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The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture 1830-1980
Elaine Showalter
Showalter, well known for her feminist studies of literature, here turns her attention to the history of psychiatry. Approaches to treatment have ranged from kindly paternalism to repressive discipline to psychosurgery to drugs. They have this in common: The treatments are devised by men and inflicted, predominantly, on women. She finds one exception, and a fascinating parallel, in the shell-shocked soldiers of World War I. Men in war, experiencing powerlessness, responded with hysterialike women. The doctors' response was to treat them like women. Showalter presents a moving, troubling history and a strong, surely controversial, argument drawing on literature and art as well as on case histories. Only feminist psychiatric theory and practice, she concludes, offer hope for change. The book is eloquently written and accessible to general and scholarly readers.- LIBRARY JOURNA3
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