De-Masking Institutionalised Mental Disorders in Male/Female Relationship: An Analysis of Some Female Novelists' Works

By Siwoku-Awi, Omotayo F. | Gender & Behaviour, June 2014 | Go to article overview

De-Masking Institutionalised Mental Disorders in Male/Female Relationship: An Analysis of Some Female Novelists' Works


Siwoku-Awi, Omotayo F., Gender & Behaviour


Determining a major cause of mental illness as the pervasive patriarchal imposition which does not favour women may never attract the vote of practicing psychiatrists, who often times rely on the testimony of members of family of the mentally ill in diagnosis and treatment. This mode of diagnosis appears veiy unreliable because of its subjectivity, particularly in patriarchal cultures. Patriarchy is the worldwide tradition that gives authority to men and deems them superior to women, hence the latter must be subservient and subordinate to the former. Often carried to atrocious limits, women are discriminated against in some societies, even when they are as qualified as men in occupying job or leadership positions. Until recently, France operated a different salary scale for women, who are paid less than their male counterparts. In virtually eveiy sphere of life man claims superiority while some cultures and religions affirm that the Creator instituted this male hegemony as it could be deduced from the masculine strength and brain power, which research has debunked as reported by Julia Wood.

Social transformation and changes orchestrated by feminist struggle and protests over the years can be observed eveiywhere today. Nevertheless, while there may be the big talk and propaganda about change, there are silent sufferers, who the media may get to know only when it has become too late and they have been killed by the powerful male in their lives. Our Daily Newspapers recount woeful and heinous crimes committed by men against women; crimes, which are carried out to convince the perpetrators they are in control or they have supremacy over their victims. Women who do not get killed may become neurotic because of patriarchal impositions as this study sets out to prove from the selected female authors' works. This is a state of mental illness that stem from the inability to cope with the environment as the individual lives at variance with herself and the world. While clinical psychologists and psychiatrists may seek physiological and biological underpinnings to mental and emotional disorders, which may be remedied by orthodox treatment of drug administration, it is often overlooked that social milieu, and cultural and religious practices have direct implications on individual's personal adjustment as behavioral psychologists like Albert Bandura have proffered. It is ironical, therefore, that the veiy significant persons who have direct bearing on the sick person's unfortunate state are called on by psychiatric structure to testify to his or her mental state. It is then virtually impossible for a non conformist woman who has been a victim of familial mental torture and cultural imposition of sexism to get emotional support within the same structure that denies her humanity and sanity. I looked at female characters in some novels, who have been victims of cultural practices and beliefs and male oppression that have caused their mental derangement. Needless, to say that behavioral patterns and culture are not mutually exclusive, they have a symbiotic relationship, it then behooves us to abandon cultural practices that destroy the vulnerable in our societies and that do not contribute meaningfully to our national growth and development. In short, the protest is against retrogressive cultures and traditions.

Sexist Tyranny: A Form Institutionalised Psychosis

Critics of feminism have given various reasons feminists fight for women's rights, one is that they must be old maids or sad women who fail to get a man to love and dote on them. Eva Figes quoted from English Punch Newspaper a poem published in 1870:

The rights of women, who demanded, those women are but few: The greater part had rather stand exactly as they do.

Beauty has claims for which she fights At ease with winning arms; The women who want women's rights Want mostly, Women's charms.

This poem was written over two centuries ago, in the wake of the struggle for women emancipation in the United Kingdom, yet its content holds out as true today. …

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