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					Handbook of
Girls’ and Women’s
Psychological Health
OXFORD SERIES IN CLINICAL PSYCHOLOGY

Editorial Board      Comprehensive Textbook of Psychotherapy: Theory and Practice
                     edited by Bruce Bongar and Larry E. Beutler
Larry E. Beutler
                     Clinical Personality Assessment: Practical Approaches, Second Edition
Bruce Bongar
                     edited by James N. Butcher
Lillian Comas-Dias
                     Ethics in Psychology, Second Edition
Gerald P. Koocher
                     by Gerald P. Koocher and Patricia Keith-Spiegel
Annette La Greca
                     Oxford Textbook of Psychopathology
John C. Norcross
                     edited by Theodore Millon, Paul H. Blaney, and Roger C. Davis

                     Child and Adolescent Psychological Disorders: A Comprehensive Textbook
                     edited by Sandra D. Netherton, Deborah Holmes, and C. Eugene Walker

                     Handbook of Psychotherapy Integration, Second Edition
                     edited by John C. Norcross and Marvin R. Goldfried

                     Family Psychology: The Art of the Science
                     edited by William M. Pinsof and Jay L. Lebow

                     Handbook of Girls’ and Women’s Psychological Health
                     edited by Judith Worell and Carol D. Goodheart
Handbook of
Girls’ and Women’s
Psychological Health

Judith Worell
Carol D. Goodheart
EDITORS




2006
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Copyright © 2006 by Oxford University Press, Inc.

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Handbook of girls’ and women’s psychological health / edited by Judith Worell
and Carol D. Goodheart.
p. cm. — (Oxford series in clinical psychology)
Includes bibliographical references and index.
ISBN-13 978-0-19-516203-5
ISBN 0-19-516203-X
1. Women—Psychology. 2. Women—Health and hygiene. 3. Women—Mental health.
4. Girls—Psychology. 5. Girls—Health and hygiene. 6. Girls—Mental health.
I. Worell, Judith, 1928– II. Goodheart, Carol D. III. Series.
HQ1206.H23855 2005
155.3'33—dc22      2004027119




9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1

Printed in the United States of America
on acid-free paper
To all the women who have given us so much:
Our mothers, daughters, grandmothers, granddaughters,
teachers, students, colleagues, clients, patients, and friends

And to our husbands Bud Smith and Hugh Goodheart, who
genuinely like women and support our efforts to make a
better world for them.
This page intentionally left blank
Foreword                                             NORINE G . JOHNSON


           The importance of psychology and health, multicultural-
           ism, and a focus on strengths and positive psychology are
           the dynamic issues of psychology in this new millennium.
           These central issues in psychological research and practice
           today form the backbone of the Handbook of Girls’ and
           Women’s Psychological Health. To encounter all three inte-
           grated into a handbook on women and girls is like fantasiz-
           ing a feast and having it appear on your table.
               In 2001, during my year as President of the American Psy-
           chological Association (APA), the organization affirmed the
           primacy of psychology in health, amending its mission
           statement to read: “The objects of the American Psycholog-
           ical Association shall be to advance psychology as a science
           and profession and as a means of promoting health, educa-
           tion and human welfare . . .” (APA, 2001).
               My APA presidential initiative, “Psychology Builds a
           Healthy World,” cochaired by Carol Goodheart, Rodney
           Hammond, and Ronald Rozensky, undertook to inform
           psychologists of cutting-edge research and practice in health;
           to inform the public of psychology’s contributions to health;
           and to expand health-based partnerships with the public,
           policy makers, and other professionals (Johnson, 2003a).
           The initiative’s immersion in the research and practice of
           psychology and health resulted in a recommendation to
           consider a new approach to health policy, to include culture
           as a primary component in models of health, and to expand
           the biopsychosocial model to a biopsychosocial cultural
           model of health (Johnson, 2003b).
viii   Foreword


    Using the lens of the biopsychosocial cultural   comes, the most difficulty accessing services,
model of health, editors Judith Worell and Carol     and the difficult position of continuing to be
Goodheart have produced a resource of such           caretakers when they are the ones needing care.
depth and breadth that users of the Handbook         Recommended policies to address these dispar-
will be at the apex of a new way of conceptual-      ities are included in the Handbook. Also, women
izing girls’ and women’s health. The contribu-       in these positions have strengths and sources of
tors to the Handbook were challenged to discuss      resilience that are identified in the Handbook
health cohesively through the lens of gender,        and can be built upon by health professionals
culture, life span development, and well-being       and community advocates.
and positive aspects. The valuing of multicultur-        The scope of this Handbook is bold. The coed-
alism alone would make this comprehensive vol-       itors and contributors bring the best psycholog-
ume of girls/women and health an important           ical knowledge to the gender, health, and life
addition; the fusion of all these elements makes     span perspective presented in this volume. Both
the Handbook one of a kind.                          editors are visionaries. They know what is crucial
    The social construction of gender influences      out of the myriad of materials, and have been able
health policy and the availability and delivery of   to organize this plethora of information into a
services. Today it is documented that women          compelling whole that allows the reader a refer-
have received inappropriate health interventions     ence for today’s top thinking and a direction for
because the research underpinning the med-           tomorrow’s research and practice. Overlooking
ical decisions used only men as subjects, that       the field of psychology from my perspective as a
women’s descriptions of their health needs have      past APA president and a psychologist who has
been discounted too often in the medical and         spent a lifetime learning, teaching, practicing, and
mental health systems, and that poor women           advocating for the psychological health of girls
and women of color have had difficulty accessing      and women, I am pleased that the Handbook an-
health services.                                     ticipates the future directions in girls’/women’s
    Editors Worell and Goodheart move the dis-       health and delivers a volume that empowers its
cussion to another level by having the Handbook      readers to build a healthier world for them.
contributors include vulnerabilities and risks for
girls and women and then go beyond these prob-
lems to give the reader information regarding        REFERENCES
protective or supportive factors that facilitate
effective coping, positive growth, strength, and     American Psychological Association. (2001, February).
resilience. In addition, by focusing on health and      Council of Representatives, February 23–25, 2001.
                                                        Draft minutes. Washington, DC: Author.
well-being, effective coping, strength, and re-      Johnson, N. G. (2003a). Introduction: Psychology and
silience, this comprehensive Handbook links into        health—Taking the initiative to bring it together.
the practice and research network of strengths-         In R. H. Rozensky, N. G. Johnson, C. D. Good-
based psychological models.                             heart, & W. R. Hammond (Eds.), Psychology builds
    The research is clear—women and girls are           a healthy world (pp. 3–31). Washington, DC: Amer-
                                                        ican Psychological Association.
not always well served by our nation’s health-       Johnson, N. G. (2003b). Psychology and health: Re-
care system. Poor women, aging women, and               search, practice, and policy. American Psycholo-
women of color have the poorest health out-             gist, 58, 670–677.
Acknowledgments   We extend our thanks and gratitude first to the many peo-
                  ple who made a difference, either small or profound, in how
                  we have come to view and understand the lives of girls and
                  women in contemporary society. We want to thank espe-
                  cially the host of family, friends, colleagues, mentors, stu-
                  dents, clients, and patients from whom we learned so much
                  about the multitude of factors that both challenge and sup-
                  port the development of strong and healthy women. We are
                  especially grateful to Gerald Koocher, Ph.D., and the entire
                  Clinical Advisory Board of Oxford University Press for invit-
                  ing us to develop this volume.
                      The quality and content of the volume reflect the out-
                  standing contributions of the wonderful authors who agreed
                  to work with us in producing an original and exciting ap-
                  proach to girls’ and women’s psychological health. We are
                  enriched by all of them. We also appreciate the efforts and
                  guidance of the staff at Oxford who assisted in both the de-
                  velopment and production stages: Joan Bossert, Maura
                  Roessner, Jessica Sonnenschein, Norman Hirschy, and
                  Heather Hartman. And finally, we owe a debt of love and
                  gratitude to our spouses, who supported and encouraged us
                  during the long process of bringing this book to fruition. To
                  all, we say thank you. We hope you will read and enjoy these
                  insightful chapters.
This page intentionally left blank
Contents                   Foreword vii
                           NORINE G. JOHNSON


                           Contributors xvii



Part I                 1   An Integrated View of Girls’
Gender and                 and Women’s Health: Psychology,
                           Physiology, and Society 3
Psychological Health
                           CAROL D. GOODHEART


                       2   Risks to Healthy Development:
                           The Somber Planes of Life 15
                           CHERYL BROWN TRAVIS


                       3   Pathways to Healthy Development:
                           Sources of Strength and Empowerment 25
                           JUDITH WORELL




Part II                    PROBLEMS AND RISKS
Risks and Strengths
                       4   Assessment and Gender 40
Across the Life Span       MARCIA C. LINN AND CATHY KESSEL


                       5   Mood Disturbance Across the Life Span 51
                           VALERIE E. WHIFFEN AND NATASHA DEMIDENKO


                       6   Anxiety Disturbance in Girls and Women 60
                           WENDY K. SILVERMAN AND RONA CARTER
xii   Contents


                 7   Body Image 69
                     LINDA SMOLAK


                 8   Serious Emotional Disturbance
                     and Serious Mental Illness 77
                     DIANE T. MARSH


                 9   Violence Against Girls and Women:
                     An Integrative Developmental Perspective 85
                     JACQUELYN W. WHITE AND JAMES M. FRABUTT


                 10 Physical or Systemic Disabilities 94
                     RHODA OLKIN


                 11 Trauma in the Lives of Girls and Women 103
                     JANIS SANCHEZ-HUCLES AND KIMBERLY GAMBLE


                 12 Substance Use and Abuse
                    by Girls and Women 113
                     LULA A. BEATTY, CORA LEE WETHERINGTON,
                     DIONNE J. JONES, AND ADELE B. ROMAN


                 13 Poor Women and Girls in a Wealthy Nation 122
                     DEBORAH BELLE AND LISA DODSON


                 14 Women and Suicide 129
                     LILLIAN M. RANGE




                     STRENGTHS AND RESOURCES

                 15 Coping in Adolescent Girls and Women 138
                     PATRICIA A. BENNETT AND SUSAN H. MCDANIEL


                 16 Self-Esteem 149
                     OKSANA MALANCHUK AND JACQUELYNNE S. ECCLES


                 17 Resilience and Empowerment 157
                     VIRGINIA E. O’LEARY AND JESHMIN BHAJU


                 18 Subjective Well-Being 166
                     SONJA LYUBOMIRSKY AND RENE DICKERHOOF


                 19 The Sense of Entitlement:
                    Implications for Gender Equality
                    and Psychological Well-Being 175
                     VANESSA L. MCGANN AND JANICE M. STEIL


                 20 Balanced Living Through Self-Care 183
                     CAROL WILLIAMS-NICKELSON
                                                             Contents   xiii


                     21 To Your Sexual Health! Incorporating
                        Sexuality Into the Health Perspective 192
                        LUCIA F. O’SULLIVAN, M. C. MCCRUDDEN,
                        AND DEBORAH L. TOLMAN


                     22 Women and Giving 200
                        MICHELE HARWAY AND ROBERTA L. NUTT


                     23 Women and Relationships 208
                        MARY M. BRABECK AND KALINA M. BRABECK


                     24 Healthy Environments
                        for Youth and Families 218
                        KAREN FRASER WYCHE


                     25 The Psychotherapeutic Relationship
                        as a Positive and Powerful Resource
                        for Girls and Women 229
                        LUCIA ALBINO GILBERT AND LISA K. KEARNEY




Part III                CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS: AWAKENINGS
Phases of
                     26 Gender Role and Gender
Development Within      Identity Development 242
the Life Span           SUSAN A. BASOW


                     27 The Interplay of Physical
                        and Psychosocial Development 252
                        ANNETTE M. LA GRECA, ELEANOR RACE MACKEY,
                        AND KAREN BEARMAN MILLER


                     28 The Family Environment: Where Gender
                        Role Socialization Begins 262
                        PHYLLIS BRONSTEIN


                     29 Girls and Academic Success: Changing Patterns
                        of Academic Achievement 272
                        DIANE F. HALPERN


                     30 Gender and Schooling:
                        Progress and Persistent Barriers 283
                        JUDITH L. MEECE AND KATHRYN SCANTLEBURY


                     31 Adolescent Girls’ Health
                        in the Context of Peer
                        and Community Relationships 292
                        BRIDGET M. REYNOLDS AND RENA L. REPETTI
xiv   Contents


                 32 From Girlhood to Womanhood:
                    Multiple Transitions in Context 301
                    NIVA PIRAN AND ERIN ROSS



                    ADULTS: BALANCING

                 33 Women’s Career Development 312
                    NANCY E. BETZ


                 34 Love, Intimacy, and Partners 321
                    SUSAN S. HENDRICK


                 35 Women’s Reproductive Health:
                    Issues, Findings, and Controversies 330
                    LINDA J. BECKMAN


                 36 The Mixed Messages of Motherhood 339
                    JOY K. RICE AND NICOLE ELSE-QUEST


                 37 Family and Work Balance 350
                    FAYE J. CROSBY AND LAURA SABATTINI


                 38 Midlife Transitions 359
                    CLAIRE A. ETAUGH AND JUDITH S. BRIDGES



                    OLDER ADULTS: WINDING DOWN
                    AND SUMMING UP

                 39 Aging and Identity: How Women
                    Face Later Life Transitions 370
                    SUSAN KRAUSS WHITBOURNE AND KARYN M. SKULTETY


                 40 Physical Health and Illness
                    in Older Women 379
                    S. DEBORAH MAJEROVITZ


                 41 Older Women and Security 388
                    BONNIE MARKHAM


                 42 Bereavement 397
                    DEBORAH CARR AND JUNG-HWA HA


                 43 Women’s Issues at the End of Life 406
                    DOLORES GALLAGHER-THOMPSON, JENNIFER
                    DILLINGER, HEATHER L. GRAY, VERONICA CARDENAS,
                    LANI SINGER, AND SHANNON HSU


                 44 Positive Aging: Reconstructing
                    the Life Course 416
                    MARY M. GERGEN AND KENNETH J. GERGEN
                                                           Contents   xv


Part IV            45 Legal Issues Influencing Girls’
Special Problems      and Women’s Psychological Health 427
                      LENORE E. A. WALKER
and Resources
                   46 Adaptation of Immigrant Girls and Women 439
                      MELBA J. T. VASQUEZ, AY LING HAN,
                      AND CYNTHIA DE LAS FUENTES


                   47 Psychopharmacotherapy and Women:
                      Issues for Consideration 447
                      DEBRA LINA DUNIVIN


                   48 Survivors of Male Violence: Research
                      and Training Initiatives to Facilitate
                      Recovery From Depression
                      and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder 455
                      VERONICA M. HERRERA, MARY P. KOSS,
                      JENNIFER BAILEY, NICOLE P. YUAN,
                      AND ERIKA L. LICHTER


                   49 An Overview of Policies That Impact
                      the Psychological Well-Being
                      of Girls and Women 467
                      SHERRY GLIED AND SHARON KOFMAN




Part V             50 Afterword 481
Conclusion            CAROL D. GOODHEART AND JUDITH WORELL


                      Index 483
This page intentionally left blank
Contributors   Jennifer Bailey, Ph.D.
               Research Analyst, Social Development Research Group
               University of Washington
               Seattle, WA

               Susan A. Basow, Ph.D.
               Charles A. Dana Professor of Psychology
               Lafayette College
               Easton, PA

               Lula A. Beatty, Ph.D.
               Chief, Special Populations Office, Office of the Director
               National Institute on Drug Abuse/NIH
               Bethesda, MD

               Linda J. Beckman, Ph.D.
               Professor, California School of Professional Psychology
               Alliant International University
               Los Angeles, CA

               Deborah Belle, Ed.D.
               Professor, Department of Psychology
               Boston University
               Boston, MA

               Patricia A. Bennett, Ph.D.
               Senior Instructor, Department of Psychiatry (Psychology),
                 University of Rochester Medical Center
               Faculty, Department of Obstetrics/Gynecology,
                 Rochester General Hospital
               Rochester, NY


                                                                         xvii
xviii   Contributors


                       Nancy E. Betz, Ph.D.
                       Professor, Department of Psychology
                       Ohio State University
                       Columbus, OH

                       Jeshmin Bhaju
                       Doctoral Student, Department of Psychology
                       Auburn University
                       Auburn, AL

                       Kalina M. Brabeck, M.A.
                       Doctoral Candidate, Counseling Psychology
                       University of Texas at Austin
                       Austin, TX

                       Mary M. Brabeck, Ph.D.
                       Professor of Applied Psychology
                       Steinhardt School of Education
                       New York University
                       New York, NY

                       Judith S. Bridges, Ph.D.
                       Professor Emerita of Psychology
                       University of Connecticut at Hartford
                       Hartford, Connecticut

                       Phyllis Bronstein, Ph.D.
                       Professor, Department of Psychology
                       University of Vermont
                       Burlington, VT

                       Veronica Cardenas, M.A.
                       Research Assistant, Older Adult and Family Center
                       Stanford University School of Medicine
                       VA Palo Alto Health Care System
                       Menlo Park, CA

                       Deborah Carr, Ph.D.
                       Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Institute
                         for Health, Health Care Policy and Aging Research
                       Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
                       New Brunswick, NJ
                                         Contributors   xix


Rona Carter
Doctoral Student, Developmental Psychology Program,
  Department of Psychology
Child and Family Psychosocial Research Center
Florida International University
Miami, FL

Faye J. Crosby, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychology
University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA

Cynthia de las Fuentes, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
Our Lady of the Lake University
San Antonio, TX

Natasha Demidenko, M.A.
School of Psychology
University of Ottawa
Ottawa, ON, Canada

Rene Dickerhoof, M.A.
Graduate Student
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA

Jennifer Dillinger, B.A.
Research Assistant, Older Adult and Family Center
Stanford University School of Medicine
VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Menlo Park, CA

Lisa Dodson, Ph.D.
Research Professor, Department of Sociology
Boston College
Chestnut Hill, MA

Debra Lina Dunivin, Ph.D.
Deputy Chief and Director of Training,
 Department of Psychology
Walter Reed Army Medical Center
Washington, DC

Jacquelynne S. Eccles, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI
xx   Contributors


                    Nicole Else-Quest, M.S.
                    Doctoral Candidate, Department of Psychology
                    University of Wisconsin
                    Madison, WI

                    Claire A. Etaugh, Ph.D.
                    Professor, Department of Psychology
                    Bradley University
                    Peoria, IL

                    James M. Frabutt, Ph.D.
                    Associate Director, Center for Youth, Family,
                      and Community Partnerships
                    University of North Carolina at Greensboro
                    Greensboro, NC

                    Dolores Gallagher-Thompson, Ph.D.
                    Director, Older Adult and Family Center,
                      VA Palo Alto Health Care System
                    Professor, Research, Department of Psychiatry
                      and Behavioral Medicine,
                      Stanford University School of Medicine
                    Menlo Park, CA

                    Kimberly Gamble, M.A.
                    Graduate Student, Virginia Consortium Program
                      in Clinical Psychology
                    Psychology Department
                    Old Dominion University
                    Norfolk, VA

                    Kenneth J. Gergen, Ph.D.
                    Mustin Professor of Psychology
                    Swarthmore College
                    Swarthmore, PA

                    Mary M. Gergen, Ph.D.
                    Professor of Psychology and Women’s Studies
                    Penn State University Delaware County
                    Media, PA

                    Lucia Albino Gilbert, Ph.D.
                    Vice Provost
                    Professor of Educational Psychology
                    Frank C. Irwin, Jr. Centennial Honors Professor
                    University of Texas at Austin
                    Austin, TX
                                          Contributors   xxi


Sherry Glied, Ph.D.
Professor and Chair, Department of Health Policy
  and Management
Mailman School of Public Health
Columbia University
New York, NY

Carol D. Goodheart, Ed.D.
Psychologist in Independent Practice
Princeton, NJ

Heather L. Gray, B.A.
Programs Coordinator, Older Adult and Family Center
Stanford University School of Medicine
VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Menlo Park, CA

Jung-Hwa Ha, M.A., M.S.W.
Doctoral Candidate, Departments of Sociology
  and Social Work
University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Diane F. Halpern, Ph.D.
Director, Berger Institute for Work, Family, and Children
Professor of Psychology
Claremont McKenna College
Claremont, CA

Ay Ling Han, Ph.D.
Psychologist, Student Counseling Services and Adjunct
  Instructor
Smith College
Northampton, MA

Michele Harway, Ph.D.
Core Faculty in Psychology
Antioch University
Santa Barbara, CA

Susan S. Hendrick, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
Texas Tech University
Lubbock, TX

Veronica M. Herrera, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor, Department of Criminal Justice
Indiana University
Bloomington, IN
xxii   Contributors


                      Shannon Hsu, B.S.
                      Research Assistant, Department of Psychiatry
                        and Behavioral Sciences
                      Stanford University School of Medicine
                      Menlo Park, CA

                      Dionne J. Jones, Ph.D.
                      Health Sciences Administrator, Services Research Branch
                      Division of Epidemiology, Services,
                        and Prevention Research
                      National Institute on Drug Abuse/NIH
                      Bethesda, MD

                      Lisa K. Kearney, Ph.D.
                      Postdoctoral Psychology Resident
                      South Texas Veterans Health Care System
                      San Antonio, TX

                      Cathy Kessel, Ph.D.
                      Mathematics Education Consultant
                      Berkeley, CA

                      Sharon Kofman, Ph.D., M.P.H.
                      Faculty and Supervising Psychoanalyst
                      William Alanson White Institute of Psychoanalysis,
                        Psychiatry, and Psychology
                      New York, NY

                      Mary P. Koss, Ph.D.
                      Professor, College of Public Health
                      University of Arizona
                      Tucson, AZ

                      Annette M. La Greca, Ph.D.
                      Professor of Psychology and Pediatrics
                      Director of Clinical Training
                      University of Miami
                      Coral Gables, FL

                      Erika L. Lichter
                      Postdoctoral Research Fellow
                      Department of Maternal and Child Health
                      Harvard School of Public Health
                      Boston, MA

                      Marcia C. Linn, Ph.D.
                      Professor, Graduate School of Education
                      University of California, Berkeley
                      Berkeley, CA
                                         Contributors   xxiii


Sonja Lyubomirsky, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
University of California, Riverside
Riverside, CA

Eleanor Race Mackey, M.S.
Graduate Student, Department of Pediatric
  Health Psychology
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL

S. Deborah Majerovitz, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
York College, City University of New York
Jamaica, NY

Oksana Malanchuk, Ph.D.
Senior Research Associate, Institute for Research
  on Women and Gender
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI

Bonnie Markham, Ph.D., Psy.D.
Psychologist in Independent Practice, Metuchen, NJ
Adjunct Faculty, Department of Psychiatry, UMDNJ-
  Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Piscataway, NJ

Diane T. Marsh, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg
Greensburg, PA

M. C. McCrudden, M.Ed.
Doctoral Student, Department of Psychology
Duke University
Durham, NC

Susan H. McDaniel, Ph.D.
Professor of Psychiatry and Family Medicine
Director, Division of Family Programs, Psychiatry
Director, Wynne Center for Family Research
Associate Chair, Family Medicine
University of Rochester School of Medicine and Dentistry
Rochester, NY

Vanessa L. McGann, Ph.D.
Derner Institute of Advanced Psychological Studies
Adelphi University
Garden City, NY
xxiv   Contributors


                      Judith L. Meece, Ph.D.
                      Professor, Department of Education
                      University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
                      Chapel Hill, NC

                      Karen Bearman Miller, Ph.D.
                      Postdoctoral Trainee, Child Development Center
                      St. Mary’s Hospital
                      West Palm Beach, FL

                      Roberta L. Nutt, Ph.D.
                      Professor, Department of Psychology and Philosophy
                      Texas Woman’s University
                      Denton, TX

                      Virginia E. O’Leary, Ph.D.
                      Professor, Department of Psychology
                      Auburn University
                      Auburn, AL

                      Rhoda Olkin, Ph.D.
                      Professor, California School of Professional Psychology
                      Alliant International University
                      Walnut Creek, CA

                      Lucia F. O’Sullivan, Ph.D.
                      Assistant Professor of Clinical Psychology,
                        Department of Psychiatry
                      Columbia University
                      New York, NY

                      Niva Piran, Ph.D.
                      Professor, Department of Adult Education
                        and Counseling Psychology
                      Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
                      University of Toronto
                      Toronto, ON, Canada

                      Lillian M. Range, Ph.D.
                      Professor, Department of Psychology
                      The University of Southern Mississippi
                      Hattiesburg, MS

                      Rena L. Repetti, Ph.D.
                      Professor, Department of Psychology
                      University of California, Los Angeles
                      Los Angeles, CA
                                         Contributors   xxv


Bridget M. Reynolds, M.A.
Graduate Student, Department of Psychology
University of California, Los Angeles
Los Angeles, CA

Joy K. Rice, Ph.D.
Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry
University of Wisconsin Medical School
Madison, WI

Adele B. Roman, M.S.
Deputy Women and Gender Research Coordinator
National Institute on Drug Abuse
Bethesda, MD

Erin Ross, M.A.
Graduate Student, Department of Adult Education
  and Counseling Psychology
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education
University of Toronto
Toronto, ON, Canada

Laura Sabattini
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Psychology
University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, CA

Janis Sanchez-Hucles, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
Old Dominion University
Norfolk, VA

Kathryn Scantlebury, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Science Education
University of Delaware
Newark, DE

Wendy K. Silverman, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
Child and Family Psychosocial Research Center,
  Florida International University
University Park
Miami, FL

Lani Singer, M.A.
Project Coordinator, Older Adult and Family Center
Stanford University School of Medicine
VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Menlo Park, CA
xxvi   Contributors


                      Karyn M. Skultety, Ph.D.
                      Geropsychology Postdoctoral Fellow
                      Palo Alto Veterans Administration Health Care System
                      Palo Alto, CA

                      Linda Smolak, Ph.D.
                      Samuel B. Cummings Jr. Professor of Psychology
                      Kenyon College
                      Gambier, OH

                      Janice M. Steil, Ph.D.
                      Professor, Derner Institute of Advanced
                        Psychological Studies
                      Adelphi University
                      Garden City, NY

                      Deborah L. Tolman, Ed.D.
                      Professor, Department of Human Sexuality Studies
                      San Francisco State University
                      San Francisco, CA

                      Cheryl Brown Travis, Ph.D.
                      Professor, Department of Psychology
                      University of Tennessee
                      Knoxville, TN

                      Melba J. T. Vasquez, Ph.D.
                      Psychologist in Independent Practice
                      Austin, TX

                      Lenore E. A. Walker, Ed.D.
                      Professor of Psychology and Coordinator of Clinical
                        Forensic Psychology Concentration
                      Nova Southeastern University
                      Ft. Lauderdale, FL

                      Cora Lee Wetherington, Ph.D.
                      Women and Gender Research Coordinator
                      National Institute on Drug Abuse
                      Bethesda, MD

                      Valerie E. Whiffen, Ph.D.
                      Professor, School of Psychology
                      University of Ottawa
                      Ottawa, ON, Canada
                                       Contributors   xxvii


Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
University of Massachusetts, Amherst
Amherst, MA

Jacquelyn W. White, Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Psychology
University of North Carolina at Greensboro
Greensboro, NC

Carol Williams-Nickelson, Psy.D.
Associate Executive Director
American Psychological Association of Graduate
  Students (APAGS)
American Psychological Association
Washington, DC

Judith Worell, Ph.D.
Professor Emerita, Department of Educational
  and Counseling Psychology
University of Kentucky
Lexington, KY

Karen Fraser Wyche, Ph.D.
Associate Professor, Department of Psychology
University of Miami
Coral Gables, FL

Nicole P. Yuan, Ph.D.
Research Associate, Department of Family
  and Community Medicine
Arizona Health Sciences Center, College of Medicine
Tucson, AZ
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Gender and Psychological Health




                           I
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                     Girls and women in developed nations have
                     more opportunities than at any previous time in
                     history, yet they continue to be pressed by inter-
                     nal and external forces that affect their well-
                     being. Their sex is biologically determined, but
                     their gender and status are socially and culturally
                     defined. And there is the rub. It is surprising
                     how many inequities remain for them in this
                     new century and how many of their compelling
                     strengths and capacities for resilience are over-
                     looked. The consequences of persistent gender
                     disparities lead to a profound and differential
                     impact on health and well-being. This book cel-
                     ebrates and illuminates women’s health, and it
                     underlines the disparities that prevent their
                     strengths from being fully actualized.
                        Health appears different in different contexts.
                     Looking at psychological health for girls and
                     women is akin to looking through a kaleidoscope.
                     Just when a pattern seems stable and clear a small
                     movement occurs, the pieces of colored glass are
                     displaced, and they tumble into a new pattern.
                     The individual pieces of glass remain the same,
CAROL D. GOODHEART   but their arrangement differs as the perspective
                     changes. In this Handbook, we turn the kaleido-
                     scope and offer many views of females’ lives,
An Integrated        risks, challenges, strengths, and resources. It is
                     our goal to offer a comprehensive and nuanced
View of Girls’       understanding of women’s psychological health
                     and well-being.
and Women’s
Health:              OVERVIEW OF THE HANDBOOK

Psychology,          The Handbook is based upon a biopsychosocial
Physiology,          perspective of psychological health. In a land-
                     mark proposal for a new conceptualization of
and Society          health, Engel (1977) introduced the biopsychoso-
                     cial model. His model built upon the physiologi-
                     cal systems foundation of sickness and health to
                     incorporate dimensions outside of the person:
                     family, community, culture, society, and the en-
                     vironment. Unfortunately, many of the health-




1
                     care delivery systems in developed countries
                     today continue to bifurcate mental and physical
                     health services, the classic mind/body split. How-
                     ever, there are important specialty areas in which
                     the biopsychosocial model is gaining in influence:
                     primary care, internal medicine, pediatrics, fam-
                     ily medicine, and psychology (McDaniel, Bennett
                     Johnson, & Sears, 2004).


                                                                       3
4   Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


    Within the biopsychosocial framework of this       CONTEXTS FOR HEALTH
volume, we integrate mind and body, risks and
resilience, research and interventions, cultural       Women are the major consumers of medical and
diversity, and public policy into a comprehensive      psychological health services in the United States
view of psychological health. We have chosen the       and many other countries. Women are also the
term psychological health because it is broader        primary caretakers of others and are likely to
than the traditional term mental health and is in      make decisions about seeking or advocating ser-
keeping with the modern perspective of health          vices for their children, spouses, and aging par-
presented throughout the Handbook. Many of             ents. However, only recently have scholars di-
the contributors are in the forefront of advancing     rected concerted attention to the variables that
such an integrative and multifaceted model for         influence the particular concerns that women
understanding and improving the psychological          bring to the health service system.
and physical health of girls and women. Insofar
as possible, each chapter integrates available in-
formation about ethnic minority and lesbian            Caretaking
woman, rather than segregating the concerns of
these groups of women in separate chapters.            Caretaking is a familiar role that is assumed by a
    There is an intentional focus on both risks and    large majority of women, a role with two faces.
strengths as vital components in a cogent view of
                                                       One face is love, connection, and the fostering of
health. Contributors present gender aspects of
                                                       growth, healing, and comfort. The other face is
girls’ and women’s development in terms of in-
                                                       caregiver burden.
ternal and external vulnerabilities and risks and
                                                           In one study, more than two thirds of mothers
in terms of the protective or supportive factors
                                                       who brought their children to a mental health
that facilitate effective coping, positive growth,
                                                       center for services suffered from their own un-
strength, and resilience. The interactions among
                                                       treated depression and anxiety disorders; more
physical, psychological, and sociocultural factors
                                                       than half of the problems were undiagnosed
are considered in overview (part I), across the life
                                                       previously (National Institute of Mental Health
span (part II), within each period of development
                                                       [NIMH], 2001). In another large study, grand-
(part III), and for special problems and resources
                                                       mothers who cared for healthy grandchildren
(part IV). Within all cultural groups, gender so-
                                                       more than nine hours a week faced a signifi-
cialization for female development and behavior
                                                       cantly higher risk of coronary heart disease than
has an impact on self-evaluation and identity
processes as well as on the social roles that girls    those not taking care of grandchildren (Lee,
and women adopt. Externally induced risks such         Colditz, Berkman, & Kawachi, 2003).
as poverty and violence present further chal-              When women need caretaking due to physical
lenges to healthy development. The effects of          illness, it may not be readily available to them.
these factors appear in many of the concerns and       Women comprise three out of four caregivers for
disorders for which girls and women seek or are        dying cancer patients, but when they are termi-
referred for psychological help.                       nally ill themselves, they are less likely than men
    In many areas of psychological function there      to receive family care and must rely on paid assis-
are greater differences among women than be-           tance (Emanuel et al., 1999). However, paid home
tween women and men, and these differences             health care is being reduced across the country
need attention. Broad categorizations may mask         in the national effort to lower health-care costs.
considerable differences. It is not possible to un-    Home health-care workers in New York City went
derstand the functioning of any girl or woman in       on strike in 2004 to secure a wage increase from $7
a singular context, although gender is salient for     to $10 per hour (Greenhouse, 2004). Neither figure
each of them. Psychological health status is di-       is a living wage for working women caretakers in a
rectly affected by age, socioeconomic status, eth-     major metropolitan area. They are squeezed by
nocultural identity, and sexual orientation vari-      health system cost-containment measures and, in
ables, each of which interacts with gender to          addition, are largely without the health insurance,
contribute to the health continuum.                    vacation days, or overtime pay necessary to meet
                                                            Chapter 1 Psychology, Physiology, and Society   5


their own needs. At the same time in New York          aspirations. They believe they can achieve equally
City, day-care workers in centers serving more         with the boys who are their peers. As adults, how-
than 30,000 low-income children also went on           ever, they face discrimination such as the “glass
strike for better wages (Kaufman, 2004).               ceiling” that holds back career advancement, the
    Ethnic minority women caregivers bear a dis-       double binding criticism for both mothers who
proportionate burden. An AARP survey (2001) re-        work outside the home and those who do not, and
vealed group differences among the percentage of       the legal risk for lesbian mothers losing custody
individuals caring for aging parents: 19% Whites,      of their children based on sexual orientation.
28% African Americans, 34% Hispanic/Latinas,           Women still earn substantially less than men do.
and 42% Asian Americans.                               For every dollar that a man in the United States
    Caretaking for children, the elderly, the dis-     earns, a woman earns only 79 cents, and some
abled, and the ill is a fact of life for most women.   groups of women earn even less: African Ameri-
Young girls and boys see them in these roles every     can women earn only 70 cents and Hispanic/
day, which creates expectations for their own fu-      Latinas 58 cents (U.S. Department of Labor, 2004).
tures. Caring for others can be meaningful and             There may be better news on the horizon. At
fulfill important family and cultural values, but it    least some portion of the gender wage gap may be
is also a source of strain. There are some studies     bridged as women recognize opportunities and
that show a growing more equitable distribution        learn to ask for more money with the same expec-
of caregiving between the sexes, but overall,          tations as men, rather than accept initial offers
women caregivers spend 50% more time than do           by employers or prospective employers without
men caregivers (U.S. Department of Health and          negotiating (Babcock, Gelfand, Small, & Stayn,
Human Services, June, 1998). Caregiver burden          2004). Also, women are striding out on their own
can be reduced substantially by respite services,      with success in the work world. There are large in-
community training and education, and public           creases in women business ownership and the
policy changes in how those tasks are valued by        number of people they employ. Within a ten-year
society and funded (e.g., Goodheart, in press).        period the number of women-owned businesses
                                                       grew by 78%; one out of three firms in the United
                                                       States is now owned and operated by a woman
Social Changes: Two Steps                              and these companies provide 18.5 million jobs
Forward, One Step Back                                 (Small Business Administration, 1997).
                                                           Heroism has been recognized and associated
There have been many changes for women in so-          traditionally with men and masculine roles such
ciety over the past generation and they may affect     as the military and firefighting, but recent re-
psychological health either directly or indirectly.    search by Becker and Eagly (2004) fills in a miss-
Women have increased freedom from sex-role             ing part of the picture. They report that women’s
stereotypes and a greater awareness of options         acts of heroism are as risky and courageous as
for work, motherhood, and the division of labor        men’s but have been less visible in society, such
in families. They have greater entitlement to sex-     as rescuing holocaust victims, donating a kidney,
ual knowledge, relationships, pleasure, and own-       and volunteering for duty overseas with Doctors
ership over their own bodies. There is more pub-       of the World.
lic awareness of the staggering personal, social,          Sociocultural status may increase the risk of
and health costs of violence, coercion, and abuse.     being in harm’s way for members of some
On the other hand, more women struggle with            groups, but cultural heritage can provide well-
traditional men’s issues, such as spending time        developed protective and coping resources to
with their children, being downsized out of a job,     counterbalance some of that risk. A high degree
and developing new health risks such as the ris-       of ethnic identity has been shown to be a buffer
ing lung cancer rates for women.                       against HIV for African American women at high
    There are mixed social messages that con-          risk, as women with higher ethnic identity scores
tribute to frustration. Many girls are encouraged      reported fewer instances of sexual risk-taking
in modern families to realize their potential and      behavior (Beadnell et al., 2003). Also, African
6    Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


