Who started the feminist revolution in psychology?

In this blog we discuss the origins of feminist psychology and the person or persons who started the feminist revolution in psychology.

We will also discuss the origins of Feminist psychology, notale women in psychoilogy who contributed to the rise of femnist psychology, and also feminist therapy.

Who started the feminist revolution in psychology?

Karen Horney was a German psychoanalyst and she was the first to coined the term ‘Feminist psychology’ (1922-1937) in her book Feminine Psychology. 

The focus of Feminist Psychology was on the principles, significance and values of feminism. Horney’s approach to feminism could have emerged from her being brought up in a family with an overbearing disciplinarian father. 

Karen Horney was a Neo-Freudian who debunked Freud’s theory of ‘penis envy’ and gave women their significance and importance in sexuality and responsibility. 

Horney was also well known for her theory of neurotic needs, her analysis and exploration on feminine psychology. She theorised that neurosis was not a condition but rather a process that occurs throughout one’s life. 

Horney theorized that neurosis of a person is an outcome of their perception of their parents during their childhood. Horney’s theory on neurosis is still being followed in psychoanalysis even today and is considered as one of the best theories. 

She categorized ten basic neurotic needs through her experience with patients, which she believes were necessary for an individual to succeed and grouped them into three types of needs: compliance needs, aggression needs, attachment needs. 

On top of this, she also contributed fairly to the domain of self-psychology and the contribution of self-analysis and self-help in mental health. 

Origins of the feminist revolution in pscyhology

Feminism is the advocacy for the equal rights of women on the basis of the equality of the sexes, in terms of personal dealing, socialization, workplace or organizational and in education. 

Women had always been the ‘mother,’ taking care of the house and the family, are only seen with a purpose of reproduction. This whole view was changed with Karen Horney’s feminist revolution in Psychology.

The first-wave feminist psychologists were the backbone of women’s suffrage and the right to vote. Science has been changing and shaping our understanding of the self and motivation and even when it comes to psychology, it had very little insight or interest in understanding women, even in the early 20th century. 

In the field of psychology too, the common belief that females are inferior to men dominated. The fact that the field of psychology believed that women were inferior to men became the first defence against the allowance of women into other scientific fields as well as grounds for denying women basic civil rights. 

The need for feminine psychology arises at the end of World War II when the American Psychological Association (APA) found a condition in women known as ‘mom-ism’ which mean the excessive domination and pampering of the men and children to a degree where their masculinity was impaired and they were unable to grow out from the affection of their mothers. 

Women who contributed to the rise of Feminist Psychology

The field of psychology was originally dominated by men, psychologists like Sigmund Freud, Ivan Pavlov, Wilhelm Wundt, and more. 

Most of the theories coming from them tend to side with male domination and were influenced with sexism. 

Despite the tendency to recognise only the famous male psychologists, there are women who had contributed immensely to psychology since the early days. 

However, these women in the field of psychology underwent various forms of discrimination and difficulties in their area of study. 

They were denied the education that men had, they were not allowed to get a degree they have earned and faced difficulties getting a position in academia to research and publish their works. 

Some of the initial female psychologists who contributed to the rise of Feminist Psychology include:

Karen Horney 

Karen Horney was a German psychoanalyst and she was the first to coined the term ‘Feminist psychology’ (1922-1937) in her book Feminine Psychology. 

The focus of Feminist Psychology was on the principles, significance and values of feminism. Horney’s approach to feminism could have emerged from her being brought up in a family with an overbearing disciplinarian father. 

Karen Horney was a Neo-Freudian who debunked Freud’s theory of ‘penis envy’ and gave women their significance and importance in sexuality and responsibility. 

Horney was also well known for her theory of neurotic needs, her analysis and exploration on feminine psychology. She theorised that neurosis was not a condition but rather a process that occurs throughout one’s life. 

Horney theorized that neurosis of a person is an outcome of their perception of their parents during their childhood. Horney’s theory on neurosis is still being followed in psychoanalysis even today and is considered as one of the best theories. 

Christine Ladd-Franklin

In psychology, Christine Ladd-Franklin (1847-1930) was respected and well known for her work in colour-vision theory and her writings on logic. 

Ladd, a pioneering American woman psychologist was denied a doctorate degree although she completed her dissertation at John Hopkins University. 

She studied and researched her colour-vision theory with researcher G.E. Muller. Later, she studied with Hermann von Helmholtz and Arthur Konig and rejected the trichromatic and opponent-process of colour vision. Ladd’s theory of evolution which has three stages: black-white vision, blue-yellow vision, red-green vision, is still considered relevant today. 

She also frequently wrote about the sexism women had to go through in academics during her time, breaking the stereotypes and proving that progress and development in science are not only limited to men. 

Helen Bradford Thompson Wooley

Helen Bradford Thompson Wooley (1874-1947) is another woman psychologist who uses the tool of psychology science to study and disprove the beliefs that women are inferior to men. 

Wooley conducted research, which was one of the first comprehensive empirical examinations of sex differences in intellectual, motor, sensory, and affective abilities, for her dissertation research. 

In her research, she discovered more similarities between her male and female research participants than differences. 

Leta Stetter Hollingworth 

Leta Stetter Hollingworth (1886-1939) also used the science of psychology to challenge the beliefs and stereotypes about women. 

Under the supervision of Edward Thorndike at Columbia University, she researches by undertaking an empirical investigation of functional periodicity, which is a stereotype and belief that women’s psyche diminishes and weakens during menstruation.

Hollingworth’s study disproved this belief with a result showing that the perceptual and motor skills of women did not change or differ due to their monthly cycles. 

Feminism in psyschology and Feminist therapy

Feminist therapy was developed as a response to the marginalisation and challenges that women have faced through out human history in terms of mental health issues and pscyhological oppression. 

It has its roots in the feminist movement of the 1960s during whcih there were many organisations that began to develop programs to help woman treat and manage trauma related to domestic violence as well as women’s health.

These organisations also raised awareness of women rights issues including mental health issues and psychological oppression which impacted many women of the time, therapists among them. 

This, the therapists of the time formed the principals of feminist therapy on the principles of equality, mutual respect, and empowerment and the 1970 research on gender bias and the establishment of the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP) fueled the feminist therapy movement further.

The disparity between the original psychological theories and the majority of counselling seekers being female have given rise to the feminist therapy where it focuses on societal, cultural, and political causes and solutions to issues which have been overlooked in the counselling process. 

Feminist therapy acknowledges the disadvantageous position that women in the world faces due to sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age and more. 

Therefore, they aim to recognize these influences and empower the client through the feminist theory setting where both the therapist and client work together as equals, where the main goal is to empower the client. 

The lack of power in the psychology of women is considered as the major issue by feminist therapists. Feminist therapy also attempt to find changes in social and personal areas of life in order to improve the psychological state of the client. 

Feminist therapists most often deal with clients who have undergone and experienced gender-related trauma like violence in dating or relationship and even sexual assault, and they also work with women who seek counselling as well as with men.

Psychologists who have finished their doctoral degree in psychology can take postdoctoral training in feminist and gender issues.

However, for the title of feminist psychologists, higher accreditation is held by specific postdoctoral training programs. 

Presently, there is lack of postdoctoral training programs for feminist psychology but models for this training are being developed and modified to start offering them, where most of them are structured and designed around counselling techniques that are free of gender bias. 

Conclusion

In this blog we discussed the origins of feminist psychology and the person or persons who started the feminist revolution in psychology.

We also discussed the origins of Feminist psychology, notale women in psychoilogy who contributed to the rise of femnist psychology, and also feminist therapy.

FAQ realted to Who started the feminist revolution in psychology?

Who started the feminist movement?

The three founders of America’s women’s suffrage movement: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and Lucretia Mott.

When was feminist psychology invented?

The feminist psychology movement has its roots in the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s during whcih there were many organisations that began to develop programs to help woman treat and manage trauma related to domestic violence as well as women’s health.

Who started feminist Family Therapy?

The pioneers of feminist family therapy include feminsit therapists Marianne Walters, Betty Carter, Peggy Papp, and Olga Silverstein who started the Women’s Project in Family Therapy.

How is feminist theory used in counseling?

Therapists uses the principals of feminist therapy on the principles of equality, mutual respect, and empowerment as well as acknowledges the disadvantageous position that women in the world faces due to sex, gender, race, ethnicity, religion, age and more. 

 Feminist therapy also attempt to find changes in social and personal areas of life in order to improve the psychological state of the client. 

Reference:

First-Wave Feminist Psychologists. Study.com. Retrieved on 22nd March 2022. https://study.com/academy/lesson/first-wave-feminist-psychologists.html

Cherry.K. Contributions of Karen Horney to Psychology. Retrieved on 22nd March 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/karen-horney-biography-2795539

Feminist psychology. Psychology Wiki. Retrieved on 22nd March 2022. https://psychology.fandom.com/wiki/Feminist_psychology

Approach: Feminist therapy. Psychology Fandom. Retrieved on 22nd March 2022. https://psychology.fandom.com/wiki/Approach:_Feminist_therapy

Cherry.K. 10 Women Who Helped Change Psychology. Verywellmind. Retrieved on 23rd March 2022. https://www.verywellmind.com/women-who-changed-psychology-2795260

Feminist Therapy. GoodTherapy. Retrieved on 22nd March 2022. https://www.goodtherapy.org/learn-about-therapy/types/feminist-therapy

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