Many years ago, in an undergraduate psychology class, we were discussing misogyny, and my professor told us that there was a significantly high number of misogynists who had lost their mothers (specifically that they had died) in their mid to late teens. He said it was because the teen were angry at their mothers for leaving them, but were unable to process or express what they were feeling, so the anger was redirected into an anger towards all women.

I have tried to find some mention of this theory elsewhere, but cannot seem to formulate the right Google search phrase. Is this a theory that still has merit, or has it been disproven? If it is a valid belief, can someone direct me to a book or online documentation which discusses it?

  • $\begingroup$ look on parenting stack exchange for: why do i have negative feeling's towards my mother $\endgroup$ – preston Jun 8 '17 at 18:15
  • $\begingroup$ Hello and welcome. A very interesting question! Is there any evidence that your professor had a basis for his claims? It won't be possible for a theory to be disproven if it has never existed... In reference to the title, I'd say: of course it can... $\endgroup$ – mflo-ByeSE Jun 8 '17 at 23:04
  • $\begingroup$ @preston, lol, that answer you mentioned was mine. I got a complaint about not having references so I started looking for them but couldn't find any. $\endgroup$ – Francine DeGrood Taylor Jun 9 '17 at 17:59
  • $\begingroup$ @FrancineDeGroodTaylor I thought that you had citations $\endgroup$ – preston Jun 9 '17 at 18:01
  • $\begingroup$ Nope, that's what I'm looking for. I never questioned the validity of my professor's theory, as it seemed quite logical to me. It was more than thirty years ago, so I don't remember any more details than that. perhaps it was one of those theories that comes up, is in favor for a time, then is debunked. Or maybe it was just a personal theory. $\endgroup$ – Francine DeGrood Taylor Jun 9 '17 at 18:06

The answer to this question lies within theories I covered in an answer to another question, developed by Sigmund Freud and Erik Erikson.

Looking at the theories of life-span human development — Sigmund Freud's Drive Theory and Stages of Development, and Erik Erikson’s 9 life stages of man (Erikson & Erikson, 1998) — the theory you hypothesised comes from 2 Freudian stages called the Latency stage and Genital statge, and Erikson's industry vs inferiority stage and identity vs role confusion stage (which later also included a 3rd Erikson stage called intimacy vs isolation stage through splitting the identity vs role confusion stage in 2 parts).

These stages need to be "resolved" in order to move forward in life, and with Freud's Latency Stage or Erikson's industry vs inferiority stage, the child moves from extremely rigid attachments with their parents, directing his or her energies towards socially acceptable activities such as schooling, friendships, hobbies, etc. aiming for partial independence from the parents; whilst Freud's Genital Stage or Erikson's identity vs role confusion stage and intimacy vs isolation stage, psychological detachment and full independence from the parents is the aim.

If these dependencies are not properly dealt with due to death or divorce and separations, is is not implausible to say that misogyny will develop in boys or girls in anger towards their mother or misandry will develop in boys or girls in anger towards their father.

References and Further Reading

Erikson, E. H. & Erikson, J. M., 1998. The Life Cycle Completed. New York: W.W. Norton.

Miller, P. H., 2010. Theories of developmental psychology. New York: Worth.

Roche, D., 2009. Mapping the Human Phenome. [Online] Available at: http://thewayitis.info/thewayitis/inhumandev/epigenetics/mapphenome/p71.html [Accessed 16 March 2017].

Sigelman, C. K. & Rider, E. A., 2012. Life-Span Human Development. 7th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

Freud Museum London, n.d. Are Freud's Theories All About Sex?. [Online] Available at: https://www.freud.org.uk/education/topic/10567/subtopic/10571/ [Accessed 16 March 2017]

Further note on reading materials

I have been told that a book called Why Men Hate Women by Adam Jukes is a good book on the wider subject of misogyny, but I haven't read it so I cannot attest to it's value. There is a review on the book within The Independent (1993)

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