Cover image for Women and madness.
Women and madness.
Chesler, Phyllis.
Personal Author:
[First edition].
Publication Information:
New York Avon [1972].
Physical Description:
xxiii, 359 pages : illustrations ; 18 cm
Reading Level:
1240 Lexile.
Format :

On Order

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Still strident after all these years, prominent feminist author and activist Chesler (The Death of Feminism) here updates her classic on female psychology. A new introduction is followed by a restatement of her earlier work with updated commentary. In a text richly textured with classical and research references, she revisits her original study of psychiatric bias and oppression, including sex between patient and clinician, and reviews how the feminist landscape has changed since the 1970s. Chesler continues to assert that the male-dominated mental health system is sexist and shows how the [mis]diagnosis of madness has been applied to individuals who reject the stereotypical female role (e.g. Sylvia Plath, Zelda Fitzgerald) and to illnesses that reflect the acting out of the socially devalued female role (e.g., depression, sexual dysfunction). Though concluding that her original arguments have been largely supported, she proposes a new feminist psychology that is more nuanced than might be expected. Filled with cogent insights and applications to contemporary issues (e.g., biological psychiatry, eating disorders), the book embodies enough revision to make it relevant while still retaining the power of the original. With an extensive bibliography; recommended for a new generation of public library users and for all women's studies and mental health collections.-Antoinette Brinkman, MLS, Evansville, IN (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

Reissued 25 years after its original release, Women and Madness (CH, Mar'73) was and still is an original and challenging examination of the psychiatric treatment of women, which Chesler calls "psychiatric imperialism." When first published, the book struck strong chords among the then budding feminist movement. Over two and a half million copies were sold. Chesler's new introduction reviews additional abuses of psychiatric medicine up to the present. She has also provided a new bibliography of feminist psychology materials. Chester makes an unapologetic feminist argument that women's experience in psychiatry reflects their oppression and victimization in the greater society. She uses the feminine mythic symbols as examples of the range of female experience. Chesler traces accounts of the psychiatric history of women from the 16th to the 20th century with stories of the anonymous as well as the famous, e.g., Virginia Woolf, Zelda Fitzgerald, and Sylvia Plath. This book remains a key piece in any collection of psychology and feminist literature, and its thesis is as current and encompassing today as it was 25 years ago. General readers; undergraduates and above. D. L. Loers Willamette University