Medicine and the Family: A Feminist Perspective

Medicine and the Family: A Feminist Perspective

Medicine and the Family: A Feminist Perspective

Medicine and the Family: A Feminist Perspective


For centuries, traditional medicine has been infused with a masculine bias, often to the disadvantage of both doctors and patients. This book challenges prevailing views and offers a family-oriented feminist approach to the practice of medicine. Drawing on her 20 years of experience as a family doctor, the author dissects the assumptions underlying current teachings about child and adult development, sexual abuse, the family life cycle, and family systems. She exposes the ways in which women are often ignored, subordinated, or blamed in the modern medical system. For example, she notes that women are often held solely responsible for all problems in their families, including child abuse and battering.


Although I could say that I have been working on this book for my whole life, it is more accurate to say that it took me six years to write. and it would not have been written at all without the help of the many people who discussed ideas, read drafts, helped with revisions, and provided crucial supports.

I would first like to thank the people who did the essential research for this book: they located resources, taught me to do computer searches, made dozens of library trips, and photocopied innumerable articles and drafts. This book could not have been completed without the skillful help of Jodie Baxter, Melody Cunningham, Jennifer Eddy, Jean Emans, Alex Houck, Nancy Irons, Wanda Merced, Kathy Powers, Stephanie Prior, and Lynn Riza.

Over the years certain people have been essential to my development as a family physician. At different times each of them showed me a kind of clarity about how I needed to change and grow in my work in family medicine to best meet the needs of patients and trainees: Lynn Carmichael, Jerry Commons, Arlene Dorischild, Annette Dula, Warren Ferguson, John Frey, Michael Glenn, Dan Lasser, Lisa Oneto, G. Gayle Stephens, John Stoeckle, Dick Walton, Rachel Wheeler, Midge Williams, and the members of faculty Balint group, especially the long-term members—Roger Bibace, Bill Damon, Steve Earls, and Sam Pickens.

Family medicine when I entered it had few women practitioners and no women faculty members. Much of what I now understand about a feminist approach to family medicine I learned from residents and colleagues who came after me and enabled me to see how family medicine . . .

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