“Edith Wharton’s Two Worlds:
A Case Study of Sexual Inhibition and Phobia”
Presenter: Deanna Holtzman, Ph.D. and Nancy Kulish, Ph.D.
Discussant: James Anderson, Ph.D.
Edith Wharton, the pre-eminent American writer, left a great deal of autobiographical material, letters, diaries, plus, of course, a vast collection of literary fiction and non- fiction. A fascinating theme runs through much of her work – that of living or being trapped between “two worlds”. This theme is critical to understanding Wharton’s psychology and the psychology of women in general. The authors will examine an unusual neurotic phobia suffered by Wharton as it is related to the theme of two worlds, and link these ideas more broadly to common sexual conflicts in women.
Deanna Holtzman, Ph.D. is a training and supervising analyst and past president of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. Dr. Holtzman is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine at Wayne State University and an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Detroit. She is well-known for her work on female psychology and sexuality and has many publications, including Nevermore: The Hymen and the Loss of Virginity (1996) and A Story of Her Own: The Female Oedipal Conflict Reexamined and Renamed (2008) of which she is co-author, with Dr. Kulish. The president of the Sigmund Freud Archives, she is in private practice in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan.
Nancy Kulish, Ph.D. is a training and supervising analyst and past president of the Michigan Psychoanalytic Institute. She is an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine at Wayne State University and an adjunct professor of psychology at the University of Detroit. Dr. Kulish has lectured and published extensively on female sexuality and development, gender, and psychoanalytic process and technique. She has received many awards for her writings and contributions to the training of students in mental health, and for her support and mentoring of young women in their careers. Named the National Psychoanalytic Woman’s Scholar by the American Psychoanalytic Association in 2006, she is in private practice in Birmingham, Michigan.
James W. Anderson, Ph.D. is a Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University, a faculty member at the Chicago Institute for Psychoanalysis, and Editor of the Annual of Psychoanalysis. He specializes in the area of psychobiography. One of his papers is “Edith Wharton and Ethan Frome: A Psychobiographical Exploration” in The Handbook of Psychobiography (Oxford University Press, 2005).
Educational Objectives: At the conclusion of the program, participants will be able to: 1) Describe the multiple functions of a phobic symptom; 2) Relate the theme of two worlds to typical female conflicts and sexual difficulties; and 3) Discuss how biographical and autobiographical material can be useful in understanding female psychology.
Target Audience: Psychoanalysts, other interested mental health professionals, and members of the community.