One comment thread I anxiously followed this week was at Pandagon, a “debunking” of hysteria, which is a sexist, cartoonish depiction of womanhood, an invention of the patriarchy, not to be taken seriously. What is there to say to that?
Happily, one commenter out of 70 came along to wreck the party:
Trauma is manifest in our society. The number of small children who are beaten, berated, and raped continually throughout their childhoods, in their own homes, is astronomical. Some children who escape that are exposed to violence and chaos in their communities, especially very urban and sometimes very rural communities. In addition, more “normal” traumas such as car accidents, long term hospitalizations, the death of a parent, etc., can lead a child to undiagnosed PTSD. An adult can develop PTSD through many means, but most commonly through war combat (including inner city gang wars) and through victimization in domestic violence and rape.
…I submit (and much of the research I followed during my years in school confirmed this) that both BPD and APD [anti-social personality disorder] are (mostly) genderized constructs of the aftereffects of untreated childhood PTSD.
BPD is much more commonly diagnosed in women than in men (something like, off the top of my head, 80% to 20%) while the reverse percentages hold true for APD. Both APD and BPD are considered “resistant to treatment” because they are considered to actually be inborn personality traits vs. something that is a response to something in the environment. Yet, several studies have shown that the amount of child sexual abuse of women with BPD is well more than double the 30% standard in the female population as well. Many small studies of APD have also found correlations with child abuse. BPD is often called the “pain in the ass” diagnosis, because these clients are often very difficult to work with, and people with APD are often considered to be “merely” criminal and not mentally ill.
So a treatable illness (PTSD) is treated as if it is a difficult to treat personality trait (BPD or APD) and those who had childhood trauma get (all too often) traumatized again, this time by the system.
That informed comment remained a spit in the ocean, til I popped in with a suggestion that women interested in womens issues might read a book, for which I got dissed by mediagirl for advocating the “acceptance” of hysteria, then one more spit in the ocean, endorsing the learning and the seeking of knowledge:
Drs. Herman and van der Kolk did the key research that found that 2/3 of the people (mostly women) they studied with diagnoses of Borderline Personality Disorder had histories of extended physical and sexual abuse. The psychiatric profession wasn’t ready to hear this, tho’ …
The psychiatrists who don’t want to hear it have themselves some strange bedfellows. I’ll stick with Maggie Cho who asked her own readers, “Why don’t we believe hysterical women? Hysterical women are always right.”