Women and Mental Health

By Elizabeth Howell; Marjorie Bayes | Go to book overview

12
The Influence of Gender
on Diagnosis and
Psychopathology

ELIZABETH HOWELL

The topic of Part III is diagnosis and psychopathology as they are influenced by gender. Before beginning an examination of the specific syndromes that the papers in this section address, a general discussion of the influence of gender on diagnosis and psychopathology will provide a useful backdrop. Diagnosis and psychopathology are differentiated here because diagnosis refers to our labeling practices that may or may not be meaningful or accurate, whereas psychopathology refers to the presence of an actual disorder that may or may not be specified by a diagnosis. Gender influences each of these. First, gender bias in the mental health profession is reflected in diagnostic labeling practices and in the descriptive terminology used therein, calling into question the meaningfulness of certain diagnoses. Second, gender influences psychopathology; there are differences in the numbers of men and women who develop psychiatric disorders and in the types of disorders they are more prone to develop. This chapter will examine problems with our diagnostic terminology and issues of psychopathology among men and women, including the rates of disorders and the types of disorders.

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