Friday, October 18, 2013

Women and Insanity



The idea of women and insanity deals with the question of who determines if a women is insane? The women herself or her husband? I was reading a book about how in the 18th and 19th century when a husband can place his wife in an asylum. As male staff and doctors are examining her, she is further identified as insane. Some of these women just wanted to be independent, or refused to have sex with the doctor. 

This goes back to history and the Salem witch trials. If women had an independent opinion she wished to voice, she was accused of being a witch as an easy way of getting rid of her. This was also used when a widow held a business or land that a rivalry family wanted; all they needed was to accuse her of sorcery. 

It is known that unipolar depression is twice as common in women as in men. However is the fact that female gender is a significant predictor of being prescribed mood altering psychotropic drugs used too often to diagnose women and under-diagnose men? Gender biases have a greater influence on who seeks mental health and who is likely to be diagnosed as with certain disorders. 

Have we advanced from this time period or are women still facing these problems when they are diagnosed with insanity?

In addition to the video I plan to edit, I am going to create an illustration of the short story The Yellow Wallpaper "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman which will be available online. Information about the interaction of Dr. WEIR MITCHELL AND CHARLOTTE PERKINS GILMAN  gives background about the majority of the cases i which a woman was diagnosed as insane by a male doctor. I have mapped out information about hysteria and movie trailers dealing with women who enact different types of “insanity”.

7 comments:

  1. I think you might be interested in researching women of the Beat Generation: http://www.beatdom.com/?p=545

    That's just one link I found, but I also came across an insightful quote: "A woman from the audience asks: ‘Why were there so few women among the Beat writers?’ and [Gregory] Corso, suddenly utterly serious, leans forward and says: “There were women, they were there, I knew them, their families put them in institutions, they were given electric shock. In the ’50s if you were male you could be a rebel, but if you were female your families had you locked up." — Stephen Scobie, on the Naropa Institute’s 1994 tribute to Allen Ginsberg (source: http://fuckyeahbeatniks.tumblr.com/post/40936346440/a-woman-from-the-audience-asks-why-were-there-so). It really speaks to the extreme dichotomy of expressing creativity for men and women. It's acceptable for men, not so much for women.

    Like you mentioned, it was particularly bad in the 18th and 19th centuries, but it's not better now. I was also reading about how boys are diagnosed with ADD/ADHD in larger numbers than girls because they're socialized differently, so they don't "act out" as much. Here's a link to a quote from the book "Women With Attention Deficit Disorder": http://synecdoche.tumblr.com/post/36839999757/even-though-adhd-girls-are-more-active-and

    A pioneering short story that deals with women and mental health is "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and I believe she herself was diagnosed with something like "female hysteria." She was given a rest cure where she was rendered useless for most of the day. She even sent the story to the doctor who diagnosed and prescribed the cure, Dr. Silas Weir Mitchell.

    I hope this helps!

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    1. Wow thanks for the links! Really helpful.

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  2. I love this concept. I think it would be interesting if you introduced the concept of "gaslighting" or even the 1944 movie, "Gaslight". If you aren't familiar with it, its about a man who manipulates his wife's environment in order to drive her insane. The conclusion of the movie is less important, but I think the concept is a really good one to touch on because I'd imagine that torture in this form happens like this all the time, and often flies under the radar.

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    1. Thanks I haven't seen it but I'll try to see it. I am a sucker for movies.

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  3. Its so true how women have always been categorized as the crazy bitch, most of the time from a male's perspective. It's crazy to consider how males were able to quickly throw their wives into mental institutions and not consider other answers. One story that really sticks out to me is "The Yellow Wallpaper" by Charlotte Perkins Gilman, which I read back in my senior year of high school. Taking place in the late 1800s, its influenced by how the author suffered from post-partum depression, after having a child, and was thrown into a room for a whole summer.

    http://www.eastoftheweb.com/short-stories/UBooks/YelWal.shtml

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    1. Thank you for the short story, I have started reading it. Thank you again.

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  4. Awesome topic! Women and hysteria is such a pervasive stereotype. You could also look at how the media perpetuates it? For example, movies, books, television. Personally, I must have seen at least 4 or 5 movies playing with the idea of women going crazy, the most recent being Hysteria - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1435513/
    Additionally, I think that you should do more research on gender and depression, because it is not a known fact really that more women suffer from depression than men, but rather the difference is that more women report having depression and seek medical help for it. This ties in with our class discussions on masculinity and femininity being socially constructed. Perhaps, many men don't feel comfortable acknowledging that they have a medical condition, because depression is not viewed as a "masculine" disease.

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