The American Journal of Psychoanalysis

, Volume 54, Issue 2, pp 127–141 | Cite as

Narrative scripts: Composing a life with ambition and desire

  • Harriet Kimble Wrye


The “formative and deformative narratives” and the psychodynamics of male-female relations permeate us all, and are revealed in theme and variations in our consulting rooms. Conventional narrative forms are largely androcentric, action-oriented, and point single-mindedly toward a goal (Van Buren, 1991), whereas women’s stories and their identities—digressive and complex weavings—are built around the significant relationships in their lives (Gilligan, 1982; Kaplan, 1984; Bernay, 1986).

As clinicians, we must be mindful of derangements of our own desire, shaped by our biological mothers and fathers, our psychoanalytic fathers, Freud, and his early followers, and sometimes our own analysts. We must attend to the voice of our own ambition and trace its flourishes and derailments, understanding female ambition from a woman’s point of view in order to assist our patients in reconstructing deformative narratives into healthier and more enabling ones. We need to take responsibility for our own ambition, stilling the disabling voices of the characters in our own intrapsychic dramas, maintaining consciousness of the deformative voices in the culture at large, and attunement to voices of support for ambition integrated with nurturance and aggression.


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Copyright information

© Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis 1994

Authors and Affiliations

  • Harriet Kimble Wrye
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Los Angeles Institute and Society for Pschoanalytic Studies (LAISPS)USA
  2. 2.the U.C.L.A. Extension and The Wright InstituteLos Angeles

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