American caregivers show more resilience than           changes in society, such as roles, work, aware-
Whites on measures of depression and life satis-        ness of violence, and demographic shifts. These
faction, although they remain vulnerable to in-         factors have contributed both to advances and to
creases in physical symptoms over time (Haley,          setbacks for women. As a result, the picture of
West, Wadley, & Ford, 1995; Roth, Haley, Owen,          their psychological health contains both positive
Clay, & Goode, 2001).                                   and negative aspects.
    The good stories and the ugly ones continue to
unfold, although the pace of change is quicken-
ing, and the reasons behind some of the changes         Definitions of Health
are not fully understood. Pregnancy rates for ado-
lescent girls dropped almost 30% over ten years to      What does it mean to be psychologically healthy?
a historic low, with African Americans showing          Health needs a more articulate and dynamic def-
the greatest decline of 40% since 1991 (CDC, 2004).     inition than “the absence of illness and pathol-
In the same decade, crime rates were falling, too.      ogy.” The concept of health applies to everyone,
However, as arrests for men declined almost 6%,         including those who are well, those who live with
arrests for women increased 14.1% (Federal Bu-          a disability or chronic disease, and those who are
reau of Investigation, 2003).                           ill with physical or psychological conditions. It is
    Professionals, educators, and researchers have      possible to be psychologically healthy in the
progressed beyond the isolation of mental and           presence of chronic diseases, mental or physical
physical factors for health and well-being, know-       limitations, or hardships in life, if the burdens
ing that biology is only part of the story. They have   are not too cumulative or pervasive.
come to understand psychological, social, and               In Health and Health Care 2010, health is de-
cultural contributions to health as dominant            fined as a state of physical, mental, social, and
forces in the lives of girls and women. Clear links     spiritual well-being; it is a composite of interde-
have been established between social circum-            pendent components and implies functioning as
stances and mortality, between psychosocial             fully as possible under current circumstances
processes and health (Berkman & Kawachi, 2000).         (Institute for the Future, 2000). Conversely, the
    Behavior, genetics, and the environment in-         neglect of a component may result in an un-
teract to produce or prevent disease, as well as        healthy state or may place individuals at risk for
psychological distress. Therefore, it is important      disease or dysfunction. This broad definition of
to understand these basic processes in order to         health signals a shift away from a limited bio-
prevent and treat chronic conditions. Once dis-         medical framework and away from the splitting
ease or dysfunction is present, symptoms may be         of physical and mental health into two distinct
affected by behavior, cognition, emotion, and in-       spheres of health care. The mounting evidence
terpersonal dynamics. Overall, the application of       for the expanded view of health presented in the
psychological interventions for chronic diseases        Institute’s report is expected to create pressure
and conditions results in improvements in psy-          for changes in the U.S. health-care system: from
chological functioning and more appropriate             a biomedical model to multifactorial model,
use of medical services (Goodheart, 2004).              from acute episodic illness to management of
                                                        chronic illness, from a focus on individuals to a
                                                        focus on communities and other defined popu-
COMPONENTS OF PSYCHOLOGICAL                             lations; from cure as the goal to best adjustment
HEALTH                                                  and adaptation when there is no cure, and from
                                                        focus on disease to focus on the person and the
There are physiological differences between             disease. Apart from disease, the expanded view
women and men, such as reproductive function.           of health also recognizes the influence of “social,
There are advances in the scientific understand-         cultural, mental, behavioral, environmental, oc-
ing of how mind and body influence each other,           cupational, economic, and circumstantial ele-
such as the growing body of research in psycho-         ments” (p. 196) on injuries, which are a result of
neuroimmunology discussed below. There are              traffic and alcohol/drug accidents, abuse, crimi-
                                                             Chapter 1 Psychology, Physiology, and Society   7


nal acts, and work site accidents. In the not too      health status are: access to care 10%, genetics 20%,
distant future, emerging models of health may          environment 20%, and lifestyle behaviors 50%
be able to better explain factors that allow some      (CDC, cited in Institute for the Future, 2000, p. 23).
people to grow beyond adaptation to transcen-              Psychological factors have a significant impact
dence and thriving.                                    on immune function and health, and an under-
   The specific subcategory of mental health            standing of the psychoneuroendocrine pathways
(which would be better characterized as psycho-        by which this occurs is well under way in the liter-
logical health) is defined as “successful mental        ature on psychoneuroimmunology. Acute and
functioning, resulting in productive activities,       chronic stress, negative emotions, social support
fulfilling relationships, and the ability to adapt to   availability, marital conflict, coping style, and
change and cope with adversity” (U.S. Depart-          hostility have all been shown to affect the body’s
ment of Health and Human Services, 2000, p. 37).       immune activity and health (see Kiecolt-Glaser,
Additional factors that underlie psychological         McGuire, Robles, & Glaser, 2002b, for a 10-year
function include cognitive abilities, emotional        research review). Further, stress induced nega-
regulation, dispositional traits, beliefs, and         tive emotions stimulate the production of pro-
expectations.                                          inflammatory cytokines, and inflammation poses
                                                       a threat for multiple problems as people age:
Determinants of Health                                 cardiovascular disease, diabetes, arthritis, osteo-
                                                       porosis, some cancers, Alzheimer’s disease, peri-
Critical variables that determine health for indi-     odontal disease, frailty, and functional decline.
viduals, families, and communities may be seen         This distress-related immune dysregulation is a
in figure 1.1. The schematic drawing shows the          likely core mechanism underlying a large number
reciprocal relationships between and among a           of health risks (Kiecolt-Glaser, McGuire, Robles, &
person’s biology, behavior, social and physical        Glaser, 2002a).
environments, and it shows the influence of ac-             In a discussion of the psychobiology of stress,
cess to care, interventions, and social policy.        Kemeny (2003) challenges the assumption of one
   The interaction of physical and psychological       general physiological response to all stressors.
factors is apparent in the fact that the underlying    Instead, she presents an integrated specificity
causes for eight of the top ten determinants of        model, in which specific stressful circumstances
death in the United States are related to behav-       and the specific way a person appraises them
ioral problems: tobacco, diet, lack of exercise, al-   can trigger qualitatively distinct emotional and
cohol, motor vehicles, firearms, sexual behavior,       bodily responses. The examples given include
and illicit drug use (Mokdad, Marks, Stroup, &         appraisals of threat (vs. challenge), uncontrolla-
Gerberding, 2004). Proportional contributions to       bility, and negative social evaluation, all of which
                                                       have been shown to provoke specific psychobio-
                                                       logical responses. It seems likely these kinds of
                                                       appraisals would be influenced by gender-related
                                                       circumstances.



                                                       Health Trends

                                                       Quite a few promising trends for girls and women
                                                       in health research, services, and policy are con-
                                                       verging on a biopsychosocial approach.


                                                       Multiple Levels of Intervention and Approach

figure 1.1 Determinants of health. Source: U.S.         Stanton has examined the intersection of gender,
Department of Health and Human Services (2000).        stress, and health by locating women’s health in
8    Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


three contexts: the environmental, interpersonal,        50–79 and include three components: random-
and personal spheres (Stanton & Courtenay,               ized controlled clinical trials, an observational
2004). Her review of empirical developments and          study, and a community prevention study. Re-
emerging perspectives on health determinants             sults should yield a greatly enhanced understand-
for women considers sociodemographic factors             ing of the relationships between behaviors and
(e.g., poverty, social roles, and traditions of med-     health in women. The design is noteworthy in
ical care for and research about women), inter-          several respects. It focuses on women, assesses
actional factors (e.g., violence and the relation-       biopsychosocial factors related to multiple health
ship between marriage and health), and personal          outcomes, and incorporates an ethnically diverse
attributes (e.g., gendered coping styles). She con-      population of women. In fact, some of the re-
cludes that multiple levels of intervention (for in-     search sites have focused directly on enrolling
dividuals, couples, and systems) are necessary to        Hispanic/Latina, African American, Asian Ameri-
improve women’s health and decrease the harm-            can, and Native American women.
ful effects of barriers to care, ethnic disparities,         It has been widely publicized that the WHI ex-
caregiver burden, and violence.                          perimental trial of estrogen plus progestin versus
    The Institute of Medicine (IOM) report Pro-          a placebo for the prevention of coronary artery
moting Health: Intervention Strategies From Social       diseases was halted because the health risks for
and Behavioral Research (Smedley & Syme, 2000)           women outweighed any benefits (Rossouw et al.,
also recommends multiple-level interventions for         2002). Less well known are other promising psy-
individuals, families, and communities. In addi-         chosocial aspects of WHI—for example, the re-
tion, multiple approaches are recommended,               search related to women and social support. It
including behavioral change programs, social             has long been understood that social support is
support, education, and public policy. The Na-           correlated with better health. In the current re-
tional Institutes of Health report New Horizons          search, newer measures for different types of
in Health: An Integrative Approach (Singer & Ryff,       support are being used to gain a clearer picture
2001), recommends research priorities for the Of-        of the paths by which this occurs. For example,
fice of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research;          social strain may emerge as even more predictive
these include the identification of biopsycho-            of mental health declines than poor social sup-
social factors and pathways that contribute both         port (Matthews et al., 1997).
to disease and to positive health and resilience,
the social and environmental variables that shape
                                                         Comorbidity
gene expression, the mechanisms that contribute
to health disparities, and the characteristics of        The co-occurrence of different conditions is a
communities and environments that have an im-            common and challenging theme in the converg-
pact on health.                                          ing approaches to health. There are high rates of
                                                         comorbidity for depression, anxiety, and so-
                                                         matic symptoms, and these are interconnected
Women’s Health Initiative
                                                         with the risk factors of gender roles, stressors,
For decades women have been underrepresented             and negative life experiences (World Health Or-
in health research; finally, the Women’s Health           ganization, 2004). In the United States, as in
Initiative (WHI) is well under way. This is a large      much of the world, women and men suffer
15-year national health study under the auspices         equally from mental disorders, but they experi-
of the National Institutes of Health (see Matthews       ence particular disorders at differential rates. For
et al., 1997, for a discussion of the psychosocial as-   example, compared with men, women are twice
pects of the study). The WHI mission is to better        as likely to develop depressive disorders and two
understand the determinants of health for post-          to three times as likely to develop anxiety disor-
menopausal women and to evaluate the efficacy             ders (NIMH, 2001). Depression and anxiety often
of preventive interventions aimed at the major           go hand in hand, which complicates the picture.
causes of mortality and morbidity. The overlap-          Depression co-occurs with medical problems
ping studies involve almost 165,000 women aged           (e.g., chronic diseases), with social problems
                                                           Chapter 1 Psychology, Physiology, and Society   9


(e.g., poverty and abuse), with marital problems,     who develop breast cancer have the gene muta-
and with many psychological problems (e.g., eat-      tion, but extensive media coverage has led to
ing disorders, anxiety disorders, especially post-    worrisome concerns about heritability among
traumatic stress disorder (NIMH, 2001; Nolen-         many more breast cancer families.
Hoeksema & Keita, 2003).                                  Women with breast cancer (as well as other
    In children and adolescents, depression co-       cancers and other diseases) and their relatives
occurs frequently with anxiety, disruptive be-        have many questions: Should I have the genetic
havior, substance abuse, and physical illnesses       test? What will it mean if I test positive for the
such as diabetes (Angold & Costello, 1993). Be-       presence of the gene? Can I live with knowing the
cause depression risk for girls and boys is similar   results? Who will I tell and not tell? Should I tell
in childhood, but the risk for girls becomes twice    my teenage daughter? Can the information help
that for boys in adolescence (Birmaher et al.,        me to plan for the future? How can I protect my-
1996), the likelihood of co-occurring problems        self from job and insurance discrimination? What
for girls increases also. Only integrated models of   if testing for my family members is planned, but
health research, policy, and care will be able to     one of my relatives does not want to participate?
address this complex comorbidity picture for              The increased availability of genetic testing
girls and women. The section of the Handbook          will affect everyone. It will affect those who
on problems and risks, and its sister section on      choose testing and those who refuse, those who
strengths and resources, shed light on the state      can afford it and those who cannot, and those
of knowledge, needs, protective factors, and in-      who understand and those who do not. Re-
terventions that can help.                            searchers and clinicians need to understand bet-
                                                      ter the overlapping dimensions relevant to ge-
                                                      netic testing that have an impact on well-being.
Genetic Testing
                                                      These include coping skills, communication abil-
Another health trend is related to the genetics       ities, family relationships, access to care, cultural
revolution, which is based on the new field of        meanings of genetic information, the complexity
genomics. Individuals are believed to have            of prediction for risks that involve the interaction
many mutated genes, perhaps dozens, which             of genes and environment and behavior, the will-
carry risk for common problems such as cancer,        ingness to make use of preventive interventions
heart disease, and depression (Collins, 1999), al-    (such as prophylactic surgery), and the factors
though some may be found to contribute only a         that may lead a teen or woman to decide to adopt
very small fraction of risk. Genetic testing that     new health behaviors.
allows for the identification of risk in people
who are currently healthy and without symp-
                                                      Divorce
toms creates opportunities for treatment and
even prevention in the future. It also creates        More than 1 million new children are affected by
biopsychosocial challenges to be faced as the         divorce each year (U.S. Bureau of the Census,
public’s hopes and fears rise. For example, ge-       1998). Some children of divorced families live in
netic mutations called BRCA 1 and BRCA 2 have         single parent homes; some divide their time be-
been identified; the risk for women with these        tween the homes of the two parents; some live in
mutations ranges from 56% to 85% for breast           blended families with stepparents and stepsib-
cancer and 20% to 60% for ovarian cancer (see         lings. The challenging circumstances of ruptured
Patenaude, Guttmacher, & Collins, 2002, for a         marital relationships have long been known to
research review, a discussion of the psychologi-      place children at risk. Newer models of research
cal implications of genetic testing, and the pre-     and intervention are focused increasingly on the
sentation of core competencies for health pro-        identification of protective factors for children of
fessionals from all disciplines; see Patenaude,       divorce, the development of competence, and
2005, for psychological approaches to help indi-      the enhancement of resilience. These newer re-
viduals and families with the implications of ge-     silience approaches are useful for children in
netic testing). Only a small percentage of women      other difficult circumstances too, such as poor
10   Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


urban environments. For an overview of the trend      verse ways. Women’s psychological health is less
related to divorce research, practice, and policy     often judged by male standards and norms in re-
see Pedro-Carroll (2001).                             search and practice.
    The trends showcased above can give only the
briefest glimpse of the utility of biopsychosocial
approaches to health. Overall, however, it seems      Research
unwise to continue with fragmented and seg-
mented models of care in the face of the knowl-       In breaking new ground, researchers and theo-
edge reflected in these trends. There are lively and   reticians stimulate advances for women with
ongoing discussions among professionals about         heuristic questions and processes that create a
evidence-based practice in medicine, psychology,      ripple effect of influence. For example, Taylor and
education, and public policy. Biopsychosocial         her research group proposed the first new stress
models of care draw upon broad and deep streams       response model for coping in more than 70 years
of evidence, expertise, and respect for the values    (Taylor et al., 2000). Previously, the human stress
of the girls, women, and families who seek health     response was described as fight-or-flight for both
services. This comprehensive base is underscored      females and males, although most of the research
throughout the Handbook.                              was based on men and male rats. The new model
    Chesney (1993) built upon the lessons learned     suggests that although the core physiological re-
from the epidemic of HIV and summarized five           sponses may be similar for both sexes, females’
trends in health psychology and medicine with         behavioral responses show a different pattern
important implications for the future. They are       called “tend-and-befriend.” Despite the concerns
still highly relevant today and consistent with       in some quarters that this biological model would
our biopsychosocial perspective for psychologi-       be constraining for women, it is not. Instead,
cal health:                                           the proposal has stimulated consideration of the
                                                      ways in which biological tendencies to nurture
 1. Early identification of people at risk             and maintain social networks may interact with
 2. Rising expectations for behavior change           life experiences and coalesce into individual ex-
    programs                                          pressions. Several contributors in the Handbook
 3. Growing numbers of people who live with           refer to the tend-and-befriend model as it applies
    chronic diseases of all kinds                     to their topics.
 4. Inclusion of community and public health              The Handbook contains multiple citations of
    perspectives                                      influential theories and findings that have fur-
 5. An increasing urgency to address health           thered our knowledge; for example: Tolman on
    problems on a global scale                        women’s diverse sexuality, Barnett and Hyde on
                                                      work and family role juggling, Bakan on the bal-
                                                      ance of communion and agency, Kiecolt-Glaser
ADVANCES IN UNDERSTANDING                             on mind/body, Walker on the battered woman,
AND TREATING WOMEN                                    Koss on sexual assault, Steil on egalitarian rela-
                                                      tionships, Stanton on stress, Eagly on transfor-
Society’s changes over the past 30 years or so        mational leadership, Herman on trauma, and
have produced researchers, educators, and prac-       Worell on feminism in psychology.
titioners who focus on girls’ and women’s psy-
chological health. More women are in these po-
sitions now. More diverse questions are asked.        Practice
More research is done with women participants,
and the evolving theories are more suitable for       The atmosphere for putting theory and research
women, thus enlarging the universe of good in-        into practice has changed markedly in recent
terventions. Training and service institutions        years. There is a proportionally larger pool of
pay more attention to gender and culture and          women health professionals from which the
conceptualize both women and men in more di-          public may choose, especially among psycho-
                                                           Chapter 1 Psychology, Physiology, and Society   11


logists and physicians. Feminist principles for       fies health, health related domains, and some
treatment and therapeutic relationships have          health related components of well-being both in
become more widely known and have influ-               terms of person-level activities and social partic-
enced traditional methods of treatment. The in-       ipation; includes a classification of environmen-
tegrative perspective of Worell and Remer (2003)      tal factors that support or impede function; and
identifies four principles of best practices for      provides a framework on which assessment and
the treatment of women: attention to the diver-       measurement tools may be based. According to
sity of women’s personal and social identities,       Geoffrey Reed (G. Reed, personal communica-
the influence of gender and role strictures in        tion), the American Psychological Association
personal/family/work problems, the need for           representative working on the ICF Procedural
egalitarian relationships between client and          Manual (American Psychological Association,
health professional, and the creation of a thera-     2003), the system is designed to work in real-
peutic process that is genuinely valuing of women.    world clinical settings with varying assessment
Their empowerment model is adaptable to di-           techniques, such as psychometric measures,
verse circumstances and may be combined and           clinical interviews, direct observations, and self-
integrated with many psychological treatment          report. Because of the limitations of the current
orientations—for example, cognitive-behavioral,       medical framework in the United States that
family, humanistic, psychodynamic, systems,           does not capture a broad picture of health, we
and psychoeducational approaches. It also ap-         are pleased to see a promising new model with
plies to the field of medicine.                        the potential to help clinicians improve assess-
    Treatments for psychological problems have        ment, description, and ultimately the treatments
been embedded for a long time in a traditional        provided. The ICF system is likely to be particu-
medical model of psychopathology. The Diag-           larly beneficial for girls and women, who have
nostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Dis-          not always been served well by disease models of
orders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV; American Psychi-      psychological function.
atric Association, 1994), is the standard medically       For the first time in 2002, new health assess-
based diagnostic classification system in the          ment and behavior procedures for people with
United States. It has been criticized as sexist and   physical health problems who need psychologi-
not sensitive to culture, ethnicity, or situational   cal interventions were recognized in the Current
context (for analyses see Becker, 2001; Lopez         Procedure Terminology (CPT) coding system of
& Guaranaccia, 2000; Worell & Remer, 2003).           the American Medical Association (American
However, there are signs of expansion into new        Psychological Association, 2002). The CPT coding
directions that are more consonant with a bio-        system is used to bill all insurers for procedures
psychosocial perspective.                             performed by physicians, psychologists, and
    One sign of progress in thinking about assess-    other health professionals. In these new codes,
ments and treatments for a broad array of health      the focus is on biopsychosocial factors rather
problems is the development of the Interna-           than mental disorders. Psychologists may now
tional Classification of Functioning, Disability,      offer psychosocial prevention, treatment, and
and Health (ICF; World Health Organization,           management of physical health conditions with-
2001). The ICF is a companion classification for       out inappropriately labeling individuals as hav-
the ICD-10 (International Statistical Classifica-      ing mental disorder diagnoses. This is a welcome
tion of Diseases and Related Health Problems;         and necessary expansion of the types of assess-
World Health Organization, 1992). The ICD-10          ment and intervention that can be offered to girls
classifies diseases, disorders, and injuries and is    and women with acute and chronic illnesses.
the standard system used internationally for              With the vision and leadership of American
mental health diagnoses, except in the United         Psychological Association 2001 President Norine
States where the DSM system predominates. The         Johnson, the organization amended its mission
ICF is based on a biopsychosocial orientation         statement to include the term health in its aims:
and classifies function, not disease. It describes     “to advance as a science and a profession, and as
how people live with a health condition; classi-      a means of promoting health and human wel-
12   Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


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                        Gender is ubiquitous and at the same time
                        nebulous—everywhere but nowhere. Often it is so
                        embedded in everyday details as to be invisible.
                        Yet in the aggregate, that which seems prosaic and
                        ordinary is often compelling in ways not easily
                        recognized. Birth announcements and clothing
                        for newborns proclaim gender. Toys, games, and
                        even such unlikely artifacts as lunch pails and um-
                        brellas are codes for gender. Nonverbal gestures,
                        postures, and mannerisms are similarly displays
                        of gender. Gender stereotypes include prescrip-
                        tions for emotional expression, temperament,
                        competitiveness, relational style, and cognitive
                        ability. Certain roles within the family and in soci-
                        ety are firmly associated with gender, and excep-
                        tions usually receive a special label or designation.
                        For example, common parlance has included the
                        term “working mom” but not “working dad.” The
                        universal presence of gender in so many aspects
                        of identity and experience make it a worthwhile
                        starting point from which to consider the disrup-
                        tive and somber planes of life.
                            As a pivotal variable, gender provides a useful,
                        and seldom irrelevant, basis for theorizing about
                        risks to psychological health and development
                        across the life span. Unfortunately female gender
                        encompasses a number of perils to healthy devel-
                        opment. By intention, this chapter examines the
                        negative and the harmful aspects of health and
                        development; however, this is not the complete
CHERYL BROWN TRAVIS
                        picture, and in the following chapter strengths are
                        addressed.

Risks to Healthy
                        GENDER DIFFERENCE AND DYNAMICS
Development: The        OF ENTITLEMENT

Somber Planes of Life   The social context of gender is fundamental to an
                        analysis of threats to healthy development.
                        Scholars in the psychology of women generally
                        agree that American society differentially values
                        male over female. In this sense, gender is a




2
                        marker variable that reflects the combined effects
                        of differential entitlement, status, and power. It is
                        not so much the qualities unique to a particular
                        gender, but rather the ways in which each is
                        allowed identity, expression, opportunity, re-
                        sources, and ease of access to alternatives. The
                        differential valuing and status of male over fe-
                        male can be seen in concrete outcomes such as


                                                                           15
16   Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


lower pay for women engaged in identical pro-          their current economic situation. Alternatives
fessions and lower pay for women engaged in            usually reflect the compound effects of choices
different, but comparable, work roles (U.S. De-        made over time, although it is not entirely a mat-
partment of Labor, 2001). It can also been seen in     ter of choice. When girls have been led to under-
more subtle ways in evaluative judgments of the        stand that their happiness is easily won by being
same behavior performed by people of different         agreeable, attentive, and appealing (i.e., harm-
genders. For example, assertiveness by a woman         less), it won’t occur to them that they might
may be off-putting, while coworkers or other role      someday need the authority of alternative re-
partners may welcome the same behavior in a            sources beyond charm. However, the point in life
man as a mark of leadership (Carli, 1990).             when this becomes blazingly clear to them is
    Gender is enacted and re-enacted within the        often after an accumulation of many small steps
dynamics of differential value and status. This        of action and of inaction so that other options are
social construction shapes day-to-day inter-           not readily available. Finally, it is not simply the
actions and personal experience. It influences          presence of alternatives, but how costly it might
expectations and implicit understandings about         be to reach for them.
reality and meaning. I propose here, along with            Entitlement encompasses a range of phe-
others (West & Zimmerman, 1991), that gender is        nomena; defining one’s own reality and being
not so much a set of fixed qualities but rather         taken seriously is one of them. The differential
something one does. Gender has an emergent,            valuing and status associated with gender also
negotiated component that is jointly constructed       has a component of entitlement. This speaks to
with specific role partners in a societal context. It   the legitimacy of one’s experience and the right
is shaped by the fact that participants carry with     to act on the basis of it. However, what women
them varying degrees of entitlement, expecta-          experience and want is often judged by society as
tions, resources, scripts, and vested interests. A     irrational, unpredictable, confusing, opaque, or
significant and often unrecognized feature of           even dangerous. They are frequently in the posi-
context is the extent to which it fosters and sup-     tion of needing to explain themselves. These dy-
ports certain understandings, assumptions, and         namics operate across all dimensions that are
realities about self-identity and social relation-     the typical bases for classifying people, certainly
ships, while making other realities and relation-      gender, but also age, class, color, ethnicity, phys-
ships seem strange or problematic.                     ical ability, religion, and sexual orientation. Lips
    Additionally, gender reflects most of the ele-      (1991) identifies these dynamics as reflections of
ments of a status variable. Therefore, a frame-        power and notes that most stereotypic male-
work of analysis that emphasizes gender must           female differences result from this imbalance.
also examine the varying resources, alternatives,          Marginal status and the differential valuing of
and entitlement associated with gender. Re-            girls and women contribute to a wide range of
sources might be as concrete as the money by           risks and poor outcomes. Subsequent chapters
which one may have, without thinking too hard          that discuss specific risks and life experiences all
about it, housing, telephone service, food, enter-     address issues that may be examined in terms of
tainment, health care, and so on. Resources also       gender and the elements of status and of entitle-
may be intangible—for example, social skill, work      ment confounded within gender. Although fe-
experience, beauty. These can be gauged in terms       male gender constitutes one crosscutting frame-
of their portability or universal value. Money is      work of risk, there are certainly other bases by
highly portable whereas work experience within         which inequity is enacted. Central themes in the
a particular company is somewhat less portable,        analysis for this chapter are that gender covaries
and physical beauty is relatively transient.           with status (resources, alternatives, and entitle-
    Alternatives by which one might reach desir-       ment); that gender is emergent in a social and
able outcomes is yet another dimension of gen-         cultural context; and that the meaning of life
der and status. Certainly some of the stresses ex-     events are often socially constructed in ways that
perienced by many women are the limited viable         preserve the status quo. Gendered features of
alternatives to their present relationships or to      risk are considered here in three clusters: vio-
                                                                 Chapter 2   Risks to Healthy Development   17


lence across the life span, selfhood and identity,     ualizing of a situation as being merely affable. In-
and social roles and relationships.                    deed commonly understood scripts for dating
                                                       held by female as well as male adolescents nor-
                                                       malize a scenario of gaming and competition. In
VIOLENCE ACROSS THE LIFE SPAN                          some instances this may include forcefulness,
                                                       where sexual predation may be seen as natural
Violence unfortunately is common throughout            among boys (Tolman, Spencer, Rosen-Reynoso,
the lives of girls and women. Child abuse is           & Porche, 2003). Individual teens will have vary-
strongly gendered, and retrospective self-report       ing experiences that do not include all features of
studies indicate that women are two to three           this script. However, the general script does exist
                                                       as one part of cultural norms.
times more likely than men to report childhood
sexual abuse (de Paul, Milner, & Mugica, 1995).
Data from the Department of Health and Human           Implications for Treatment
Services (DHHS) Children’s Bureau indicated
that 903,000 children were confirmed victims of         Though abuse and sexual violence are not the
abuse or neglect in 2001, a rate of approximately      only risks to healthy development, a multitude
12 per 1,000 children (DHHS, 2003). Individual         of sequelae may follow, including anxiety disor-
perpetrators may engage the very young child in        ders and depression, as well as drug depen-
a play or make-believe script that enforces the        dence, poor scholastic achievement, later sexual
idea of “our special secret.” In these ways, vic-      risk taking, and problems for close relationships.
tims are silenced and denied their own reality. As     Victims of childhood abuse often exhibit symp-
girls develop, patterns of violence continue in        toms that reflect an internalizing of problems—
the alarming incidence of sexual assault and           for example, depression—and also an external-
date rape. Here, too, differential power invested      izing of problems—for example, fighting. In
in gender affects dynamics of rape and inter-          addition, early abuse and sexual victimization
personal violence. Many boys and young men             increases the risk of later re-victimization. For
learn that attention-getting behaviors, bravado,       example, children who experienced abuse in-
and pugnacity can lead to agreeable outcomes           volving intercourse were eight times as likely to
and may be viewed with a tacit social tolerance        have attempted suicide and more than nine
that “boys will be boys.” It’s a short step to iden-   times as likely to be at risk later for rape (Nelson
tify aggression as a legitimate and natural tool of    et al., 2002).
                                                           The relevance of power and influence in rec-
instrumental behavior. Alternatively, many girls
                                                       ognizing and dealing with sexual abuse and vio-
and young women learn that aggression is a sign
                                                       lence is highlighted by the fact that aspects of the
of failure.
                                                       events may not be disclosed to others for years or
    Media messages contribute by offering the
                                                       even decades. Factors that normalize violence
depersonalized female body as fundamentally a
                                                       and that objectify women tend to silence women’s
sexual object. To some extent, almost all women
                                                       active protest. It is not rare that this differential
internalize aspects of this objectification mes-
                                                       access to voice leads women to feelings of guilt
sage (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997) and accord-         for these events and, on occasion in cases of
ingly modify their expectations of the treatment       rape, may lead them even to wish for more signs
to which they are entitled (Holland & Eisenhart,       of physical damage so as to validate the violation
1990). Instances of sexual harassment are espe-        and anguish they have experienced.
cially prone to social constructions concerning
what actually happened and what it means. For
example, men frequently perceive the friendly          SELFHOOD AND IDENTITY
behavior of women as indicating sexual interest
the women themselves did not intend (Abbey,            A range of developmental tasks emerges in ado-
McAuslan, Zawacki, Clinton, & Buck, 2001). At          lescence involving a sense of identity and worth,
the same time, men may perceive their own sex-         the capacity for friendship, and psychological
18   Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


intimacy, as well as a more conscious integration       African American adolescent girls aged 9–14. The
of a gender identity. While historic traditions in      self-esteem of White, but not African American,
psychology have emphasized the mental health            girls declined notably over the five-year period of
benefits of traditional gender role socialization,       the study (Brown et al., 1998). (The primary mea-
more recent thinking has included the idea that         surement scale was the Self-Perception Profile
socialization into restricted feminine roles may be     for Children [SPPC]). One might ask how the vigor
harmful to the self-esteem and the overall well-        and self-esteem of African American women is
being and development of girls (Pipher, 1994).          shaped by the negotiations of gender within eth-
Risk factors for low self-esteem for girls in general   nic communities. Since ethnic minority women
include the reality of being part of a social group     face a double jeopardy of sexism and racism, dy-
that is less valued and that occupies relatively        namics of self-esteem in the lives of these women
lower status (Katz, Joiner, & Kwon, 2002).              may inform more broadly the understanding of
   To the extent that girls begin to assume the         self-esteem in general.
scripted role of caretaker for the feelings and             Hispanic/Latina ethnicity offers additional
welfare of others, they may find it increasingly         perspectives on gender and self-esteem, al-
difficult to express their own preferences or           though the constructions of gender in traditional
thoughts. Factors of particular relevance to girls      Hispanic/Latina cultures include many of the
may include gender intensification and growing           same biased social constructions found in White
role strain between instrumental achievement            culture. Nurturance, self-sacrifice, sexual virtue,
and interpersonal relationships (Basow & Rubin,         deference, and diffidence are extolled as laud-
1999). Ubiquitous effects may involve chronic           able for Hispanic/Latina girls and women. In
low self-esteem and body image disorders, espe-         Hispanic/Latina culture, this role is sometimes
cially among adolescent girls. Lifetime risks for       referred to as marianismo, and is somewhat
anxiety disturbance or clinical depression are          complementary to the male machismo (Breuner,
similarly high. Although less frequent, substance       1992; Comas-Diaz, 1984). Despite variations
abuse and suicide are critical risks with gendered      across ethnicities, a variety of sequelae may fol-
variations in development and process.                  low when self-esteem is undermined.


