GNDR 24500 / HUDV 24200: Gender and Depression - Winter 2003

Instructor: Timothy McCajor Hall


Course Description:

The experience, expression, and professional construction of mental illness are inextricably gendered (as well as shaped by social status and culture). This course introduces students to depression and some associated -- and highly gendered -- disorders (eating disorders, alcoholism, and Borderline Personality Disorder), from psychodynamic, cognitive-behavioral, psychobiological, anthropological, and feminist perspectives. Along the way, we will ask and attempt to answer the following questions:

Course Requirements:

Grading is based on two take-home, essay exams, and a 12-15 page paper. Guidelines for the exams and the paper will be handed out later. The basic assignment for the paper will be to select a psychiatric condition with a strong link to gender or sexuality, and to review and evaluate theories and evidence for biological, psychological, and socio-cultural aspects. Proposals for other paper topics of similar scope will be considered.

Additional credit will be given for class participation.

Required Reading:

Most of the articles and excerpts listed in the syllabus will be available in two Course Readers.

Recommended Reading:

Some of the following books are excerpted in the Reader; others are recommended as starting points for students with interest in particular areas or for term paper ideas. All will be on reserve at Regenstein Library:

Outline of Topics and Readings:

Week 1: Meet the Mood Disorders

Questions: what are psychiatric definitions of mood disorders? What do they look like? What do we think causes them and how do we treat them?

Week 2: Basic approaches to the mood disorders: Psychodynamic, psychobiological & cognitive

What is mental illness?
What evidence is there that mental illnesses are "real" illnesses, and what evidence that they are socially derived labels applied to nonconforming and inconvenient individuals?

Week 3: Differences in Female and Male Depression?
Epidemiology of depression, different male and female responses to depression, suicidality, possibility that alcoholism is male manifestation of depression, reproductively linked depressions. What does it mean for men and women to have different kinds of depressions?

Week 4: Reproductively linked Depressions: PMS and Menopause
Is recent attention (and controversy) around PMS, post-partum depression, and menopause due to greater attention being paid to the needs of women and to mental illness, or to perpetuation of sexual stereotypes? PMS: evidence for PMS in other primates, controvery over inclusion in DSM. Menopause: mental or physical illness, or product of social labeling? Menopause in cross-cultural perspective

Week 5: Homosexuality, Stigma & Depression

FILM: Selections TBA

Mid-term Exam

Week 6: "Hysteria" and its successors
What was hysteria? Why is it no longer a DSM category? To what extent do its successors Ü personality disorders, conversion disorders, eating disorders Ü reflect similar social and moral judgements of nonconforming individuals, particularly women (and homosexuals)?

FILM: "Girl, Interrupted"

Week 7: Characterological depression: Hysteria, Borderline PD, and Dysthymia
The concept of temperament and personality disorders. To what extent are these "disorders", and to what extent are these categories labels for socially disturbing individuals? How are these diagnoses actually used? What are the implications of exchanging a moral or social judgement for a medical diagnosis?

Recommended: (not in course reader)

Week 8: Eating Disorders: Anorexia, Bulimia, Body Dysmorphism and Compulsive Exercise


Weeks 9 & 10: Final Considerations on Gender, Depression & Culture: Male Violence



Final Paper Due & Final Exam Due

This site was created on 21 Sep 1996. All original textual and photographic material on these pages is copyrighted 1996-2012 by Timothy M. Hall unless otherwise noted.