The Madness Of Women
Myth and Experience
By Jane Ussher
Routledge – 2011 – 328 pages
Why are women more likely to be positioned or diagnosed as mad than men?
If madness is a social construction, a gendered label, as many feminist critics would argue, how can we understand and explain women's prolonged misery and distress? In turn, can we prevent or treat women’s distress, in a non-pathologising women centred way? The Madness of Women addresses these questions through a rigorous exploration of the myths and realities of women's madness.
Drawing on academic and clinical experience, including case studies and in-depth interviews, as well as on the now extensive critical literature in the field of mental health, Jane Ussher presents a critical multifactorial analysis of women's madness that both addresses the notion that madness is a myth, and yet acknowledges the reality and multiple causes of women's distress. Topics include:
This book will be of great interest to students and scholars of psychology, gender studies, sociology, women's studies, cultural studies, counselling and nursing.
"This book is beautifully written and the arguments powerful and sophisticated, whilst at the same time accessible. The author’s mastery in research and writing are clearly evident. The book is destined to become a ‘classic’ text in feminist psychology. A pleasure to read!" – Michelle Lafrance, Department of Psychology, St. Thomas University, Canada
"This book is a compelling, hard-hitting and illuminating analysis of the social cultural, historical and economic forces producing the madness of women. It is a powerful illustration of a long-standing feminist view – that the personal is political." – Ann Weatherall, School of Psychology, University of Wellington, New Zealand.
1. The Madness of Women: Myth or Experience? 2. The Daughter of Hysteria: Depression as a "Woman’s Problem"? 3. Labelling Women as Mad: Regulating and Oppressing Women. 4. Woman as Object, not Subject: Madness as Response to Objectification and Sexual Violence. 5. The Construction and Lived Experience of Women’s Distress: Positioning Premenstrual Change as Psychiatric Illness. 6. Women’s Madness: Resistance and Survival.
Jane M Ussher is Professor of Women’s Health Psychology, and director of Gender Culture and Health Research: PsyHealth, at the University of Western Sydney, Australia. She is author of a number of books. Her current research focuses on women’s sexual and reproductive health, with particular emphasis on premenstrual experiences, gendered issues in caring, and sexuality and fertility in the context of cancer.