WOMEN AND MADNESS, by Phyllis Ches-
ler, Doubleday & Co., $8.95.
Critiques of the psychotherapeutic professions and their institutions are nothing new. Now Phyllis
Chesler, a psychologist and a feminist, confronts the discipline of
psychiatry and links it inextricably
with the condition of women in a
Chesler's thesis is that in the
male-dominated professions of
psychology and psychiatry, and in a
society which devalues women and
socialized them to devalue themselves,
judgments about mental health and
mental illiness, forms of treatment
and definitions of cure, are necessarily patriarchal. The norms for
female behavior are determined by
men, and are different from the
norms for male behavior.
A woman is classified as "healthy" or "neurotic" or "psychotic"
according to "a male ethic of mental
health" based on the invisible
and sometimes explicit assumptions
of patriarchal society. (For
example, in at least one study
the "normal" woman is listed as an
Chesler cites studies showing
that a "predominantly female
population...has been diagnosed,
psychoanalyzed, researched and hospitalized by a predominantly male
psychiatric population." In the
last decade, 90 percent of American
psychiatrists were male; female
clinicians appear, on the basis of
a study by Inge Broverman, to echo
the professional bias and consensus
of their male colleagues as to what
constitutes mental health in women.
The study also indicated that
healthy women were assumed to differ
from healthy men "by being more submissive, less independent, less adventurous, more easily influenced,
less aggressive, less competitive,
more excitable in minor crises, more
easily hurt, more emotional, more
conceited about appearance, less
objective, and less interested in
math and science." Thus, there
would seem to be a double standard
of mental health, as there has been
for morality; and the situation of
women in the patriarchy bears directly on what is considered neurosis or
madness in women.
As Chesler points out, the above
description reflects the bias of the
society outside the profession, a
bias steam-ironed into women's lives
by early training, education, intensive social pressure and, when
There is much conjecture in this
book and much that will surely be
challenged and debated. However,
there is no doubt that this book
will become a pioneer contribution
to the feminization of psychiatric
thinking and practice.
THE FEMININE FIX-IT HANDBOOK, by
Kay B. Ward. Grosset & Dunlap,
Your favorite, but ancient lamp
refuses to work. The small appliance repair shop can rewire it for
$7.50 plus labor—a ridiculous
amount considering the lamp is only
worth $3.50. You suspect if you
just knew how, you could fix it for
the cost of new wire and a plug.
If you live alone or if you live
with someone who feels the answer
to all household repairs is "just
call the repair person," here is
your answer. Not only is this an
extremely helpful do-it-yourself
text, author Ward obviously knows
what she is talking about.
Assuming that many of her sisters
(and many of her brothers) have
never really confronted a hammer or
saw, Ward begins with basics, removing the veil of mystery from the
world of drill and bit and threaded
awl. Proceeding from that crash
course in tools and their uses, she
tells how to paint, hang paper, make
minor plumbing and electrical
repairs, restore furniture and a
number of other minor household
crises. She also provides a glossary of tool terms from ABRASIVE
to WRENCH, that is invaluable for
anyone who has never shopped in a
Better still, author Ward relates
her book to the feminist experience.
For example, she castigates the
unknown male chauvinist who first
named the "female" appliance plug.
An indispensable book for anyone
who likes to be free of dependence
on the mercies of bloodthirsty
SANCTUARY NO MORE
For 107 years a sanctuary for men only, the
Harvard Club of New
York City voted 2,097
to 695 to accept female
Albert Gordon promised
women a "gracious"
welcome, but member
Johathan Morse gloomily predicted the
demise of the club "and
all the traditions it
Ms. Magazine can safely be called
With a January print order of
530,000 copies, and reams of stories,
articles, poems and appreciative
letters flowing in, Ms. editors can
relax. They no longer have to worry
about saying it all in a few issues
before the magazine folds.
Patricia Carbine, editor-in-
chief and publisher, says it is
breaking records in magazine history for a six-month-old magazine.
Subscription rates are $9 a
year, while the newsstand copies
sell for $1 each, says Ms. Carbine,
"so we won't have to depend on the
advertising community to keep the
magazine alive. And we know, from
the mail, that our readers read
our ads as editorial material. Ads
in our magazine have credibility."
The magazine does not accept
vaginal deodorant ads, bust development or weight-reducing ads.
On the other hand, the editors
are breaking ground with advertisements that previously have not
appeared in women's magazines:
records, books, liquor, automobiles.
"We'll be the only women's magazine
on that foreign car's advertising
schedule this spring, and we're also
talking to a tire company at this
point," says Ms. Carbine.
"The magazine is also starting
a new section called 'Human Development'," she says, "consisting of
display ads that are recruiting
advertisements for personnel by big
companies all over the country.
And we have solid reasons why we
think this will work. ITT ran a
one-column ad with us for personnel
that got more response for them
than anything they'd run in any
other major magazine."