                                                        Sequelae
Self-Esteem
                                                        Self-esteem issues are related to body image
There is some debate about the exact size and ex-       disturbance and a variety of eating disorders.
tent of self-esteem problems. A meta-analysis1 of       Beauty has become a defining element in sexual-
216 studies involving 16,000 people found that on       ity, of worth, and of status (Travis, Meginnis, &
average there is a small gender difference that fa-     Siebrecht, 2000). While both adolescent males
vors boys, d = .21, or about one fifth of one stan-      and females are concerned about physical ap-
dard deviation; this difference is somewhat larger      pearance, the standards for women are relatively
when only adolescents are included (d = .33)            strict and, for girls, violations may entail more
(Kling, Hyde, Showers, & Buswell, 1999). Both girls     sanctions. This is likely to be most problematic
and boys appear to experience a general decline         when the cultural ideal of a perfect body be-
in their sense of competence, but the size and          comes internalized in the feelings and experi-
direction of gender differences varies with the         ences of individual women. Lower status for girls
domain being assessed (Jacobs, Lanza, Osgood,           and women is regularly conveyed in the sexual-
Eccles, & Wigfield, 2002).                               ized, idealized depictions of the female body
    It also is worthwhile to consider variations        (Malkin, Wornian, & Chrisler, 1999). Research has
and diversities among girls and women them-             documented that exposure to these images is as-
selves. A recent longitudinal survey conducted          sociated with poor body image and symptoms of
by the National Heart Lung and Blood Institute          disordered eating (Thompson & Smolak, 2001;
of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) looked       Vaughan & Fouts, 2003). These factors also have
at components of self-esteem for White and              been associated with more general depressive
                                                               Chapter 2   Risks to Healthy Development   19


symptoms (Stice & Bearman, 2001; Stice, Span-         self-reports of feeling blue. Gender stereotypes
gler, & Agras, 2001).                                 clearly influence perceptions of mental health
    A corollary of low self-esteem may shape the      and foster a link between female gender and re-
classroom behaviors of college women who re-          ports of depression. Much of the medical litera-
port that in many instances they don’t partici-       ture on women and depression follows a reduc-
pate in class discussions because they are afraid     tionist approach that considers psychology an
of looking dumb or because their ideas are not        offshoot of physiology, especially the physiology
well formulated (Crawford & MacLeod, 1990).           of women’s reproductive hormones. Psychologi-
The combination of factors may influence a vari-       cal theory has often accounted for links between
ety of educational and career choices. It is possi-   gender and depression in factors internal to the
ble that the cumulative impact on education and       individual. One approach suggests that girls and
occupational aspirations is to increase the likeli-   women have more permeable boundaries and
hood of conservative choices in the classes stu-      relationship-oriented definitions of selfhood that
dents select and later in career choices. Eccles      make them more vulnerable to internalization of
(1994) has described these academic and life          symptoms and associated depression, while boys
choices in terms of the interaction of expecta-       and men have more firm boundaries of selfhood
tions of success and the extent to which success,     that lead to more externalization of symptoms
if achieved, promotes access to other valued          (Rosenfield, Vertefuille, & McAlpine, 2000).
outcomes. It seems that even when girls have              Social conditions of status and entitlement
achieved high levels of academic success, they        again may provide the contextual background for
gradually come to doubt that their achievements       understanding some of the increased risk for
are due to superior ability, whereas high achiev-     women. Gove, a sociologist, was one of the first
ing boys continue to credit themselves with ex-       scholars to link women’s depression to their
ceptional talent (Arnold, 1993). Even when women      lower status roles in marriage (Gove, 1972). Other
college students achieve a high grade point aver-     analyses have subsequently included considera-
age in a field such as engineering or computer         tion of women’s status as well as the intersection
science, they are more likely than men to change      of ethnic minority status and gender (Landrine,
majors (Selingo, 1998).                               1995; McGrath, Keita, Strickland, & Russo, 1990).
                                                      Relevant factors include the early socialization
                                                      of girls that places relatively more emphasis on
Anxiety and Depression                                pleasing others, praise for decorum and dutiful
                                                      behavior and relatively less emphasis on instru-
It has been long acknowledged that women are          mental achievement. Additionally there is a risk
more likely to suffer from anxiety and depressive     of being ostracized for being too assertive, and
disorders. This difference appears in adolescence     general cultural messages that give greater em-
and has been related to gender role orientation.      phasis to girls’ appearance over, for example, ca-
Specifically, a more masculine gender identity        reer achievement. Often these factors are played
seems to offer some protection (Ginsburg &            out in subtle everyday events that individually
Silverman, 2000). The two conditions, anxiety         seem unremarkable. Not all girls will experience
and depression, are thought to be interrelated,       all these factors at all times, but these factors do
and research has found that women are indeed          contribute to an ambience in which girls develop.
more likely to be diagnosed with these dual co-
morbid conditions than are men (Simonds &
Whiffen, 2003).                                       SOCIAL ROLES AND RELATIONSHIPS
    Throughout their lives women are at a higher
risk for depression. This is true despite a wide      There is often a cultural expectation that women
range in the ways it is defined—for example, hos-      will find their most satisfying fulfillment in inti-
pital admission, diagnosis of major clinical de-      mate (heterosexual) relationships. Mothers es-
pressive disorder, checklists acknowledging a         pecially are lauded for emotional investment,
certain number of depressive symptoms, and            nurturing, and strengthening of the family. In
20    Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


fact, girls and women are likely to have a good          particularly key to women’s depression involving
deal of achievement motivation in association            relationships. They may engage in a muffling or
with their close relationships. While this rela-         silencing of themselves, with depression being
tional focus has been recognized as reflecting            the result (Jack, 1991, 2003). Women may also
strengths, it is not without risks.                      learn to express or redirect anger in positive ways
                                                         (Jack, 2001). Stoppard (1999) maintains that ap-
                                                         proaches that offer a central role to the experi-
Emotional Investments                                    ences of women are a critical element of therapy,
                                                         as opposed to—for example, cognitive behavior—
Investment in close relationships frequently of-         therapies that tend to challenge clients’ negative
fers a sense of well-being, purpose, and accom-          beliefs (Hurst & Genest, 1995).
plishment for both women and men, but it also                Married women experiencing depression
can produce a degree of vulnerability and depen-         come with regular frequency to therapy having
dency, particularly if resources and alternatives        complaints of not “being heard,” and they often
available to the partners are unequal or difficult        feel that their complaints are dismissed or other-
to access. Personal flexibility and agreeableness         wise invalidated (Papp, 2003). Methods of nego-
are key to maintaining these relationships, and in       tiating one’s reality and of being heard vary sys-
order to secure and maintain these all-important         tematically by gender and power in relationships
relationships, girls and women may suppress im-          (Falbo & Peplau, 1980). Women and those with
portant aspects of their identity and emotional          less power in a relationship tend to use indirect
experiences. To the extent that women have in-           and unilateral tactics—for example, hinting, hop-
vested relatively more of their resources and of         ing, or withdrawing. Unfortunately, such efforts
their future opportunities in a relationship, they       to preserve relationship by continually protecting
may be more vulnerable to exploitation and               and favoring the needs and comfort levels of a
inequity.                                                partner may ultimately undermine the very inti-
   Defining equity in these close relationships           macy the woman (or man) hopes to guard. Worell
may depend in part on economic resources each            (Worell, 2000; Worell & Remer, 2003) suggests
partner provides, and these are likely to be higher      that an empowerment approach may be particu-
for men than women. Equity in the costs and              larly valuable for women, as well as those who
benefits of (heterosexual) couple relationships           have been marginalized or silenced by virtue of
often seem lopsided, with men partners receiv-           socioeconomic class, ethnicity, sexual orienta-
ing relatively more emotional care as well as more       tion or other conditions of social status.
personal services. For example, studies of the
relative contribution of husbands and wives to
household tasks regularly show much greater              Work
contributions from women, yet the women them-
selves may define the situation as equitable             Having it all was at one time an inspirational goal
(Baxter, 1997) and indeed may not feel entitled          for women emerging into a new gender con-
to better treatment.                                     sciousness of the sixties. However, since women
   In order to sustain compatibility in their rela-      often do much of the emotional work for the fam-
tionships, women may be hesitant to directly ex-         ily, as well as logistical household management,
press their wishes, reluctant to convey disagree-        having it all often means working a double shift
ment, or unable to express anger. Since women            (Hochschild, 1989) and simultaneously feeling in-
are almost universally socialized to contain or sup-     adequate and guilty for not meeting all the de-
press anger, this seems an especially fertile area for   mands associated with ideal homemaking. The
therapeutic work. Van-Velsor and Cox (2001) sug-         common expectation of young women as they
gest that anger may energize recovery and may            contemplate whether or not they even want ca-
serve as a vehicle for wellness instead of being a       reers often centers on the image of too many
symptom of illness. The expression of anger seems        tasks to complete at home and at work and the
                                                                   Chapter 2   Risks to Healthy Development   21


picture of the mother who struggles to juggle            mulative effects may be quite large. For example,
roles (Crosby & Jaskar, 1993).                           roughly 40% of employees in Fortune 500 corpora-
    Theoretical models based on fixed resources           tions are women, while less than 1% are CEOs
suggest that investments in one realm automati-          (Wellington & Giscombe, 2001).
cally detract from another. However, psycholog-
ical research suggests there may be a protective
function associated with multiple roles. Research        Poverty
by Barnett and Hyde (2001) discloses a some-
what more positive and hopeful picture. Multi-           Developmental tasks of adulthood encompass
ple roles offer increased opportunities for achieve-     large issues such as generativity and the existen-
ment, self-esteem, and social support for many           tial need, finally, “to get it right.” But more often
women. A further, nontrivial, consideration is           than not, daily tasks deal with the ordinary ele-
that although women as a whole earn less than            ments of making a living and sustaining commit-
men, women’s wages constitute a significant con-          ted relationships. Here, too, differential status,
tribution to total family income and stability.          influence, and power continue to be evident,
    In addition, women may bring strengths to the        specifically poverty, divorce, and single mother-
economic and work environment. The economy,              ing. The majority of women work full time in the
educational institutions, health care, and re-           labor force; this includes the majority of women
search laboratories may all benefit from an in-           with children. On average, women who work full
creased and enthusiastic workforce. Studies of           time earn 74% of what men earn (U.S. Depart-
managerial style indicate that women are more            ment of Labor, 2001, table 37). Effectively, women
likely to engage in transformational styles and in       must work approximately 15 months to make
more contingent reward behaviors than men                what men earn in 12 months. Another way to
(Eagly, Johannesen-Schmidt, & van Engen, 2003).          think of it is that for wages to be equal, women on
Presenting to young women the possibility that           average would need to have a 35% salary increase.
they may have unique and really important con-           The lifetime impact per woman, including com-
tributions to make in the workplace might be par-        pounded interest on wages and retirement bene-
ticularly affirming and might allow them to imag-         fits, has been estimated to be over a half million
ine more options for self-actualization in work          dollars. Psychologically, some women may ac-
outside the home. However, simply increasing as-         cept gender differences in salary because they
pirations among individual young women is not a          compare their salaries to the norm for other
complete solution.                                       women rather than men (Major, 1989). That is,
    Career development can be a source of frustra-       their sense of entitlement is restricted by implicit
tion and stress for women. Professional women            gender-based norms.
often work as minorities in their place of employ-           Despite employment outside the home, many
ment and may find the atmosphere more reflective           women and their children remain in poverty. The
of male preferences and male-centered norms              official poverty level for a family of four in 2001
regarding work. In particular, promotions and ad-        was $18,104; 33 million people fell below this level
vancement may favor men while ignoring the con-          (Proctor & Dalakar, 2002). The incidence of
tributions and competence of women. This is such         poverty varies significantly by gender and family
an omnipresent phenomenon that it has been la-           type. Poverty also varies dramatically by ethnic
beled the “glass ceiling.” Cultural beliefs about tra-   minority designation, with the poverty level rang-
ditional femininity suggest an assumed incon-            ing from 21% to 23% for ethnic minorities in con-
gruity between being feminine and being a leader,        trast to poverty among Whites (non-Hispanic) at
thus women leaders who are assertive and direct          7.8% (Proctor & Dalakar, 2002). When women are
may receive poor evaluations (Eagly & Karau,             the sole financial heads of their own households,
2002). The result may be a subtle discounting of         it becomes increasingly likely that they will fall
women’s accomplishments or the manner in                 below the poverty level; this is especially true for
which these are achieved. Although subtle, the cu-       Hispanic women who are single heads of house-
22    Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


holds (U.S. Department of Labor, 2001). Poverty              Basow, S. A., & Rubin, L. R. (1999). Gender influences
in itself limits the alternatives and choices of                on adolescent development. In N. G. Johnson,
                                                                N. G., Roberts, M. C., & Worell, J. (Eds.), Beyond
women. Given that poverty increases uncertainty
                                                                appearance: A new look at adolescent girls (pp. 25–
in general and the possibility of catastrophic                  52). Washington, DC.: American Psychological
events, it is likely to undermine confidence and                 Association.
problem solving.                                             Baxter, J. (1997). Gender equality and participation in
                                                                housework: A cross-national perspective. Journal
                                                                of Comparative Family Studies, 28(3), 220–247.
                                                             Breuner, N. F. (1992). The cult of the Virgin Mary in
GOING FORWARD                                                   southern Italy and Spain. Ethos, 20(1), 66–95.
                                                             Brown, K. M., McMahon, R. P., Biro, F. M., Crawford,
As following chapters indicate, girls and women                 P., Schreiber, G. B., Shari, L., et al. (1998). Changes
face a plethora of risks to healthy development.                in self-esteem in Black and White girls between
                                                                the ages of 9 and 14 years. Journal of Adolescent
There also are a range of strengths and resources
                                                                Health, 23, 7–19.
that may be developed, and many later chapters               Carli, L. (1990). Gender, language, and influence.
discuss opportunities for empowerment and                       Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 59,
growth. Analyses of problems and of possible so-                941–951.
lutions may benefit from systematically attend-               Comas-Diaz, L. (1984). Content themes in group
                                                                treatment with Puerto Rican women. Social Work
ing to the gendered aspects of both. In particular,
                                                                With Groups, 7(3), 75–84.
the differential valuing of girls and women can              Crawford, M., & MacLeod, M. (1990). Gender in the
be seen to have a pervasive influence on devel-                  college classroom: An assessment of the “chilly
opment and health across the life span. Empow-                  climate” for women. Sex Roles, 23(34), 101–122.
ering women to hold and exercise authority in                Crosby, F. J., & Jaskar, K. L. (1993). Women and men at
                                                                home and at work: Realities and illusions. In.
their personal lives and in public political realms
                                                                S. Oskamp & M. Costanzo (Eds.), Gender issues in
is a fundamental component in the resolution of                 contemporary society. Claremont Symposium on
these problems. This includes building authen-                  Applied Social Psychology (Vol. 6, pp. 143–171).
ticity and the confidence to define one’s reality              Department of Health and Human Services Adminis-
and have it taken seriously. Becoming an agent                  tration on Children, Youth and Families. (2003).
                                                                Child Maltreatment 2001. Washington, DC: U.S.
of action and acquiring the conviction to effect
                                                                Government Printing Office.
change is another aspect of this process.                    de Paul, J., Milner, J. S., & Mugica, P. (1995). Child-
                                                                hood maltreatment, childhood social support,
                                                                and child abuse potential in a Basque sample.
NOTE                                                            Child Abuse Neglect, 19, 907–920.
                                                             Eagly, A. H., Johannesen-Schmidt, M. C., & van Engen,
   1. Meta-analysis is a statistical technique whereby          M. L. (2003). Transformational, transactional, and
mean differences are re-formulated in terms of a com-           laissez-faire leadership styles: A meta-analysis
                                                                comparing women and men. Psychological Bul-
mon standard unit that makes the results comparable
                                                                letin, 129(4), 569–591.
across studies. The average mean difference can then
                                                             Eagly, A. H., & Karau, S. J. (2002). Role congruity theory
be calculated for all the studies in combination.               of prejudice toward female leaders. Psychological
                                                                Review, 109, 573–598.
                                                             Eccles, J. S. (1994). Understanding women’s educa-
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24    Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


Wellington, S., & Giscombe, K. (2001). Women and           Worell, J. (2000, August). Searching for the power in
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                       Do not follow where the path may lead.
                       Go instead where there is no path and leave
                       a trail.
                       —Ralph Waldo Emerson


                       Women today are stronger, more hopeful, ener-
                       getic, optimistic, and healthy than ever before in
                       our history. But we know that major challenges
                       to a safe and healthy existence still face many
                       women globally, and in the United States, women
                       continue to be the major consumers of health ser-
                       vices. Across the life span, significant develop-
                       mental changes occur for each person that pres-
                       ent challenges in adaptation and effective coping;
                       some people appear to accommodate to these
                       changes more successfully than others. Addition-
                       ally, most people will experience one or more
                       stressful events or trauma, such as serious injury
                       or illness, loss of a loved one, prolonged poverty,
                       unemployment, or unpredictable violence. Many
                       chapters in this Handbook document the gender-
                       related conditions that persist for girls and women
                       from diverse cultures in terms of threats to health,
                       economic and social inequities, and physical or
                       sexual assault.
                           The questions that challenge psychology and
                       other health disciplines are to understand why, in
JUDITH WORELL          the face of normal or expected life changes, soci-
                       etal discrimination, and traumatic events, some
                       individuals succumb to despair and decline in
Pathways to Healthy    health and well-being, yet others accommodate
                       to changing circumstances and adapt comfort-
Development: Sources   ably over time. Still, some girls and women,
                       whether through natural circumstances, their
of Strength and        own efforts, or with therapeutic help, appear to
                       benefit from adversity; they are able to grow pro-
Empowerment            ductively and thrive despite their challenging ex-
                       periences. For example, prior to the 1964 Federal
                       Civil Rights Act, a young African American woman
                       won a prize for her thesis on democracy, but was
                       later denied entrance to the hotel where the prizes




3
                       were being handed out. This experience, as well as
                       other similar ones, motivated her to “buck the sys-
                       tem” by becoming the first African American
                       woman to enter and graduate from a local univer-
                       sity and nursing school in her state. She went on
                       to greater achievements as the first woman of her
                       ethnicity in many other professional domains
                       (Herald Leader, 2004).


                                                                        25
26   Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


    In the psychological and health-related litera-    heal women from interpersonal assault and its
ture, there are abundant resources on theory,          aftermath (Gondolf, 1998).
research, and intervention related to develop-             The outcomes of these activities were gradual
mental disorders, disability, illness, and psycho-     transformations in sociocultural gender-role
pathology; there has been relatively little related    expectations, an aroused public consciousness
to the variables that influence women’s psycho-         that promoted legislation to advance opportu-
logical health, resilience, and well-being. In the     nity for girls and women, and new directions in
past few decades, however, a growing literature        research and psychological practice with women
has been exploring the health-promoting sources        (Worell & Johnson, 1997). Almost four decades of
of personal and community strength and well-           research on women’s psychological health have
being. This trend holds out promise that a major       brought women of diverse social and economic
paradigm shift, with a change in focus from ill-       groups out of the background and into the fore-
ness to health, is taking hold and flourishing in       front of psychological focus. Growing awareness
both research and practice communities (Icovics        of widespread gender and ethnic discrimination
& Park, 1999; O’Leary & Icovics, 1995).                brought demands for institutional reform, and
    This chapter moves from pain to gain, offering     triggered research on epidemiology, assessment,
a strength and resilience perspective on women’s       prevention, and intervention for interpersonal
psychological health. I review some of the factors     violence. This literature also revealed the extent
that contribute to girls’ and women’s strength,        to which some normative coping responses to
resilience, productive growth, and psychological       such stressors have been medically and socially
well-being. What are the ingredients that con-         defined as pathology.
tribute to the development of effective coping             Rekindled attention to women’s health also
strategies, increased resilience to stress, a secure   brought many positive correlates, including an
and confident sense of self, a satisfying and pro-      emphasis on strength over pathology and well-
ductive life style, and robust enthusiasm and zest     being over illness. Conceptions of normative be-
for living?                                            havior and “adjustment” for girls and women
                                                       have changed, moving beyond the traditional
                                                       goals of returning clients to their status quo. Re-
ACTIVISM: OPENING LEGAL,                               vised goals for healthy lifestyles required new ap-
EDUCATIONAL, AND SOCIAL                                proaches to assessment and evaluation of the ef-
OPPORTUNITIES                                          fectiveness of psychological interventions. It
                                                       becomes imperative to develop and include as-
The personal and social benefits of gaining voice       sessment of positive, constructive, and affirma-
and control over one’s life circumstances have         tive outcomes as well as remission of symptoms
been recognized throughout history. For women          (Worell, 2001). More is currently known about
in United States, a giant step in this direction was   evaluating and ameliorating pain and distress
achieved in 1920 with legislation that entitled        than about the range of personal and environ-
them to vote in state and national elections. It       mental ingredients that contribute to a satisfying
was not until the 1960s that women’s continued         life well-lived for a broad range of girls and
awareness of their unequal position in society         women.
activated new efforts to implement changes in
the educational, social, and political environment.
In tandem to these awakenings, community-              Education Promotes Well-Being
supported crisis centers for battered and sexu-
ally assaulted women opened their welcoming            During the same period, a committed coalition
doors, responding to the growing awareness that        of activist women, enlightened men, and sympa-
women did not have to live with violence. These        thetic legislators advocated successfully for pas-
community resources have become established            sage by the U.S. Congress of Title IX of the Ele-
institutions in most areas of the United States,       mentary and Secondary Education Act. This
and still provide essential services to protect and    landmark legislation advanced the status and
                                                            Chapter 3   Pathways to Healthy Development   27


opportunities for all women by prohibiting dis-        to work as jobs, which tend to provide low levels
crimination on the basis of gender at all levels of    of satisfaction and opportunity for advancement,
educational institutions. It opened doors for girls    careers are characterized by self-development to-
and women to enter institutions previously de-         ward personal goals. Careers also offer women
nied them. Now more women than men in the              opportunities for achievement, higher levels of
United States graduate from high school, and           functioning and increased income, and life-long
roughly equal numbers of women and men re-             commitment to developing and improving one’s
ceive college degrees.                                 competency in a skill or discipline (Betz, 2002;
    Prior to Title IX, funding and facilities for      Kahn & Juster, 2002).
women’s sports were often limited or absent,               Now, most young girls and women anticipate
thus denying equal access to training, space,          having both a family and career. Programs for
equipment, travel, and so on. This legislation en-     women in rural or isolated communities offer
abled girls and women to participate in a variety      training in employment skills, instilling hope for
of activities that facilitate the development of       more advanced employment and better life cir-
physical, emotional, and behavioral skills. In turn,   cumstances (Frances, 1999). Women have be-
new opportunities for healthy collaboration and        come established in a range of career tracks that
competition, positive self-esteem, and psycho-         were formerly occupied by men, such as busi-
logical well-being were established. Title IX also     ness, academic teaching and scientific research,
opened opportunities for girls and women to de-        computer science, law, medicine, and the mili-
velop a variety of new career paths that have con-     tary (Fassinger, 2001). Although White majority
tributed substantially to their financial and emo-      and ethnic minority women still earn less than
tional health. A current trend toward reverting to     their male counterparts and are more scarce than
same-sex education, which divides girls and boys       men at the top echelons of organizations, they
into separate classes in the elementary schools,       bring particular contributions and strengths. Rel-
has received mixed reviews. It is too early to make    atively recent organizational policies such as
firm judgments about whether it is advantageous         facilitative mentoring relationships, affirmative
for girls to be given separate learning environ-       action policies, flexible scheduling, and day care
ments where they are free to learn undisturbed         for children have had an important impact on
by the greater attention paid to boys in class-        women’s career entry, advancement, and satis-
rooms or competition with boys. If strength de-        faction. Workplace environments are becoming
velops in response to challenge, then perhaps the      more diverse and inclusive, and women in pro-
mixture of the sexes and ethnicities in classrooms     fessional roles can serve as role models for youth
presents some distinct advantages.                     and incoming employees (Murrell, 2001).
                                                           Most contemporary married women are in
                                                       “dual earner” families, in which partners value
Satisfying Employment                                  equally both home and job or career. A burgeon-
Promotes Well-Being                                    ing literature of research supports the health-
                                                       promoting value of multiple roles for both women
The promotion and support of women’s educa-            and men, with appropriate supports by partner,
tion as a national goal provided a new perspec-        family, and the workplace (Barnett & Hyde, 2001).
tive for most women on the meaning of work.            Multiple roles provide women with opportuni-
Although many rural and urban women have al-           ties for increased income and thus reduced fi-
ways worked outside the home, especially those         nancial stress, greater self-efficacy, and a broader
of color and/or low income, they tended to re-         view of life that leads to a more complex and sat-
gard themselves, and were seen by others, as           isfying sense of self. Although most heterosexual
merely holding a job or bringing in necessary          married women still carry the burden of family
economic support. Once they became empow-              and child care (Gilbert & Rader, 2001), studies
ered to enter the portals of higher education and      find that egalitarian relationships, with equi-
achieve advanced degrees, the prospect of a ca-        table division of home and child-related tasks
reer became possible and attainable. In contrast       and shared decision making provide both part-
28    Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


ners with increased satisfaction and emotional          tional origin, sexual orientation, and so on. For
intimacy (Steil, 1997).                                 example, the experience of being either a Latina
                                                        or an African American woman may be qualita-
                                                        tively different, as will be the gender experiences
GENDER TRANSFORMATIONS IMPACT                           of lesbians or bisexuals as compared with het-
WOMEN’S PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH                            erosexual girls and women. There is support for
                                                        the strength-promoting contribution of encour-
The changing meanings and expectations associ-          aging a firm integration among ethnic, gender,
ated with sex and gender have been one of the           and sexual identities as girls and women develop
major social upheavals of 20th-century social           (Worell & Remer, 2003). For example, Harris (1995)
structures. The revolution of what it means to be       reported that African American women who had
a woman or man in society is still in flux, as indi-     a secure ethnic identity status and few anti-
viduals struggle with how to process their per-         White feelings held more favorable attitudes
sonal identities in a fluid and multicultural envi-      toward their own physical appearance and en-
ronment, and how to negotiate their relationships       gaged in more health-promoting behaviors than
with family, friends, and work environments. The        those who were less secure in their cultural and
traditional “opposite sex” view of gender posits        ethnic identity. Professionals who work with de-
that women and men differ biologically in their         veloping youth need to be particularly aware,
traits and abilities; such perspectives tend to in-     sensitive, and open to the personal and ethno-
vite gender stereotyping, encourage separate so-        cultural variations in both gender and sexual
cial roles and activities, and limit women’s oppor-     identities as they emerge and are expressed in
tunities. These attitudes are still in vogue for both   social situations.
laypersons and professionals, as exemplified by
popular books and media. In contrast, we ap-
proach gender from a sociocultural identity com-        INFLUENCE OF THE POSITIVE
posed of personal experiences and social expecta-       PSYCHOLOGY MOVEMENT
tions associated with being a girl or boy, woman
or man, in any group or culture (Deaux & Major,         An overview of recent literature reveals an in-
1987). To the extent that these expectations vary or    creasing emphasis on the positive face of psy-
converge, so will the personal and social identities    chology and the health-promoting aspects of
and opportunities available for an individual in a      physical and psychological well-being. Theory
particular group or society.                            and research have illuminated many strength-
                                                        building concepts such as hardiness (Kobassa,
                                                        Maddi, & Kahn, 1982), optimism (Seligman, 1991),
Developing a Healthy Gender                             posttraumatic growth (Tedeschi & Calhoun,
and Ethnocultural Identity                              1995), self-efficacy (Bandura, 1997), hope (Snyder,
                                                        Rand, & Sigman, 2002), problem-solving ap-
As girls and women develop and grow, life cir-          praisal (Heppner, Witty, & Dixon, 2004), empow-
cumstances change and individuals move in               erment (Worell, 2002), personal control (Thomp-
many different contexts. They are continually ne-       son & Wierson, 2000), and thriving (O’Leary,
gotiating and modifying their gender-related be-        1998). The focus on personal strength and affir-
haviors and identities across situations and social     mative behaviors has pointed to the importance
interactions. The sense of being a girl or woman        of going beyond considerations of remission and
probably remains stable for most, yet the mean-         symptom reduction in our interventions for per-
ings and consequent behaviors attached to this          sonal and social distress.
identity will change with age and life circum-              The “positive psychology” movement champi-
stances (Deaux & Stewart, 2001).                        oned by Seligman (Seligman & Csikszentmihalyi,
    The construction and meanings of gender will        2000) seemed to mirror many of the tenets and
also vary depending on the individual’s ethnic-         values of the women researchers, theoreticians,
ity, culture, social class, economic status, na-        and practitioners who have worked hard to infuse
                                                           Chapter 3 Pathways to Healthy Development   29


these ideas into the mainstream of psychology.        lem solution, confidence in one’s ability to reach
The positive psychology perspective also re-          out and engage the love and support of others,
jects the illness and disease model of human be-      self-efficacy or the expectancy that one has the
havior in favor of a paradigm of psychological        ability to achieve desired outcomes, and the mul-
health, proposing “a science of strength and re-      tiple skills required to effect changes in both the
silience” (p. 8). Among the contributions of the      self and in the proximal environment (Worell,
positive psychology movement have been its en-        2002). The assumption underlying all empower-
ergetic focus on promoting wellness over illness,     ment interventions is that with appropriate sup-
clear definitions of important concepts, atten-       port, individuals and groups can acquire the
tion to healthy environmental contexts, and in-       knowledge, motivation, and skills to improve
sistence on objective assessment of concepts and      their health, well-being, and their equitable ac-
outcomes that can apply across diverse popula-        cess to meaningful resources. For minority com-
tions. The subsequent publication of several vol-     munities with limited resource access, a multi-
umes of theory, application, and classification has    cultural approach emphasizes the “inherent
added useful dimensions to the dialogue (cf.,         resilience . . . embedded within interdependence
Peterson & Seligman, 2004; Snyder & Lopez,            among people, including collective wisdom,
2002). The positive psychology approach reminds       shared resources, and commitment to commu-
us to seek and support the strengths that reside in   nity” (Lee & Ramirez, 2000). For communities
every individual, and to recognize that attention     that value a collective approach to their identity,
to context is essential: families, schools, commu-    variables other than assertiveness or achieve-
nities, and public institutions. Where do girls and   ment in Western individualistic cultures may be
women fit into this picture?                           relevant for the development and maintenance
                                                      of self-competency (Ruiz, Roosa, & Gonzales,
                                                      2002). The signal role of empowerment strate-
A CALL FOR NEW MODELS OF WOMEN’S                      gies for women’s well-being is discussed further
PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH                                  in the chapter.

There is a continuing need for models that recog-
nize factors contributing to risks and challenges     ECOLOGICAL MODELS THAT PROMOTE
to women’s psychological health, as well as op-       STRENGTH AND WELL-BEING
portunities for promoting wellness, resilience in
the face of challenge and adversity, strength, per-   A broad ecological model to promote women’s
sistence, and empowerment. The concept of em-         strength and well-being considers both internal
powerment has been used in many ways, often           and external variables in an interactive relation-
by agencies that serve underprivileged com-           ship. Relevant factors may include genetic pre-
munities or marginalized populations, such as         dispositions or personality traits, embedded and
women of color (Gutierrez & Lewis, 1999) and          displayed differently within the cultures and
those with disabilities. It has also been used by     communities in which people are born and de-
feminist and other professional groups to pro-        velop. External factors include: a supportive and
mote the well-being of diverse populations of         affirming family and extended caring networks;
girls’ and women’s well-being (Worell & Remer,        clean, safe, connected, and invigorating neigh-
2003; Wyche & Rice, 1997). Concepts of empower-       borhoods; stimulating, inclusive, and empower-
ment in the literature highlight the importance to    ing schools; fair employment and career oppor-
each girl and women of gaining and owning a           tunities; loving and nourishing peer, partner,
sense of personal entitlement, or what she be-        and community relationships; financial suffi-
lieves she deserves.                                  ciency and access to beneficial community and
    Empowerment is a powerful concept. It in-         health institutions; and sufficient freedom or au-
cludes: competency for self-valued domains, a         tonomy to consider options for satisfying life
sense of personal control or choice over life cir-    choices. No single model can capture the com-
cumstances, skills in decision making and prob-       plex range of these factors, and each deserves a
30    Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


full understanding. Many of the chapters in this            The development and importance of the fac-
volume address these enabling factors. They             tors that contribute to self-esteem appear to vary
point to some of the multicultural variables that       across ethnic groups and ability domains, and as
intersect with them, and propose educational            well across time and situations Self-esteem, or
and professional interventions to promote the           positive self-valuing at both cognitive and affec-
psychological health and well-being of girls and        tive levels, has been traditionally viewed as one
women.                                                  cornerstone of healthy well-being in the United
                                                        States.
                                                            During the heyday of the movement to boost
THE ROLE OF SUPPORTIVE                                  self-esteem, many elementary schools promoted
AND FLEXIBLE FAMILIES                                   programs to develop in each child a sense of self-
                                                        valuing through programs such as having chil-
Across the life span, a major component of sub-         dren wear a sign on their backs stating “I am
jective well-being and psychological health is the      capable and lovable” (W. E. Worell, personal
experience of having positive, warm, and affirm-         communication). However, this approach was
ing relationships with others. At varying times, this   insufficient to help most youngsters feel compe-
will include parents, a spouse or significant other,     tent and accepted by others, and some early self-
friends, children, teachers, mentors, and extended      esteem enhancing programs fell into disuse.
family or interpersonal networks (Markus, Ryff,             Studies generally find that in early adoles-
                                                        cence, the self-esteem of girls drops substan-
Curhan, & Palmersheim, 2004).
                                                        tially more than it does for boys, and continues
                                                        to decline through the college-age years. These
                                                        data diverge, however, when culture and ethnic-
Support for High Self-Esteem,
                                                        ity are examined, indicating that the construc-
Multiple Skills, and Competency
                                                        tion of self-esteem and the standards by which
                                                        girls self-evaluate may not be similar for all
Significant components of positive feelings and
                                                        groups. For example, African American girls are
cognitions about the self typically develop in
                                                        found to demonstrate higher self-esteem than
early childhood, within the context of the family.
                                                        either European American girls or African Ameri-
Parents or caretakers who provide interesting,
                                                        can boys (Eccles, Barber, Jozefowicz, Malanchuk,
challenging, and stimulating environments for
                                                        & Vida, 1997). Further, when sources of self-
children will kindle the flames of curiosity and
                                                        esteem were examined between the two groups
exploration of their worlds. Mothers’ education         of girls, African American girls were more satis-
is found to be a key component in the develop-          fied with their appearance and had higher self-
ment of children’s early competency and later           concepts in academic, athletic, and social abili-
resiliency (Serbin & Karp, 2004). Other support-        ties. Several chapters in this volume discuss the
ive factors include maternal warmth and involve-        consequences for adolescent girls in the United
ment, a high degree of monitoring activities,           States of overvaluing their appearance and
encouragement and high expectations for girls’          concern with body shape and weight that often
academic achievement and interests, and in-             lead to chronic body dissatisfaction, dieting, and
volvement of teachers or other adult mentors. As        plastic surgery. Early concepts of self-esteem
girls move from childhood to adolescence, the           were constructed on limited samples that did
strains of separation and connectedness become          not include cultural variations in the sources
more apparent. Even as they move away from              self-valuing. Although parents may be less influ-
parents into the world of peers, however, a con-        ential than peers as mediators of adolescent
tinuing warm and supportive relationship with           girls’ self-evaluation of attractiveness, they can
parents is important. Such relationships serve          certainly play a part by supporting their daugh-
to reinforce positive values, maintain girls’ self-     ters’ needs for peer support and acceptance.
esteem, and help to avoid disordered eating or          Parents can place an emphasis on strengthening
substance abuse (Piran, Carter, Thompson, &             skills and competencies in other areas, such as
Pajouhandeh, 2002).                                     academics, athletics or the arts.
                                                            Chapter 3 Pathways to Healthy Development   31


