Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

9
The Psychiatrist-Woman
Patient Relationship
P. SUSAN STEPHENSON GILLIAN A. WALKER This paper draws attention to the place of psychiatrists in the medical and mental health systems—their attitudes, training, the theories they use, and the attributes and expectations of women patients that combine to produce a situation where psychiatric treatment at times merely patches up women in distress, rather than catalyzing their personal growth and positive coping skills. For a number of years critics have charged that, for women, psychotherapy is a dependency-engendering exercise that is based on adjustment to current circumstances. The superior-subordinate relationship of doctor and patient has been described as replicating middle-class marriage and reinforcing women's dependency on the authority and knowledge of males (Chesler 1972; Greer 1970; Levine, Kamin, and Levine 1974; Smith and David 1975).Other issues that indicate the need for a reexamination of the psychiatric approach to women include:
1. The overprescription of drugs for women. Cooperstock (1976) states that women are prescribed two to two and one-half times as many psychotropic drugs as men. Community surveys suggest that 15 to 20 percent of women are cur‐
____________________
This work was supported in part by Grant #1208-9-75 from the Non-Medical Use of Drugs Directorate, Department of Health and Welfare, Canada. Modified version of paper presented at the Canadian Psychiatric Association annual meeting, Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, September 1977.

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