Women and Madness

Women and Madness

by Phyllis Chesler

In this new edition, she addresses head-on many of the most relevant issues to women and mental health today, including eating disorders, social acceptance of antidepressants, addictions, sexuality, postpartum depression, and more.

Fully revised and updated, Women and Madness remains as important today as it was when first published in 1972.

  • Language: English
  • Category: Feminism
  • Rating: 3.83
  • Pages: 432
  • Publish Date: November 5th 2005 by St. Martin's Griffin
  • Isbn10: 1403968977
  • Isbn13: 9781403968975

What People Think about "Women and Madness"

Still an important book.

Perhaps the book is very outdated, but I found myself frustrated that she focuses on women who choose to be in therapy for a precieved need, as oppossed to the realities of those who have to meet with a physcatrist and/or therapist because they do have a legitamate illness and it is required.

Anyway, this was another that I had to read for class. I was very glad that even though we're not reading the entire book in class, we're going over all the chapters, because I needed that extra help to fully comprehend a lot of the ideas Chesler addresses this book.

Another reviewer criticized Chesler for ignoring actually seriously ill women in favor of healthy women whose disobedience or nonconformity was called illness as a pretext for locking them up; I don't know if this person read the revised edition or not, but in the book I read she does acknowledge disabling mental illness. Far more disturbing to me were her descriptions of real women who were not insane at all, and did not seek treatment for themselves, but who were committed to lunatic asylums by husbands and fathers who wanted them out of the way. There is also a very long section, making up the majority of the book, that contains Phyllis Chesler's own original research, which was a series of detailed interviews with a bunch of women who had been treated for mental illnesses. She divided her subjects up into categories, though she admits there is a lot of overlap between some of them: women who had been in sexual relationships with their therapists, women who had been hospitalized for mental illness, lesbians, feminists, and "Third World women," which seems to be a confusing label for poor women of color. (I say it is confusing because some or all of the women in this group are Americans; "Third World" to me connotes foreign origin as well as dark skin, poverty and disenfranchisement.) All of these women describe experiences that did not help them; only some were ever actually mentally ill; and lots of them, especially the women of color, the women who were institutionalized long-term, and the lesbians, tell horrible tales of abuse.

It can easily be said that it's one of the good feminist books.

I read another book of Chesler's that I liked very much, but I guess I was a bit disappointed in this one.

There was a lot of writing about lesbians and I guess I had never thought about them as being feminists.

Phyllis Chesler is an Emerita Professor of Psychology and Women's Studies at City University of New York.