    Other studies have shown that girls’ involve-      social resources to cope and thrive across diverse
ment with athletics is related to high self-esteem     situations.
and satisfaction with competent performance                The wealth of research on the advantages to
(Delaney & Lee, 1995). Exciting examples of            both girls and boys of flexible gender-role devel-
women’s athletic achievement across a variety of       opment and behaviors contains clear implica-
group and individual sports were displayed at          tions for parents, educators, and professionals in
the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece.              their work with children and youth. In a contem-
Some pioneering women from countries that              porary environment filled with messages from
previously had not allowed their participation         peers and the media about how to be a “real” girl
competed as individuals in track and field events.      or woman, parents and youth may find it difficult
In three team sports—basketball, softball, and         to resist the cultural flow. As girls develop in a
soccer—American women excelled against com-            world of images portrayed by television and teen
peting teams from other countries, and won gold        magazines, they may incorporate into their body
medals in each as the highest honor of excellence.     and self concepts those messages that tell them
The jubilation and pride of all these women re-        they have failed to meet the current Western
flected the importance of setting high compe-           standards of female beauty. The cultural myth
tency aspirations related to their specific skills      that “beauty is the most vital aspect of a woman’s
and the contribution to their self-worth of ath-       being” (Travis & Meginnis-Payne, 2001, p. 190)
letic participation. Although many of these teams      leads many girls and women into relentless dis-
comprised girls from diverse social and ethnic         satisfaction with their bodies, with chronic at-
backgrounds, there may be intercultural differ-        tempts to diet and to change their bodies through
ences in the factors that reinforce feelings of        cosmetics and surgery.
competency and high self-esteem. Emphasis on               Several chapters in this Handbook review
individual achievement in Western cultures may         research on healthy gender development. The
contrast with a collective orientation that values     strong and healthy models portrayed by the su-
group relatedness as a source of self-valuing          premely athletic girls and women at the Olympic
(Lehman, Chiu, & Schaller, 2004). For many             trials or by the many women who compete in
African American families, parental encourage-         the international professional tennis circuit can
ment and support for girls’ competency and self-       be important factors in instilling a positive body
worth are crucial factors in developing their          pride that comes from competence and achieve-
strength and positive self-valuing in a society that   ment as well as by appearance. Sports programs
often offers them limited safety, respect, or ac-      in many schools and communities offer models
ceptance (Ward, 1996).                                 for average girls at different levels of realistic
                                                       possibility for attainment. For early adolescent
                                                       girls, both European American and African
Support for Flexible Gender Roles                      American, confidence in their athletic ability is
                                                       one of the predictors of high self-esteem (Eccles
From a health-promoting perspective, it seems          et al., 1997).
that a more fluid and flexible gender-role iden-
tity is both attainable and desirable (Basow &
Rubin, 1997). Individuals who function effec-          SOCIAL SUPPORT BY PEERS, FRIENDS,
tively in situations calling for agentic, instru-      AND COMMUNITIES
mental, and assertive behaviors, as well as those
requiring communal, expressive, and emotion-           Social support in its various forms contributes in
ally nurturing ones, are more likely than those        beneficial ways to women’s strength and psycho-
with more traditional gender-role behaviors to         logical health. The concept of support refers to
have relatively high self-esteem, self-confidence,      “the process by which individuals manage the
and low depression. Thus, a gender-balanced            psychological and material resources through
and gender-integrated identity enables girls and       their social networks to enhance their coping
women to draw on a full range of personal and          with stressful events, meet their social needs, and
32   Part I   Gender and Psychological Health


achieve their goals” (Rodriguez & Cohen, 1998,         disclosure, mutuality, caring, respect, and trust.
p. 536). Social support thus encompasses emo-          Friends and romantic partners may also provide
tional ties and needs for a socially integrated        supportive social networks of others who expand
identity, a stress-buffering function, and instru-     their community of those with whom can social-
mental contributions to enhance life satisfaction.     ize and turn to in need (Hendrick, 2004).
    From childhood through adolescence and be-            The value of close ties to a network of others
yond, the peer group plays an essential role in the    becomes even more important for the psycho-
development of interpersonal competence and            logical health of women as they mature. Gergen
connection. Skills in initiating and maintaining       and Gergen (chapter 44, this volume) speak of
friendships and close ties to peers will have an       the health-promoting powers of “relational re-
impact on the long-term psychological health of        sources” in aging women, which help to main-
girls and women. For younger children, coaching        tain a sense of balance by interpreting the mean-
and training in social skills can increase peer ac-    ings and pleasures in life in the context of socially
ceptance for both girls and boys (Ladd, 1999).         relevant groups. Not to be ignored is the func-
During adolescence, acceptance and inclusion           tion of women’s support groups, through which
by peers becomes essential, shaping the ways in        girls and women can explore new ways of self-
which young girls define themselves, their attrac-      definition and personal growth, or find solace
tiveness to others, and their capabilities.            and peace in sharing their illness and grief with
    Much has been written about the angst of           similar others. In group as well as in other inter-
young girls, in Reviving Ophelia (Pipher, 1994), for   personal contexts, however, the negative aspects
example, so that we tend to regard this as a period    of social support can become problematic. Ex-
of extreme dissatisfaction with self. Supportive       tended provision of social or material support to
friends, or even one close buddy and confidante         others can add an unwelcome burden that adds,
to whom she can confide, can mediate the climate        rather than reduces, personal and family stress
of uncertainty or alienation. Most girls, from early   (Todd & Worell, 2000). More often, the act of giv-
childhood and on into adolescence and woman-           ing and sharing contributes to feelings of self-
hood, seek to maintain a “best friend.” They           esteem, competence, and quiet pleasure.
increasingly value intimacy, the ability to self-
disclose and share thoughts and feelings with
another whom they can trust. Reynolds and              COMMUNITY GROUPS PROVIDE SUPPORT
Repetti (chapter 31, this volume) point out the        AND HEALTH PROMOTION
many health-promoting benefits of close peers
relationships for adolescent girls, including less     Key systems for promoting empowerment and
depression and higher levels of self-esteem. Sup-      resilience in the lives of girls and women include:
portive friends may also buffer the relationships      schools, community groups and resources, and
with other unsupportive peers or parents, provid-      volunteer and religious organizations. Singly or
ing a haven of comfort and understanding. Fur-         in concert, these groups can provide positive
ther, girls with friends who model healthy behav-      identity, information, support, resources, educa-
iors such as attention to healthy self-care and        tion, and prevention programs. Adolescent girls
safety practices may themselves tend to adopt          who participate in after-school programs can
such practices. These findings support the need         discover new sources of social interaction and
for close parental monitoring and supervision,         support, and adult mentors or role models in the
not only of time and place but also of the peers       form of coaches, teachers, or religious leaders.
with whom their daughters associate.                   Participation in religious or faith-based commu-
    Throughout the life span, friends and roman-       nities has also been correlated with higher levels
tic partners play a critical role in providing sup-    of self-rated happiness. Such associations can
port and confirmation of self-valuing and self-         provide girls and women with a source of social
competence. Intimacy is significant for most            support, and bring a sense of purpose and mean-
women’s close friends and romantic relation-           ing to life (Myers, 2000). The importance of com-
ships, including emotional expressiveness, self-       munity support points to the many possibilities
                                                            Chapter 3   Pathways to Healthy Development   33


for social action programs and policies (Shinn &       have the ability to handle this, I can reach my
Toohey, 2003).                                         goals), hope (I know I can find ways to solve my
   For women in poverty, single mothers, and           problem, there is sunshine out there), and re-
many middle-class families as well, affordable         silience (I believe I have some control over what
health care is a pressing need that is frequently      happens to me, I can recover from this experi-
unfulfilled. Community empowerment initia-             ence), all of which can lead to personal and social
tives tend to concentrate on health and wellness       empowerment.
promotion programs, targeting all community
members rather than only those at risk. Such
broad programs depend on citizen as well as pro-       CONCLUSIONS
fessional involvement in identifying health needs
and initiating change (Eisen, 1994). Likewise, the     This chapter explores the many pathways that
use of multiple settings to promote health-care        lead to personal and social empowerment for
information—schools, the workplace, religious          girls and women. Empowerment interventions
groups—increases the opportunity to reach un-          facilitate skills and flexibility in problem identifi-
derserved and alienated populations (Repucci,          cation and solution, in developing a full range of
Woolard, & Fried, 1999). Results from these pro-       interpersonal and constructive life skills, and in
grams suggest that strategies and programs de-         developing strategies for effective community
signed for one target group, such as elderly African   and institutional change. These interventions
American women (LaVeist, Sellers, Elliot Brown,        may include prevention and education to pro-
& Nickerson, 1997), may not be effective with          mote healthy lifestyles; remediation of personal
another, such Native Americans (Lemaster &             pain and distress; support structures in families
Connell, 1994). As with all other interpersonal,       and communities that are affirming and en-
group, or community interventions, careful at-         abling; strength-building strategies to increase
tention to diversity is an essential component.        personal pride, self-efficacy, and resilience to
                                                       current and future stress; and community change
                                                       strategies to modify structural barriers and aver-
PROFESSIONAL SUPPORTS OFFER HOPE                       sive or toxic environments.
AND GROWTH THROUGH EMPOWERING                              There are still undiscovered pathways to
INTERVENTIONS                                          girls’ and women’s psychological health and
                                                       well-being. The challenge remains to seek them
New approaches to psychotherapy that integrate         through woman-sensitive research that leads to
the realities of women’s lives address risks to        increased understandings and insights, and to in-
their safety and health, and the strengths that re-    corporate them through interventions that sup-
side in every girl and woman. With the support of      port girls’ and women’s strength and empower-
a safe and collaborative environment, girls and        ment. The remaining chapters of this Handbook
women are encouraged to explore the intersects         expand on these themes. The early chapters cover
of their personal and social identities. Here, they    the multiple risks that face girls and women, fol-
can normalize their experience in the context of       lowed by chapters that explore the strength and
these identities, so that they no longer feel sub-     protective factors that contribute to women’s
ordinate, abnormal, or crazy. A safe and woman-        psychological health and well-being through
centered space allows them share their pain,           their life spans. Throughout these pages, respect
their secrets, and their distress without fear of      for the importance of ethnocultural diversity, and
disapproval or humiliation. Dispelling myths           of sensitive and woman-centered research, per-
about interpersonal violence and sexual assault        meates this volume.
also enables women to explore, heal, and take
action to prevent further assault on themselves        REFERENCES
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Risks and Strengths
Across the Life Span




           II
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Problems and Risks
                            This chapter explores sources of gender bias in
                            assessments of psychological health and makes
                            recommendations for recognizing, isolating, neu-
                            tralizing, and investigating these effects. Mea-
                            sures used in assessments serve as proxies for
                            constructs and, as a result, are open to invalid,
                            inaccurate, and biased interpretation. Differences
                            in social roles, societal expectations, opportunity
                            to learn, or biological characteristics may con-
                            found assessment responses and interpretations
                            for females and males. Training programs for
                            mental health professionals may predispose in-
                            dividuals to take a biomedical, cultural, or a psy-
                            chological view of health rather than combining
                            them in a biopsychosocial perspective. Lack of
                            research or clear recommendations about cer-
                            tain populations, such as adolescents, further
                            confounds efforts to assess females and males.
                            Establishing valid assessments for complex con-
                            structs such as depression, mathematics anxiety,
                            or eating disorders may require differential norms
                            for females and males, multiple indicators, or a
                            team of interpreters. Gender bias can occur in
                            the design, selection, administration, and inter-
                            pretation of assessments; and may range from
                            blatant discrimination to implicit expectations
                            (Bargh & Chartland, 1999; Lustina et al., 1999;
                            Steele, 1997; Valian, 1998).
                                 Differences in outcomes between a group of
                            females and a group of males are often labeled
                            sex differences when they are attributed to bio-
                            logical factors and gender differences when they
MARCIA C. LINN              are attributed to nonbiological factors such as so-
and C A T H Y K E S S E L   ciety, culture, or individual psychology. Because
                            it is not easy to disentangle the effects of biologi-
                            cal and nonbiological factors, we assume that the

Assessment and Gender       latter may always play a role in differences found
                            for females and males. Consequently, we use the
                            terms gender and gender differences throughout
                            this chapter to describe these differences.
                                 Although much research focuses on the dif-
                            ferences between gender groups and cultural




4
                            groups, this research tells us as much about all
                            members of society as it does about the groups.
                            There is a danger of expecting every member of a
                            group to have a characteristic that occurs more
                            frequently in their group. Variability within gen-
                            der or cultural groups generally exceeds variabil-
                            ity between groups. Only a few biopsychosocial
                            dimensions occur exclusively in one group. For


40
                                                                      Chapter 4   Assessment and Gender   41


example, prostate cancer occurs only in males.         For example, over the past 10 years, a growing
Bias toward women, children, culture, and other        number of students have continued their educa-
characteristics of groups varies among individu-       tion beyond high school, the proportion of
als. The tendency to expect every adolescent girl      women in college, and in science and engineer-
to experience mathematics anxiety or every male        ing has increased, yet the number of female uni-
to display aggression has been called the tyranny      versity professors in these fields has not in-
of the mean because each member of the group           creased and the salaries of women remain about
is expected to represent the average for their         75% those of men (Lewin, 2004). In the area of
group rather than to display individual charac-        health, the life span has increased, women con-
teristics (Linn, 1994).                                tinue to live longer than men, and men engage in
    In this chapter we consider an assessment to       more health-risky behaviors such as smoking
be the administration of an instrument and inter-      and binge-drinking than women. In addition,
pretation of a client’s responses to that instru-      women are more likely than men to seek treat-
ment. In clinical settings administrator and inter-    ment for ailments and have health insurance.
preter may often be the same person, but it is             A number of undifferentiated or difficult-to-
useful to separate these roles when considering        sort-out constructs permeate the area of psy-
sources of bias. We think of the administration of     chological health. Depression, serious mental
an assessment as taking place in a social context in   illness, and other behavioral and biological con-
which expectations and actions of both adminis-        ditions are often difficult to distinguish from
trator and client may affect the client’s responses    each other and to diagnose effectively (Maj,
to the assessment. Thinking of an assessment as        Gaebel, López-Ibor, & Sartorius, 2002). In these
comprising these components provides a struc-          situations, the cultural expectations of the indi-
ture that encompasses educational and medical          vidual, as well as the situation under which the
assessments as well as psychological ones. Viewed      individual is examined, can result in shifts of the
from this perspective, research on assessment in       construct, differences in presentation of symp-
one area may suggest assessment considerations         toms, and differences in expectations for treat-
in others.                                             ment (Brown, Abe-Kim, & Barrio, 2003; Murthy
    For example, Steele (1997) developed the con-      & Wig, 2002).
cept of stereotype threat to describe and explain          Differences in construct and treatment expec-
responses in educational assessments. Members          tations are illustrated by an immigrant Hmong
of cultural groups stereotyped as poor performers      family’s experiences with health workers involved
in particular fields may perform more poorly on         with the care of their epileptic daughter (Fadi-
difficult assessments when indirectly reminded of       man, 1997). Hmong culture does not distinguish
the stereotype. In particular, Steele’s research       between mental and physical illness as often done
shows that African Americans or women tend to          in the United States, and considers epilepsy to
perform more poorly on difficult mathematics as-        have a strong spiritual component. The child’s il-
sessments if first requested to give information        literate parents were understandably bewildered
about ethnicity or gender. (For other examples,        by rapidly changing recommendations for med-
see Brownlow, McPheron, & Acks, 2003; Lustina          ication, as filtered through interpreters, and by
et al., 1999.) Such findings suggest that adminis-      the fact that the many different pills prescribed for
trators of any assessment need to be attentive to      their daughter looked identical. The U.S. doctors
situations that might trigger stereotype threat for    viewed the Hmong parents as unwilling to com-
the client. For instance, clinicians might want to     ply with medical practice and, therefore, as abu-
be cautious about using language that could trig-      sive parents, recommending foster care for the
ger stereotypes about aging and memory when            child. In contrast, the parents viewed themselves
administering cognitive tests to older people.         as providing the best possible care for their child
    Any assessment now takes place against the         and as balancing the recommendations of their
backdrop of rapid changes in opportunities to          culture with those of the doctors. These differing
learn, cultural expectations, social roles, and re-    views, complicated by a seizure due to sepsis
ward structures for females and males of all ages.     rather than epilepsy, led to tragedy (pp. 254–256).
42    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


   Culture also interacts with gender roles and ex-                  Bias arises when designers and administrators
pectations about causes and treatments for prob-                 of assessments have implicit or explicit expecta-
lems in psychological health. In 1998, the Food                  tions about gender roles. Bias shows up when de-
and Drug Administration relaxed regulations on                   signers create an assessment for one construct
pharmaceutical advertising. Ads for prescription                 (such as mechanical aptitude) but require knowl-
drugs increased 150 percent. Studies suggest that                edge (such as familiarity with the components of
advertising for antidepressants, which target                    an automobile engine) that males often have
women, have increased demands for prescription                   more opportunity to learn, given current gender-
drugs. Many advertisements make connections to                   role norms. Bias arises when the ethnicity, cul-
culturally laden issues such as potential feelings of            ture, style, gender, or beliefs of an examiner im-
inadequacy experienced by mothers. These ad-                     plicitly or explicitly skew the interaction with
vertisements imply that such feelings stem from                  some groups of examinees. Bias arises when a
depression and suggest the need for medication                   measurement situation (such as a standardized
(Metzl, 2003). These advertisements may benefit                   test) elicits anxiety or other reactions irrelevant to
readers who seek and receive appropriate profes-                 the construct being measured in one group but
sional care but may injure those who insist on                   not others (for instance, when stereotype threat
medication or perceive themselves as inadequate                  is triggered for some test-takers). And, bias may
and do not seek care.                                            arise when a standardized measure is normed on
   In the following sections, we discuss how gen-                one group but extended to another.
der bias can affect the reliability and validity of an               Assessments may either explicitly or inadver-
assessment, influence personal decision making,                   tently favor one gender over the other. For exam-
and affect outcomes for individuals. We identify                 ple, we know from retrospective studies that diag-
mechanisms that can bias assessment results and                  noses of heart disease were biased because far
call on professionals to keep them in mind when                  more men than women were identified with heart
interpreting results reported across the spectrum                disease, yet in actuality more women than men
of social and cognitive dimensions. In addition,                 die of heart disease (Wizemann & Pardue, 2001,
we identify research questions that deserve fur-                 p. 161). Factors contributing to biased measure-
ther attention.                                                  ment of heart disease include changing demo-
                                                                 graphics of the disease, differences between
                                                                 men and women in age of onset and symptoms,
GENDER BIAS                                                      and expectations among medical professionals
                                                                 that men are more prone to heart disease than
Gender bias can arise when gender is neglected as                women. Biased expectations may stem from the
well as when gender is considered but is not rele-               greater incidence of heart disease in young men
vant to the decision. Gender plays a role, for ex-               than in young women, as well as from an increase
ample, in determining whether a child is growing                 in the incidence of heart disease in women over
abnormally because male norms for height differ                  the past 30 years. Biased diagnoses may arise be-
from female norms. Gender also plays a role in es-               cause women are less likely than men to experi-
tablishing drug treatments since women tend to                   ence chest pain and more likely to experience ex-
be smaller than men and may need smaller doses                   treme fatigue as a symptom of heart disease.
of drugs to achieve the same effect and because                      The detection of breast cancer in men and
interactions between drugs and hormones may                      women is similarly skewed, although the base
differ for the genders. In contrast, the historical              rate for breast cancer in men is far lower than it
practice of maintaining gender-based quotas for                  is for women. This lower incidence of breast can-
medical school admissions has proved to be un-                   cer in men means that men are less likely to be
grounded. The quotas reflected the view that                      screened, and therefore, breast cancer in men is
women were less suited for the profession, yet                   less likely to be detected than it is in women. As-
dropping quotas has revealed that women and                      sessment of depression also interacts with gender.
men are equally likely to succeed and make useful                Including adolescents, more women than men are
contributions to the field of medicine.                           diagnosed with depression, yet symptoms of de-
                                                                      Chapter 4   Assessment and Gender   43


pression are often overlooked in women. Life           In the area of mathematical ability, speeded
events such as poverty, abuse, and single parent-      multiple-choice formats may favor males over fe-
hood are more common among women than                  males, and essays may favor females over males
men and increase the frequency and severity of         (Gipps & Murphy, 1994), possibly because fe-
depression but may interfere with accurate diag-       males have more opportunity to learn to write
nosis. Intake interviewers may miss more depres-       and less experience with speeded examinations
sion in women than in men because women’s              (Brownlow et al., 2003). In the area of spatial abil-
behavior may seem reasonable based on their life       ity, small amounts of practice (such as 30 minutes
circumstances, rather than symptomatic of de-          spent practicing similar items) can have a large
pression. They may also misdiagnose depression         impact on performance. Short training often fa-
because of a tendency to trivialize the symptoms       vors females more than males, perhaps because
of women (Hoffman & Tarzian, 2001, pp. 17–18). In      males have already had some opportunity to learn
these situations, cultural expectations influence       these skills (Brownlow et al., 2003).
the weight placed on information from females              Care needs to be taken in interpretation of
and males.                                             scores and responses. Tests or inventories may
   Health professionals may interpret interview        be normed or validated on one population or in-
information and case material for women and            tended for one purpose, but used for another. For
men based on social roles rather than criteria for     example, psychological tests used for clinical
depression. Authority figures may inadvertently         screening may be inappropriate for forensic eval-
demand different behaviors from females and            uation (Hynan, 2004) or hiring decisions. Lack of
males. Females often report that male examiners        accuracy may not cause serious problems if a test
appear to distrust assertive statements and re-        score is treated as a working hypothesis and the
spond better to self-effacing narratives (Bargh &      individual tested later receives appropriate treat-
Chartrand, 1999). Such narratives may in turn re-      ment. In contrast, a misleading score may have
inforce the belief among authority figures in           disastrous consequences if used in a child cus-
health-care situations that the symptoms and           tody case. Similarly, the SAT was developed as a
complaints of women are less serious. This phe-        college admissions test to be used in conjunction
nomenon also arises in educational situations          with high school grades, not to determine “math-
where professors often assert that women are           ematical ability” or the allocation of fellowships.
less confident of their knowledge and women             Inappropriate use of tests may be not only un-
often complain that their assertive statements         ethical but also cause for legal action.
are discounted. In addition, the etiology of de-           Moreover, users of assessment instruments
pression in men and women differs.                     need to view score interpretation guidelines with
   Bias may be inherent in the items of a test or      caution and appropriate skepticism. For exam-
inventory. College and graduate school admis-          ple, Hynan notes that the Millon Clinical Multi-
sions tests include measures of mathematical and       axial Inventory–III manual advises that standard
verbal ability. Intelligence tests such as the Wech-   scores be transformed according to the gender of
sler Intelligence Scale include measures of verbal     the examinee, without giving a rationale. Statis-
and spatial ability. Extensive research shows that     tics for the gender distribution of scores obtained
standardized measures of verbal, mathematical,         in this manner for histrionic, narcissistic, and
and spatial ability tend to favor males while other    compulsive personality disorders are not consis-
indicators such as grades or pre- and posttests        tent with those obtained by other measures. A
measuring impact of innovative instruction tend        possible explanation of this inconsistency is poor
to favor females (Caplan, Crawford, Hyde, &            test development practices. In the development
Richardson, 1997; Linn & Kessel, 2003). These bi-      of the Millon scale, clients were rated on the basis
ases may stem from differential opportunity to         of only one meeting. The score transformation
learn. For example, measures of verbal ability may     was developed when inventory scores were com-
favor those who have studied more science if they      pared with these ratings (Hynan, 2004).
use science passages or favor social scientists if         Design practices intended to create compara-
they use literature passages on cultural issues.       ble outcomes with different versions (often called
44   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


forms) of standardized tests can perpetuate bias                vosa more often than women and men in other
with regard to gender. For example, if biased tests             groups, although it does not appear to be the
of verbal and mathematical ability are updated                  case that this condition occurs more frequently
using careful equating practices, the bias could be             in the middle class (van Hoeken, Lucas, & Hoek,
maintained. If tests were normed against external               1998). One problem in diagnosis of anorexia ner-
criteria such as grades in mathematics, the pro-                vosa concerns the role of the ethnic group. Some
cess could reduce gender bias and improve test                  procedures predicate a diagnosis using factors
accuracy. New statistical techniques, such as item              such as eating behavior and body image together
response theory modeling, provide information                   with actual weight relative to expected weight for
about individual items and enable test developers               age and height (following the definition in the
to identify items that display differences by gen-              Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Dis-
der and items that do not. These techniques could               orders). Aspects that may be assessed for diagnos-
help reduce bias and also contribute to a more nu-              tic purposes include body composition, energy
anced understanding of the sources of bias.                     expenditure, energy intake, core psychopathol-
    Studies of heroism illustrate challenges of                 ogy, and general psychopathology (Nathan &
instrument design. Recent research shows that                   Allison, 1998). The Caucasian features of figural
men are more likely than women to attempt to                    stimuli used in some measures of body image
rescue people from fires, water hazards, and                    may make these measures unsuitable for use. By
other dangers that could result in loss of life, but            taking into account the weight and height norms
that women are more likely than men to have                     for ethnic groups, an examiner’s accuracy in diag-
risked their lives to shelter Jews during the Holo-             nosis may be improved (Becker, Franko, Speck, &
caust. These findings suggest that context needs                 Herzog, 2003). In addition, factors such as bone
to be taken into account in order to make sense of              size contribute to accurate diagnosis of anorexia
the construct “heroism” (Becker & Eagly, 2004).                 nervosa. The diagnosis of eating disorders is fur-
    Diagnosis of dyslexia in young children has                 ther complicated by changing norms for immi-
suffered from an implicit belief in conduct disor-              grant populations when their nutritional needs
der as an indicator of dyslexia. Recent research                are met. Finally, eating disorders tend to emerge
with systematically administered assessments                    in adolescence, at a time when hormonal effects
and brain scans demonstrates that dyslexia is                   may mask or exaggerate symptoms.
quite evenly distributed between females and                        Interpretation of complex data sources, such
males in childhood (Wizemann & Pardue, 2001,                    as clinical interviews, brain scans, or other im-
p. 103). However, schools typically identify dys-               precise sources of evidence, can, when combined
lexia in more boys than girls, in part because boys             with information about the gender of the individ-
tend to concurrently display conduct disorder                   ual, result in biased interpretations. Well-meaning
and dyslexia (Hartung & Widiger, 1998, p. 264).                 individuals may filter imprecise measures through
Ironically, older boys are more likely to remain                their cultural expectations. As a result, it is not
dyslexic than girls. Compensated dyslexics (adults              uncommon for authority figures and decision-
who were dyslexic as children but who are able to               makers to recommend differential paths of ac-
read as adults) tend to be women (Wizemann &                    tion to individuals depending on their gender,
Pardue, 2001). This finding could result from in-                when in fact such individual paths may be unjus-
teractions between expectations for treatment                   tified on other grounds. For example, this inter-
success and gender; it deserves serious research.               pretation effect extends to the evaluation of clin-
    Diagnosis of anorexia nervosa, bulimia ner-                 ical cases and essays, when attributed to males or
vosa, and other eating disorders may reflect                    females. Individuals place far more weight on the
biased instruments as well as cultural expecta-                 gender of the individual than is justified by the
tions. At-risk populations include women, espe-                 evidence available (Hoffman & Tarzian, 2001;
cially adolescents, as well as gymnasts, ballet                 Valian, 1998).
dancers, coxswains, and jockeys. White middle-                      Implicit societal beliefs about the behavior of
class women are diagnosed with anorexia ner-                    men and women may adversely affect perfor-
                                                                     Chapter 4   Assessment and Gender   45


mance. If individuals perceive that their examin-     RELIABILITY
ers do not expect them to succeed (for example,
if interviewers are conducting oral examinations      Bias can impact the reliability and validity of in-
and believe that women are less likely to succeed     struments. By reliability we refer to the likelihood
in engineering), this belief may raise anxiety and    that an individual will be assessed similarly on
reduce performance without being explicitly           subsequent occasions. When instruments have
stated.                                               low reliability they lack power for decisions about
    Furthermore, if small gender differences are      individuals and may show group differences. Re-
publicized without explanatory context and ap-        liability may differentially affect the assessment
propriate statistical background, the publicity       of females and males. For example, hormonal
can nurture stereotype threat rather than pro-        changes of adolescence affect females and males
vide useful information for individuals. Some in-     at different ages. Sources of reliability or unrelia-
dividuals make career decisions based on their        bility affected by gender can come from the in-
perceived performance and the performance of          strument selected, the examiner, the interpreter,
their group from their vantage point (Seymour &       the situation, and measurement practices.
Hewitt, 1997). For example, the consistent gender         Inconsistent results from different instru-
gap of about 50 points on the mathematics SAT         ments, or instruments with differential consis-
receives yearly publicity, but the population sta-    tency for disparate groups, can result in ques-
tistics showing equal male and female perfor-         tionable decisions. For example, diagnoses of
mance, as in the Third International Mathemat-        depression or serious mental illness depend on
ics and Science Study, are less well known. The       indicators such as the display of persistent sad-
gender gap in SAT scores represents only two or       ness and social withdrawal behaviors or the en-
three additional wrong answers but is accorded        actment of paranoid beliefs. Depending on gen-
far more prominence. In addition, the fact that       der and situation, fears of strangers, abuse, or
female SAT takers now outnumber males has not         retaliation may be legitimate learned responses
received wide publicity. As a group, female test      based on experiences of maltreatment. As a re-
takers have less mathematics course experience        sult, the same indicator of depression or serious
than males. Very small differences detected in        mental illness may work differently for the gen-
large populations are easily described but may        ders. Using a combination of indicators and tak-
not be consequential for individual or policy de-     ing a thorough history can improve the chances
cisions. Women may opt out of science or math-        for an accurate diagnosis but also has potential
ematics because they are dissatisfied with their       for bias if interpreters give unequal weight to
own performance, even though it is above aver-        some information or ask only questions that are
age, and because they believe that they need to       consistent with their biases.
be even more successful in order to compete in            Instrument reliability may also vary with situ-
“a man’s world.”                                      ation due to the familiarity of the individuals
    In summary, the effects of instruments, exam-     with the format or content of the assessment. For
iners, and interpreters on assessment depend on       example, unusual requirements for examiners or
a variety of important factors. Co-occurrence of      individuals, such as scenario-based assessments
several conditions, such as verbal ability and sci-   of anxiety or unusual task formats such as select-
ence course taking, depression and poverty, or        ing all but one correct answer, typically rely on
dyslexia and presence or absence of conduct dis-      experience that may be more available to one
order, may lead to misinterpretation and erro-        gender than to the other. Recent research in
neous assessment. In other cases, expectations        school districts that have undertaken more con-
about gender roles, such as passivity for women,      sequential and extensive standardized testing, as
interact with interpretations. In complex situa-      part of the No Child Left Behind legislation, has
tions, interpreters may implicitly invoke cultural    revealed effects of practice on format. In many
stereotypes rather than place appropriate weight      schools, a 10% or greater increase in perfor-
on performance of the individual.                     mance can result from students having experi-
46   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


ence with the test format (Koretz, Linn, Dunbar,                which exacerbate the difficulty of establishing
& Shepard, 1991). This is particularly important                reliable measures (Maj et al., 2002).
for standardized tests where students could be                      Reliability of measurement between and
diagnosed as retarded when really they are inex-                within genders calls for careful interpretation of
perienced. Similarly, inventories intended to tap               information about individuals and conclusions
mental health or cognitive constructs may give                  about group effects. Unreliable measures reduce
less accurate information for members of groups                 the power of comparisons between groups. How-
unfamiliar with multiple-choice formats.                        ever, unreliability also introduces fluctuations,
    Format effects for psychiatric screening were               especially when sample sizes are small, as is com-
reported by Jacobson, Koehler, and Jones-Brown                  mon in some mental health studies and many
(1987). Structured interviews and written ques-                 studies involving brain scans or other expensive
tionnaires both probed for history of sexual                    procedures. In selection decisions, unreliable
abuse or assault, but responses indicated rates of              measures cause serious problems. For example,
35% and 52%, respectively, suggesting an inter-                 some inventories define mental retardation,
action between format and content in this case.                 learning disabilities, or even phobias based on a
    Lack of reliability can result from the inter-              specific score. If the score has a low reliability,
actions of examiners and examinees. Interview-                  many errors near the cut-off will result.
ers can elicit reactions based on their gender,                     In summary, sources of unreliability for the
ethnicity, culture, and level of authority (Caplan              measurement of females and males are particu-
et al., 1997; Lustina et al., 1999). Females may be             larly likely for measures involving interactions
more likely to distrust strangers based on prior                between the individual and an interviewer, ex-
experience or to view bearded individuals as                    perimenter, or interpreter of behavior such as a
having special status. Males may display ag-                    clinician. However, any instrument used to assign
gression while females display passivity under                  individuals to treatments could have bias for one
conditions of anxiety. This variability may be                  gender. Reliability studies need to assess the con-
difficult to detect and control. Health-care work-               tribution of gender to the variance across time.
ers may erroneously expect women to have low
pain thresholds and therefore miss physical
disorders in depressed women (Wizemann &                        VALIDITY
Pardue, 2001).
    More subtle variability based on the comfort                By validity, we refer to the likelihood that an as-
of individuals with their examiner or the exami-                sessment measures the dimension of individual
nation setting can further exacerbate the prob-                 performance intended. Earlier examples illus-
lem. For example, when interviewed about their                  trate the difficulties in sorting out the constructs
health-related behavior, females and males from                 in the area of psychological health. Depression,
different cultures or different family practices                serious mental illness, eating disorders, and other
may provide more or less detail, or promote or                  distressing conditions frequently overlap, and
demote symptoms that could be important to                      may be difficult to distinguish from each other
their diagnosis depending on whether the exam-                  and to diagnose definitively (Maj et al., 2002).
iner is from their culture, race, or gender (Murthy                 Many conditions co-occur and have inter-
& Wig, 2002).                                                   acting effects. Thus, heart disease and mood dis-
    Concentration and attention of individuals                  orders, diabetes and depression, dyslexia and
also varies depending on situations, time of day,               conduct disorder, and phobias and eating disor-
and other factors. These variables introduce un-                ders, often occur in the same individuals. These
reliability into diagnostic and testing situations.             conditions may be mediated by the same mech-
Often, harried examiners and expensive proce-                   anisms, as is sometimes the case for diabetes and
dures fail to take into consideration these vari-               depression, or might result from side effects of
ables and may result in misdiagnoses. Males and                 drug treatments, which is possible for heart dis-
females vary with regard to their response to                   ease and mood disorders. Moreover, a chronic
drugs, fatigue, and attention-diverting situations,             medical condition may itself be cause for de-
                                                                       Chapter 4   Assessment and Gender   47


pression or anxiety. These conditions may be                Opportunity to learn, or opportunity to expe-
caused by the interaction of sociocultural influ-        rience dimensions of a situation can modify the
ences, individual psychology, and biological fac-       construct that is measured. Individuals need op-
tors as appears to be the case for many eating          portunities to learn self-respect, science, mathe-
disorders (Gordon, 1998). Thus, establishing dis-       matics, spatial reasoning, and independence, as
tinct constructs and finding valid measures for          well as other factors that frequently display gen-
them is difficult. The chapters in this volume          der disparities. Developmental experiences, such
discuss these complex interactions as well as           as opportunities to explore or venture from the
changing perspectives of the constructs in psy-         home, appear to have important implications for
chological health. Further evidence for the com-        later way-finding ability as well as for risk taking.
plexity of construct definition comes from the           Furthermore, cultural differences in gender roles
changing recommendations found in clinical              or work ethic may predispose some individuals
standards (American Psychiatric Association,            to experiences that modify the construct being
2000). Here we highlight some of the issues and         measured (Caplan et al., 1997).
call for caution as cultural, psychological, med-           In summary, changing explanations and me-
ical, and treatment research continuously raises        chanisms for psychological health have resulted
new concerns.                                           in modification and refinement of constructs.
    New technologies such as brain imaging tech-        New technologies including data from brain
                                                        functioning and results of studies of medications
nologies have called definitions of constructs such
                                                        shed light on the mechanisms that lead to psy-
as dyslexia into question by showing that brain
                                                        chological health. For example, recent studies of
imaging consistent with dyslexia occurs equally in
                                                        placebo effects reveal the powerful impact of
women and men yet diagnosis is skewed toward
                                                        expectations on the efficacy of drug treatments.
men (Wizemann & Pardue, 2001, pp. 101–104). The
                                                        New uses for cognitive therapies have clarified
results for drug and cognitive therapies illustrate
                                                        the distinctions between disorders. All of these
connections among cortical, limbic–paralimbic,
                                                        factors underscore the complexity of diagnosis
and subcortical functions (Goldapple et al., 2004).
                                                        and treatment in the area of psychological health
    From the standpoint of validity, a common
                                                        and call for community-wide attention to poten-
recommendation is to use multiple indicators.
                                                        tial sources of bias.
Use of multiple indicators can increase the va-
lidity of an assessment or diagnosis, but can
also strengthen bias if the only common vari-
                                                        CONCLUSIONS
ance in the indicators is attributable to a biased
factor. Comorbid conditions such as dyslexia            Individuals involved in mental health face com-
and conduct disorder, depression and poverty,           plex assessment challenges. They need to sort out
anxiety and depression, or depression and bor-          the effect of bias on the lives of those they treat as
derline personality disorder can confound and           well as on the decisions of others involved in men-
perplex those making diagnoses and may end              tal health. Gender bias affects cultural practices,
up overemphasizing gender-related behaviors,            opportunities to learn, expectations concerning
thus skewing gender distributions. Format effects,      who develops disorders, and views about how
such as combining oral and written examinations,        psychological problems should be treated. Such
which might tap different constructs for females        effects also influence individuals who are threat-
and males, can create difficulties in assessment.        ened by these expectations or who act on their
Finally, assertiveness and self-deprecation can         own versions of them. Cultural mechanisms for
contribute to the difficulty of establishing valid as-   gender bias include the tyranny of the mean—
sessments of females and males. When assess-            overvaluing mean differences for females and
ments create debilitating anxiety in the gender         males (Linn, 1994), implicit beliefs, stereotyping,
that is stereotyped as not likely to succeed under      and stereotype threat. Aspects of assessment that
the target conditions, the validity of the process is   may invoke or allow bias are co-occurring condi-
in doubt.                                               tions, selection of instruments, instrument design
48    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


and format, and mismatch between an instru-                      tential of an individual who has high success anx-
ment and the condition it is intended to measure.                iety, belongs to a group that is not expected to
    To respond to bias, we offer several recom-                  succeed, and performs inconsistently.
mendations.                                                         Fourth, allocate assessment funds so that dif-
    First, whenever feasible, use multiple, di-                  ficult cases get more attention. For example, start
verse indicators of biopsychosocial well-being.                  with a short assessment and add indicators to re-
Combine interviews, surveys, observations, his-                  solve discrepancies or improve outcomes. To
tories, medical data, and peer reports. Draw on                  help teams make sensible decisions about when
input from experts in varied fields such as psy-                 to seek more information and about how to in-
chology, education, psychiatry, medicine, and                    terpret information, encourage research that de-
social work. To ensure validity, allow experts to                velops databases and collections of findings from
interpret their assessments autonomously be-                     multiple cases.
fore asking them to reconcile their views with                      Fifth, use a process of trial and refinement to
those of others. Experts from varied backgrounds                 develop an explanation for the assessment find-
bring valid insights to complex situations that                  ings that fully accounts for the available infor-
can be missed if one perspective is viewed as                    mation and leads to improvement in well-being.
dominant.                                                        As the example from the treatment of the Hmong
    Second, view each individual first as a person                child illustrates, assessment is an ongoing pro-
and second as a member of multiple interacting                   cess that must take into account not only all the
communities, cultures, and categories. There is                  indicators from the initial assessment but the
often more variability within groups such as gen-                sequence of assessments as the individual re-
der, ethnicity, or social class than between these               sponds to treatment. Weighing factors in com-
groups. Assuming an individual has characteris-                  plex biopsychosocial situations and determining
tics that occur slightly more often in a group that              when to gather more information, when to try
they belong to is a common source of invalid as-                 a new treatment, and how to learn from the ex-
sessment. For example, assuming that a female                    perience requires attention to a broad range of
complaining of fatigue and malaise is suffering                  dimensions.
from depression may miss important symptoms                         Sixth, raise awareness of sources of bias so
of heart disease.                                                that individuals can advocate for themselves and
    Third, look for consistencies and discrepan-                 their loved ones. Incorporate these issues into
cies across indicators and seek explanations for                 introductory courses. For example, curriculum
both. Make sure that consistencies do not detract                materials for K–12 education can discuss gender
attention from valid but low probability alter-                  bias and cultural stereotypes. To avoid falling
natives. When possible, add indicators in areas                  prey to the tyranny of the mean and to neutralize
where there are discrepancies to resolve differ-                 stereotype threat, students could benefit from
ences. Assume that discrepancies stem from lack                  understanding that the differences between
of reliability in indicators. If increased reliability           men and women are far smaller than the dif-
does not resolve the problem, then seek expla-                   ferences within either group. Helping individu-
nations based on cultural, social, or situational                als to evaluate themselves in the population as
factors.                                                         well as in their gender or cultural group can im-
    For example, grades and scores provide dis-                  prove personal decision making. Students could
crepant information about capabilities in mathe-                 also benefit from existing materials, such as the
matics for many high school students. Adding                     Web-Based Inquiry Science Environment (WISE)
more scores or grades may not clarify the dis-                   (Linn, Davis, & Bell, 2004), to improve individual
crepancy. Realizing that the sample taking tests is              awareness. WISE activities, for example, address
not representative of the whole population helps                 diagnosis of sexually transmitted diseases and
to resolve this dilemma but leaves some variance                 tradeoffs among behavioral, drug-related, and
unexplained. Consideration of factors such as                    environmental solutions to the worldwide threat
stereotype threat helps to resolve this dilemma.                 of malaria. Such programs should illustrate com-
All these factors may be essential to assess the po-             plex decisions that concern individuals or their
                                                                           Chapter 4   Assessment and Gender       49


