Phyllis Chesler's 'Psychotherapeutic Patients'

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The oppression of women is evident throughout all of the 19th century. From household duties to health issues, women received unfair treatment. Women were seen as inferior and treacherous and therefore, were not trusted to make decisions for themselves. This resulted in women being placed in mental institutions when they did not behave in ways that the male society agreed with. After being placed in the hospitals, the unfair treatment continued to affect the women. In the article, “Women as Psychiatric and Psychotherapeutic Patients” by Phyllis Chesler, he discusses the large outnumbering of women in mental hospitals compared to men. The statistics are viewed as effects of sex-role stereotyping and the oppression of women throughout the 19th…show more content…
She goes to expose the corruption and abuse that occurs inside. The article shows that the oppression she experiences did actually happen in those times and were not uncommon in the 19th century. The patients did not get the opportunities to prove their sanity and did not experience any forms of kindness. Physical abuse was often the workers’ form of discipline. In the story, a patient was slapped and even chocked. Misdiagnosis occurred often inside the hospitals. A committed patient looses all forms of freedom. Doctors had the ability to examine a person and deem them “insane” very easily. They could keep someone for as long as they like and continue the abuse. They then had the opportunity to do as they pleased and provide horrible conditions. Eventually, some patients would actually go mad or start to believe that they were. Food conditions were considered horrible and the buildings themselves were often very dirty. Nellie continuously struggled to eat the disgusting food that she was given and got her clothes taken. It was common for punishments to involve isolation. A patient could be thrown in a dark room alone to “learn a lesson.” The article shows that the women were mainly targeted when being placed in the hospitals and ultimately suffered…show more content…
Doctors believed women were prone to illness because of their reproductive systems. Due to female heredity, illness could be carried in the womens’ bodies. Outbursts of anger or any protest of disadvantages in their lives could be viewed as hysteria. This behavior became known as “the daughter’s disease.” Spinsters were prone to this hysteria and marriage was seen as the main cure. The article talks of a certain woman who was once caring and hard working and eventually, became lazy and self-centered. This change in attitude was seen as serious illness that required therapy in the 19th century. Any abmornalities in a women’s behavior, including illegitimate pregnancy, homosexualality, frigidnesss, and promiscuity were considered
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