We mentioned on the episode Gilligan's opposition to Freud.
In this clip, Gilligan discusses a methodological difference in analyzing women's self-reporting (much of the content of In a Different Voice):
Watch on YouTube.
She claims that rather than imposing your theory (in this case that the patient knows more than she is willing or able to say) on the patient, you need to derive your theories from what the patients say. The notion of hearing your aggressor's voice as your own has echoes of our Hegel discussion of self.
What do you all think? Do any of our readers here with some prior Gilligan reading experience feel that we failed to give an adequate account of her work on the 'cast?
Daniel Horne says
I think you guys did a good job, and I’m loathe to (constructively!) criticize at all, given that (1) I didn’t do any of the hard work of text selection or close reading, and (2) I’ve made my own dubious reading suggestions in the past.
That said, I agree with Seth and Azzurra that the topic merits revisiting. If and when you do, might I request Simone de Beauvoir’s The Second Sex? It seems to me that SdB approached the feminism issue from a perspective and vocabulary that better plays to PEL’s strengths.
Gilligan is primarily a psychologist. This raises the question of whether you folks were sufficiently “armed” (there I go with the violent imagery) to evaluate the merits of her methodology and conclusions.
For example, I’m glad you included Gilligan’s video clip above. As you know, Gilligan’s “interview” methodology has been criticized. Are those valid criticisms, and if so, are they merely trivial criticisms, or a severe blow to her thesis? My loose understanding is that the criticism was severe and widespread enough that her methodology has been deemed suspect, if not wholly discredited. Does more current research support or undercut her conclusions? I’d be keen to see video clips from people responding to Gilligan re: methodology. These are the kinds of issues I’m not sure PEL could convincingly address, as psychology really isn’t your field. (I hope that’s not taken the wrong way.)
In short, I wonder if you could have spoken with more authority, and greater confidence, had you reviewed the work of someone who had fixed their reasoning more within the philosophical canon (say, de Beauvoir), rather than empirical research.
Anyway, it was still a worthwhile 90 minutes, so don’t take this as a complaint.
Mark Linsenmayer says
De Beauvoir was actually the primary text we were considering here, but it’s very long, difficult, pretty dated, and seems to require prior study of Marx, so we’re saving it. (Actually, her “ethics of ambiguity” is a book we’re more likely to hit first; it supposedly explains existentialism better and more quickly than anything Sartre every wrote.)
I read Gilligan just like we read Freud: as a philosopher giving an analysis based on actual cases, meaning I don’t expect it to be much less bullshitty than Freud and Rousseau, despite its pretensions towards scientific rigor. I’m not sure Kohlberg’s methods were any different, and certainly Piaget’s were pretty suspect (he used himself and his kids as test subjects, I believe), and those are the guys she’s reacting to. That said, I did look for (and will continue to look for) opposition to her views on the web; the first one I looked into… mentioned prominently on the In a Diff Voice wiki page, is Christina Hoff Summers, who seems from a brief speech I watched of her like a right-wing hack. Perhaps you can help us out with a good opposition post, Daniel…
I find Gilligan’s comments on Freud’s utterance “You do know” oversimplified in primarily allying the statement with authority and, by logical extension, the voice of the perpetrator of the trauma. Insofar as Freud suggests that the patient should reencounter the emotions and settings of the “original” trauma which are repressed, there is reintroduction of “original” trauma. But “you do know,” in the therapeutic encounter also stands for “although I am the authority, I don’t really know” and “I am here to bear witness to your truth and help you safely make sense of it.” Per Poe’s Purloined Letter, Freud simply and explicitly gives the power to say what the “purloined letter” actually says to the patient’s agency. There is also, in Freud’s psychoanalytic techniques, the presupposition that the patient doesn’t have to say what they know at any particular time -there is no forced enactment or activity. Gilligan has various investments in reducing the “You do know” purloined letter to Freud enforcing some kind of imperative of authority on the patient, when one could also say that he is simply reaffirming the grounding framework of what is essentially a safe and hopefully productive mutually-agreed-upon human encounter.
The “symptom” in hysteria forces the patient to signify his/her knowledge at the time, place, and in the manner of the symptom’s “choosing.” This what Freud hopes to somehow undo (or “dissolve” in Wittgenstein’s terms) with his method of interpersonal encounter. The “it” of the symptom becomes the “I…” of the subject. Replacing the patient’s symptom with the therapist’s authority is simply reconcealing the purloined letter (this move in psychoanalysis would be termed a transference or countertransference enactment).