Views & Reviews Review of the Week

Women, interrupted

BMJ 2008; 336 doi: (Published 06 March 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;336:561
  1. Gwen Adshead, forensic psychotherapist, Broadmoor Hospital, Berkshire
  1. gwen{at}

    Women have been the focus of more psychiatric attention than men over the past 200 years. A new book reviewed by Gwen Adshead considers why this is still the case

    Some people seem unfairly talented, and Professor Appignanesi is one of them. She is both a historian of ideas and novelist and, together with John Forrester, previously wrote a book entitled Freud’s Women, about the important female figures in the history of psychoanalysis. Here she returns to the themes of psychiatry, history, and gender, but in a broader context and with a bolder aim: to examine how and why women seem to have been the focus of so much psychiatric attention over the past 200 years and why this is still the case in the present day.

    This hugely readable book provides an overview of the historical development of ideas in psychiatry, without superficiality or glib generalisations. The contents include not only remarkable case histories but also discussion of different topics that have generated psychiatric debate in the past, such as sleep, sex, mother-child relationships, and child …

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