Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Psicoanálisis y feminismo: el complejo de la madre muerta (retractatio de El orden simbólico de la madre)

Luisa Muraro


One can retract on a book or one can travel through a book again, like a landscape after years of distance. The Symbolic Orderof the Mothercame out in 1991 ; it was reprinted in 1992, and it was a sell-out. It was translated into German in 1993, into Spanish the following year and, more recently, in 2003, into French. This year 2006 it will be published again in ltalian by the Editori Riuniti and in German by the publisher Christel Gottert. The mother is, universally, the name of the relationship that is the conditionof human life. With feminism we discovered that, in our civilisation, the human condition was declined only in the masculine and everything was organised around the mother-son relationship, with the supposition that the male child was the realisation of a woman's greatest desire. There is, therefore, something un-thought of in the human condition, enclosed within the mother-daughter relationship and in some way present in each woman's experience. This is the intuition that the book tries to develop, setting out from two affirmations, both in declared conflict with the doctrine of the structural relationship of the father. They are that we receive life and the word, together, from the mother, and that the symbolic order is not made by either power or the law, but by language. Quite a few times, also recently, I have heard it said that The Symbolic Order of the Mother is the work of reference of the so-called feminism of difference. I have always protested by saying that this is not so, because it is not so. Now, however, I tend to think that there is something of truth in it. The feminism of difference, to make use of that label, that is, the feminism that promotes feminine freedom not with laws but with relationships, not in the name of the equality of the sexes but rather the free sense of feminine difference, at bottom has done this in these years: it has saved the privilege of the closeness of women to the maternal body. I do not attribute all the merit to the thinking of difference; to it I attribute the fact of having kept present and put into words something that was in women's political practice.

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