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                                      As the most frequently reported form of mood dis-
                                      turbance, depression is said to be the “common
                                      cold” of emotional distress. Sadness is a common,
                                      human response to loss, failure, rejection, or dis-
                                      appointment. This sadness can be profound, as it
                                      may be after the death of a loved one. However,
                                      sadness is not depression unless it becomes com-
                                      plicated by negative feelings about our futures
                                      and our selves. Depressed people feel badly about
                                      themselves, they blame themselves for things
                                      going wrong in their lives, and they have trouble
                                      imagining a better future. Depression that is clin-
                                      ically meaningful involves physical symptoms as
                                      well, including changes in appetite, energy levels,
                                      and sleeping patterns. Depression is usually pre-
                                      ceded by one or more highly stressful life events,
                                      which typically involve loss or devaluation, such
                                      as the break up of a relationship, or failure at
                                      school or work (Brown & Harris, 1978). Even posi-
                                      tive life events can entail an element of loss and so
                                      risk depressed mood. For instance, when women
                                      first become mothers, they may be overjoyed by
                                      the baby’s birth but at the same time feel that they
                                      have lost freedom and control over their lives.
                                          An important contextual factor that is related
                                      to depressive symptoms is poverty. Children who
                                      live in poverty endure a number of other condi-
                                      tions that may account for the link with depres-
                                      sive symptoms. For instance, poor children are
                                      more likely to live in neighborhoods with social
VALERIE E. WHIFFEN                    problems, less likely to participate in activities
                                      outside of school, and more likely to have a
and N A T A S H A D E M I D E N K O
                                      mother who is depressed and who uses physical
                                      punishment to discipline them; these intervening
                                      variables appear to account for the association
Mood Disturbance                      between child poverty and depressive symptoms
                                      (Eamon, 2002). Among adults, poverty is associ-
Across the Life Span                  ated with being unmarried and living in a run-
                                      down, unsafe environment, both of which appear
                                      to account for the association with depressive
                                      symptoms (Ross, 2000).
                                          One of the most robust yet mystifying facts




5
                                      about depression is that girls and women are twice
                                      as likely as boys and men to experience it. The life-
                                      time rate of clinical depression is 20–25% for fe-
                                      males and 7–12% for males (Nolen-Hoeksema,
                                      1987). The rates are equal only before the age of
                                      10 and after the age of 80 (Jorm, 1987). Thus, girls
                                      and women are more vulnerable than boys and
                                      men across most of the life span. In this chapter,


                                                                                         51
52   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


we attempt to understand what it is about the lives             depression. Neurotransmitters are chemicals in
of girls and women that make them vulnerable to                 the brain and nervous system that influence
depressed mood.                                                 moods. Female hormones have an impact on
                                                                how neurotransmitters are made and used by the
                                                                nervous system. However, there is no evidence
BIOLOGICAL EXPLANATIONS:                                        directly linking depression to female hormones.
HORMONES AND GENES                                              In addition, the hormones that are most clearly
                                                                linked to depression, such as cortisol, do not dif-
The fact that the gender gap first emerges in early              fer between the sexes in a way that explains the
adolescence has suggested hormonal origins to                   gender difference.
many researchers. Recent research confirmed                          In contrast, depression clearly has a genetic
that the gender difference emerges at puberty, re-              basis. While the genetic contribution to adult de-
gardless of the age at which that occurs (Angold,               pression is equal in men and women (Kendler &
Costello, & Worthman, 1998). Girls experience a                 Prescott, 1999), studies of adolescents show that
sharp increase in depression at this time, while                genetic factors appear to play no role at all in ado-
boys experience a sudden decrease. However, the                 lescent boys’ depressive symptoms (Jacobson &
fact that puberty increases girls’ risk for depres-             Rowe, 1999; Silberg et al., 1999). The meaning of
sion does not mean that hormones cause de-                      this finding is not clear. Some researchers argue
pression. The hormonal changes associated with                  that the genes responsible for depression are
puberty coincide with significant social and
                                                                “turned on” in girls during puberty (Silberg et al.,
emotional changes in children’s lives. Thus, pu-
                                                                1999), while others argue that depression genes
bertal girls may be at risk for depression because
                                                                simply are more strongly expressed in girls than
of hormonal or social factors, or a combination of
                                                                in boys (Jacobson & Rowe, 1999).
both. For instance, negative life events seem to be
more depressing for pubertal than prepubertal
girls (Silberg et al., 1999).
                                                                Psychological and Social Factors
    Although researchers have long speculated
that women’s depression is caused by such hor-
                                                                Depression is associated with a variety of psycho-
monal events as puberty, menstruation, child-
                                                                logical and social risk factors, including dysfunc-
birth, and menopause, no specific hormonal
                                                                tional beliefs (Beck, Rush, Shaw, & Emery, 1979),
mechanisms have been identified. There is no ev-
                                                                ruminative coping (Nolen-Hoeksema, 1987), a
idence that menopausal women are at special risk
for developing depression (Ballinger, 1990), which              tendency to feel hopeless (Abramson, Alloy, &
makes a hormonal explanation for those depres-                  Metalsky, 1989), and personality traits such as de-
sions that do occur unlikely. The picture for pre-              pendency and self-criticism (Coyne & Whiffen,
menstrual syndrome (PMS) and postpartum de-                     1995). All models of depression are “diathesis-
pression (PPD) is more complex but not yet clear.               stress” models—that is, they assume that the
For instance, consistent with a hormonal expla-                 underlying risk, whether biological or psycho-
nation, there is a subgroup of women who are at                 social, must be triggered by life stress in order for
high risk for depression after childbirth (Cooper &             depressed mood to develop. In this chapter, we
Murray, 1995). However, only thyroid dysfunction                focus on two classes of risk factors that have
has been consistently associated with some cases                been implicated in female depression through-
of PPD (Hendrick, Altshuler, & Suri, 1998). Addi-               out the life span: gender role and problematic
tionally, women who suffer with PMS (Graze, Nee,                relationships.
& Endicott, 1990) and PPD (Whiffen, 1992) are at
risk for depression at other times in their lives,
which indicates that their periods of depression                GENDER ROLE
coincide both with times of hormonal change and
with times of stability.                                        The term gender role is broad and can refer to
    It is possible that reproductive hormones have              the socialization of gender-typed personality
an impact on the neurotransmitters implicated in                traits, to social conditions that typically are asso-
                                                         Chapter 5 Mood Disturbance Across the Life Span   53


ciated with one gender more than the other, or to       Interpersonal Violence
the enactment of gender-typed behaviors such
as caregiving.                                          Girls and women are more likely than boys and
                                                        men to be victims of violence, especially in inti-
                                                        mate relationships. All forms of interpersonal
Personality Traits                                      violence, including sexual assault and physical
                                                        abuse, are associated with depression, especially
The socialization of boys encourages the devel-         in girls and women (Weaver & Clum, 1995). In par-
opment of instrumental personality traits such          ticular, researchers have focused on a history of
as independence and decisiveness, while girls’          childhood sexual abuse (CSA), which is strongly
socialization encourages the development of in-         associated with adult women’s depression. When
terpersonal and expressive traits such as empa-         a history of CSA is controlled for statistically, the
thy and caring for others. By early adolescence,        gender difference in adult depressive symptoms
girls possess fewer instrumental traits than boys       disappears (Whiffen & Clark, 1997), which sug-
do. Nolen-Hoeksema and Girgus (1994) argued             gests that CSA may explain why girls and women
that this relative lack of instrumental traits im-      experience more depressed mood than do boys
pedes girls’ ability to cope with the biological and    and men.
social challenges of adolescence. Consistent with           A history of CSA may make it difficult for girls
this hypothesis, adolescents who self-report high       to cope with some of the challenges of adoles-
levels of instrumental traits are more confident         cence, such as changes in their bodies and dating.
about their ability to solve problems, which pro-       Girls who were sexually abused as children may
tects them from feeling depressed (Marcotte,            be ambivalent about normal, physical changes
Alain, & Gosselin, 1999). In addition, some re-         that make them attractive because sexual activity
searchers argue that depression is linked to the        was a source of shame in the past. In addition,
socialization of negative feminine traits, such as      CSA may lead to the development of specific cog-
passivity and overinvolvement with others to the        nitive biases that are associated with depression.
exclusion of self (Helgeson & Fritz, 1998).             For example, when children are sexually abused,
                                                        the assailant typically blames them for the abuse.
                                                        The tendency to blame oneself for uncontrol-
Body Dissatisfaction                                    lable, negative events may become a stable part
                                                        of the abused child’s personality, such that even
The normal changes associated with puberty              life events that are clearly out of one’s control are
mean that girls gain fat, especially in their breasts   perceived to be one’s fault (Wenninger & Ehlers,
and buttocks, while boys become taller and more         1998). CSA also may cause permanent changes to
muscular. Thus, girls move away from societal           the nervous system that increase reactivity to
ideals about thinness, while boys move closer to        stress (Weiss, Longhurst, & Mazure, 1999), which
the ideal for men. As a result, body dissatisfac-       may make CSA survivors biologically prone to ex-
tion is normative among adolescent girls, but           perience depression in the face of life stress.
rare among boys. This is problematic for girls be-          CSA also has an indirect impact on adult de-
cause physical attractiveness is a central compo-       pression through its influence on relationships.
nent of adolescents’ self-esteem. Attractiveness        Close relationships, particularly with romantic
determines popularity with both sexes and in            partners, protect women from becoming de-
girls may overshadow other characteristics such         pressed when they experience life stress (Brown
as intelligence and ability. Not surprisingly, body     and Harris, 1978). However, women with a his-
dissatisfaction is associated with depressive symp-     tory of CSA have more interpersonal problems
toms in both sexes. Girls who feel dissatisfied          than do women without this history (Rumstein-
about normal physical changes have lower self-          McKean & Hunsley, 2001). They report difficul-
esteem and are more likely to be depressed than         ties getting close to and trusting other people,
girls whose attitude toward their bodies is more        and many report that they avoid having close re-
positive (Wichstrom, 1999).                             lationships altogether. In addition, the quality of
54   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


their romantic relationships may be poor. For in-               strain: family relationships for adolescent girls and
stance, CSA survivors are more likely to be phys-               relationships with romantic partners throughout
ically victimized by their romantic partners or to              the life span.
be sexually assaulted. Re-victimization is directly
associated with episodes of depression during
adulthood.                                                      Family Relationships

                                                                Depression in adolescents is strongly linked to
Work Outside the Home                                           dysfunctional family relationships (Cummings &
                                                                Davies, 1999). Compared to nondepressed youth,
Bebbington (1996) reviewed the role of gender-                  depressed youth report lower levels of family
role enactment in adult women’s depression. He                  cohesion and closeness, fewer social resources,
pointed out that married women with young                       lower levels of support and approval from their
children are at the greatest risk for depression,               parents, more family conflict and poorer commu-
except in countries and cultures where home-                    nication with parents, more parental control, and
making is highly valued. Conversely, being em-                  a negative family climate (Sheeber, Hops, & Davis,
ployed outside the home is protective for women,                2001). As girls make the transition into adoles-
despite the fact that the vast majority of working              cence, they begin to place more importance on
mothers report high levels of stress as a result of             interpersonal relationships than do boys. Thus,
work-family conflict. Compared to stay-at-home                   difficult family relationships can have a signifi-
mothers, working mothers have higher self-                      cant impact on adolescent girls’ mood even when
esteem and they feel more competent, even                       they are not directly involved (i.e., parents’ mari-
about their parenting. It may be useful to think of             tal problems). One longitudinal study showed that
employment specifically and of gender roles                      girls were more vulnerable than boys to family
generally, as factors that have a positive impact               problems such as marital conflict and low levels of
on the development of instrumental traits and                   family intimacy, which accounted for their social
behaviors. For instance, women who work out-                    and emotional adjustment (Davies & Windle,
side their homes may have the opportunity to                    1997). Although adolescents typically spend less
develop traits such as independence and self-                   time with their parents than do younger children,
confidence, as well as problem-solving skills that               they continue to identify their parents as their
help them to cope with life stress.                             most significant sources of support. For girls,
                                                                family relations are a better predictor of adoles-
                                                                cent depressive symptoms than are peer rela-
PROBLEMATIC RELATIONSHIPS                                       tions, particularly when they are highly stressed
                                                                (McFarlane, Bellissimo, Norman, & Lange, 1994).
While boys are socialized to value independence                     Secure attachment bonds with parents allow
and competition, girls are socialized to value in-              girls to create positive cognitive models of the
terpersonal relationships, particularly with their              self and the self-in-relation. These models are
families and spouses. As a result, girls and women              important sources of information about girls’ in-
derive much of their self-esteem from their abil-               trinsic worth, and about the emotional respon-
ity to establish and maintain positive connec-                  siveness of significant others. When researchers
tions with significant others (Josephs, Markus, &                studied adolescents in an inpatient psychiatric
Tafarodi, 1992). There is substantial evidence that             setting, strong gender differences were found in
difficult interpersonal relations are linked to the              attachment (Rosenstein & Horowitz, 1996). Ado-
onset of depression; once depressed, girls and                  lescent girls were more likely than boys to be de-
women stay depressed in part by generating in-                  pressed and to be intensely worried that they
terpersonal conflicts (Hammen, 2003). In this                    would be abandoned by attachment figures. In
section, we summarize the evidence that depres-                 contrast, boys were more likely than girls to have
sion is related to two sources of interpersonal                 a dismissing attachment style characterized by
                                                        Chapter 5 Mood Disturbance Across the Life Span   55


self-sufficiency. This research suggests that ado-      alarmingly high in adolescent girls with a de-
lescent girls who suffer from depression place a       pressed parent.
high importance on interpersonal bonds, but               Parental depression may have a direct negative
also that they have little confidence that people       impact on adolescent girls through poor parent-
will be consistently available and responsive to       ing (Hammen, 2003). In addition, the children of
their emotional needs. An insecure attachment          depressed parents may feel guilty and be overly
relationship with one’s primary attachment fig-         focused on the depressed parent (Cole-Detke &
ure, usually the mother, appears to decrease           Kobak, 1996). Depressed parents may turn to their
girls’ self-esteem, and increase the likelihood of     children to meet their own emotional needs and
depressed mood (Roberts & Monroe, 1999).               to alleviate their distress, which may cause the
    Mothers also are an important source of sup-       adolescent to neglect her own needs and assume
port for adolescent girls. Adolescent girls tend to    the role of caregiver (Rosenstein & Horowitz,
experience more stressful life events and to be        1996). Because of their interpersonal focus, girls
more reactive than boys are in response to these       may be more likely than boys to take on a care-
events. However, a warm, supportive relation-          giver role with a depressed parent. Statistically,
ship with one’s mother attenuates the impact of        a depressed parent also is more likely to be a
stress on girls’ but not boys’ depressive symp-        mother than a father, with additional conse-
toms (Ge, Lorenz, Conger, Elder, & Simons, 1994).      quences for daughters in the form of reduced ma-
Maternal support also may be implicated in the         ternal support. Thus, parental depression, partic-
normal developmental process of individuation.         ularly in mothers, may be another source of
Girls tend to feel depressed when they perceive        adolescent girls’ risk for depressed mood.
discrepancies between who they are and who
their parents wish them to be, which may reflect
the relational basis of their self-esteem. However,    Dating Relationships
these discrepancies are only problematic for girls
who also perceive their mothers as unsupportive        Nondepressed adolescent girls believe that de-
of their autonomy. Girls who see themselves as         pression occurs when girls feel disconnected in
discrepant from what their mothers want for            their important relationships, particularly with
them, but see their mothers as supportive of their     boyfriends, or when they do not have a romantic
autonomy have high levels of self-esteem and low       partner (Hetherington & Stoppard, 2002). Consis-
levels of depression (Moretti & Wiebe, 1999).          tent with this perception, adolescent girls are at
    A discussion of family functioning and depres-     risk for depression when romantic relationships
sion would not be complete unless it included          end (Silberg et al., 1999). In late adolescence, girls
mention of the impact of parental depression on        may increasingly turn to romantic partners for the
adolescents. In interactions with their children,      emotional support that earlier in their lives was
depressed parents show more negative mood and          provided by their parents. Lack of this form of in-
make more negative attributions, they communi-         timacy may increase their vulnerability to depres-
cate with vague, inconsistent and often confusing      sion. The acceptance and validation that is pro-
messages, they express more rejection and hostil-      vided by an intimate romantic relationship may
ity, and they show less warmth and positive mood       enable adolescent girls to regulate their negative
than nondepressed parents do (Chiariello &             moods. For instance, one study showed that girls
Orvaschel, 1995). Thus, depression makes it diffi-      who lacked intimacy in a romantic relationship
cult for parents to meet their children’s emotional    were more likely to endorse dysfunctional beliefs
needs on a consistent and reliable basis. Not sur-     about themselves when induced to have a nega-
prisingly, the children of depressed parents are six   tive mood (Williams, Connolly, & Segal, 2001).
times more likely to suffer from depression than           However, romantic relationships are a double-
are the children of nondepressed parents. Given        edged sword. The results from a large-scale lon-
that adolescent girls are already more likely than     gitudinal study indicate that becoming involved
boys to become depressed, this risk becomes            in a romantic relationship also increases adoles-
56   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


cent girls’ depressed mood, in part because hav-                one in whom they can confide (Brown & Harris,
ing a boyfriend can have a negative impact on                   1978). Similarly, once a woman becomes de-
girls’ relationships with their parents (Joyner &               pressed, having a warm and supportive spouse fa-
Udry, 2000). Young women who are prone to                       cilitates her recovery (McLeod, Kessler, & Landis,
depression may unwittingly select romantic                      1992). Husbands who denigrate the importance of
partners who increase their risk of depression.                 relationships or who are indifferent to their wives
Another study, which followed young women for                   are especially likely to maintain and exacerbate
up to five years after graduation from high school,              their wives’ depression (Whiffen et al., 2001).
found that young women who initially were un-                       Women may be more sensitive than men to
happy went on to become involved with young                     conflict and lack of support. When one partner is
men who tended to be aloof, guarded, unemo-                     depressed, the couple tends to have hostile and
tional, and unempathetic, and hence emotion-                    conflicted interactions, regardless of whether the
ally unsupportive (Daley & Hammen, 2002). This                  depressed person is the husband or the wife.
constellation of traits also increases depression               However, when the wife is depressed, their inter-
levels in married women (Whiffen, Kallos-Lilly, &               actions are measurably more negative. In addi-
MacDonald, 2001). Thus, women who are prone                     tion, depressed women feel even more depressed
to depression appear to choose romantic part-                   after a hostile interaction with their spouses than
ners who are likely to exacerbate and maintain                  do depressed men (Gotlib & Whiffen, 1989). Mari-
their depressive tendencies.                                    tal distress lowers women’s self-esteem, which in-
                                                                creases their vulnerability to depression (Culp &
                                                                Beach, 1998). Unlike depressed men, once women
Marital Relations                                               become depressed, they tend to interact with
                                                                their spouses in ways that perpetuate depression,
Depression is associated with attachment inse-                  for instance, by expecting their partners to be crit-
curity in romantic relationships (Whiffen et al.,               ical and by behaving unsupportively in marital in-
2001), and with marital distress (Whisman, 2001).               teractions (Davila, Bradbury, Cohan, & Tochluk,
There also is evidence that marital distress in-                1997). Thus, marital distress and depression may
creases the risk of an episode of depression and                form a unique negative feedback loop in women.
predicts relapse after recovery. For instance,                  Women also may need more support than men
Whisman and Bruce (1999) showed that spouses                    do to maintain their well being. On average, men
who were maritally distressed but not depressed                 and women do not differ in the levels of support
at baseline were nearly three times more likely to              that they receive. However, if women require
become clinically depressed over the subsequent                 more support and if they are more adversely af-
year than were individuals who were neither                     fected by conflict with their spouses, then to-
maritally distressed nor depressed. Marital dis-                gether these findings may explain why marital
tress and depression are even more strongly as-                 distress is more likely to induce depression in
sociated among individuals who have a history                   women than in men (Bebbington, 1996).
of poor interpersonal relations. For example,                       Women may be at risk for depression when
women who were sexually abused during child-                    their beliefs about the importance of relation-
hood are both better protected by good marital                  ships are taken to an extreme—that is, when they
relations and more vulnerable to depressive                     feel that harmony in their relationships must be
symptoms when their relationships are of poor                   maintained at all costs. Women who hold this
quality than are women without this history                     view may “silence” themselves to preserve the
(Whiffen, Judd, & Aube, 1999).                                  illusion of harmony (Jack, 1991). “Self-silencing”
    Marital distress has an impact both on the                  involves suppressing negative thoughts or feel-
level of conflict that a couple experiences and on               ings that might threaten the relationship. This
the level of support they provide to one another.               self-censorship alienates the woman from her
Both aspects heighten vulnerability to depres-                  own thoughts and feelings, which ultimately re-
sion. Women who experience life stress are pro-                 sults in her becoming depressed. Self-silencing
tected from becoming depressed by having some-                  may be an interpersonal coping strategy that is
                                                       Chapter 5 Mood Disturbance Across the Life Span       57


particularly likely to develop when the romantic      TREATMENT IMPLICATIONS
partner or spouse is critical and intolerant
(Thompson, Whiffen, & Aube, 2001).                    Psychological treatments need to take into ac-
    Finally, there is evidence that depressed mood    count the interpersonal and social context in
is contagious (Joiner & Katz, 1999). Contagion ef-    which women’s depression occurs. A variety
fects are likely to be pronounced among women,        of standardized psychological treatments have
who appear to be especially sensitive to their        been shown to be effective. Three treatments in-
spouses’ marital distress and depressed mood          volve individual sessions between the depressed
(Whiffen & Gotlib, 1989). Thus, women’s risk for      woman and her therapist: cognitive-behavioral
depression may come not only from their own           therapy (CBT; Beck et al., 1979), interpersonal
marital distress but also from their husbands’        therapy (IPT; Frank & Spanier, 1995), and process-
distress.                                             experiential therapy (PET; Watson, Gordon, Ster-
                                                      mac, Kalogerakos, & Steckley, 2003). CBT is aimed
                                                      at reducing dysfunctional beliefs about the self,
SUMMARY AND INTEGRATION                               world, and future that accompany depression.
OF THE RESEARCH                                       This treatment may help women change dysfunc-
                                                      tional beliefs about relationships. IPT is focused
We identified two linked themes, gender role and       directly on changing the disturbed interpersonal
problematic relationships, that appear to place       relations that give rise to depression. PET assists
girls and women at risk for depressed mood.           clients to process painful emotions and past ex-
Girls are socialized to value interpersonal rela-     periences. After treatment, clients who received
tionships and to value themselves for their skill     PET report fewer interpersonal problems. Marital
in maintaining close and harmonious relations.        therapy also is an effective treatment for women’s
Relationships can have a protective effect if they    depression when it co-occurs with marital dis-
are healthy and secure or a detrimental effect in     tress (Jacobson, Dobson, Fruzzetti, Schmaling, &
the context of discord and insecurity. Because of     Salusky, 1991). Finally, attachment-based family
the emphasis girls and women place on relation-       therapy appears to be an effective treatment for
ships, they may ruminate about negative family        adolescent depression (Diamond, Reis, Diamond,
events, they may feel caught or trapped in family     Siqueland, & Isaacs, 2002). Depression tends to be
problems, and they may become enmeshed in             comorbid with other problems, most commonly
the problems of family members (Davies &              anxiety and personality disorders (Melartin &
Windle, 1997). In taking on gender socialized re-     Isometsae, 2000); the existence of co-occurring
sponsibilities for maintaining relationships, girls   disorders usually complicates treatment.
and women may put their own emotional needs
aside, which ultimately may result in mood dis-
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                          Substantial empirical evidence points to a pre-
                          ponderance of females showing and/or reporting
                          some form of anxiety disturbance (e.g., fear, worry,
                          anxiety) across the life span. This chapter provides
                          an overview of the existing literature on gender dif-
                          ferences in anxiety disturbance across the life span
                          with respect to developmental course and etiolog-
                          ical variables. First, we begin by reviewing empiri-
                          cal findings on gender differences in anxiety dis-
                          turbance with studies using participants randomly
                          selected from the population (community studies)
                          and studies using participants who present for
                          treatment (clinical studies). Next, we review evi-
                          dence from epidemiological studies regarding the
                          overall prevalence of individual anxiety disorders
                          across sexes. We then consider several theoretical
                          explanations (e.g., biological, social, and cogni-
                          tive) that seek to explain how gender differences in
                          anxiety disturbance emerge. This is followed by a
                          brief discussion of differences across gender as a
                          function of ethnicity. We conclude with an exami-
                          nation of prevention and treatment methods rele-
                          vant to girls and women.


                          FEATURES OF ANXIETY DISTURBANCE

                          Fears and Worry in Girls and Women

                          Although distinctions have been made between
                          fear (a response to imminent threat), worry (a
WENDY K. SILVERMAN        preparation for future threat), and anxiety (appre-
and R O N A C A R T E R   hension and anticipation), they all share a similar
                          response pattern that may lead to impairing anx-
                          iety symptoms or disorders. These response
Anxiety Disturbance in    patterns typically fall under three different but
                          interrelated components: cognitive responses
Girls and Women           (e.g., “People will laugh at me if I raise my hand”),
                          physiological responses (e.g., increased heart
                          rate or sweating), and behavioral responses
                          (e.g., avoidance of social situations). An important
                          challenge for researchers lies in distinguishing as-
                          pects of transitory fears, worries, and anxieties




6
                          that differ for females and males from fears, wor-
                          ries, and anxieties that persist and impair func-
                          tioning over different developmental periods.


                          Childhood and Adolescence

                          Research on fears in youth is based mainly on
                          findings using the Fear Survey Schedule for Chil-


60
                                                                             Chapter 6 Anxiety Disturbance     61


dren (FSSC-R; Ollendick, 1983; FSSC-II; Gullone           search that has been conducted. Further re-
& King, 1992). The FSSC-R and FSSC-II assess              search in this area is needed.
youths’ level of fears to various objects and situ-
ations and have yielded a similar pattern of re-
                                                          Adulthood and Old Age
sults across studies. For example, community
studies using both fear inventories show that             Research on fears in adults and older adults are
girls self-rate a greater number of fears than boys       mainly based on findings using the Fear Survey
(18 fears vs. 10 fears), as well as greater fear inten-   Schedule (FSS-II; Geer, 1965; FSS-III; Wolpe &
sity (as indicated by selecting “a lot” vs. “some”        Lang, 1964). The FSS-II and FSS-III assess adults’
or “a little”) (see Gullone, 2000). Girls also en-        level of fears to various objects and situations
dorse different fears than boys endorse. Specifi-          and have yielded a similar pattern of results
cally, girls endorse being more fearful about get-        across studies. For example, community studies
ting lost in a strange place, being kidnapped,            using the FSS-II and FSS-III show that women
snakes, getting burned, and the dark, and boys            self-rate a greater number of fears than men as
endorse being more fearful about getting an ill-          well as greater fear intensity (e.g., Liddell & Hart
ness, getting poor grades, being invaded or at-           1992; Liddell, Locker, & Burman, 1991). Women
tacked, and being injured (e.g., Ollendick, 1983).        also endorse different fears than do men. Women
Despite gender differences with respect to spe-           endorse being more fearful than men of social
cific types of fears, eight of the ten most frequently     situations, walking alone in the street, animals,
                                                          and crowded stores and men endorse being more
endorsed fears are the same for girls and boys:
                                                          fearful than women of catching an illness, losing
(a) being invaded or attacked, (b) falling from a
                                                          a job, and having a heart attack (e.g., Liddell et al.,
high place, (c) a burglar breaking into the house,
                                                          1991).
(d) getting burned, (e) being hit by a car or truck,
                                                              Research on worry in adults and older adults
(f) not being able to breathe, (g) earthquakes, and
                                                          is relatively limited in terms of analyzing for gen-
(h) death or dead people (e.g., Ollendick, 1983).
                                                          der differences. The extant community studies
    Research on worry in youth is based mainly
                                                          mainly used interview or questionnaire proce-
on interview or questionnaire procedures. Com-
                                                          dures to assess frequency and content of worry;
munity studies show that girls self-report two to
                                                          findings generally show that women report more
three times more worries than boys as well as dif-
                                                          worries than men and endorse different types of
ferences in type of worry endorsed (e.g., Muris,
                                                          worry (e.g., Borkovec, Metzger, & Pruzinsky, 1986;
Meesters, Merckelbach, Sermon, & Zwakhalen,
                                                          Robichaud, Dugas, & Conway, 2002). Specifically,
1998; Silverman, La Greca, & Wasserstein, 1995).
                                                          women report more worrisome thoughts about
Specifically, girls report being more worried than         social evaluative situations (e.g., parties) and lack
boys about their performance, their appearance,           of confidence than men. Available data for older
and future events and boys report being more              adults (aged 55 years or older) is even more lim-
worried than girls about being punished and re-           ited, but suggest that older men and women who
ceiving failing grades (e.g., Muris et al., 1998).        worry are more anxious, in poorer health, and ex-
    Differences relating to gender are less well          perience more chronic illnesses relative to older
researched in clinic-based studies relative to            men and women who do not worry (e.g., Beck,
community studies. One study using clinically             Stanley, & Zebb, 1996).
anxious youth found that the prevalence and                   A small number of clinic-based studies with
intensity of fears, as rated by the child, parent,        adults referred for treatment have reported gen-
teacher, and clinician, did not differ as a function      der differences with respect to fear and worry
of sex (e.g., Treadwell, Flannery-Schroeder, &            symptoms. Available data suggest that the sever-
Kendall, 1995). It is difficult to draw conclusions        ity and patterns of symptoms are different for
about gender differences in the fears, worries,           women and men. For example, women receiving
and anxieties of clinic-referred samples (either          treatment typically endorse more panic-related
clinically anxious samples or other types of clin-        symptoms and higher levels of fear than men
ical samples) given the limited amount of re-             (Pigott, 1999). Other findings show that women
62    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


and men who present with generalized anxiety                     Schizophrenia for School-Age Children (K-SADS;
disorder (GAD) and panic disorder (PD) for treat-                Puig-Antich & Chambers, 1983) and using crite-
ment tend to display different clinical features.                ria from previous editions of the DSM (e.g., DSM-
For example, women with GAD are more likely                      III or DSM-III-R). Epidemiological studies con-
than men with GAD to develop co-occurring dis-                   sistently show girls and women have higher rates
orders, such as dysthymia (Pigott, 1999). In addi-               of anxiety disorders than boys and men. Table 6.1
tion, somatization disorder is four times more                   presents a sample of epidemiological studies.
likely to occur in women with PD than in men                         Findings from table 6.1 suggest the following.
with PD (Pigott, 1999).                                          First, SOP and PD appear less frequently in youth
                                                                 than in adults, with prevalence rates generally
                                                                 below 2%. Higher rates are evident in girls than
Summary                                                          boys regardless of age. Second, OCD is less preva-
                                                                 lent among youth compared to the other anxiety
Gender differences are evident at normative, sub-                disorders, with boys showing slightly higher rates
clinical, and clinical levels of fear, worry, and anx-           than girls. Third, girls are three times more likely
iety. Further research is needed to assess specific               than boys to manifest SAD, and women are two
patterns of fear, worry, and anxiety symptoms,                   times more likely to manifest GAD than men.
not just number or intensity of symptoms. Rela-                  Lastly, in older adults, women are more likely
tive to community-based studies, clinic-based                    than men to suffer from SP, PD, and OCD.
studies on gender differences are inconsistent,                      Despite these relatively robust findings, ambi-
particularly with respect to youth. Perhaps this                 guity remains in this area of research and war-
inconsistency stems from differences in perceived                rants attention. First, no clinic-based studies
need and willingness to seek treatment among fe-                 have systematically evaluated the influence of
males and males resulting in putative sex/gender                 gender and anxiety disorders among clinical
differences within clinical settings (Rutter, Caspi,             samples of anxious youths and adults. The only
& Moffitt, 2003). For the most part, firm conclu-                  exception is the Treadwell et al. (1995) study, which
sions about the relation between gender and anx-                 found no significant gender differences in anxi-
iety disturbance cannot be drawn; the most that                  ety symptoms or diagnoses in youth referred to
can be stated is that females are more likely than               a childhood disorders specialty clinic. Second,
males to show and/or report features of anxiety                  available data are limited with respect to clinical
disturbance.                                                     characteristics, such as age at onset, severity, and
                                                                 duration, particularly with youth. Lastly, research
                                                                 examining the influence of gender on anxiety dis-
PREVALENCE OF ANXIETY DISORDERS                                  orders across different age periods, ethnicity, and
                                                                 socioeconomic status is sparse.
Anxiety Disorders in Girls and Women                                 Nevertheless, some empirical evidence does
                                                                 exist on a few issues relating to gender differ-
The latest edition of the Diagnostic and Statisti-               ences in anxiety disturbance. For example, there
cal Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV; Amer-                    is some evidence suggesting women and men
ican Psychiatric Association, 1994; DSM-IV-TR,                   with anxiety disorders present with different clin-
American Psychiatric Association, 2000) recog-                   ical characteristics upon entering treatment. For
nizes the following anxiety disorder diagnoses:                  example, OCD in women has a later age at onset
separation anxiety disorder (SAD), specific pho-                  (mean age = 25 years) than in men (mean age =
bia (SP), social phobia (SOP), generalized anxiety               20 years), and boys are more likely than girls to
disorder (GAD), panic disorder (PD), agorapho-                   develop OCD classified as early onset (before age
bia, (AG) posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD),                  10) and very early onset (before age 6) (Pigott,
and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Pre-                    1999). Possible changes in rates of anxiety disor-
valence rates of anxiety disorders are derived                   ders based on development in girls and boys also
mainly from diagnostic interview schedules,                      are evident. For example, Cohen, Cohen, Kasen,
such as the Schedule for Affective Disorders and                 and Velez (1993) found the average prevalence
                                                                                     Chapter 6 Anxiety Disturbance        63


table 6.1 Prevalence (%) of Anxiety Disorders in Recent Epidemiological Studies

                                                                         Anxiety Disorders

                                       N          Age       SAD       SP     SOP     OAD       GAD      PD      AG     OCD

Females
  Eaton et al. (1991)                14,436      18–96      —         14.4    2.9      —        —       2.1     7.9      —
  Flint (1994)                        5,702     65–90       —         6.1     —        —        —       0.2     —       0.9
  Kashani and Orvaschel (1990)          210     8, 12, 17   21.0      5.7      1.0    15.2      —        —      —        —
  Kessler et al. (1994)              8,098       15–54      —         15.7   15.5      —        6.6     5.0     7.0      —
  Lewinsohn, Hops, Roberts,           1,710      14–18      5.8       2.8     2.4      1.8      —        1.1    1.1     0.3
  Seeley, and Andrews (1993)

Males
  Eaton et al. (1991)                14,436      18–96      —         7.8     2.5      —        —       0.9     3.2      —
  Flint (1994)                        5,702     65–90       —         2.9     —        —        —       0.0     —       0.7
  Kashani and Orvaschel (1990)          210     8, 12, 17   4.8        1.0     1.0     9.5      —        —      —        —
  Kessler et al. (1994)              8,098       15–54      —         6.7     11.1     —        3.6     2.0     3.5      —
  Lewinsohn et al. (1993)             1,710      14–18      2.4        1.1    0.5      0.7      —       0.5     0.2     0.7

Note: SAD = separation anxiety disorder; SP = specific phobia (simple phobia); SOP = social phobia; OAD = overanxious anxiety
disorder; GAD = generalized anxiety disorder; PD = panic disorder; AG = agoraphobia; OCD = obsessive-compulsive disorder.



