Politics of Self-Love: Gender, Foucault and Therapy

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Woman's Relationship with Herself explores the relationship women have with themselves and demonstrates how this relationship is often dominated by debilitating practices of self-surveillance. Employing Foucault's notion of panoptical power, Helen O'Grady illuminates the link between this kind of self-surveillance and the broader mechanisms of social control, arguing that these negative practices prevent women from enjoying a satisfying, affirming relationship with themselves. Cultural factors that render women vulnerable to dissatisfying self-relations are identified and analysed and, drawing on the insights of Foucault, feminism and narrative therapy, the possibilities for developing a more empowering relationship with the self are examined. This innovative contribution to feminist debates about gender and the self will be of interest to students and researchers in social psychology, feminist psychology, mental health studies and gender studies, and to practitioners in psychological therapies and counselling psychology.