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Luepnitz, Deborah Anna

LUEPNITZ, Deborah Anna

PERSONAL: Female. Education: Received Ph.D.

ADDRESSES: Office—4247 Locust St., Apt. 817, Philadelphia, PA 19104. E-mail[email protected]

CAREER: Psychologist in private practice, Philadelphia, PA; Department of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, member of clinical faculty.

WRITINGS:

Child Custody: A Study of Families after Divorce, Lexington Books (Lexington, MA), 1982.

The Family Interpreted: Feminist Theory in Clinical Practice, Basic Books (New York, NY), 1988.

Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and Its Dilemmas: Five Stories of Psychotherapy, Basic Books (New York, NY), 2002.

SIDELIGHTS: Clinical psychologist Deborah Anna Luepnitz's first book, Child Custody: A Study of Families after Divorce, was published in the early 1980s and reflects single-custody and joint-custody arrangements that were prevalent at that point in time. Luepnitz shares her own views on custody and studies a broad group that provided her with her conclusions. The mothers, fathers, and children studied were not in a clinical program, and each family included at least one child under the age of sixteen. None of the custodial parents were remarried, and at least two years had passed since each divorce had been finalized. Within this group, Luepnitz examines visitation arrangements, parental authority, child care, finances, and household responsibilities. In the case of single-custody situations, she does not include findings about noncustodial parents.

The Family Interpreted: Feminist Theory in Clinical Practice contains critiques on various approaches to family therapy. The final chapters focus on three case histories of families treated by Luepnitz in which feminist concepts are applied to therapy. One of the main components of this gender-related approach is the balancing of value in a patriarchal situation. Suzanne Keller commented in the Annals of the Academy of Political and Social Science that "in what is perhaps the most brilliant chapter of the book, Luepnitz explores the potentially fruitful collaboration between classic psychoanalytic theory and feminist therapy, encouraging their future alliance for the benefit of both."

In a Library Journal review of Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and Its Dilemmas: Five Stories of Psychotherapy, E. James Lieberman called Luepnitz "a family therapist with Freudian roots but without his authoritarianism." The title of this book, written to be understandable to the lay reader, refers to the difficulty porcupines experience when they snuggle in winter to keep warm and the pain they can experience as they become too close. "While the porcupine metaphor strikingly organizes the ideas and language of this book, what is equally exciting is how Luepnitz demonstrates cultural process resonating in the psyche of an individual or couple," wrote Susan Bodnar in the Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture & Society. "The other aspect to Schopenhauer's porcupine metaphor is the role of will, the ability of humans to act on desire rather than reason alone."

The five case studies include a diabetic girl whose illness causes her parents to suppress their own stress for her sake. Others include a homeless woman, a lesbian, a man with commitment issues, and a couple considering whether to have another child. Clea Simon wrote in the Boston Globe that "Luepnitz's lucid writing makes the five case studies in this volume read like short stories, rich with sympathetic characters and vivid situations. Often, the therapist-author impresses us with humanity's resilience as she shows again and again how even our most dysfunctional behavior has its brilliance."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Adolescence, fall, 2002, review of Schopenhauer's Porcupines: Intimacy and Its Dilemmas: Five Stories of Psychotherapy, p. 655.

Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, July, 1990, Suzanne Keller, review of The Family Interpreted: Feminist Theory in Clinical Practice, pp. 207-208.

Booklist, March 1, 2002, William Beatty, review of Schopenhauer's Porcupines, p. 1075.

Boston Globe, June 10, 2002, Clea Simon, review of Schopenhauer's Porcupines, p. B10.

Journal for the Psychoanalysis of Culture & Society, December, 2004, Susan Bodnar, review of Schopenhauer's Porcupines, p. 360.

Journal of Family Law, August, 1982, Charles E. Mullins, review of Child Custody: A Study of Families after Divorce, pp. 741-744.

Journal of Legal Education, March, 1983, review of Child Custody, p. 181.

Library Journal, April 1, 2002, E. James Lieberman, review of Schopenhauer's Porcupines, p. 127.

Modern Law Review, March, 1985, Brenda Hoggett, review of Child Custody, pp. 247-252.

Publishers Weekly, March 4, 2002, review of Schopenhauer's Porcupines, p. 68.

Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, spring, 1991, Jeanne Maracek and Rachel T. Hare-Mustin, review of The Family Interpreted, pp. 625-630.

ONLINE

Observing Ego Web site, http://www.theobservingego.com/ (April 16, 2005), Alex Crumbley, interview with Luepnitz.

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