Helene suffered an abusive childhood at the hand of her alpha female of a mother, coupled with a weak father and an even bigger weakling brother. As a result, Helene was not only a rebellious young woman going against the expectations of her gender, but she also explored sexuality and even took in a much older lover who was married with children. 

At the age of 14 the rowdy Helene left school and demanded to be put in University. Much advanced for her time and place, she was adamant in that she would become a professional and not a wife and mother. It was when she read Sigmund Freud's The Interpretation of Dreams that moved her to focus her studies, from law, to psychoanalysis. 

Throughout her life as a researcher she was even able to study Freud himself. In contrast, Freud would argue that Helene's rebellious female persona is a projection against her mother's persona and the absorption of the persona of her father.

Among the many contributions to the field of psychoanalysis, Helene Deutsch was the first to amply study females from a female point of view. The focus of her research was women, female emotion and the feminine instinct especially in terms of sexuality, and the maternal crux. Her two most important books The Psychology of Women and The Psychology of Womanhood are equally significant in the study of womanhood in psychoanalysis without the bias imposed over the female gender. Rather than perpetuating the roles of Victorian women, Helene went the exact opposite way, epitomizing the reality of females, the reality of their needs, and the need to study them as human beings, and not as roles.

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