rate for SAD in a community sample of youth                        by examining whether they serve as risk or pro-
was 13.1% for 10- to 13-year-old girls and 11.4% for               tection within each gender. It is unlikely that
10- to 13-year-old boys; 4.6% for 14- to 16-year-old               there is only one factor (i.e., biological, cognitive,
girls and 1.2% for 14- to 16-year-old boys; and                    or social), or even a small set of factors that ac-
1.8% for 17- to 20-year-old girls and 2.7% for 17- to              counts for the emergence of gender differences in
20-year-old boys. These findings suggest girls are                  anxiety disturbance, but these proposed mecha-
more likely than boys to have SAD, but after age                   nisms are promising first steps.
16 years prevalence rates of SAD are more evi-
dent in boys than girls. Clearly, further research
is needed that can assess the diverse range of ex-                 Biological Processes
periences or influences that may account in part
for these observed gender differences within age                   Genetics and Temperament
groups.                                                            Evidence for genetic correlations between anxiety
                                                                   symptoms and disorders is derived from twin and
                                                                   adoption studies using questionnaire measures
POSSIBLE CONTRIBUTIONS                                             (Eley, 2001). Findings on sex or gender differences
TO GENDER DIFFERENCES                                              are mixed. For this reason, it is unclear whether
                                                                   gender or sex differences can be attributed to ge-
A range of biological, cognitive, and social theo-                 netic factors, environmental factors, or both. Nor
retical explanations have been proposed con-                       is it certain how sex or gender may modify genetic
cerning possible mechanisms by which girls and                     risk for anxiety (Eley, 2001). Nonetheless, these
women become more prone to anxiety distur-                         findings offer some insight into the role genes play
bance than boys and men. Most of these mecha-                      in transmitting a general risk for anxiety, with girls
nisms have not been empirically tested, however.                   and women showing higher heritability estimates
Studying mechanisms is important because it                        than boys and men (Eley, 2001). Moreover, some
may provide clues to etiological processes in the                  evidence points to developmental variations in
development of anxiety disturbance. Research is                    genetic influence. That is, girls tend to demon-
needed to delineate these proposed mechanisms                      strate higher heritability of anxiety symptoms in
64    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


early adolescence (ages 11–13) than in late child-               anxiety. Research has not investigated whether
hood (ages 8–10) or mid-adolescence (ages 14–16);                the observed pubertal timing effects on anxiety
and boys tend to show a decrease in heritability                 in adolescent girls persist into adulthood.
over time (e.g., Topolski et al., 1997). These results
are in line with findings obtained with adults,                  Menstrual Cycle, Menopause, Pregnancy,
although the extent to which genetic factors in-                 and Postpartum Period
fluence anxiety varies across anxiety disorders.
   Research also has focused on the tempera-                     Research on neurotransmitter systems (e.g., locus
mental trait identified as “behavioral inhibition,”               ceruleus norepinephrine system) has provided
the tendency to be unusually shy or to display                   some insights into potential biological factors that
fear and withdrawal in situations that are new or                may contribute to the emergence of sex differ-
unfamiliar (Biederman, Rosenbaum, Chaloff, &                     ences in anxiety disorders (Pigott, 1999). Findings
Kagan, 1995). Researchers propose behavioral in-                 suggest female gonadal hormones (estrogen,
hibition is a risk factor for developing anxiety dis-            progesterone) may have a regulatory effect on the
orders in children, yet little is known about sex                neurotransmitter systems thought to influence
differences in behavioral inhibition (Lonigan &                  the production of internalizing symptoms, such
Phillips, 2001). Some findings suggest girls have                as anxiety and reactions to stress (Hayward &
a slight propensity to present as behaviorally                   Sanborn, 2002). Specifically, estrogen has been
inhibited and to classify themselves more fre-                   found to have a mood-elevating effect; whereas
quently as middle or high on behavioral inhibi-                  progesterone has been found to destabilize mood
tion compared to boys (Muris, Merckelbach,                       states (Pigott, 1999). Thus, the view here is that
Wessel, & van de Ven, 1999). However, it is un-                  changes in estrogen and progesterone levels dur-
clear whether behavioral inhibition poses a gen-                 ing the reproductive cycle and menopause may
eral risk for anxiety and/or a specific risk for girls.           make women more vulnerable to develop anxiety.
                                                                    Additionally, mild to moderate levels of anx-
                                                                 iety have been reported over the course of preg-
Puberty
                                                                 nancy and the postpartum period; however,
Research on biological processes demonstrates                    findings do not always coincide. There is some
an interaction between gender and pubertal mat-                  evidence that anxiety symptoms in expected
uration in the development of anxiety symptoms                   mothers increase between the first and third
and disorders. Several studies have demonstrated                 trimester and decrease after birth (e.g., Shear &
that early pubertal maturation in adolescent girls,              Oommen, 1995). Findings further demonstrate
not boys, may constitute a general risk factor for               that pregnancy may be associated with the im-
developing anxiety symptoms and disorders:                       provement of PD and that the postpartum period
girls who mature earlier than their peers exhibit                may be a risk for the onset and exacerbation of
higher rates of anxiety symptoms and disorders                   anxiety disorders (e.g., March & Yonkers, 2001).
(e.g., Caspi & Moffitt, 1991).                                    These findings support the notion that fluctua-
    Although little is known about the mecha-                    tions in hormonal levels at different points across
nisms by which early pubertal maturation in                      the life span may substantially influence the
girls’ increases the risk for anxiety, one possible              onset and course of anxiety in girls and women.
explanation suggests that the early development
of secondary sex characteristics (e.g., breasts) in-
creases the risk of anxiety disturbance because it               Cognitive Processes
increases the likelihood that girls will confront
                                                                 Perceived Control and Attributional Styles
new stressors from their peers and family before
they are emotionally ready (e.g., Ge, Conger, &                  Research on perceived control and negative life
Elder, 1996). The assumption here is that early                  events suggests girls and women with a higher
maturing girls faced with demanding biological                   sense of uncontrollability may exhibit more ten-
and social transitions are less prepared to cope                 dencies of learned helplessness than boys and
with these emotional changes and social chal-                    men (e.g., Leadbeater, Blatt, & Quinlan, 1995). Ac-
lenges, thus making them vulnerable to develop                   cording to Chorpita and Barlow (1998), girls and
                                                                         Chapter 6 Anxiety Disturbance   65


boys who experience uncontrollable events early         protective child-rearing responses, and re-
in life may eventually develop a propensity to per-     inforcement of avoidant behavior are risk factors
ceive or process events as not being under their        for anxiety (see Dadds & Roth, 2001). Gender dif-
control. Thus, as development proceeds, individ-        ferences with respect to these familial factors
uals accumulate a history of uncontrollable expe-       have not been analyzed in studies, however.
riences that influences subsequent experiences           Keenan and Shaw (1997) propose possible pa-
negatively across the life span. Little attention has   rental socialization practices that encourage girls
been paid to the effects of gender on perceived         to inhibit externalizing behaviors (e.g., aggres-
uncontrollable experiences. There is some evi-          sion) during early childhood and, in its place,
dence, however, that girls who experience a high        express internalizing symptoms (e.g., anxiety).
number of negative life events learn that their be-     Peers and teachers also participate in this social-
haviors have either little or no impact on their        ization process by attending to and reinforcing
environment. These girls are likely to develop          aggressive behaviors in boys, but not girls. Sup-
pessimistic attributional styles (e.g., learned help-   port for Keenan and Shaw (1997) comes from
lessness) (Barlow, 2003) and as such may place          studies that demonstrate parents are more likely
them at higher risk for anxiety disturbance.            to support shyness and passivity in girls than in
                                                        boys (Lonigan & Phillips, 2001). Further research
Anxiety Sensitivity                                     is needed to determine whether gender differ-
                                                        ential socialization persists throughout the life
Cumulative research findings have shown that
                                                        span and, if so, influence how women and men
anxiety sensitivity is a risk factor in the develop-
                                                        express their distress.
ment of panic attacks and other anxiety prob-
                                                            Additional evidence for a socialization per-
lems (e.g., see Reiss, Silverman, & Weems, 2001).
                                                        spective can be found in child and adult fear
Although research is limited, there is evidence that
                                                        studies (e.g., Ginsburg & Silverman, 2000; Tucker
women tend to score significantly higher on anxi-
                                                        & Bond, 1997). Findings often present a pattern
ety sensitivity measures than men (e.g., Stewart,
                                                        consistent with gender-role orientation—that is,
Taylor, & Baker, 1997). That is, women more than
                                                        expressing emotions such as fear and anxiety is
men tend to believe that anxiety-related sensa-
                                                        consistent with the feminine gender role and is
tions, such as heart beat awareness, shortness of
breath, increased heart rate, and trembling, have       inconsistent with the masculine gender role. The
severe negative social, psychological, or physical      more assertive or instrumental traits children or
consequences. This view is guided by Reiss’s            adults endorse, the less likely they are to express
sensitivity theory (Reiss, 1999), which posits that     distressing fears (e.g., Ginsburg & Silverman,
these beliefs modify individuals’ inherited sen-        2000). This is true for both females and males,
sitivity to anxiety. So much so that when these         although females on average endorse fewer
individuals become anxious, they worry about            assertive and instrumental traits than males
what is happening to their body and this worry          (Feingold, 1994). There is no way of knowing from
increases their level of stress. However, it is not     the findings across these studies whether the
surprising that women tend to worry more about          gender differences in assertive and instrumental
their anxiety symptoms, given they tend to report       traits emerge at the same time or just before the
more fear and worry than men. Nonetheless, these        gender differences in fear ratings. Such informa-
elevated levels of anxiety sensitivity in women         tion might explain how being female or male could
suggest potential heuristic value of studying gen-      lead to gender differences in anxiety disturbance.
der differences in anxiety sensitivity.

                                                        Summary
Social Processes
                                                        The biological, cognitive, and social factors dis-
Familial Factors
                                                        cussed in this section have considerable relevance
Family studies on anxiety suggest familial fac-         for understanding the emergence of gender dif-
tors such as modeling of anxious behavior, over-        ferences in anxiety disturbance. The degree to
66    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


which certain factors operate, or the manner in                  ican men and Hispanic/Latino men; prevalence
which they operate, to account for gender differ-                rates of other anxiety disorders are nonexistent.
ences may vary, depending on the point in devel-                 Similarly, prevalence rates of anxiety disorders in
opment at which the anxiety disturbance occurs.                  girls of color are lacking. The influence of ethnic-
Some problems may be homotypic (i.e., the same)                  ity in the presentation and manifestation of anx-
across long periods of development, whereas                      iety disturbance needs to be considered in future
others are heterotypic (i.e., they undergo pheno-                research.
typic changes from one developmental period to
another) (Silverman & Ollendick, 1999). Of course,
patterns of anxiety disturbance and its intensity                RECOVERY AND HEALTHY GROWTH
also may vary systematically across situations, so-
cial contexts, and interaction partners, including               Prevention and Treatment
teachers, parents, siblings, peers, and spouses.
Thus, whether the emergence of gender differ-                    Despite the high prevalence of anxiety distur-
ences in anxiety disturbance can be attributable                 bance in girls and women, little efforts have been
to biological, cognitive, or social processes re-                made to examine ways of preventing such distur-
mains unclear.                                                   bance. A range of intervention methods likely to
                                                                 be useful in preventing anxiety disturbance across
                                                                 the life span has been proposed by Spence (2001).
PREVALENCE IN DIFFERENT                                          These preventive methods attempt to target many
ETHNIC GROUPS                                                    of the cognitive (e.g., learned helplessness) and
                                                                 social processes (e.g., parenting style) discussed
There are no consistent empirical findings about                  earlier, such as, coping skills training (i.e., teach-
the prevalence, intensity, or severity of fear, worry,           ing strategies to successfully handle stressful life
and anxiety among girls and women of various                     events) and parenting skills training (i.e., reducing
ethnicities. There has been work examining the                   overprotective child-rearing responses).
influence of ethnicity on fear ratings using youth                    Empirical studies provide evidence that cogni-
from community and clinical samples; however,                    tive behavior therapy, used in either individual or
specific differences based on gender are either not               group treatment formats, is efficacious in reduc-
reported or are inconclusive (e.g., Neal, Lilly, &               ing anxiety disorders (see Silverman & Berman,
Zakis, 1993; Silverman et al., 1995). Nonetheless,               2001). The evidence from these studies further
promising results using clinical samples warrant                 suggests that the efficacy of cognitive and behav-
attention. Ginsburg and Silverman (1996) used a                  ior treatment may be enhanced by involving par-
semistructured interview to assess prevalence,                   ents (to work on managing their children’s anxi-
frequency, and intensity of children’s worries and               ety as well as the parents’ own anxiety) and peers.
fears. Findings showed Hispanic/Latina girls                     In general, treatment outcome studies do not
worried more than Hispanic/Latino boys about                     report gender differences based on treatment
school and performance situations; African Amer-                 methods; however, there is one study that found
ican boys worried more than African American                     treatment success varied by gender. Barrett,
girls about performance situations. Another com-                 Dadds, and Rapee (1996) conducted a random-
munity study assessing worry in Native American                  ized clinical trial to investigate the effectiveness
children (D’Andrea, 1994) found girls reported                   of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) and family
more worries than boys, particularly moral and                   management training procedures with children
social worries. Boys and girls worried similarly                 diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Findings
however about personal well-being and peer rela-                 indicated that girls responded significantly better
tionships.                                                       than boys to the CBT + family treatment condition
    Eaton, Dryman, and Weissman (1991) reported                  both at posttreatment and at the 12-month follow-
that African American women and Hispanic/                        up. However, given the small number of girls in
Latina women have higher rates of simple phobia                  each treatment condition, further research is
(now called SP), AG, and SOP than African Amer-                  needed before drawing firm conclusions.
                                                                               Chapter 6 Anxiety Disturbance      67


CONCLUSIONS                                                     The sample case of girls at puberty. Journal of Per-
                                                                sonality and Social Psychology, 61, 157–168.
                                                            Chorpita, B. F., & Barlow, D. H. (1998). The develop-
Much remains to be discovered about the emer-
                                                                ment of anxiety: The role of control in the early en-
gence of gender differences in anxiety distur-                  vironment. Psychological Bulletin, 124, 3–21.
bance. Throughout this chapter we have reviewed             Cohen, P., Cohen, J., Kasen, S., & Velez, C. N. (1993).
empirical evidence that highlights the importance               An epidemiological study of disorders in late
of both clinicians and researchers to carefully                 childhood and adolescence: I. Age- and gender-
                                                                specific prevalence. Journal of Child Psychology
consider sex and/or gender within a developmen-
                                                                and Psychiatry and Allied Disciplines, 34, 851–867.
tal (e.g., childhood, adolescence, adulthood) and           Dadds, M. R., & Roth, J. H. (2001). Family processes in
social (e.g., family systems, school/workplace, so-             the development of anxiety problems. In M. W.
cial networks) context in efforts to understand                 Vasey & M. R. Dadds (Eds.), The developmental
anxiety disturbance. Although there is literature               psychopathology of anxiety (pp. 278–303). New
                                                                York: Oxford University Press.
suggesting potential mechanisms that may ac-
                                                            D’Andrea, M. (1994). The concerns of Native Ameri-
count for gender differences, there is a paucity of             can youth. Journal of Multicultural Counseling
empirical research studies that have examined                   and Development, 22, 173–181.
these mechanisms. As a beginning step, studies              Eaton, W. W., Dryman, A., & Weissman, M. M. (1991).
using community and clinic-based samples are                    Panic and phobia. In L. N. Robins & D. A. Regier
                                                                (Eds.), Psychiatric disorders in America: The Epi-
needed that compare gender differences within
                                                                demiological Catchment Area study (pp. 328–366).
possible mechanisms leading to anxiety distur-                  New York: Free Press.
bance, as well as gender differences within spe-            Eley, T. C. (2001). Contributions of behavioral genet-
cific risk or protective factors. Ethnic, cultural, and          ics research: Quantifying genetic, shared environ-
socioeconomic factors also need to be carefully                 mental and nonshared environmental influences.
                                                                In M. W. Vasey & M. R. Dadds (Eds.), The develop-
considered in future research.
                                                                mental psychopathology of anxiety (pp. 45–59).
                                                                New York: Oxford University Press.
                                                            Feingold, A. (1994). Gender differences in personal-
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   & Zwakhalen, S. (1998). Worry in normal children.                 psychopathology of anxiety (pp. 325–351). New
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   (1999). Psychopathological correlates of self-                    Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 11, 179–200.
   reported behavioural inhibition in normal chil-               Topolski, T. D., Hewitt, J. K., Eaves, L. J., Silberg, J. L.,
   dren. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 37, 575–584.                Meyer, J. M., Rutter, M., et al. (1997). Genetic and
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   African American children afraid of? A prelimi-                   manifest anxiety and symptoms of separation
   nary study. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 7, 129–139.             anxiety and overanxious disorders: A community-
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   R). Behaviour Research and Therapy, 21, 395–399.                  Kendall, P. C. (1995). Ethnicity and gender in rela-
Pigott, T. A. (1999). Gender differences in the epi-                 tion to adaptive functioning, diagnostic status,
   demiology and treatment of anxiety disorders.                     and treatment outcome in children from an anxi-
   Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, 60, 4–15.                         ety clinic. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 9, 373–384.
Puig-Antich, J., & Chambers, W. J. (1983). Schedule for          Tucker, M., & Bond, N. W. (1997). The roles of gender,
   Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia for School-                 sex role, and disgust in fear of animals. Personal-
   Age Children (K-SADS). Pittsburgh, PA: Western                    ity and Individual Differences, 22, 15–138.
   Psychiatric Institute and Clinic.                             Wolpe, J., & Lang, P. J. (1964). A fear survey schedule
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   tivation. In Steven Taylor (Ed.), Anxiety sensitivity:            Experimental Psychiatry, 2, 27–30.
               Cellulite-reducing cream, milkshakes that lead
               to weight loss, and bathing suits that make you
               look thinner—all of these products capitalize on
               women’s concerns about how their bodies look.
               Body dissatisfaction is a problem because it may
               lead to buying products that don’t work and may
               even be harmful rather than using the money on
               things like education, political clout, or health
               care. More important, though, body dissatisfac-
               tion may result in dangerous weight-loss tech-
               niques, sometimes culminating in eating dis-
               orders (e.g., McKnight Investigators, 2003; Stice
               & Bearman, 2001; Wertheim, Koerner, & Paxton,
               2001). Body dissatisfaction may also contribute
               to the development of depression, including the
               emergence of gender differences in depression
               during adolescence (Stice & Bearman, 2001;
               Wichstrom, 1999).
                   Body image is a complex construct and its def-
               inition and measurement have not been uni-
               form or even consistent. First, body image can
               refer to general appearance or to body-shape
               concerns. Overall appearance satisfaction often
               does not differ by gender, particularly in child-
               hood, but body-shape concerns, especially a
               focus on thinness, are more common among fe-
               males. Second, body image can be assessed in
               perceptual, evaluative, or affective terms. Men
               and women differ in how they evaluate their
               weight. Overweight men are more likely than
               overweight women to think of themselves as
               normal weight while underweight women are
               more likely than underweight men to consider
LINDA SMOLAK
               their weight to be normal (McCreary, 2002). Af-
               fective differences appear to be even larger, with
               women reporting more body dysphoria (Muth &
Body Image     Cash, 1997).
                   The focus of this chapter is on how girls and
               women feel about their body shape and weight,
               how they construct an image of their own bodies
               that is inferior to that of the cultural ideal, and




7
               how the body dissatisfaction associated with this
               discrepancy can be alleviated or even prevented.
               Body dissatisfaction is a serious problem not
               only because of the discomfort it causes in and of
               itself but also because of its relationship to eating
               disorders and obesity. These connections will
               also be explored in this chapter.



                                                                 69
70    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


BODY IMAGE ACROSS THE LIFE SPAN                                  the fourth or fifth grade and body esteem and eat-
                                                                 ing problems in middle school. The relationship
Even very young children understand that it is bad               of body esteem in early elementary school to later
to be fat. By age 3, children have negative attitudes            body esteem and eating problems is an important
about fat people, with elementary schoolchildren                 area for future research.
ascribing various negative characteristics, such as                  Girls’ body esteem drops in middle school.
laziness and unhappiness, to obese peers (Cramer                 This is concurrently related to the onset of pu-
& Steinwert, 1998; Tiggeman & Wilson-Barrett,                    berty, which moves girls away from the culturally
1998). Even preschoolers apply such negative                     proscribed body ideal of thinness. While body es-
stereotyping more harshly to women than to                       teem makes some recovery during the high school
men (Turnbull, Heaslip, & McLeod, 2000). Even                    years, it continues to be lower for girls than for
elementary-school-aged girls are expected to be                  boys. About 60% of adolescent girls are dissatis-
thin, or at least not be fat. Comparable pressure                fied with their weight and shape (e.g., Field et al.,
on boys to achieve the muscular body ideal is not                1999). In addition, some form of disordered eating
likely to begin until puberty. Thus, not only is ap-             may occur in more than half of adolescent girls,
pearance more important for adult women than                     though the most severe forms, such as vomiting
for men, the pressure to meet the cultural ideal                 after eating or laxative abuse, occur in less than
begins earlier for girls than for boys.                          10% (Croll, Neumark-Sztainer, Story, & Ireland,
    Not surprisingly, then, even preadolescent                   2002). Furthermore, women’s body dissatisfac-
girls report that they are dissatisfied with their                tion does not seem to disappear with develop-
weight and want to avoid being or becoming fat                   ment (Tiggeman & Lynch, 2001).
(e.g., Davison, Markey, & Birch, 2003; Field et al.,                 Most women exhibiting body dissatisfaction
1999). By age 9 or 10, approximately 40% of girls                do not, and will not, suffer from eating dis-
express concerns about their weight. African                     orders. Anorexia nervosa (AN) and bulimia ner-
American girls are somewhat less worried about                   vosa (BN) combined probably affect 5% or fewer
being fat than other girls are. However, girls are               of the postpubertal females in the United States.
more concerned about this than boys are in all                   Even if women who are suffering but do not
American ethnic groups that have been studied                    meet all of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual
(Smolak & Levine, 2001).                                         of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV-TR) criteria are in-
    While cross-sectional research suggests that                 cluded, the total is probably 10–15% (Herzog &
body esteem decreases in girls throughout early                  Delinski, 2001).
elementary school (e.g., Gardner, Sorter, & Fried-                   Nonetheless, body dissatisfaction is a risk fac-
man, 1997), a recent longitudinal study found in-                tor for eating disorders and cosmetic surgery,
creases in body esteem from age 5 to 9 (Davison                  both of which can be fatal. Body dissatisfaction
et al., 2003). The authors call for caution in inter-            certainly interferes with healthy eating. For ex-
preting these longitudinal trends, however, be-                  ample, concerns with being overweight can lead
cause of possible problems with the younger girls’               to calorie-restrictive dieting, which can lead to
understanding of the questionnaire. It is note-                  binge-eating and lowered metabolism, which
worthy, though, that girls in this study tended to               may result in obesity (Field et al., 2003; Stice,
maintain their relative ranks in terms of body es-               Cameron, Killen, Hayward, & Taylor, 1999). Diet-
teem. This suggests that there may be a group of                 ing is particularly dangerous in girls whose bones
girls who are already on the path to body esteem                 are still forming. Finally, body dissatisfaction may
and eating problems by early elementary school.                  restrict the activities, such as swimming, that in-
This conclusion is bolstered by Davison et al.’s                 dividual women will engage in, again contribut-
(2003) finding that average body dissatisfaction at               ing to obesity.
ages 5 and 7 predicted dietary restraint at age 9.
However, Smolak and Levine (2001), using a
smaller sample, found no relationship between                    RISK FACTORS
body esteem in first through third graders and
eating problems measured two years later. They                   Girls worry about their body shapes from a very
did report a relationship between body image in                  early age, perhaps even earlier than we can cur-
                                                                                    Chapter 7   Body Image   71


rently effectively measure. Given this, it is difficult    concerns and weight control behaviors. It can be
to separate risk factors into categories of those         direct in that peers may make comments to or
that cause body image problems versus those that          even tease girls about their body shapes. Or it can
maintain or intensify body image concerns in in-          be some combination of the two as girls engage
dividuals. This problem is exacerbated by the fact        in conversations with their friends about their
that most of our research is done with White,             own or others’ bodies. Such conversations may
middle-class adolescents and adults.                      intensify social comparison, a characteristic that
    Body image problems are rooted in sociocul-           may, in turn, mediate the relationship between
tural factors. In reviews of body esteem, authors         sociocultural influences and body dissatisfaction
will sometimes list BMI (body mass index, a ratio         (Shroff & Thompson, 2003).
of weight to height) or pubertal timing as “biolog-          Cross-sectional data suggest that even among
ical” risk factors. This is something of a misnomer.      elementary school girls peer teasing and model-
There is currently no evidence that biological fac-       ing of weight and shape concerns are related to
tors, such as hormonal levels, that might accom-          body dissatisfaction and concerns about weight
pany either obesity or pubertal timing are in-            and shape (Vander Wal & Thelen, 2000). Longi-
volved in body dissatisfaction. For example, BMI          tudinal studies of adolescent girls confirm such
is a risk factor because of the social construction       relationships. For example, Wertheim et al. (2001)
of obesity. Americans tend to associate fatness           found that weight-related teasing of eighth and
with negative characteristics, including unattrac-        tenth graders predicted body dissatisfaction
tiveness. That this is a social construction is evi-      and bulimic behaviors eight months later. The
dent by the differing definitions of which body            McKnight Investigators (2003) found that peer
type is attractive across cultures and history            teasing about weight and peer concerns with
(Brumberg, 1997; Smolak & Striegel-Moore, 2001).          thinness during middle school contributed to the
    Risk for body image problems is in rooted in          onset of eating disorders symptoms during a
three cultural messages: (a) women must be at-            three-year period.
tractive to be successful in their work lives or in re-
lationships; (b) women must be thin to be attrac-
tive; and (c) any woman can become thin, and              Family Influences
hence attractive, if she tries hard enough. Women
                                                          The research on family influences on body image
who reject these messages are not particularly
likely to become very dissatisfied with their weight       and eating problems has followed two general
or shape. Indeed, women may need to internalize           paths. Some researchers have examined the ef-
these cultural messages, adopting them as part of         fects of family structure and functioning (e.g., con-
their own definition of self, in order to develop          flict, enmeshment). Others have focused on the
body esteem problems (Thompson & Stice, 2001).            body and eating messages sent by family mem-
                                                          bers, particularly by parents. The latter has proved
                                                          to be a much more fruitful approach.
Sources of the Messages                                       Cross-sectional research has found correla-
                                                          tions between parental comments about a daugh-
Girls, and women, receive messages about their            ter’s weight and shape and the girl’s body dis-
bodies and how they should look from multiple             satisfaction in children as young as elementary
sources. Girls seem to receive more consistent
                                                          school (e.g., Smolak, Levine, & Schermer, 1999;
body ideal messages from a wider range of sources
                                                          Thelen & Cormier, 1995). Researchers have also
than boys do (e.g., Smolak & Levine, 2001). Re-
                                                          found relationships between mothers’ concerns
search on risk factors for body dissatisfaction
                                                          about their own weight and shape and their
has focused on three sources: peers, family, and
                                                          daughters’ body dissatisfaction, even when the
media.
                                                          daughters are adults (Tiggeman & Lynch, 2001).
                                                          However, this relationship tends to be less consis-
Peers
                                                          tently documented than the ones between direct
Peer influence can take many forms. It can be              parental comments or peer influences and body
“indirect” in that peers may model body image             esteem (Smolak et al., 1999). These findings about
72   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


parental influence underscore the importance of                  Convergence and Synergy
involving parents in prevention efforts.
                                                                It is important to reiterate that girls who are ex-
                                                                posed to multiple sources of messages empha-
Mass Media
                                                                sizing a thin ideal seem to be especially likely to
Girls watch television and read fashion maga-                   develop body image and eating problems. For
zines. In one study, 49% of late elementary school,             example, the McKnight Investigators (2003) re-
60% of junior high, and 62% of high school girls                ported that a factor that included media model-
read fashion magazines at least two to five times                ing, peer concerns about thinness, and peer teas-
every month. (Field et al., 1999). Adolescent girls             ing about weight predicted the onset of clinically
in another study watched television more than                   significant eating problems during adolescence.
21 hours per week, with about one third of these
being “body image” shows, designated by the re-
searchers as featuring the “ideal” body images for              PROTECTIVE FACTORS
men and women (Hofschire & Greenberg, 2002).
    Sheer exposure to thin women on television                  Research on factors that protect against the de-
and in magazines is not enough to create body                   velopment of body image problems is quite lim-
image problems, though it is not unrelated. In-                 ited. In general, it appears that factors that give
stead, personal characteristics are typically found             girls a non-appearance-related source of self-
to mediate this relationship. These may be iden-                esteem or turn girls away from focusing on the
tification with media celebrities (Hofschire &                  thin-ideal may be protective. For example, par-
Greenberg, 2002), thin ideal internalization or                 ticipation in nonelite team sports (e.g., basketball)
social comparison (Shroff & Thompson, 2003), or                 by high school girls has been associated with bet-
an interest in using the magazines or television to             ter body image (Smolak, Murnen, & Ruble, 2000).
gain information about body shape and appear-                   Relatedly, Geller, Zaitsoff, and Srikameswaran
ance (Taylor et al., 1998).                                     (2002) found that academic competencies as well
    Researchers have considered media influ-                    as competencies related to areas other than aca-
ences to consist of at least awareness of the media             demics (which included sports) were correlated
presented thin ideal and internalization of it.                 with higher body esteem.
Murnen, Smolak, Mills, and Good (2003) found                        Murnen and colleagues (2003) reported that
that first through fifth grade children were aware                elementary school girls who actively rejected the
of the media images. Girls who were more aware                  media ideal for thin women showed lower inter-
of the media images were also more likely to want               nalization of the thin-ideal and better body es-
to look like exemplars of the thin ideal (photos of             teem in comparison to girls who were uncertain
famous women) and to think it was important to                  about whether or not they liked the image. Simi-
look that way. These responses to the images                    larly, Harrison (2000) found that first to third
were also related to body esteem. This was not                  grade girls who are attracted to average-size fe-
true of boys.                                                   male television characters rate thinness and good
    Thin-ideal internalization—that is, actively                looks as less important than girls who do not find
wanting to look like the women on television                    these average size women attractive.
and in the movies—appears to be a particularly                      These potential protective factors have not
powerful factor in the development of body dis-                 been tested in prospective or experimental de-
satisfaction. Both longitudinal and experimen-                  signs so their role is far from clear. This is an im-
tal research has demonstrated this relationship                 portant area for future research. Protective fac-
in adolescent girls and college-aged women                      tors might be incorporated into prevention and
(Thompson & Stice, 2001). Murnen and col-                       intervention programs. In addition to being po-
leagues (2003) reported a substantial significant                tentially helpful in establishing a more positive
correlation (r (86) = −.61) between body esteem                 self-image, this may be a way to test the nature
and internalization in elementary school girls.                 and extent of the relationships.
                                                                                  Chapter 7 Body Image     73


DYNAMICS OF BODY                                        functional; women’s are objects to be viewed and
DISSATISFACTION DEVELOPMENT                             enjoyed. Specifically, women’s bodies are sup-
                                                        posed to be available for men’s sexual pleasure.
Sociocultural influences clearly contribute to the       This message is so pervasive that it is evident to el-
development and maintenance of body image               ementary school girls (Murnen & Smolak, 2000).
and eating problems. One could use a social             Women’s success in work and relationships, and
learning theory explanation of these develop-           even their safety and survival, is related to under-
ments. Indeed, some prevention programs have            standing and cooperating with this role.
relied on this theoretical perspective (Levine &           This objectification of women is part of the
Smolak, in press). Unfortunately, social learning       primary role available to women in our culture.
theory ignores the gendered nature of body dis-         The most visible, and often the wealthiest, women
satisfaction. Gender schema theory (Bem, 1993)          are thin models and actresses. Women make less
might also be applicable. However, little body          money than men in virtually every profession.
image research has been done from this perspec-         Women are less visible at the highest level of
tive and, more important, research using the Bem        American politics. Even in sports, where women
Sex Role Inventory shows small and inconsistent         have made real gains, participation carries less
relationships between masculinity, femininity,          status and pay than it does for men.
and body image (Murnen & Smolak, 1998).                    The pervasiveness of the image and the social
    Yet gender is clearly a factor in body image        pressure to accept it lead women to internalize
and eating problems. Roughly 85–90% of AN and           this objectification, to treat themselves as some-
BN victims are female. Even in childhood, girls         thing to be looked at and evaluated. This internal-
are four to five times more likely than boys to de-      ization of the gaze of others leads to habitual self-
velop AN (Bryant-Waugh & Lask, 2002). Although          monitoring to ensure that one is meeting the
boys and men are more likely to want to be mus-         image (Fredrickson & Roberts, 1997). Such self-
cular than girls and women are, girls and women         monitoring probably includes social comparison.
are more likely to be dissatisfied with their weight     Self-monitoring leads, in turn, to body shame and
and shape and to engage in weight reduction,            appearance anxiety, resulting in poor body es-
even when BMI is considered (McCreary, 2002;            teem and eating problems.
Smolak & Levine, 2001). When body image re-
searchers consider gender, however, they tend to
                                                        Empirical Support
treat it as a “fixed variable” (Kraemer et al., 1997),
one that can not be altered. But gender is really a     Cross-sectional research supports this theory in
summary variable, one that captures a variety of        adolescents and adults (Slater & Tiggeman, 2002;
experiences under one broad rubric. It is impor-        Tiggeman & Lynch, 2001). Furthermore, experi-
tant, then, to consider what those experiences          mental research, in which self-consciousness
might be, how the “lived experiences” of being fe-      and hence self-monitoring were manipulated,
male shape girls’ and women’s construction of           also supports objectification theory (Fredrickson,
their bodies. Objectification theory (Fredrickson        Roberts, Noll, Quinn, & Twenge, 1998). In this
& Roberts, 1997) provides a framework for doing         experimental study, men and women tried on
this to account for gender effects.                     bathing suits and sweaters and then worked on
                                                        math problems, supposedly while others were
                                                        watching. Only women showed increased self-
Objectification Theory                                   monitoring and body shame in the bathing suit
                                                        condition.
Principles
                                                            Internalization of objectification might also
Objectification theory (Fredrickson & Roberts,           be marked by self-silencing. Women who view
1997) begins with the argument that male and fe-        themselves as objects rather than actors are likely
male bodies have different meanings in American         to be unaware of their psychological states and so
culture. Men’s bodies are seen as agentic and           put their own interests and needs behind those of
74   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


others. This is self-silencing. Research suggests               PREVENTION OF BODY IMAGE PROBLEMS
that self-silencing and eating problems are posi-
tively correlated (Smolak & Munsterteiger, 2002).               The prevention of eating disorders has become a
Furthermore, elementary school girls who are                    hot area of research over the past two decades
unsure how they feel about sexual harassment or                 (Levine & Smolak, in press). These programs typ-
media images of women have poorer body es-                      ically include a body image component; indeed,
teem (Murnen & Smolak, 2000; Murnen et al.,                     body image is sometimes the main focus of the
2003). This might be interpreted as a developing                programs. The programs usually focus on chang-
link between self-silencing and body esteem or                  ing the individual—for example, improving body
eating problems.                                                esteem by fostering a rejection of media images
                                                                (Levine & Smolak, in press). Not surprisingly, such
Sexual Terrorism                                                approaches have been most effective in studies
                                                                where the participants are (a) sufficiently dissatis-
Sometimes these messages of self-silencing and                  fied with their bodies to show a statistically signif-
objectification are subtle, as when fat women                    icant improvement; and (b) cognitively mature
television characters are the ones who are most                 enough to evaluate and modify their cognitive
frequently the target of jokes and teasing (Harri-              processing. Thus, to date, targeted prevention
son, 2000). Other times the message that the fe-                (also known as secondary prevention) with ado-
male body is for the pleasure of males is stronger.             lescents and adults has been more effective than
Sheffield (1995) has argued that rape is one way
                                                                universal prevention with children.
that men enforce their active dominance over
                                                                    It is premature to suggest that we should focus
women. Furthermore, she suggests that there is a
                                                                only on targeted prevention. As this review has
continuum of sexual terrorism ranging from sex-
                                                                documented, the problem for body image con-
ual harassment to domestic violence and rape.
                                                                cerns is in the ecological context in which girls and
Sexual harassment serves to remind women what
                                                                women develop and function. Females do not
could happen to them. Rape or domestic violence
                                                                seem to start out with any sort of temperamental,
against one woman reminds every woman of
                                                                genetic, hormonal, or neurological predisposi-
what can happen. Sheffield terms this “terror-
                                                                tions to judge their bodies as too fat. Instead, they
ism” because sexual harassment and rape can
                                                                receive constant and consistent messages from
happen to any woman at any time quite inde-
                                                                many sources teaching them this. Perhaps it is the
pendently of her behavior.
                                                                environment that needs to change. Indeed, when
    Girls are much more likely to be frightened by
                                                                Piran (1999) worked with an elite ballet school to
sexual harassment than boys are (Murnen &
Smolak, 2000). This is consistent with Sheffield’s               change its ecology, there was a dramatic decline
(1995) argument about the societal function of                  in the frequency of eating disorders among the
sexual harassment. Furthermore, girls who are                   students. This was an uncontrolled study so it is
frightened by sexual harassment have poorer                     not definitive. Unlike most other studies, how-
body esteem (Murnen & Smolak, 2000). Dating                     ever, it did continue long enough (10 years) to ac-
violence, child sexual abuse, and rape have been                tually demonstrate a prevention (as opposed to
associated with eating problems (Silverman, Raj,                an intervention) effect. More important, it sug-
Mucci, & Hathaway, 2001; Thompson et al., 2003).                gests that changing the ecology—the messages
    This evidence concerning sexual harassment,                 that girls receive from teachers and peers as well
abuse, and rape is not conclusive. In fact, it is not           as teachers’ modeling of the unacceptability of
likely to ever be conclusive under the increas-                 harmful behavior and comments—can help pre-
ingly demanded standard (Kraemer et al., 1997)                  vent girls’ body image and eating problems. In
that only experimental research can identify                    addition, therapists might consider helping clients
causal factors. Nonetheless, these are potentially              to initiate changes at school or work. Therapists
important factors in understanding why body                     might even take the initiative to work toward sys-
image is so heavily gendered. Future research                   temic or institutional change themselves, as part
must include these variables.                                   of the effort to treat eating disorders.
                                                                                       Chapter 7   Body Image      75


