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Gender and Its Effects on Psychopathology

Edited by Ellen Frank, Ph.D.
American Psychopathological Association

  • ISBN 978-0-88048-798-6
  • Item #8798

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Starting in embryonic development, gender has profound influences on us. Endocrine receptors in the brain affect cognition, mood, and behavior differently in males and females, and gender roles inevitably affect our psychosocial experiences. It should be no surprise that men and women have differences in vulnerability for developing many forms of psychopathology, in expression of symptoms and in response to treatment.

Gender and Its Effect on Psychopathology examines the gender differences in psychopathology, including susceptibility to psychiatric disorders, the timing of their onset, their course, and their response to treatment. Dr. Ellen Frank and colleagues show how studying these differences helps clinicians in predicting patients' responses to treatment. This book reviews

  • The types of depression to which women are prone, the hormonal basis of mood disorders in women, and the specific clinical phenomenology of reproduction-related depressions
  • Findings on how gender difference in socialization affect the development and symptoms of psychiatric disorders
  • Studies hormonal and pubertal changes that may explain the rise in rates for depression among females relative to males between ages 10 and 15 years
  • Epidemiological findings on the prevalence of depression among women and discusses plausible explanations for these findings
  • Gender differences in antisocial and borderline personality disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, and substance dependence

A synopsis of current research on gender differences, Gender and Its Effects on Psychopathology provides practitioners with invaluable insight into understanding and treating patients with a variety of psychiatric disorders.


  • Contributors
  • Introduction
  • Section I: Etiological Mechanisms
  • Chapter 1. Hormonal basis of mood disorders in women
  • Chapter 2. Gender and dimensions of the self: Implications for internalization and externalization behavior
  • Chapter 3. Gender-Specific Etiologies for Antisocial and Borderline Personality Disorders?
  • Section II: Mood and Anxiety Disorders
  • Chapter 4. Gender Differences in Major Depression: Epidemiological Findings
  • Chapter 5. Pubertal Changes and Adolescent Challenges: Why Do Rates of Depression Rise Precipitously for Girls Between Ages 10 and 15 Years?
  • Chapter 6. Gender Differences in Response to Treatments of Depression
  • Chapter 7. Gender Differences in Major Depression: The Role of Anxiety
  • Chapter 8. Gender Differences in Anxiety Disorders: Clinical Implications
  • Section III: Schizophrenia
  • Chapter 9. Gender and Schizophrenia: An Overview
  • Chapter 10. Gender Differences in First-Episode Schizophrenia
  • Section IV: Substance Abuse and Dependence
  • Chapter 11. Gender Differences in the Epidemiology of Substance Dependence in the United States
  • Chapter 12. Gender Effects in Gene–Environment Interactions in Substance Abuse
  • Chapter 13. Gender differences in the effects of opiates and cocaine: implications for treatment
  • Index

About the Authors

Ellen Frank, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychiatry and Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh and at the Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.

Gender and Its Effects on Psychopathology is an admirably clear, well-organized collection bringing together review articles by more than twenty authors.—Metapsychology

Ellen Frank, a leading investigator on the psychopathology and treatment of mental disorder, has assembled and edited a series of authoritative papers on the relationship between disorder, sex and gender. Ellen and her co-authors have had the courage to confront issues psychiatry has evaded in recent decades. The empirical evidence demonstrates that incidence, prevalence, age of onset and clinical course of psychiatric disorders commonly show differences between men and women, surprisingly similar in cultures very different from one another. In the past, such differences were attributed to sex; that is, to biological differences. As it became increasingly evident that biological differences failed to account for the findings, it became the conventional wisdom to assign the explanation to gender; that is, to differences in social roles. Explanations that limit themselves to raging hormones or social convention simply don't wash. This exciting volume demonstrates in an illuminating and fashion that biological sex matters, that socialization matters, that role expectations matter, and that sex and gender interact in complex and subtle ways. Frank's book is a masterful analysis of what we know, what the facts imply, and where in a word, we need to look to increase our understanding. It's terrific!—Leon Eisenberg, M.D., Presley Professor of Social Medicine, Professor of Psychiatry, Emeritus, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts

This is a truly wonderful book that should be on the shelf of all academic researchers who are interested in psychopathology. The book provides insights into both causal and consequential factors associated with gender differences in psychopathology. These top researchers go beyond synthesizing current data to making very clear strides towards comprehensive theories and understanding of gender differences in psychopathology. For example, Dr. Kessler's chapter entitled Sex Differences in Major Depression: Epidemiological Finding not only provides up to date information regarding epidemiological findings of sex differences in depression, but provides a comprehensive framework for evaluating the often confusing data in this field. Similarly, Dr. Kandel brings both expertise and theory into understanding differences between men and women in rates of substance abuse. I highly recommend this book to all academics who are interested in understanding gender differences in psychopathology. This book is thorough, comprehensive, and moves the field ahead in considering the importance of gender in psychopathology. This book should prove valuable for both mental health professionals and women's studies programs, where understanding the contribution of gender to psychopathology could be critical. The importance of this to our understanding of psychopathology and gender cannot be underestimated. The organization of the book makes it not only straight forward to read and digest, but easily accessible as a valuable reference. It is a landmark publication, authored by those with the greatest international expertise in this very important area. This book will be of interest to those who wish to understand psychopathology, as well as those who wish to further our understanding of the role of gender in mental health. The integration and elegant analysis of this timely topic should truly inform the field.—Jeanne Miranda, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, DC

This book taught me that the relationships between gender and psychopathology are much more interesting and important than I had recognized. The issues this book discusses arise daily in my clinical work and deserve more attention than they are receiving from psychopathology researchers. Indispensable reading for clinicians and researchers alike.—Jacqueline B. Persons, Ph.D., Director, San Francisco Bay Area Center for Cognitive Therapy, Oakland, California

This volume reviews the most reliable findings about the relation of gender to specific psychiatric disorders in both the general population and patients, and seeks to explain the well-substantiated observation that women have more depression and anxiety, while men exceed women in alcohol and drug dependence and antisocial personality as adults and more oppositional and conduct disorder as children. An important contribution of this book is that it considers gender differences in the symptom patterns and course of disorder as well as its occurrence. Most previous efforts to understand why men and women have such different frequencies of psychiatric disorders have speculated that it is explained by culturally prescribed roles for the two sexes, and have ignored details of the age of onset, the specific symptoms presented, and recovery and relapse rates, all of which are important in determining the prevalence of disorders.

While the book's authors give ample attention to the role of cultural factors, they also consider the evidence for effects of hormonal differences by including animal studies and the timing of women's symptoms as related to menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause. The linking of biologic and cultural hypotheses is ingenious and sophisticated.

The authors are to be congratulated on their clarity and for their sober weighing of the evidence for all the major etiological theories about gender differences in psychopathology. The volume will serve as an essential guide to future research for it shows what we don't know as well as what we do, and provides excellent models for what an etiological study needs to include.—Lee Robins, Ph.D., Professor of Social Science in Psychiatry, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri

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