The Madness of Women: Myth and Experience

Watch for Jane Ussher’s new book The Madness of Women: Myth and Experience, Routledge, to be released March 25th, 2011.

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:

• The genealogy of women’s madness – incarceration of difficult or deviant women

• Regulation through treatment

• Deconstructing depression, PMS and borderline personality disorder

• Madness as a reasonable response to objectification and sexual violence

• Women’s narratives of resistance

Critical reviews are combined with case studies and extensive interview material to reveal the ways in which medicine, psychology, and drug company advertising combine to position women as ‘mad’. Rejecting this process of pathologisation, women’s distress is conceptualised as a reasonable response to the conditions of their lives. Through exploring the construction and lived experience of women’s madness, as well as survival and resistance, the implications for women’s gendered subjectivity are exposed.

This entry was posted on Monday, March 14th, 2011 at 10:55 am and is filed under News.