    It will be challenging to design programs that            boys. Journal of the American Academy of Child
change the developmental ecology (Levine &                    and Adolescent Psychiatry, 38, 754–760.
                                                           Fredrickson, B., & Roberts, T. (1997). Objectification
Smolak, in press). Evaluations of the context will
                                                              theory: Toward understanding women’s lived ex-
be required, for example, and the program will                periences and mental health. Psychology of Women
need to be tailored to the community. This is                 Quarterly, 21, 173–206.
quite different from the expert-oriented, top-             Fredrickson, B., Roberts, T., Noll, S., Quinn, D., &
down approach currently favored in prevention                 Twenge, J. (1998). That swimsuit becomes you:
                                                              Sex differences in self-objectification, restrained
programs. Furthermore, the studies will have to
                                                              eating, and math performance. Journal of Person-
go on long enough to actually demonstrate that                ality and Social Psychology, 75, 269–284.
the onset of dangerously poor body esteem has              Gardner, R., Sorter, R., & Friedman, B. (1997). Develop-
been prevented. Another challenge will be iden-               mental changes in children’s body images. Journal
tifying appropriate control groups.                           of Social Behavior and Personality, 12, 1019–1036.
                                                           Geller, J., Zaitsoff, S., & Srikameswaran, S. (2002). Be-
    Despite these challenges, long-term social
                                                              yond shape and weight: Exploring the relationship
change is the best hope for decreasing the rate of            between nonbody determinants of self-esteem
body image problems among girls and women.                    and eating disorder symptoms in adolescent fe-
Media messages, tolerance of sexual harassment,               males. International Journal of Eating Disorders,
and the expectation that girls will discuss dieting           32, 344–351.
                                                           Harrison, K. (2000). Television viewing, fat stereotyp-
over lunch all can be changed. The bonus here is
                                                              ing, body shape standards, and eating disorder
that we may find that such ecological approaches               symptomatology in grade school children. Com-
reduce eating problems, including eating dis-                 munications Research, 27, 617–640.
orders and obesity.                                        Herzog, D., & Delinski, S. (2001). Classification of eat-
                                                              ing disorders. In R. Striegel-Moore & L. Smolak
                                                              (Eds.), Eating disorders: Innovative directions in
                                                              research and practice (pp. 31–50). Washington,
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   concerns, and bulimic behaviors among girls and            Thin, sexy women and strong, muscular men:
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    Grade-school children’s responses to objectified                  in depressive symptoms in adolescent girls: A
    images of women and men. Sex Roles, 49, 427–437.                 growth curve analysis. Developmental Psychology,
Muth, J., & Cash, T. (1997). Body-image attitudes:                   37, 597–607.
    What difference does gender make? Journal of                 Stice, E., Cameron, R., Killen, J., Hayward, C., &
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    in a high risk school setting. Journal of Primary                weight and onset of obesity among female ado-
    Prevention, 20, 75–90.                                           lescents. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psy-
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    ciated substance use, unhealthy weight control,                  nalization: Mounting evidence for a new risk fac-
    sexual risk behavior, pregnancy, and suicidality.                tor for body-image disturbance and eating pathol-
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    343–349.                                                         ogy and sexual trauma in childhood and adult-
Smolak, L., & Levine, M. P. (2001). Body image in                    hood. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 16, 335–338.
    children. In J. K. Thompson & L. Smolak (Eds.),              Tiggeman, M., & Lynch, J. (2001). Body image across
    Body image, eating disorder, and obesity in youth                the life span in adult women: The role of self-
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    logical Association.                                             243–253.
Smolak, L., Levine, M. P., & Schermer, F. (1999).                Tiggeman, M., & Wilson-Barrett, E. (1998). Children’s
    Parental input and weight concerns among ele-                    figure ratings: Relationship to self-esteem and
    mentary school children. International Journal of                negative stereotyping. International Journal of
    Eating Disorders, 25, 263–271.                                   Eating Disorders, 23, 83–88.
Smolak, L., & Munsterteiger, B. (2002). The relation-            Turnbull, J. D., Heaslip, S., & McLeod, H. A. (2000).
    ship of gender and voice to depression and eating                Pre-school children’s attitudes to fat and normal
    disorders. Psychology of Women Quarterly, 26,                    male and female stimulus figures. International
    234–241.                                                         Journal of Obesity, 24, 1705–1706.
Smolak, L., Murnen, S. K., & Ruble, A. (2000). Female            Vander Wal, J., & Thelen, M. (2000). Predictors of
    athletes and eating problems: A meta-analytic ap-                body image dissatisfaction in elementary-age
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    27, 371–380.                                                 Wertheim, E., Koerner, J., & Paxton, S. (2001). Longitu-
Smolak, L., & Striegel-Moore, R. (2001). Challenging                 dinal predictors of restrictive eating and bulimic
    the myth of the golden girl: Ethnicity and eating                tendencies in three different age groups of adoles-
    disorders. In R. Striegel-Moore & L. Smolak (Eds.),              cent girls. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 30,
    Eating disorders: New directions for research and                69–81.
    practice. Washington, DC: American Psychologi-               Wichstrom, L. (1999). The emergence of gender dif-
    cal Association.                                                 ferences in depressed mood during adolescence:
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                         This chapter is concerned with the most severe
                         and persistent mental disorders among children,
                         adolescents, and adults. The initial focus is on
                         the disorders themselves. Concerns of females
                         with mental illness are then discussed, including
                         differential diagnosis and associated character-
                         istics, specific issues among women, victimiza-
                         tion, mothers with mental illness, and caregiving
                         burden. Finally, some conclusions and recom-
                         mendations are offered.



                         THE SCOPE OF THE PROBLEM

                         The President’s New Freedom Commission on
                         Mental Health (2002) reported that approxi-
                         mately 5–9% of children and adolescents in the
                         United States have a serious emotional distur-
                         bance (SED) that significantly undermines their
                         daily functioning in home, school, or commu-
                         nity. The SED term encompasses certain diag-
                         nostic categories, including autism spectrum dis-
                         order, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder,
                         obsessive-compulsive disorder, other severe anx-
                         iety disorders, major depressive disorder, bipolar
                         disorder, and schizophrenia.
                             The commission also reported that, in a given
                         year, about 5–7% of adults have a serious mental
                         illness (SMI). The SMI term has traditionally
                         been defined in terms of diagnosis, duration, and
DIANE T. MARSH
                         disability. Specifically, the term refers to mental
                         disorders that carry certain diagnoses, such as
                         schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and major de-
Serious Emotional        pression; that are relatively persistent; and that
                         result in comparatively severe impairment in
Disturbance and          major areas of functioning, such as vocational
                         capacity or social relationships. Reflecting the
Serious Mental Illness   overlap between the SED and SMI diagnoses,
                         early-onset mental illness is sometimes used when
                         the SMI disorders occur in young people. In this
                         chapter, the term mental illness is used to en-
                         compass severe and persistent mental disorders




8
                         across the life span, unless the discussion focuses
                         on specific age groups.
                             From the perspective of clinical practice, in-
                         dividuals with mental illness represent a large
                         and underserved population. The prevalence fig-
                         ures noted previously translate into millions of
                         children, adolescents, and adults whose mental
                         disorders compromise their present lives and


                                                                          77
78    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


imperil their future. Mental illness is the number               (Torrey, 2001). Recovery is also manifested in the
one cause of disability in the United States (Pres-              productive lives of an increasing number of re-
ident’s New Freedom Commission on Mental                         covered and recovering people who are open
Health, 2002). Yet national surveys indicate that                about their experience (e.g., Jamison, 1995).
one of out every two people who need mental                          These positive outcomes attest to the remark-
health treatment does not receive any treatment                  able strengths demonstrated by individuals and
at all, and many others are poorly served (U.S.                  families when confronted with mental illness.
Department of Health and Human Services                          Marshaling their own powers of recuperation and
[USDHHS], 1999).                                                 renewal, they rebound from adversity, weather
    The lack of satisfactory—or indeed, any—                     their crises, prevail over difficult life events, and
treatment has devastating consequences for in-                   recapture their vitality and joy. In the midst of
dividuals, for their overwhelmed families, and                   their suffering and despair, they learn to take
for a society that is deprived of their gifts. Adults            charge of their lives and go on to live fully and love
with SMI have a death rate from suicide and                      well. Namely, they demonstrate a resilient re-
other causes of death that is significantly higher                sponse to the catastrophic stressor of mental
than the rate of the general population (Caldwell                illness.
& Gottesman, 1990). Moreover, as many people                         The vulnerability-stress model provides a use-
with mental illness reside in jails and prisons as               ful way of understanding these positive outcomes.
in all of our hospitals, and at least one third of the           The model assumes that the illness involves a
homeless are estimated to have a mental illness                  vulnerability—or biological predisposition—to
(Torrey, 2001).                                                  develop certain symptoms, and that a range of bi-
                                                                 ological and psychosocial factors can interact
    Some high-risk segments of this population
                                                                 with this vulnerability to affect the course of the
suffer a disproportionately heavy burden from
                                                                 illness. In fact, there is now substantial evidence
mental illness. For instance, recent research
                                                                 that severe and persistent mental disorders are as-
findings indicate that lesbian, gay, and bisexual
                                                                 sociated with alterations in brain activity, chem-
adults experience higher levels of morbidity, dis-
                                                                 istry, and structure (Andreasen, 2001). Depending
tress, and treatment use than heterosexuals; that
                                                                 on the disorder, these neurobiological abnormal-
gay and lesbian youth are more likely than het-
                                                                 ities may result in a range of symptoms, such as
erosexual youth to attempt suicide; and that dis-
                                                                 hallucinations and delusions, and of limitations,
crimination may exacerbate the mental health
                                                                 such as unusual vulnerability to stress or defi-
problems of sexual minorities (DeAngelis, 2002).
                                                                 ciencies in cognitive and social functioning.
Ethnic minorities, another high-risk group, have
                                                                     A variety of risk and protective factors can in-
less access to mental health services and often
                                                                 teract with this biologically based vulnerability to
receive a poorer quality of mental health care                   affect the course of mental illness. Risk factors,
(USDHHS, 2001).                                                  which increase the likelihood that symptoms will
                                                                 worsen and that a relapse will occur, include med-
                                                                 ication nonadherence, excessive stress, interper-
RECOVERY AND RESILIENCE                                          sonal conflict, an unhealthy lifestyle, medical
                                                                 problems, and substance abuse (Torrey, 2001).
In fact, effective psychosocial and psychophar-                  Some risk factors are gender-related, such as the
macological interventions are now available for                  hormonal upheavals that accompany pregnancy.
the full range of mental disorders among chil-                   Postpartum mood episodes with psychotic fea-
dren, adolescents, and adults (Mueser, Bond, &                   tures appear to occur in from 1 in 500 to 1 in
Drake, 2001; Ringeisen & Hoagwood, 2002). Once                   1,000 deliveries (American Psychiatric Associa-
thought impossible, recovery from mental illness                 tion, 2000). Protective factors, which can reduce
has been documented consistently in long-term                    symptoms of the illness and make relapse less
studies (e.g., Harding, Zubin, & Strauss, 1992). For             likely, include effective coping skills, family and
example, at least one half of those who are diag-                social support, and medication.
nosed with schizophrenia can be expected to                          Thus, the professional challenge is to assist in-
achieve recovery or significant improvement                       dividuals and families to maximize their resilience
                                                        Chapter 8   Emotional Disturbance and Mental Illness   79


under calamitous circumstances, to manage their          Differential Diagnosis and
risk and protective factors, and to access effective     Associated Characteristics
services.
                                                         As reported in the current edition of the Diag-
                                                         nostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
GENDER AND SERIOUS MENTAL ILLNESS                        (DSM-IV-TR; American Psychiatric Association,
                                                         2000), gender differences exist for some of the
Perhaps it should come as no surprise that adults        SED and SMI disorders. Autistic disorder and
with SMI are regarded as almost genderless               ADHD occur significantly more frequently in
(Mowbray, Oyserman, Lutz, & Purnell, 1997). In           males than in females. Childhood-onset OCD is
fact, along with other disability groups, they are       more common in boys than girls, although the
commonly defined in terms of their disability,            disorder is equally prevalent in adults. Major de-
with little attention to their other qualities, a        pressive disorder occurs twice as frequently in
stance that is both dehumanizing and gender-             adolescent and adult females as in males, al-
blind. Stripped of their dignity and humanity—           though prepubertal girls and boys are equally af-
as well as their gender—these individuals often          fected. Bipolar I disorder, which is characterized
struggle to forge a sense of identity separate from      by one or more manic episodes, appears to be
that of “mental patient.”                                equally common in women and men. In con-
    This neglect of gender has a number of adverse       trast, bipolar II disorder, which is distinguished
consequences for women. As Mowbray (2003) has            by one or more major depressive episodes ac-
                                                         companied by at least one hypomanic episode,
discussed, the gendered nature of mental health
                                                         may be more prevalent in women.
services has been well documented. Traditional
                                                             A slightly higher incidence of schizophrenia
mental health services have actually been largely
                                                         has been observed in men than in women. More
male-oriented. As a result, services may ignore not
                                                         important is the evidence that this disorder is ex-
only the special needs and interests of women,
                                                         pressed differently in females and males. As indi-
but may also assume a biased and unhealthy view
                                                         cated in DSM-IV-TR, the modal age at onset for
of women’s functioning, fail to incorporate a
                                                         men is between 18 and 25 years, and for women is
strengths-based approach, and ignore the larger
                                                         between age 25 and the mid-30s. The distribution
context of individual lives. As she points out, these
                                                         is unimodal among men but bimodal among
issues are very problematic for women with men-
                                                         women, with a second peak occurring later in life.
tal illness. Like other women, they are more af-
                                                         Women typically express more affective sympto-
fected than men by the demands and needs of
                                                         matology, paranoid delusions, and hallucina-
others and put more emphasis on their relational         tions; men tend to express more negative symp-
environment. Yet services are unlikely to focus on       toms, such as flat affect, avolition, and social
their lives as wives, mothers, or family members.        withdrawal. Some of these differences mirror so-
Moreover, because of their history of mental ill-        cial stereotypes that assume emotions are more
ness, these women are less able to operate in a          likely to be expressed by women and suppressed
mode of agency or autonomy, and their strengths          by men.
are often overlooked.                                        According to DSM-IV-TR, women have better
    Important gender differences exist in numer-         premorbid functioning than men and a better
ous domains of life functioning that are central         prognosis, as defined by number of rehospital-
to women’s lives and psychological well-being            izations and lengths of hospital stay, overall du-
(Cogan, 1998). Topics discussed in this section          ration of illness, time to relapse, response to med-
include differential diagnosis and associated            ication, and social and work functioning. This
characteristics, specific issues of women, victim-        female advantage appears to be limited to short-
ization, mothers with mental illness, and care-          to medium-term outcomes; long-term outcome
giving burden. Reflecting the available literature,       is similar to that of men. In fact, in later life
this discussion focuses largely on adult women           women constitute the majority of patients over
with SMI; the gender-related needs of girls with         age 50 in state psychiatric facilities, and they have
SED have received almost no attention.                   longer stays than younger women (Sajatovic,
80    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


Donenwirth, Sultana, & Buckley, 2000). Although                  prevalence rates for all types of victimization, in-
the course of schizophrenia appears to be more                   cluding physical or sexual abuse histories, cur-
moderate among women, it is important to note                    rent physical and sexual abuse, rape, and sexually
that women with SMI have a higher prevalence of                  transmitted diseases, such as human immuno-
comorbidity of three or more disorders and more                  deficiency virus (HIV) (Read & Fraser, 1998). In
health problems than their male counterparts                     fact, Gearon and Bellack (1999) report that the
(Mowbray et al., 1997).                                          prevalence rate for violent victimization among
                                                                 these women is almost double that of the general
Specific Issues of Women                                          population (42–64% vs. 21–34%). Women with
                                                                 SMI also appear to be at greater risk for posttrau-
Researchers have begun to describe the expe-                     matic stress disorder and for revictimization as
riences and needs of women with SMI, which                       adults (Mowbray, Nicholson, & Bellamy, 2003).
are considerably different from those of men                         These high prevalence rates are found only
(Ritscher, Coursey, & Farrell, 1997). One consis-                when researchers inquire directly about abuse
tent finding is the importance of their relational                (Read & Fraser, 1998). In routine clinical practice,
context, which determines many of their con-                     however, mental health practitioners seldom ex-
cerns. In one study, women reported that they                    plore histories of current or past sexual abuse
needed help with emotional abuse within rela-                    among their female patients. As a result, a sub-
tionships, different forms of sexual abuse, access               stantial number of patients on acute psychiatric
to information about contraception, pregnancy,                   wards have an unrecognized history of childhood
sexually transmitted diseases, and child custody                 sexual abuse. The consequences of this neglect
issues (Cogan, 1998). In a series of focus groups                may include incorrect diagnosis, inappropriate
(Chernomas, Clarke, & Chisholm, 2000), women                     treatment, increased likelihood of hospitalization
with SMI focused on similar issues: parenting,                   and psychoactive medication, and poor recovery
reproductive health, relationships, getting older,               (Mowbray et al., 2003). Clearly, practitioners need
multiple losses, social stigma, poverty, and lim-                to ask directly whether these women have experi-
ited interpersonal contacts. These women felt                    enced abuse and to incorporate this information
that the health care system focused on their illness             in their treatment plans when appropriate.
and that they had become invisible as women.
The interviewers observed that the women led
marginalized and deprived lives in the pervasive                 Mothers With Mental Illness
shadow of their illness.
    Although women with SMI share many                           In this era of community-based care, individuals
gender-related concerns, important differences                   with SMI now have greater opportunities to pur-
exist among subgroups of women, based on such                    sue normal adult roles, including parenting. As
variables as age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, in-             Mowbray and her colleagues (2001) discuss,
come, and education. Alvidrez (1999) points to                   women with SMI appear to have normal fertility
subgroup differences in instrumental barriers to                 rates and to bear an average or above average
mental health services, exposure to the mental                   number of children. Women are more likely to
health care system, family attitudes, stigma, and                marry than men with SMI and less likely to be
beliefs about causes of mental illness. Although                 childless. Many of these mothers have SMI prior
ethnic minority disparities in access and quality                to their pregnancies, but about 10–15% of preg-
of care are well established (USDHHS, 1999),                     nant women develop a mental illness postpar-
gender-related subgroup differences represent a
                                                                 tum. As the authors note, many of these mothers
promising avenue for future research.
                                                                 begin their parenting under high-risk condi-
                                                                 tions: with single parenting, early childbearing,
Victimization                                                    inadequate housing, few social and emotional
                                                                 supports, limited education, poverty, family
Compared both to the general population and to                   strife, substance abuse, homelessness, and vic-
men with SMI, women with SMI have elevated                       timization. The children of these mothers are at
                                                         Chapter 8   Emotional Disturbance and Mental Illness   81


increased risk of being placed in alternative set-       intervention opportunities exist to address the
ting such as foster care and of exhibiting behav-        mental health, health care, family planning, par-
ior problems and mental health problems of               enting, residential, social, vocational, and legal
their own.                                               needs of mothers with SMI (Brunette & Dean,
    In spite of the compelling needs of these            2002; Nicholson & Henry, 2003). Prevention and
mothers, there has been little acknowledgement           early intervention services can reduce the risk of
of their parenting role. As with gender issues in        poor outcomes among these vulnerable mothers
general, however, the experiences and needs of           and children and enhance the quality of their lives.
mothers with SMI are receiving increasing atten-
tion (Brunette & Dean, 2002; Caton, Cournos, &
Dominguez, 1999, Nicholson & Henry, 2003;                Caregiving Burden
Nicholson, Sweeney, & Geller, 1998). Mothers
with SMI face the same challenges as other par-          Throughout history, the burden of caregiving for
ents in securing financial resources, housing,            people with mental illness has been overwhelm-
medical care, transportation, and child care. In         ingly a female one. As Lefley (1996) has discussed,
addition, these mothers must cope with an array          family members, assuming roles for which they
of illness-related issues, including the presence        are unprepared and untrained, gradually learn to
of disabling symptoms, medication side effects,          cope with the requirements of daily life with
and social stigma. Inadequate parenting knowl-           someone who has mental illness; to obtain ser-
edge and skills, as well as the at-risk conditions       vices from the mental health, welfare, and med-
noted previously, may also undermine their par-          ical systems; and perhaps to negotiate with the
enting ability. Compounding the problems of              legal and criminal justice systems. She observes
these mothers are biases held by legal, medical,         that, compared to fathers, caregiving mothers
and other professionals that question their com-         experience more emotional distress (anxiety, de-
petence as parents and that may interfere with           pression, fear, emotional drain); and that single
their ability to retain custody of their children        caregiving mothers are particularly prone to feel-
(Cogan, 1998).                                           ings of depression, hopelessness, and burnout.
    In spite of the high risk of custody loss, mother-      In addition to mothers, the wives, sisters,
hood offers women with SMI a normalizing expe-           and daughters of people with mental illness are
rience that gives meaning to their lives; a con-         also likely to assume caregiving responsibili-
structive, nonpatient role; and strong motivation        ties (Marsh, 1998, 2001; Pickett-Schenk, 2003).
for participating in treatment and rehabilitation        Although all of these women share in the care-
programs (Nicholson et al., 1998). These mothers         giving burden, each female role is associated
often affirm the importance of their parenting           with unique experiences, needs, and concerns
role, attempt to avoid custody loss, and maintain        (Marsh & Lefley, 2003). One reason for these dif-
contact with children who are living elsewhere           ferences is their divergent relationships and re-
(Brunette & Dean, 2002). In order to fulfill their       sponsibilities within the family. In addition, the
parenting responsibilities, however, many of             impact of mental illness is partly determined by
these mothers need comprehensive, intensive,             their age at the onset of their relative’s illness.
integrated, and individualized services designed         Given the frequent late adolescent or early adult-
to address their personal needs, to enhance their        hood onset of schizophrenia, for instance, the ill-
parenting effectiveness, and to meet the needs of        ness is most likely to occur in middle adulthood
their children.                                          for mothers, in young adulthood for wives, in
    A contextual and individualized approach to          adolescence for sisters, and in childhood for
services should include educational and support-         daughters.
ive interventions for relatives and other adults,           When a child of any age develops mental ill-
who often provide child care, as well as links to the    ness, mothers generally experience a range of
foster care system (Caton et al., 1999). Although as     intense losses, both real and symbolic. As one
yet there is no well-articulated foundation for evi-     mother wrote, “The problems with my daughter
dence-based practices with this population, many         were like a black hole inside of me into which
82   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


everything else had been drawn.”1 Most likely to                skills during childhood, or on identity formation
assume roles as primary caregivers for their adult              during adolescence. Because these young fe-
children, mothers may sacrifice their own life                   males are still developing, the illness is woven
plans along the way. As one mother commented,                   into their very sense of self, becoming part of them
“My daughter’s mental illness pushed us back                    rather than something that happens to their
into parenting of the most demanding kind,                      family.
probably for the rest of our lives.” Almost univer-                 Sisters may feel they have lost both their sib-
sally, mothers are prone to feelings of guilt and               ling and their parents, whose energy may be con-
responsibility, which may be intensified by pro-                 sumed by the mental illness. They often feel like
fessionals who espouse unsupported models of                    forgotten family members, struggling to be heard
family pathogenesis or dysfunction.                             in a family that is focused on the illness. Almost
    Wives also have particular issues and con-                  inevitably, sisters feel alienated from the world of
cerns, yet these family members have received                   their peers, and they may deny their own needs
relatively little attention. An estimated 30–35% of             in an effort to compensate their aggrieved par-
hospitalized patients are discharged to live with               ents (the “replacement child syndrome”). One
their spouses, with a profound impact on their                  woman wrote of her early years, “I became the
families (Mannion, 1996). One wife has written:                 perfect child to spare my parents more grief. But
“My husband’s schizophrenia is like a third mem-                I have spent my life trying to run away from this
ber in our marriage. It is always there. Even with              problem. Feeling guilty and helpless, the unend-
medication, we still deal with his paranoia, his                ing sorrow for not being able to help.”
isolation, and his need for my full attention on                    Young daughters face special risks in light of
a daily basis.” The emotional, social, and eco-                 the centrality of the parent-child bond. The losses
nomic losses experienced by wives are similar                   of these girls may be profound, as attested by a
to those that accompany spousal bereavement.                    woman who lamented “my loss of a healthy
These women may feel they are no longer mar-                    mother, a normal childhood, and a stable home.”
ried to the same individual and often assume in-                Daughters may become enveloped in their par-
creased responsibility for parenting and other as-              ent’s psychotic system, with an adverse impact
pects of family life. Under these circumstances,                on their own mental health. Sometimes assum-
wives may experience substantial conflict and                    ing a parentified role before they have finished
guilt if they consider separation or divorce, shad-             being children, they may attempt to become
owed by a sense that they have failed to live up to             ideal children to protect their fragile family. In
their marriage vows.                                            the words of one woman, “As a child I tried des-
    As children and adolescents, girls share a spe-             perately never to have a problem because our
cial vulnerability to the mental illness in their               family had so many. So I became perfectionistic
families (Marsh & Dickens, 1997). Compared with                 and hid my fears, concerns, and needs from
adults, these young family members are more                     everyone.”
easily overwhelmed and have fewer coping skills                     Although sisters and daughters are less likely
and psychological defenses, as well as a more                   than mothers and wives to assume caregiving
limited ability to understand mental illness and                roles during their early years, as adults they ex-
to verbalize painful feelings. Young girls are more             press considerable anxiety about caregiving. In
dependent on other people in their lives, placing               our survey of illness-related concerns (Marsh &
them in a precarious position when a beloved                    Dickens, 1997), almost all (94%) of the adult sib-
parent or sibling suffers from mental illness. De-              lings and children mentioned caregiving for
flected from their developmental tasks by the dis-               their relative, which was their top-rated con-
ruptive force of the illness, young family mem-                 cern. In middle adulthood, all of these care-
bers may carry a legacy of “unfinished business”                 giving women may be deflected from their own
into their future lives. Depending on their age,                developmental tasks; and in late adulthood, they
the mental illness might have an adverse impact                 may find themselves with substantial responsi-
on the establishment basic trust during their ear-              bilities during a period of diminishing personal
liest years, on peer relationships and academic                 resources (Lefley, 1996).
                                                        Chapter 8   Emotional Disturbance and Mental Illness   83


CONCLUSIONS                                                  Finally, many females with mental illness also
                                                         have unmet needs related to their role as mothers.
People of all ages with severe and persistent men-       They are likely to have many personal needs con-
tal illness have many unmet needs. Although by           cerned with family planning, parenting knowl-
definition their mental illness results in substan-       edge and skills, parenting stress, child care re-
tial functional impairment, a majority of these          sources, household tasks, custody issues, legal
vulnerable individuals are not served or are un-         assistance, financial security, and environmental
derserved by the mental health system. The first          support. As parents, they also may require assis-
order of business, then, is to reduce the barriers       tance in meeting the needs of their children for a
to care for this population and to increase their        stable and nurturing environment, socialization
access to effective interventions and services.          skills, academic success, nutritional food, health
People with SED and SMI need a comprehen-                care, and perhaps mental health care.
sive, humane, and responsive system of mental                Clearly, the development and implementation
health care.                                             of a gender-sensitive mental health system for fe-
    Second, it is essential to identify and reduce       males of all ages with mental illness will require a
gender-related disparities in service provision.         substantial commitment from policy makers, ad-
Although females and males with mental illness           ministrators, and practitioners. Equally clearly,
share many service needs, they do not always             the price of not addressing their gendered needs
receive comparable services (Levin, Blanch, &            will surely exact a much higher price in the pres-
Jennings, 1998). For women as well as men, in-           ent and future: for these vulnerable women, for
tervention should be designed to assist them in          their at-risk children, and for society at large.
achieving their goals, in fulfilling their potential,
and in improving the quality of their lives. Yet         NOTE
there is evidence of service disparities that may
adversely affect females. Women are more likely             1. Quotes from family members not otherwise ref-
to receive psychotropic medication, for example,         erenced are excerpted from research reported in
and less likely to receive vocational rehabilita-        Marsh (1998) and Marsh and Dickens (1997).
tion services (Mowbray et al., 2003).
    Third, it is essential to address the changing
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                                  Violence against women takes many forms and
                                  may be physical or psychological, with the goal of
                                  intimidation and control. Sexual violence ranges
                                  from unwanted contact to rape. Rape may be the
                                  stereotypical stranger attack, but more frequently
                                  it is verbally or physically coerced sexual inter-
                                  course by an acquaintance. According to Amnesty
                                  International (1992), rape also occurs during cul-
                                  tural rituals involving genital contact, arranged
                                  marriages of children, gynecological procedures
                                  (rupture of the hymen, genital mutilation, in-
                                  duced abortions), forced prostitution, and sexual
                                  slavery. Rape of refugees and wartime rape have
                                  also been documented. Physical violence is most
                                  frequently manifested in cases of battering and
                                  wife abuse, as well as dating violence. Violence
                                  also can be seen in cases where men isolate
                                  women and deprive them of educational and
                                  employment opportunities, and in the case of
                                  immigrant women, denial of access to their green
                                  cards. These forms of violence share in common
                                  the fact that they are frequently committed by
                                  men known to the girls and women. Unlike other
                                  crimes, they are crimes in which others, as well as
                                  the victim herself, may blame the victim for what
JACQUELYN W. WHITE                happened. By blaming the individual victims, at-
and J A M E S M . F R A B U T T   tention and responsibility are shifted away from
                                  the perpetrators and from the social and political
                                  contexts that contribute to violence against
Violence Against                  women.
                                      Our perspective in this chapter examines in-
Girls and Women:                  dividual behavior in context, based on the inte-
                                  grated contextual developmental model of White
An Integrative                    and Kowalski (1998). The model assumes that pa-
                                  triarchal societies accord men higher value than
Developmental                     women and that men are expected to dominate
                                  in politics, economics, and the social world, in-
Perspective                       cluding family life and interpersonal relation-
                                  ships. The model further assumes that patri-
                                  archy operating at the historical/sociocultural
                                  level affects the power dynamics of all relation-
                                  ships. Historical and sociocultural factors create




9
                                  an environment in which children learn rules
                                  and expectations, first in the family network and
                                  later in peer, intimate, and work relationships.
                                  Individual violence is understood as embedded
                                  in gendered social and cultural contexts. Power
                                  dynamics become enacted at the interpersonal
                                  level and result in the internalization of gendered
                                  values, expectations, and behaviors. Thus, cul-


                                                                                  85
86   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


tural norms governing the use of aggression as a                approval than girls for aggression directed toward
tool of the more powerful to subdue the weaker                  peers, although they are punished more harshly
combine with gender inequalities to create a cli-               for aggression than are girls. The effects of
mate conducive to violence against women.                       parental punishment are not uniform; the sex of
                                                                the child and parent affect the pattern and out-
                                                                come. Paternal spanking leads to reactive (angry)
GENDERED VIOLENCE IN CHILDHOOD                                  aggression in both girls and boys, but only boys
                                                                show unprovoked bullying aggression against
Early childhood establishes a framework for pat-                others when spanked by their fathers (Lytton &
terns of interactions between adult women and                   Romney, 1991).
men. The major lesson of patriarchy is learned in                   For a minority of girls and boys, the message
childhood: the more powerful individuals con-                   that the more powerful can control the less pow-
trol the less powerful, and that power is gendered              erful is also learned in a sexual context. The sex-
They learn that men and masculinity are (or                     ual victimization of children is an abuse of inter-
should be) associated with power and dominance,                 personal power and a violation of trust. Most
and that victimization is also gendered—that is,                children are victimized by people they know and
boys and men can hurt girls and women. Girls                    trust; almost 90% of children who are raped are
are taught to be less direct in expressing aggres-              victimized by someone known to them. Boys are
sion and regard relational aggression (i.e., verbal             more likely to be sexually abused by someone
threats) more positively than boys, who judge                   outside the family whereas girls are more likely
physical aggression more positively. By adulthood               to be sexually abused by a family member or a
men see anger expression as a means of reassert-                quasi-family member (e.g., mother’s boyfriend).
ing control over a situation, whereas women ex-                 Betrayal of the trust vested in those who have
perience it as a loss of control (Campbell, Muncer,             power is central to understanding childhood
Guy, & Banim, 1996).                                            sexual abuse, its consequences, and the systems
    Children learn very early that boys are sup-                that sustain it.
posed to be stronger than girls and that girls                      Vulnerability to sexual abuse emerges around
should follow boys. In particular, children receive             age 3, with girls three times more likely than boys
very specific messages about aggression. For ex-                 to be sexually abused, with no significant ethnic
ample, in same sex playgroups girls learn to use                differences. There are an estimated 300,200 chil-
verbal persuasion, whereas boys learn to establish              dren being sexually abused annually, with 614,000
dominance physically. Boys establish their iden-                being physically abused. Birth parents (89% male)
tity as male by defining girls as different and infe-            commit approximately one quarter of all sexual
rior, scorn girl-type activities, and exclude girls             abuses and these abuses are most likely to result
from their play. In fact, boys’ rougher play may be             in a serious injury or impairment (National Clear-
one reason for same-sex segregated playgroups.                  inghouse on Child Abuse and Neglect, 2003).
    Patterns of parental punishment offer another                   Certain characteristics of families put a child
venue for children to learn about gendered ag-                  at risk for sexual abuse. These families are often
gression and violence. Children, especially those               fraught with conflict and have a rigid, traditional
from abusive homes, have many opportunities to                  structure in which fathers are authoritarian,
learn that the more powerful person in a relation-              punitive, and threatening and view women and
ship can use aggression to successfully control the             children as their subordinates. Obedience and
less powerful person. The majority of parents in                control permeate all aspects of family life. Fam-
American homes use verbal and physical aggres-                  ily members are emotionally distant and open
sion as disciplinary tactics. The majority of chil-             displays of affection often are absent. Victimized
dren are spanked sometime in their youth, and                   children often feel powerless to stop the abuse
many are also pushed, shoved, and slapped. Par-                 and feel they have nowhere to turn for help,
ents often tolerate aggression in boys as a mascu-              comfort, and support. The child’s ability to con-
line behavior; thus, boys expect less parental dis-             front and refuse sexual contact is overwhelmed
                                                            Chapter 9   Violence Against Girls and Women   87


by the feelings of loyalty and trust that the child    also found no significant differences in the preva-
may have developed for the perpetrator. The            lence of childhood sexual abuse among Hispanic
adult, from his position of authority, communi-        (27.1%) and non-Hispanic women (33.1%).
cates to the child that the behavior is part of an
exclusive, secretive, and special relationship.
The perpetrator may even come to believe and           Summary
attempt to convince the child that the relation-
ship is a mutually loving and caring one.              This overview of gendered violence in childhood,
    Childhood sexual abuse has been identified          with a specific focus on childhood sexual abuse,
as a gateway to juvenile prostitution, defined as       suggests that prevention efforts must be multi-
the use of or participation of persons under the       pronged. Although survivors may remain silent as
age of 18 in sexual intercourse or other sex acts      children, the abuse may resurface in adulthood
where no force is present in exchange for money,       with myriad negative consequences. Adult sur-
clothing, food, shelter, drugs, or other consider-     vivors may be reminded of their abuse when see-
ations (Estes & Weiner, 2001). While police sta-       ing a family member again, looking at pictures,
tistics suggest there are between 100,000 and          watching a movie about incest, being sexually vic-
300,000 juvenile prostitutes under the age of 18       timized again, or having children reach the same
(the U.S. Department of Health and Human Ser-          age as they were when they were abused. Girls and
vices has estimated 300,000), nonofficial sources       boys need opportunities to learn to play in non-
place the number closer to 500,000, with females       gendered ways and need the skills to resolve con-
accounting for approximately two thirds of the         flicts when they arise. Parents need training to
juvenile prostitutes in this country (Flowers,         provide consequences to children in ways that do
1998). The majority of juvenile female prostitutes     not teach and reinforce gendered patterns of ag-
are between the ages of 15 to 17 and enter into        gression and violence. Children reared in warm,
prostitution before age 16. Contrary to popular        loving families are quite resilient to the negative
belief, the majority (75%) of juvenile prostitutes     impact of challenges posed by developmental
are from working-class and middle-class fami-          transitions to school and into adolescence. These
lies. Three identified levels of risk factors for ju-   children are likely to exhibit more secure parental
venile prostitution are contextual (e.g., poverty,     attachment, higher self-esteem, and greater aca-
societal responses to crimes committed against         demic success.
children), situational (e.g., history of sexual as-       Protection of children from abuse is a focus of
sault, gang membership, parental drug depen-           national attention in recent years. Schools are be-
dency), and individual (e.g., poor self-esteem,        ginning to educate teachers about the signs of
chronic depression).                                   physical and sexual abuse. They are also begin-
                                                       ning to teach children what is appropriate touch,
                                                       that they are their own property and they have the
Ethnicity and Childhood Sexual Abuse                   right to say no to someone who is abusive, while
                                                       encouraging children to tell a teacher, parent, or
The relationship between ethnicity and victim-         adult friend when someone touches them in-
ization is currently being studied. No statistical     appropriately (Wurtele, 2002). Doctors are being
differences between the percentages of African         trained to identify signs of child sexual abuse in
American (57%) and White (67%) women report-           their patients and to conduct the necessary tests
ing childhood sexual victimization have been re-       to verify sexual abuse. Many adult survivors also
ported (Wyatt, 1991). Similarly, 49% of the women      are becoming aware of their victimization and
in a Southwestern American Indian tribal com-          are seeking help from private therapists, support
munity reported childhood sexual victimization         groups of other survivors, and books. Survivors re-
(Robin, Chester, Rasmussen, Jaranson, & Gold-          port that others can help by believing their stories
man, 1997). Using a more restrictive definition of      and by allowing them to talk about what hap-
sexual abuse, Arroyo, Simpson, and Aragon (1997)       pened and their feelings (Nelson-Gardell, 2001).
88   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


