The Feminine Mystique

Sigmund Freud Character Analysis

A Viennese neurologist who developed the theory and practice of psychoanalysis. The popularity of psychoanalysis in postwar America, particularly its explanations of female behavior, led many women suffering from the problem that has no name into the offices of psychiatrists. Friedan argues that Americans had adopted the bad habit of reading Freud literally and of making the mistake of applying his Victorian ideas to their era. Penis envy (Freud’s notion that little girls who could not accept their lack of a penis grew into women who tried to compensate for that lack by pursuing masculine interests, such as careers) validated the feminine mystique and convinced women who did not conform to it that they were perverse.

Sigmund Freud Quotes in The Feminine Mystique

The The Feminine Mystique quotes below are all either spoken by Sigmund Freud or refer to Sigmund Freud . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
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). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the W.W. Norton edition of The Feminine Mystique published in 1963.
Chapter 5 Quotes

“Normal” femininity is achieved, however, only insofar as the woman finally renounces all active goals of her own, all her own “originality,” to identify and fulfill herself through the activities and goals of her husband, or son.

Related Characters: Betty Friedan (speaker), Sigmund Freud
Related Symbols: The Feminine Mystique
Page Number: 121
Explanation and Analysis:
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Girls who grew up playing baseball, baby-sitting, mastering geometry—almost independent enough, almost resourceful enough, to meet the problems of the fission-fusion era—were told by the most advanced thinkers of our time to go back and live their lives as if they were Noras, restricted to the doll’s house by Victorian prejudice. And their own respect and awe for the authority of science—anthropology, sociology, psychology share that authority now—kept them from questioning the feminine mystique.

Related Characters: Betty Friedan (speaker), Sigmund Freud
Related Symbols: The Feminine Mystique
Page Number: 125
Explanation and Analysis:
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Sigmund Freud Character Timeline in The Feminine Mystique

The timeline below shows where the character Sigmund Freud appears in The Feminine Mystique. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 5: The Sexual Solipsism of Sigmund Freud
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Friedan does not question the “genius of [Sigmund] Freud’s discoveries” or his contributions to American culture, but she does question the application of... (full context)
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Freud’s concept of the superego freed men from their sense of social obligation, but he helped... (full context)
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Freud’s concept of penis envy became very popular, not only among psychoanalysts, but also among sociologists,... (full context)
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Despite his brilliance, Freud was a product of his own culture and could not escape from the standards of... (full context)
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Freud also had the habit of defining psychological problems in physical terms. This made the problem... (full context)
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By the 1940s, social scientists and psychoanalysts had begun to reinterpret Freud’s ideas, but not his views on femininity. His views were the results of the culture... (full context)
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Freud believed that women were to be ruled by men and thought that their “sickness” led... (full context)
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Freud, in his private life, was rather disinterested in sex. Some biographers have described him as... (full context)
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Freud expected his wife, Martha, to identify with him completely. Later, he agreed that she should... (full context)
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Freud was also interested in women of “a masculine cast,” women who were more obviously intelligent... (full context)
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Freud developed the theory of penis envy from the notion that women observe their lack of... (full context)
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Freud only saw women in relation to their sexual relationship with men. His theories pay little... (full context)
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Freud’s popularizers used pseudo-science to emphasize the notion that women could not attain happiness through male... (full context)
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...they should revert to a Victorian model of femininity. The new message was justified by Freud’s theories, which “kept them from questioning the feminine mystique.” (full context)
Chapter 6: The Functional Freeze, the Feminine Protest, and Margaret Mead
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...that oppressed American women, but instead, validated them. Instead of rooting cultural bias out of Freud’s theories, social scientists fit their “anthropological investigations into Freudian rubric.” This, along with “functionalism” (i.e.,... (full context)
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...things “as they were” instead of seeking deeper truths. Though they did not always accept Freud’s notion that biology was destiny, they did accept the notion that women were whatever society... (full context)
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...role in relation to its biological function. At times, she looked at anthropological theory from Freud’s view. In other instances, she provided the functionalist’s view, arguing that it was better “to... (full context)
Chapter 7: The Sex-Directed Educators
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...administrators had discouraged critical thinking in young women. They worried, based on the ideas of Sigmund Freud and Margaret Mead, that a proper education would only doom women to frustration when... (full context)
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The sex-directed educator had embraced the views of Freud and Mead, which validated the feminine mystique and encouraged “adjustment within the world of home... (full context)
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...in “family-life education,” such as “Marriage and Family,” learn bits and pieces of ideas from Sigmund Freud and Margaret Mead, but not with the necessary backgrounds in psychology and anthropology to... (full context)
Chapter 8: The Mistaken Choice
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...or concern only with one’s private life and thoughts. This explained both the popularity of Freud’s theories and the revival of popular interest in religion. These ideologies, in addition to the... (full context)