The Family Romance: A Fin‐de‐Siècle Tragedy

Diana Tietjens Meyers

in Gender in the Mirror

Published in print March 2002 | ISBN: 9780195140415
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780199871476 | DOI:

Series: Studies in Feminist Philosophy

 The Family Romance: A Fin‐de‐Siècle Tragedy

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It is necessary to find an interpretation of recovered memory of childhood sexual abuse that moves beyond the frequently futile “Did it happen, or didn’t it?” construal. Focusing on the rhetoric of autobio graphical memory in conjunction with the contribution of autobio graphical memory to self‐definition reorients the controversy over recovered memory. Popularized versions of Freud's family romance figure disparate adult outcomes for women: the standard scenario signifies marriage and motherhood, but the sadistic incest trope signifies hysteria or multiple personality disorder. Because cultural ly furnished tropes and mythic tales structure autobio graphical memory, in cases of uncorroborated memories of father‐daughter incest, it may be best to remain agnostic about the accuracy of one's memories and instead to consider whether adopting the sadistic incest trope is conducive to redefining oneself in a satisfying way. For epistemolog ical, therapeutic, legal, and political reasons, feminist psychotherapists, scholars, and discursive activists should fashion alterna tives to the family romance.

Keywords: autobiography; Freud; incest; memory; multiple personality disorder; self‐definition; self‐figuration; sexual abuse

Chapter.  8423 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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