notes march 30th

I reached out to a friend because I couldn’t remember if she’d given or lent me Sarah Kofman’s The Enigma of Women, which I finally got around to reading. She replied “yes, that was me!”

…basing his work on statements made by women who are more or less reserved, more or less sincere, more of less hysterical.

In short, “it must be admitted… That in general our insight into these developmental processes in girls is unsatisfactory, incomplete and vague.”

[women] know perfectly well that there is no such thing as “truth,” that behind their veils there is yet another veil, and that try as one may to remove them, one after another, truth in its “nudity,” like a goddess, will never appear.

A woman who gets involved with truth, with solving riddles, is a “degenerate” woman, reactive and hysterical.

For women, “normality” consists in never settling down, in remaining changeable and capricious.


One of the psychiatrists on Columbia’s psychiatric unit, Aaron Krasner, now a professor of clinical psychiatry at Yale, described the comments in the news as “very condemning and discrediting. I think this speaks to the rage that dissociative conditions incur in certain people. There is an ineffable quality to dissociative cases. They challenge a conventional understanding of reality.” He told me that he was troubled by the narrowness of medical literature on these states; there are no medications that specifically target the problem. “Dissociative fugue is the rare bird of dissociation, but dissociation as a phenomenon is very common,” he said. “I think as a field we have not done our due diligence, in part because the phenomenon is so frightening. It’s terrifying to think that we are all vulnerable to a lapse in selfhood.”

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