Psychodynamic Theories of Gender Development

Early psychodynamic theory of gender development has had a formidable impact on what is believed to be “normal” versus “abnormal” gender development. This entry begins by defining gender and then examines the trajectory of psychodynamic thought on gender development from Sigmund Freud to his followers, to the equal rights activists of the 1960s–1980s, and, finally, to more current psychodynamic discourse on gender development.

Definition of Gender

Sex refers to anatomical differences, while gender refers to the social, cultural, and emotional meaning assigned to those anatomical differences. In other words, gender is affected by the historical time frame; one’s culture, social class, ethnicity, early attachments, and religious, spiritual, and political factors; the constitution into which one is born; and one’s status of power versus powerlessness. There have ...

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