Women, says conventional wisdom, are warm, nurturing caregivers with an intrinsically enhanced capacity for attachment and compassion. Feminists, says the popular image, are full of rage, devoid of the feelings that are natural to women. How have feminists themselves dealt with this dualism and, more specifically, with the disagreeable passions? What has too often been missing from discussions of women's psychology in social theory is an account of women as ambivalent: both empathic and enraged, loving and hating. The Problem of the Passions fills this void. Examining the work of such feminist theorists as Carol Gilligan, Nancy Chodorow, Jessica Benjamin, and Dorothy Dinnerstein in a new light, Burack argues that feminist social theory can be repaired through attention to the pioneering psychoanalytic work of Melanie Klein. Sure to be of interest to feminists, psychoanalysts, political scientists, and social theorists, The Problem of the Passions is essential reading for anyone concerned with feminism and questions of identity in social thought.
Cynthia Burack is Assistant Professor of Political Science at George Washington University in Washington, D.C., where she teaches political theory and directs the University's interdisciplinary honors program.