Reading the excerpt from The Reproduction of Motherhood by Nancy Chodorow reminded me of information that I acquired in my junior year of high school. The passage titled “Gender Identification and Gender Role Learning” can be identified with a psychodynamic theory within psychoanalytic psychology referred to as: Objects Relation theory. The theory explains the course of developing a psyche as one grows in relation to others in the environment. The foundation of the theory is that the way we relate to people (and experiences) in our adult world was encoded into us by the way we experienced our parents when we were infants.
When I was first introduced to the components of this theory I understood that the interactions with parents (especially the mother) were a dysfunctional factor for a child’s developing identity; if and only if the parental figures were absent. For example, a man apprehensive of his boss at work (without reason), one might conceive that the man is viewing his boss through the stencil of his exasperating mother when he was an infant. Maybe the mother had to work long hours and the child did not like being separated from her. The experience with his mother frustrated him, so that feeling became embedded in him and affects his relation to authority.
After reading Chodorow’s ideas I understood that the relationship with ones parents can also construct strong identities as well as constructing traditional gender roles.
“Personal identification according to Slater and Winch, consists in diffuse identification with someone else’s general personality, behavioral traits, values, and attitudes. Positional identification consists, by contrast, in identification with specific aspects of another’s role and does not necessarily lead to the internalization of the values or attitudes of the person identified with.” (266)
Identification contributes to the normal development of a child, including identity formation, gender roles and the development of object relations; a child is able to relate to others that are not entirely separate from themselves. Although “positional identification” contributes to the normal development of the identity and object relations, it somewhat splits the fairly organized structure. It becomes a split concept because the way one chooses to internalize the experiences with these objects can either develop a healthy identity or a faulty one.