Traditional rationalistic theories of mind and self are based on a duality of modes of processing or ways of speaking. These complementary processes are also narratively undergirded and personified by gender imagery in which parts of the mind are symbolized as ‘masculine’ and ‘feminine’. Development is associated with the heroic journey of a male protagonist – rise, victory, and ascent to height, mind, and spirit. Feminine development, in contrast, implies defeat, passivity, surrender, and descent to organismic depths. This narrative structure has influenced accounts of mind, gender, and development, as well as shaped core experiences of self over the life course, especially early in life. As cultural discourse changes to accept bipolar tension and dialectical balance between the mind’s polarities, however, a reevaluation of the gendered narratives underlying conceptions of mind and self has ensued. This reevaluation is evident at the level of both cultural discourse and individual development, since later life may bring the opportunity to form a more coherent self, integrating polar opposites. Efforts to reformulate theories of the mind and self thus inevitably involve a reevaluation of the meaning of gender and its relation to mind.

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