Dr. Zanardi approaches the development of psychoanalytic theories of women on two fronts: the psychoanalytic and the political. The first part includes papers by Ruth Mack Brunswick, Melanie Klein, Janine Chasseguet-Smirgel, D. W. Winnicott, Joyce Macdougal, Edith Jacobsen, Annie Reich, and Judith Kestenberg, among others, illustrating the psychoanalytic development concerning female sexuality from the 1940s on. the different views - Freudian, Kleinian, Horneyan, object relation, and Lacanian - are presented, showing both American and European views to underline their theoretical differences. Controversial issues - phallocentrism, penis envy, homosexuality, masochism, wish for a child - are brought into focus and analyzed from different theoretical and clinical points of view.
The second part draws attention to the influence of the Women's Liberation Movement on psychoanalytic theory. The papers included show attempts to integrate psychoanalysis into the ideological political discourse. It includes the work of leading feminists and psychoanalysts in the United States and Europe, including Carol Gilligan, Dorothy Dinnerstein, Jean Baker Miller, Juliet Mitchell, Luce Irigaray, and Julia Kristeva.