Nancy Chodorow was born on January 20, 1944 in New York. She studied at Radcliffe College and received her BA from Radcliffe before attending Brandeis University. In 1975, Chodorow graduated from Brandeis with her Ph.D. She was heavily influenced by different feminists of her time, including Beatrice Whiting and Philip Slater. Chodorow continued in her exploration of personality through psychoanalytical sociology and began to theorize in direct opposition of Freudian doctrine. Chodorow expanded on Karen Horney’s previous works and was inspired by other feminists, such as Melanie Klein. In 1973, Chodorow taught Women’s Studies at Wellesley. Soon after, she took a long-term position at Santa Cruz as the Assistant Professor of Sociology.
Chodorow has received many awards for her work, including the Jessie Bernard Award. She is a member of the National Women’s Study Association, the Center for the Advanced Study of Behavioral Sciences, and the American Sociological Association. Her most recent position was that of Sociology Professor at the University of California at Berkeley.
Contribution to Psychology
Chodorow believed that relational transactions form the basis of our identity and subjectivity. She opposed the views of Lacan and believed that autonomy was not generated from within, but rather from without, from the experience of connecting, separating, and reconnecting with others. She believed that people develop a real sense of experience through these actions, thus creating a connection between their past and their present.
Chodorow approached psychoanalysis from a feminist viewpoint and focused on the relationship of the mother and the children rather than the father-son dyad. She described psychoanalysis as the process of reconstructing the felt past. By doing so, one is able to explore and identify how and why they developed their perceptions of self, identity, and their psyche. This understanding allows a client to analyze the role of their gender in relation to others in their life, and to see how this dynamic has attributed to their emotional construct. Chodorow sees her approach as a holistic approach that engages multiple emotional and organizational facets of a client to gain a better comprehension of the individual as a whole. She has published many books that detail her views on feminism and psychology, including: