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Subversive Dialogues: Theory in Feminist Therapy

Abstract

S. Brown.Dialogues: New York,is a bumperTheory in Feminist Basic Books, 1994,Therapy, 258 pp.,$33.00.the experiences and feelings of members of cultural subgroups other than our own. A striking example is the reaction of some Islamic feminists to Western criticism of the chador, the veil that completely covers orthodox Islamic women. They point out that the bodily exposure expected of Western women canbe equally Normalcy, oppressive.Paradigm.”as engagedin a processthat reads, “Subvert the Dominant do not tend to think of themselvesPsychotherapy is usu-of subversion.ally construed as a political activity only by its enemies. We analysts maintain that we do not promote any particular paradigm; we help patients to understand and overcome painful styles and symptoms and thereby enable them to connect with and live out their own preferences and values. However, this cannot be true. For one thing, psychotherapists inevitably have assumptions and experiences that color their psychotherapeutic work with patients, and patients inevitably pay close attention to the implicit and explicit expectations of theirtherapists. Our diagnostic system, like every diagnostic sys-by definition, is simply the way most people in subgroup are. Different groups develop different norms, and oppressed groups develop behavioral norms unlike those of dominant groups because they need
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