(Re)conceiving Female Desire

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Questions about women’s sexual desire and agency have captured the psychoanalytic imagination for almost a century.

What Freud once said to Marie Bonaparte: The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer,  despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is “What does a woman want?” is widely quoted in the psychoanalytic literature. 

The negotiation of sexual desire is argued to be a central part of the development of women’s sense of agency and wellbeing. Research shows that girls and women are still often systematically punished both socially and psychologically for acting according to their sexual desire. The quest to conform to normative Western ideals of femininity with confusing double standards regarding expressions of women’s sexual roles and desires, seems to remain a constant struggle, sometimes unconscious, that drives women towards self-objectification and silencing of bodily needs. This seminar explores women’s sexual desire from a contemporary perspective. It will address how desire is associated with entitlement to sexual pleasure and sexual agency that can be difficult for women who navigate complex and contradictory social landscapes and inequalities.

This seminar will be led by two speakers using two different lenses, one of psychodynamic research, the other of observation in the clinical encounter with patients in psychoanalysis or psychoanalytic therapy.

Dr. Chmielewski will share her interviews of young women’ experience of sexual desires.

Dr. Lieberman will describe what women of different generations speak about in treatment: their conflicts about becoming wives, mothers, and career women. She has observed a diminution of women speaking about sexual desire over the years, perhaps as intertwined with these other issues. Wishes to be thin and beautiful often supersede all other wishes.

Workshop Information


May 18, 2024


10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. EST


Online, live via Zoom


3 CE contact hours available for NYS: Psy, SW, MHC, MFT & Psychoanalysts and APA: Psy


$75 – General Admission
$50 – Derner Alum, Adelphi faculty/clinical supervisor, Non-Adelphi psychoanalytic Candidate/student
$25 – Derner student/Postgraduate candidate

Registration will close 48 hours prior to the start of the event.


Jennifer Chmielewski

Jennifer Chmielewski, PhD

Jennifer Chmielewski recently received her PhD in Critical Social/Personality Psychology from the CUNY Graduate Center and is now an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Adelphi University. Her research uses critical feminist theories and methods to explore diverse young people’s embodiment and lived experiences of gender and sexual subjectivity through an intersectional and social justice lens. Her current work explores young people’s experiences of sexual desire as they are shaped through and within social and relational contexts and systems of injustice.

Janice LiebermanJanice Lieberman, PhD

Dr.Janice Lieberman received her Ph.D in Social Psychology from NYU and a Certificate in Psychoanalysis from The Institute for Psychoanalytic Training and Research (IPTAR). She is a Training and Supervising Analyst, faculty member and on the Board of Directors at IPTAR. She has written three books: “The Many Faces of Deceit: Omissions, Lies and Disguise in Psychotherapy”, “Body Talk: Looking and Being Looked at in Psychotherapy”  and “Clinical Evolutions on the Superego, Body and Gender in Psychotherapy”. She has authored many papers and presentations, the most recent sponsored by the IPA Committee on Women and Psychoanalysis. She is in private practice in New York City.

Credentialing Information

Adelphi University is approved by the American Psychological Association to sponsor continuing education for psychologists. Adelphi University maintains responsibility for this program and its content.  Adelphi University, Derner School of Psychology, is recognized by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Psychology as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed psychologists #PSY-0024 and by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Social Work as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed social workers #SW-0607 and by the New York State Education Department’s State Board for Mental Health Practitioners as an approved provider of continuing education for licensed mental health counselors #MHC-0185; for licensed marriage and family therapists #MFT-0083; and for licensed psychoanalysts #P-0058.

Disclaimer Statement

This continuing education seminar, seminar instructor/s, and the Postgraduate Programs as the seminar’s sponsor, receive no commercial support for the content of instruction (e.g., research grants funding research findings etc.), or benefit for endorsement of products (e.g., books, training, drugs, etc.) that are known to present a conflict of interest. 

Cancellation Policy

Full refunds are issued for cancellations made up to 7 working days before the event. Cancellations of less than 7 days for any reason, or no-shows are not refunded. Credit towards a future event/workshop are issued for cancellations less than 7 days and up to 24 hours before the event. No credit is issued for cancellations less than 24 hours before the events or no-shows.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Adelphi University require that all events be accessible. To request a reasonable accommodation, please contact the event host identified on the event webpage; please allow for a reasonable time frame. The event host, when necessary, will collaborate with the Student Access Office.

Program Contacts

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Hy Weinberg Center, 220
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