Juliet Mitchell

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Juliet Mitchell

Born (1940-10-04) 4 October 1940 (age 81)
Christchurch, New Zealand
  • (m. 1962; div. 1972)
  • Martin Rossdale
    (m. 1975; div. 1988)
  • (m. 2000)
Children1 daughter
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic work
InstitutionsPsychoanalysis Unit of University College London (UCL)
Main interests

Juliet Mitchell FBA (born 4 October 1940) is a British psychoanalyst, socialist feminist, research professor and author.

Early life and education[edit]

Mitchell was born in Christchurch, New Zealand, in 1940, and then moved to England in 1944, where she stayed with her grandparents in the midlands. She attended St Anne's College, Oxford, where she received a degree in English in 1962, as well as doing postgraduate work.[1] She taught English literature from 1962 to 1970 at Leeds University and Reading University. Throughout the 1960s, Mitchell was active in leftist politics, and was on the editorial committee of the journal, New Left Review.[2]


Women: The Longest Revolution[edit]

Mitchell gained instant media attention with her pathbreaking article "Women: The Longest Revolution", in the New Left Review (1966), an original synthesis of Simone de Beauvoir, Frederich Engels, Viola Klein, Betty Friedan and other analysts of women's oppression.[3][4]

The Cambridge University Centre for Gender Studies[edit]

She is a fellow professor of Psychoanalysis at the Jesus College, Cambridge and founded the Centre for Gender Studies at Cambridge University.[5] In 2010 she was appointed director of the Expanded Doctoral School in Psychoanalytic Studies at the Psychoanalysis Unit of University College London (UCL).[6]

Psychoanalysis and Feminism[edit]

Mitchell is best known for her book Psychoanalysis and Feminism: Freud, Reich, Laing and Women (1974),[7] in which she tried to reconcile psychoanalysis and feminism at a time when many considered them incompatible.[8] Peter Gay considered it "the most rewarding and responsible contribution"[9] to the feminist debate on Freud, both acknowledging and rising beyond Freud's male chauvinism in its analysis. Mitchell saw Freud's asymmetrical view of masculinity and femininity as reflecting the realities of patriarchal culture, and sought to use his critique of femininity to critique patriarchy itself.[10] By insisting on the utility of Freud (particularly in a Lacanian reading) for feminism, she opened the way for further critical work on psychoanalysis and gender.[11] She was an Andrew Dickson White Professor-at-Large at Cornell University from 1993 to 1999.[12]


A substantial part of the thesis of Psychoanalysis and Feminism is that Marxism provides a model within which non-patriarchal structures for rearing children could occur.[13] The lack of the 'family romance' would remove the Oedipus complex from a child's development, thus liberating women from the consequences of penis envy and the feeling of being castrated which Mitchell contends is the root cause of women's acceptance that they are inferior.[14] According to Mitchell, children are socialised into appropriate gender roles, therefore, women grow to be equally socialised into becoming the caretakers of their households.[15]

Feminine sexuality[edit]

In her introduction to Jacques Lacan on feminine sexuality, Mitchell stresses that "in the Freud that Lacan uses, neither the unconscious nor sexuality...[are] pre-given facts, they are constructions; that is, they are objects with histories".[16]



  • Woman's Estate. Harmondsworth: Penguin. 1971. ISBN 9780140214253.
  • Psychoanalysis and Feminism: Freud, Reich, Laing, and Women. New York: Pantheon Books. 1974. ISBN 9780394474724.
Reissued as: Psychoanalysis and Feminism: A radical reassessment of Freudian psychoanalysis. New York City: Basic Books. 2000. ISBN 9780465046089.

Edited books[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Juliet Mitchell interviewed by Alan Macfarlane 6th May 2008". Alanmacfarlane.com. 6 May 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  2. ^ Benewick, Robert; Green, Philip (1998). "Juliet Mitchell 1940–". The Routledge dictionary of twentieth-century political thinkers. Psychology Press. p. 228. ISBN 9780415096232.
  3. ^ Juliet Mitchell. "Juliet Mitchell: Women: The Longest Revolution. New Left Review I/40, November-December 1966". Newleftreview.org. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  4. ^ https://platypus1917.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/38-Singh-Mitchell1.pdf[bare URL PDF]
  5. ^ "Professor Juliet Mitchell | Jesus College in the University of Cambridge". Jesus.cam.ac.uk. Retrieved 1 March 2018.
  6. ^ UCL: Juliet Mitchell Archived 2012-11-02 at the Wayback Machine
  7. ^ Mitchell, Juliet (1974). Psychoanalysis and feminism: Freud, Reich, Laing, and women. New York: Pantheon Books. ISBN 9780394474724.
  8. ^ Juliet Mitchell Archive at marxists.org
  9. ^ Gay, Peter (1988). Freud: a life for our time. London: Dent. p. 774. ISBN 9780460047616.
  10. ^ Herik, Judith (1985). Freud on femininity and faith. Berkeley: University of California Press. p. 15. ISBN 9780520053335.
  11. ^ Tandon, Neeru (2008). Feminism: a paradigm shift. New Delhi: Atlantic Publishers & Distributors. p. 83. ISBN 9788126908882.
  12. ^ Dietrich, Penny (2018). "All Professors at Large, 1965-2023". Program for Andrew D. White Professors at Large. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  13. ^ Mitchell, Juliet (2000), "The Oedipus Complex and the patriarchal society", in Mitchell, Juliet (ed.), Psychoanalysis and feminism: a radical reassessment of Freudian psychoanalysis, New York City: Basic Books, pp. 377–381, ISBN 9780465046089, Under capitalism, the mass of mankind, propertyless and working socially together en masse for the first time in the history of civilization would be unlikely, were it not for the preservation of the family...
  14. ^ Mitchell, Juliet (2000), "The castration complex and penis-envy", in Mitchell, Juliet (ed.), Psychoanalysis and feminism: a radical reassessment of Freudian psychoanalysis, New York City: Basic Books, pp. 95–100, ISBN 9780465046089
  15. ^ Mitchell, Juliet (2000), "Conclusion: The holy family and femininity", in Mitchell, Juliet (ed.), Psychoanalysis and feminism: a radical reassessment of Freudian psychoanalysis, New York City: Basic Books, pp. 364–416, ISBN 9780465046089
  16. ^ Mitchell, Juliet (editor); Lacan, Jacques (author); Rose, Jacqueline (translator and editor) (1985). Feminine sexuality: Jacques Lacan and the école freudienne. New York London: Pantheon Books W.W. Norton. p. 4. ISBN 9780393302110. {{cite book}}: |first1= has generic name (help)

External links[edit]