Although the memory of the abuse may not be                     blame themselves rather than men for their vic-
completely forgotten, many women find ways                      timization (Holland & Eisenhart, 1990).
to heal.                                                            It appears that dating violence and sexual as-
                                                                sault among adolescents and college students is
                                                                so prevalent, in part, because the overall structure
GENDERED VIOLENCE IN ADOLESCENCE                                and meaning of dating in our culture give men
                                                                greater power. Adolescent dating patterns follow
During adolescence, young men and women ex-                     a fairly well defined script that has not changed
perience extreme pressure to conform to tradi-                  much over several decades. A traditional dating
tional gender roles. Peer influences and media                   script is a set of rules to be followed by girls and
images are quite powerful. Male companionship                   boys that affords men greater power relative to
permits men to distance themselves from women                   women, although women are assumed to be re-
except in social contexts involving “power-                     sponsible for “how far things go,” and if things
enhancing” or sexual opportunities. Distancing                  “get out of hand,” it is their fault. These social
oneself socially and psychologically from any-                  scripts, often depicted in media images, may lead
thing feminine is part of establishing a masculine              some women into a “relationship trap” when they
identity. Sexually aggressive men are likely to have            feel they must put maintenance of the relation-
a peer group that values sexual conquests at any                ship above their own self-interests (Carey &
cost (Ageton, 1983).                                            Mongeau, 1996). Courtship has different mean-
   Media images contribute to prescriptive gen-                 ings for young women and men. Whereas for
dered interactions. The sexual objectification of                most men courtship involves themes of “staying
women, as depicted in pornography, has an im-                   in control,” for women themes typically involve
pact on adolescent women and men. Repeated                      “dependence on the relationship.” Violence is one
exposure to pornography increases young men’s                   of the tactics used to gain control in a relationship.
sexual callousness toward women, desensitizes                       Women who experience ongoing victimiza-
them to violence against women, and increases                   tion often report more commitment to and love
their acceptance of rape myths and willingness to               for their partner; they are less likely to end the re-
engage in aggressive behavior toward women.                     lationship because of abuse and they allow their
Pornography consumption is an important risk                    partner to control them. These women also re-
factor in sexual aggression (Malamuth, 1998).                   port more traditional attitudes toward women’s
   Sexualized images of women’s bodies are                      roles, justify their abuse, and tend to romanticize
prevalent, not only in sexually explicit materials              relationships and love. Conflict in dating rela-
but also in general media images (e.g., advertis-               tionships increases the risk for violence, and is
ing). Women become the objects of men’s gaze                    more likely when relationships are plagued by
and evaluation. Western culture socializes girls to             jealousy, fighting, interference from friends, lack
view themselves as objects for evaluation and ap-               of time together, breakdown of the relationship,
proval by others. Moreover, the girls themselves                and problems outside the relationship, as well as
come to internalize an observer’s perspective of                disagreements about drinking and sexual denial.
self and may come to evaluate their self-worth                      Studies indicate that dating violence during the
based on the responses and evaluations of others.               teen years is pervasive. It has been estimated that
Some women seem to believe that when they are                   over three quarters of high school and college-
more attractive than men, they must treat them                  aged youth have experienced some verbal aggres-
especially well as a means of equalizing power in               sion and approximately one third have experi-
the relationships, but if they are less attractive              enced physical aggression (Smith, White, &
than men, they can treat them poorly to compen-                 Holland, 2003). The ubiquity of courtship vio-
sate for their unattractiveness. Women, if less at-             lence among college students is apparent in that
tractive than men, may reduce their expectations                comparable rates of violence have been observed
for good treatment. Women may also come to                      across gender, ethnic group, and type of institu-
use men’s treatment as an index of their relative               tion of higher learning, such as private or public,
attractiveness. When mistreated, they tend to                   religious or secular.
                                                             Chapter 9   Violence Against Girls and Women   89


    As men and women establish intimate rela-           distrust of White authority figures have made it
tionships, dominance and violence also surface          difficult for African American teens to report
in the form of sexual aggression. Several large sur-    abusive dating relationships (Wyatt, 1991). Asian/
veys have suggested that over half of the women         Pacific women, too, are reluctant to disclose abuse
by the age of 24 have experienced some form of          because of cultural traditions of male dominance
sexual victimization, with approximately 15% ex-        and reticence to discuss private relationships in
periencing acts by a man that meet the legal def-       public (Yoshihamana, Parekh, & Boyington, 1991).
inition of rape, and 12% have experienced an at-        For lesbian teens, the problem is complicated by
tempted rape (Koss, Gidycz, & Wisniewski, 1987).        the fact that, in reporting abuse, they may have to
High school women also appear to be at greater          reveal their sexual orientation, something they
risk for rape than previously thought. A survey of      may not be psychologically ready to do (Levy &
834 entering college students found that 13% re-        Lobel, 1991).
ported being raped between the ages of 14 and 18,
and an additional 16% reported being victims of
an attempted rape (Humphrey & White, 2000).             Summary
Most victims knew the perpetrator and the as-
saults frequently occurred in a dating context.         This review of violence toward teen-aged girls
    Several researchers have confirmed that the          makes it clear that adolescence is a time of high
best predictor of victimization is past victimiza-      risk for victimization, especially by male peers.
tion. Childhood victimization typically increases       There is a need for adolescents to develop conflict
the risk of adolescent victimization, which in turn     management and sexual negotiation skills. There
increases the risk of victimization as a young adult    are multiple levels at which efforts should be di-
(Humphrey & White, 2000). Additionally, child-          rected to combat interpersonal violence during
hood victimization has been related to earlier age      the adolescent years: criminal justice system;
of menarche and sexual activity that may increase       school and community programming; and tar-
the perpetrator’s attraction to the victim (Vicary,     geted male-based programs. First, changes in the
Klingman, & Harkness, 1995). Women with a his-          legal system are necessary to overcome victims’
tory of victimization may turn to alcohol as a          reluctance to report the crime and increase the
means of coping. Prior victimization, along with        likelihood that a report will result in a conviction
drinking habits, also affects women’s judgments         (Koss, Bachar, Hopkins, & Carlson, 2003). Un-
of risk (Norris, Nurius, & Graham, 1999). Alcohol       fortunately, judicial reforms to date have not
also is implicated in sexual assault in several other   changed societal attitudes about interpersonal
ways. Unfortunately, alcohol use also may make it       violence, especially among acquainted teens.
more difficult for women to read the danger cues             Second, at the institutional level, experts en-
present in an impending assault. Also, alcohol          courage schools and universities to espouse a phi-
consumption is a barrier to women’s ability to re-      losophy condemning dating and sexual violence,
sist (Norris et al., 1999), and more important, her     to develop policies, and to offer services con-
alcohol use may suggest, erroneously, to the per-       gruent with their policies (i.e., escort services,
petrator that she is sexually available and/or that     violence prevention programming, counseling/
she will be less able to resist an assault.             treatment services, strict judicial procedures and
                                                        punitive consequences). A third, and very promis-
                                                        ing trend, is the development of violence preven-
Ethnicity and Sexual Assault                            tion programs developed by men and run by men
                                                        for men. An interesting aspect of such program-
Dating violence and sexual assault pose addi-           ming is the focus on fraternities and athletic
tional problems among adolescents who are not           teams on college campuses. Community-based
White, middle class, and heterosexual. Although         organizations that focus on men are also working
it is difficult for any young person to admit being      on men taking responsibility for violence against
victimized by a dating partner, it is especially so     women. The White Ribbon Campaign (http://
for ethnic minorities. The legacy of slavery and        www.undp.org/rblac/gender/mens.htm), begun
90    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


in Canada, is the largest worldwide effort of men                and justice system services (Tjaden & Thoennes,
to end men’s violence against women. During                      1998).
White Ribbon Week, beginning November 25, the                        Studies of abusive couples have found little ev-
International Day for the Eradication of Violence                idence that battered women have certain person-
Against Women, men wear a white ribbon as a                      alities that put them at risk. Rather, abusive men
pledge to never commit violence or to remain                     are likely to have a history of alcohol abuse, to have
silent about other men’s violence.                               more life stress, and to lack coping skills (Barnett &
                                                                 Fagan, 1993). Other characteristics include low
                                                                 self-esteem, a need to dominate, depression, de-
VIOLENCE IN MARRIAGE AND OTHER                                   pendency on others to meet emotional needs,
COMMITTED RELATIONSHIPS                                          and hostility toward women (Dewhurst, Moore, &
                                                                 Alfano, 1992). Marital conflict and witnessing vio-
Patterns of interpersonal violence established                   lence in the family of origin are also strong pre-
during adolescence may continue in adulthood.                    dictors of continuing marital violence (Aldarondo
Victimization in adolescence predicts victimiza-                 & Sugarman, 1996).
tion in adulthood for women (Smith et al., 2003);
likewise, for men perpetration in adolescence
predicts perpetration in adulthood (White &                      Ethnicity and Intimate Partner Violence
Smith, 2004). The greatest threat of violence to
adult women is from their intimate partners. An                  Community-based surveys have found that 25%
estimated 2 to 3 million women are assaulted by                  of African American women (Wyatt, 1991) and 8%
                                                                 of Hispanic women (Sorenson & Siegel, 1992) re-
male partners in the United States each year
                                                                 ported at least one physical or sexual assault ex-
(21–34% of all women at some time during adult-
                                                                 perience in their lifetime. However, when norms
hood); at least half of these women are severely
                                                                 regarding violence approval, age, and economic
assaulted (i.e., punched, kicked, choked, beaten,
                                                                 stressors are held constant, Kantor, Kaufman,
threatened with a knife or gun, or had a knife or
                                                                 Jasinski, and Aldarondo (1994) did not find dif-
gun used on them). Further, it is estimated that
                                                                 ferences between Hispanic Americans and other
33–50% of all battered wives are also the victims of
                                                                 Americans in their odds of wife abuse. However,
partner rape (Peacock, 1998). Studies have shown
                                                                 they did find that being born in the United States
that 22–40% of the women who seek health care at
                                                                 increases the risk of wife assaults by Mexican
clinics or emergency rooms were victims of bat-
                                                                 American and Puerto Rican American husbands.
tering (Stark & Flitcraft, 1996). Intimate violence
                                                                 Importantly, they found that in any group, re-
may escalate, resulting in homicide. Approxi-
                                                                 gardless of socioeconomic status, the presence
mately two thirds of family violence deaths are                  of norms sanctioning wife assaults is a risk factor
women killed by their male partners; current or                  for wife abuse. For women in Israel, the West
former partners commit over half of all murders                  Bank, and the Gaza Strip, acceptance of patriar-
of women. Murder-suicides are almost always                      chal values is associated with acceptance of
cases where the man kills his partner or estranged               wife beating. Despite growth in educational and
partner, sometimes his children or other family                  career opportunities for women in Arab coun-
members as well, before killing himself (Stuart &                tries, religious and family values condone wife
Campbell, 1989).                                                 abuse and provide women few avenues for es-
   Data from the National Violence Against                       cape (Haj-Yahia, 1998). Women in other coun-
Women Survey of 8,000 women and 8,000 men                        tries such as Bangladesh and India also suffer
in the United States indicate that married/                      from wife abuse (Fernandez, 1997).
cohabiting women reported significantly more
intimate partner physical assault, stalking, and
rape than did married/cohabiting men. Women                      Violence in Lesbian Relationships
also reported more frequent and longer lasting
victimization; fear of bodily injury, time lost from             Relationship abuse is not limited to heterosexual
work, injuries, and use of medical, mental health,               relationships. Although there have been no preva-
                                                            Chapter 9   Violence Against Girls and Women   91


lence studies, research with convenience samples       tims; they found that the perpetrators were more
indicates that partner abuse is a significant prob-     likely to be sons than husbands. Research has
lem for lesbian women (Lockhart, White, Causby,        documented the continued long-term effects of
& Isaac, 1994). Partner abuse has been associated      childhood sexual abuse and domestic violence in
with issues of power and dependency in lesbian         the later years. Symptoms may include depres-
couples. For lesbians, the internalization of soci-    sion and revictimization. Diagnosis of symptoms
etal homophobic attitudes may, in part, lead to        related to prior abuse in the elderly is compli-
aggression against partners and reduce reporting       cated by age and may result in misdiagnosis as
due to threats that they may be “outed” by their       dementia or mental illness. Additionally, one
partner.                                               study suggests that men who sexually assault
                                                       older women may suffer from more severe psy-
                                                       chopathology and that their assaults are more
Elder Abuse: Violence Toward                           brutal and motivated by anger and a need for
Elderly Women                                          power (Pollock, 1988).

The American Association of Retired Persons
(1992) produced a report identifying similarities      Summary
between elder abuse and other forms of violence
against women. The report identified power im-          The review of research on violence against
balances, secrecy and isolation, personal harm         women indicates that it is a problem across the
to victims, social expectations and sex roles, in-     life span. Various factors, such as a history of
adequate resources to protect victims, and the         childhood and adolescent abuse and economic
control perpetrators have over their actions. The      dependence on one’s partner, are risk factors for
report further suggested that life-span factors        abuse. Educational and economic opportunities,
pose unique problems for elder abuse.                  self-esteem, and social support have all been
    Elder abuse is often spouse abuse that has         identified as important protective factors. The
continued for years. One of the only random            presence of community shelters for victims of
sample based surveys examining elder abuse             domestic violence and sexual assault is critical to
found that in the over-65 population of Boston,        offering women the possibility of escape from
2% were the victims of physical abuse, with 58%        dangerous situation and the possibility of build-
of those being abused by a spouse and 24% by an        ing a new, abuse-free life.
adult child (Finkelhor & Pillemer, 1988). Victim-
ization by adult children reflects the change in
relationship dynamics as parents age. Adult chil-      CONSEQUENCES OF VIOLENCE
dren gain power and the aging parent loses             AGAINST GIRLS AND WOMEN
power within a social context that values youth
and devalues maturity. Although half the victims       The developmental pattern of gendered violence
were men, women were much more severely in-            is mirrored in an escalation of the consequences
jured than men. Submissiveness, self-blame,            for victims. Beginning in childhood, victimization
self-doubt and lack of social support mediate the      experiences influence subsequent psychological,
effects of abuse on older women (Aronson,              social, and emotional development. Sexually vic-
Thornewell, & Williams, 1995).                         timized girls suffer from several problems includ-
    Even less is known about the sexual abuse of       ing impaired self-esteem, feelings of betrayal, lack
older women. This remains a taboo topic, al-           of trust, and age-inappropriate sexual behavior. It
though there is a growing recognition that the         is highly likely that these factors contribute to an
problem needs attention. Clinical evidence sug-        increased risk of revictimization during adoles-
gests that older women may be raped in their           cence. Young women who experience physical or
homes as well as in institutions (such as residen-     sexual violence during adolescence are more
tial treatment facilities and nursing homes). Holt     likely to be injured and to feel surprised, scared,
(1993), in a study of elder sexual abuse in Great      angry, and hurt by a partner’s aggression than
Britain, reported a 6:1 ratio of female to male vic-   are men. An additional serious consequence of
92   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


courtship violence is a possible increased risk of              Aldarondo, E., & Sugarman, D. B. (1996). Risk marker
marital violence either with the same or a differ-                 analysis of the cessation and persistence of wife
                                                                   assault. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psy-
ent partner.
                                                                   chology, 64, 1010–1019.
    Abused women are at higher risk for a range                 American Association of Retired Persons. (1992).
of psychological and physical health problems                      Abused elders or older battered women? Special
that may be exacerbated when violent partners                      Activities Department, AARP. Washington, DC:
prevent them from seeking appropriate health                       Author.
                                                                Amnesty International. (1992). Rape and sexual abuse:
care when needed. Abused women also show a                         Torture and ill treatment of women in detention.
range of adverse behavioral outcomes such as                       New York: Author.
suicide and substance use. Additionally, there are              Aronson, J., Thornewell, C., & Williams, K. (1995). Wife
social and economic consequences. The abused                       assault in old age: Coming out of obscurity Cana-
                                                                   dian Journal on Aging, 14, 72–88.
woman’s partner may limit access to household
                                                                Arroyo, J. A., Simpson, T. L., & Aragon, A. S. (1997).
resources and control decision making, as well as                  Childhood sexual abuse among Hispanic and
the woman’s employment patterns. Her educa-                        non-Hispanic White college women. Hispanic
tional attainment and income, as well as her par-                  Journal of Behavioral Sciences, 19, 57–68.
ticipation in public life, may be restricted. The               Barnett, O. W., & Fagan, R. W. (1993). Alcohol use in
                                                                   male spouse abusers and their female partners.
quality of life for children in the home may be                    Journal of Family Violence, 8, 1–25.
compromised as well.                                            Campbell, A., Muncer, S., Guy, A., & Banim, M. (1996).
                                                                   Social representations of aggression: Crossing the
                                                                   sex barrier. European Journal of Social Psychology,
                                                                   26, 135–147.
CONCLUSIONS
                                                                Carey, C. M., & Mongeau, P. A. (1996). Communica-
                                                                   tion and violence in courtship relationships. In
Traditionally, secrecy and myths regarding male-                   D. D. Cahn & S. A. Lloyd (Eds.), Family violence
female relationships trivialized and/or justified                   from a communication perspective (pp. 127–150).
male violence against women. The women’s                           Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
                                                                Dewhurst, A. M., Moore, R. J., & Alfano, D. P. (1992).
movement has done much to bring to public
                                                                   Aggression against women by men: Sexual and
awareness the extent of the harm done to women                     spousal assault. Journal of Offender Rehabilita-
by men and has prompted redefinitions that ac-                      tion, 18, 39–47.
knowledge the violence. For example, rape is no                 Estes, R. J., & Weiner, N. A. (2001). The commercial sex-
longer defined as a sexual act, sexual harassment                   ual exploitation of children in the U.S., Canada and
                                                                   Mexico. Center research report of the Center for the
is not accepted as standard working conditions,                    Study of Youth Policy, University of Pennsylvania.
and wife abuse is not a legitimate way to “show                    Philadelphia. Retrieved from http://caster.ssw.
the little woman who is boss”; rather, each is seen                upenn.edu/∼restes/CSEC_Files/Complete_CSEC_
as an act by men intended to dominate and con-                     020220.pdf
                                                                Fernandez, M. (1997). Domestic violence by extended
trol women.
                                                                   family members in India. Interplay of gender and
    Violence against women, in its various forms,                  generation. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 12,
is now recognized as a public health and social                    433–455.
problem. Hence, research has moved from focus-                  Finkelhor, D., & Pillemer, K. (1988). Elder abuse: Its re-
ing on individual psychopathology to identifying                   lationship to other forms of domestic violence. In
                                                                   G. T. Hotaling and D. Finkelhor (Eds.), Family
the sociocultural factors that contribute to such
                                                                   abuse and its consequences: New directions in re-
violence. Also, communities, institutions, and                     search (pp. 244–254). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
organizations are combating violence against                    Flowers, R. B. (1998). The prostitution of women and
women by developing interventions that not only                    girls. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company.
help individuals but also promote change in val-                Haj-Yahia, M. M. (1998). Beliefs about wife beating
                                                                   among Palestinian women: The influence of their
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                                                                   533–558.
                                                                Holland, D. C., & Eisenhart, M. A. (1990). Educated in
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                       It has taken a while for attention to be paid to the
                       intersection of disability and other personal char-
                       acteristics, including gender. A focus on girls and
                       women with disabilities immediately raises two
                       questions. Do girls and women with disabilities
                       differ from boys and men with disabilities? And do
                       girls and women with disabilities differ from girls
                       and women without disabilities? The answer, in a
                       word, is yes. The issue for this chapter is not if, but
                       how. “How does disability affect the gendering
                       process? How does it affect the experience of
                       gender? . . . In what ways are the experiences of
                       women and men with disabilities similar and
                       different?” (Gerrschick, 2000, p. 1263).
                           Both gender and disability are central charac-
                       teristics for a person. Gender and disability status
                       are critical components of impression formation.
                       But disability is viewed as such a strong central
                       characteristic that it overshadows other charac-
                       teristics. Thus, the study of people with disabil-
                       ities has not considered gender until fairly re-
                       cently, which is to say males with disabilities were
                       the samples used in research.
                           A concept closely related to central character-
                       istic is that of spread, which is “the power of sin-
                       gle characteristics to evoke inferences about a
                       person” (Wright, 1983, p. 32). Given only limited
                       data about a person (e.g., that she has a disabil-
                       ity), people ascribe other personality traits to that
                       person. If the central characteristic is positive, the
                       spread is also likely to be positive, and the reverse
                       is true if the central characteristic is negative. If
RHODA OLKIN
                       gender and disability are both central character-
                       istics, is there overlap in the spread effects of each
                       of these? There are similarities in the characteris-
Physical or Systemic   tics that are ascribed to each: childlike, depen-
                       dent, helpless, passive. The stereotypes about
Disabilities           women with disabilities are powerful images that
                       devalue and disempower the person on both the
                       basis of gender and disability. This dual minority
                       status is a critical factor in understanding women
                       with disabilities. Neither gender nor disability




10
                       should be seen as less important in our research
                       or clinical work.
                           Two social and civil rights movements have af-
                       fected women with disabilities—the women’s and
                       disability rights movements. These two move-
                       ments have not always been in accord. Women
                       with disabilities long complained of being left out
                       of the feminist movement. The stereotype of peo-


94
                                                               Chapter 10 Physical or Systemic Disabilities   95


ple with disabilities (weak and dependent) was          likely that others among their peers have disabil-
the very image the women’s movement was fight-           ities, they nonetheless may experience more so-
ing against (Gill, 1996). Inclusion of disability had   cial isolation. Natural social groups (e.g., through
to wait until the women’s movement began to             work or other parents of young children) are no
embrace diversity as a way to be more inclusive         longer extant. Limited mobility and effects of dis-
and representative.                                     ability and age on driving abilities can make
    Another area of conflict is over reproductive        travel outside the home more difficult. And the is-
rights. While both disability and women’s move-         sues of mortality and meaning that are inevitably
ments sought equality in the workplace, feminists       raised by disability may be particularly salient at
were asserting the right to be out of the home and      this stage of life.
to have reproductive choice, and women with dis-            This chapter examines several areas related to
abilities were fighting for the right to be mothers.     being both female and disabled. These include
This conflict stems in part from the emphasis            the rather grim demographics that are the reality
within a liberal bioethical framework on indi-          for girls and women with disabilities, disability
vidual rights, versus the emphasis in the social        identity, risk factors, health and wellness, and
model of disability on the sociopolitical struc-        lastly some considerations regarding clinical in-
tures that maintain inequality and discrimination       tervention with girls and women with disabilities.
(McLaughlin, 2003). Should society hold individ-
ual women to blame for choices that are shaped
by these structures? We may not like the con-           DEMOGRAPHICS AND DISADVANTAGE
stricted choices within which women are forced to
choose, and may decry the forces that compel her        At somewhere between 15 and 20% of the popula-
choices, but this is not the same as blaming the        tion, people with disabilities constitute the largest
individual woman for her actions or for the per-        minority group in the United States (McNeil, 1997).
petuation of discrimination (McLaughlin, 2003).         Women with disabilities (more than 28 million)
Nonetheless, the area of antenatal screening is a       outnumber men with disabilities (more than
current area of vigorous debate.                        25 million) (Nosek & Hughes, 2003). Of working
    Women with disabilities and older woman             age adults with disabilities, more than one third
share some common features, namely stigma and           are ethnic minorities (Bernal, 1996). Of women
social invisibility (Healey, 1993). The dangers of      with severe disabilities, over one third are ethnic
living in a society without universal health care       minorities, and half of these women are single
affect both groups. Despite their commonalities,        heads of households. Only 25% are married, and
the two groups would like to distance themselves        another 25% are single with no children (Bernal,
from each other. Older woman may fear disabil-          1996). One reason to study women with disabilities
ity. Women outlive men, and are more likely to be       is that they are a disadvantaged but overlooked
widowed or single—an inability to care for them-        population. “It is inappropriate to compare the
selves and an absence of supports and caregivers        severity of disability-related problems faced by
could force them into nursing homes. Younger            women to the problems faced by men. . . . More
women with disabilities likewise worry that they        appropriately, these issues should be examined
will be categorized with the elderly and put in         for the ways in which they differ, rather than how
nursing homes (Healey, 1993). A coalition be-           much they differ” (Nosek & Hughes, 2003, p. 230,
tween the two groups might seem desirable but           emphasis in original). Indeed, “gender and dis-
has not occurred. The leadership of advocacy for        ability synergistically interact to compound the
the elderly (notably the American Association of        stigma, prejudice, and discrimination women
Retired Persons) tends to be politically conserva-      with disabilities face” (Olkin, 2003, p. 150).
tive and top down, while the leadership of the dis-         Most empirical research has been on men
ability movement has leaned toward the liberal          with disabilities, and then predominantly on the
and been community and grass roots based.               types of disabilities incurred in war (spinal cord
Within this context, older women with disabili-         injury, traumatic brain injury, amputation). The
ties face unique challenges. Although it is more        initial attention to women with disabilities
96    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


focused primarily on issues of reproduction, fer-                table 10.1 A Comparison of Women With
tility, pregnancy, and labor and delivery (Nosek                 and Without Disabilities on Six Factors
& Hughes, 2003). Later the issue of sexuality be-                                            Women With     Nondisabled
came the focus of attention, in part due to fund-                                            Disabilities   Women
ing availability in that area. It is only in the last
                                                                 Less likely to be married       40%           64%
decade that serious attention has been paid the
                                                                 More likely to be
general health, well-being, and functioning of
                                                                 living alone                    35%           13%
women with disabilities, thanks in large measure
                                                                 More likely to have a
to early pioneers who shone the spotlight on the                 high school education
need for such attention (e.g., Deegan & Brooks,                  or less                         78%           54%
1985; Fine & Asch, 1988). Two assumptions had                    Less likely to be
to be overturned in order to achieve this focus                  employed                        14%           63%
(Nosek & Hughes, 2003). The first was that dis-                   More likely to be
ability and health are at opposite ends of the                   living in households
                                                                 below poverty level             23%           10%
spectrum. In fact, they are separate continua
that overlap but are distinguishable. The second                 Less likely to have
                                                                 private health
was that gender is less important than disability,
                                                                 insurance                       55%           75%
and that disability can be studied outside the
context of any other personal characteristics.
Consideration of disability in conjunction with
                                                                 IDENTITY AND COMING OF AGE
gender opens the door to multiple identities. The
                                                                 WITH A DISABILITY
civil rights and women’s movements of the six-
ties, the gay rights movement of the seventies,
                                                                 The person’s age at onset of disability interacts
and the disability rights movement of the eight-
                                                                 with the particulars of the disability (type, sever-
ies begin to coalesce with a united message of
                                                                 ity, and visibility). How one is expected to con-
community and identity pride.
                                                                 form to gender expectations also varies with age
    Just as health issues and risks differ for men
                                                                 at disability onset. With early disability onset, and
and women in general, so do they for men and
                                                                 with more pronounced disabilities, gender expec-
women with disabilities (Nosek & Hughes, 2003).
                                                                 tations are all but suspended as disability over-
For example, although the top seven disabling
                                                                 shadows other personal characteristics. Under
conditions (back disorders, arthritis, cardiovascu-
                                                                 circumstances of later disability onset, gender
lar disease, asthma, orthopedic impairment of                    socialization has already occurred, and the dis-
lower extremity, mental disorders, learning dis-                 ability joins an already internalized set of gender
abilities, and intellectual disabilities) are the same           norms. Thus the degree to which one experiences
for both genders, the order of prevalence differs.               stringent gender socialization is contingent on
The demographics and health status of men and                    many disability factors.
women with disabilities differ, and they also differ                 Children with early onset disabilities have
between women with and without disabilities. A                   both advantages and disadvantages over people
comparison between women with and without                        with later onset of disability. Research on chil-
disabilities (see table 10.1) and men and women                  dren born either deaf or blind indicates that al-
with and without disabilities (see table 10.2) shows             though such children face social obstacles, and
that women with disabilities fare worse than their               in some cases have fewer friends, they also dis-
nondisabled female or disabled male counter-                     play resilience and are as well-adjusted as their
parts. The two stigmatized conditions of gender                  nondisabled peers (Olkin, 2004). But children
and disability converge for women with disabil-                  with disabilities are usually the only person with
ities, such that disability further diminishes                   a disability in their family, and often the only one
women’s already devalued gender status and vice                  in the classroom. Mainstreaming leads to im-
versa (Gerrschick, 2000), what Fine and Asch                     proved academic results compared with segre-
called “sexism without the pedestal” (1988, p. 1).               gation based on disability, but it can produce
                                                                       Chapter 10 Physical or Systemic Disabilities   97


table 10.2 Comparison of Nondisabled and Disabled              1990, as cited in Gerrschick, 2000). “We have been
Men and Women on Seven Factors                                 split into good and bad selves, split from each
                                      Men          Women       other, and split from greater society literally
                                                               through environmental impediments and sym-
Single/Never Married                                           bolically through feelings of invalidity” (p. 46).
    Nondisabled                         4%            3%       However, that which has been split may be inte-
    Disabled                            4%            7%       grated. Gill (1997) has developed a model of how
Divorced/Separated                                             people with disabilities incorporate and integrate
    Nondisabled                        12%           15%       disability into their identities. She discusses inte-
                                                               gration of the self as a theme in theories of human
    Disabled                           11%           25%
                                                               development, one that is associated with positive
Education: Did Not Graduate
                                                               mental and emotional health. Her four types of
From High School
                                                               integration are:
    Nondisabled                        16%           18%
    Disabled                           33%           42%
                                                                •   Coming to feel we belong, in which the right to
Education: Attended College                                         inclusion in society is expected, not in spite of
    Nondisabled                        47%           38%            but with the disabilities. The onus for the mis-
    Disabled                           34%           25%            match between person and environment is
Working                                                             shifted to society rather than people with dis-
                                                                    abilities.
    Nondisabled                        91%           65%
                                                                •   Coming home, in which integration into a dis-
    Disabled                           73%           43%
                                                                    ability community is achieved, and people
Working Full Time                                                   find a commonality, connectedness, accep-
    Nondisabled                        88%           49%            tance and community in a way they have not
    Disabled                           69%           33%            in the nondisabled world.
Mean Monthly Income                                             •   Coming together, in which the two poles of
    Nondisabled                      $2,330         $1,744          sameness and difference (from family and
                                    ($2,190)a      ($1,470)a        from the disability community) are explored.
                                                                    This level of identity moves from a focus on
    Disabled                          $843           $578
                                                                    equal rights to a view of disability as a source
                                     ($1,262)      ($1,000)
                                                                    of value and pride. A woman may have to dis-
Source: Data from the 1989 U.S. Census and the 1986 Harris          tance herself from the perspectives of her
and Associates Poll, as cited in Hanna and Rogovsky (1991).
a
                                                                    family and others who promulgate a medical
Data in parentheses cited in Nosek and Hughes (2003).
                                                                    model of disability. The woman negotiates
                                                                    between the disabled and nondisabled world,
isolation from peers with disabilities, and the po-                 and hence is multicultural.
tential for ostracism by nondisabled peers. In                  •   Coming out, in which the goal is to be oneself,
two arenas, home and school, the child is faced                     with the disability integrated into the self, in
with an absence of peers or role models with dis-                   all spheres. One moves fluidly between the dis-
abilities. Further, she is held to norms developed                  ability and nondisabled cultures, but is oneself
for nondisabled children, and differences due to                    in both environments.
disability often are defined as deficits. It is in this
less than optimal context that girls with disabili-               People who incur disabilities do not go through
ties develop their identity.                                   stages of response to disability such as denial,
    Identity as a girl or woman with a disability in-          anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.
volves stigma, gender interaction with disability,             The stage model is a well entrenched myth. Not
and the heightened importance of the body to                   only has research failed to support it but, in fact,
both gender and disability. Stigmatization associ-             quite the opposite is the case (Olkin, 1999). It is
ated with disability is the substance of disability            especially important to note that depression in
experience, rather than a product of it (Murphy,               particular is not a necessary stage, and indeed is
98    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


not the modal response to disability; most peo-                  abilities is that depression is not the modal re-
ple who are born or become disabled do not get                   sponse to disability.
depressed. However, those who do experience a
clinical depression after disability onset have a
higher probability of future depression. This de-                Stress
pression both complicates and is complicated by
the disability. Therefore, depression should be                  Living with a disability means living in a society
routinely evaluated and aggressively treated.                    that stigmatizes and devalues the person with the
                                                                 disability, and this creates psychological stress
                                                                 (Gill, 1996). This devaluation, and indeed the in-
RISK FACTORS                                                     visibility of disability and people with disabilities,
                                                                 is a chronic stressor. Women with disabilities re-
There are at least five major psychosocial prob-                  port higher levels of stress than do men with dis-
lems for women with disabilities, compared to                    abilities (Nosek & Hughes, 2003). Compared to
men with disabilities and to women without dis-                  their male counterparts, women with disabilities
abilities: depression, stress, self-esteem, social               have more financial problems, less education and
connectedness, and abuse (Nosek & Hughes,                        employment, less access to disability benefits,
2003). Economic privation is also a chronic prob-                and greater rates of single status. They are more
lem for women with disabilities, and is connected                likely to live in poverty, to be socially isolated, to
to each of these factors.                                        be abused, and to have chronic health problems.
                                                                 A National Health Institute Survey reports that
                                                                 21% of women who had at least three functional
Depression                                                       limitations experienced difficulty with day-to-day
                                                                 stress, compared to 2% of women with no limita-
The ratio of depression in women versus men is                   tions (cited in Nosek & Hughes, 2003).
2 to 1. For persons with disabilities the rate is es-
timated to be about three times higher than for
the general population (Nosek & Hughes, 2003).                   Self-Esteem
Thus, women with disabilities are doubly at risk
for depression, due to both gender and disability.               It is not surprising women with disabilities expe-
The rate of depression for women with disabili-                  rience lowered self-esteem, given the types, fre-
ties is about 30%, compared to 8% for nondis-                    quency, and severity of stressors for women with
abled women and 26% in men with disabilities.                    disabilities. Women are more likely to internal-
Depression is probably the most prevalent sec-                   ize the negative socialization about disability, a
ondary condition. But it is important to remem-                  highly stigmatized condition. These problems
ber two aspects about depression in women                        are compounded because self-esteem is linked
with disabilities. First, the depression rate varies             to employment status, which in turn is linked to
widely by disability type (Olkin, 2004). For exam-               economic resources. Therefore, self-esteem is a
ple, the lifetime risk of depression in multiple                 critical point for intervention.
sclerosis (which is more common in women
than men) is 50%, which is higher than for most
other disabilities. Although there is no evidence                Social Connection
that risk of depression is any greater in people
with early onset blindness or deafness, and in                   Isolation is a problem for many women with dis-
fact there may be less risk, there is a risk associ-             abilities. This refers not just to the physical isola-
ated with later onset vision or hearing loss, com-               tion related to inaccessible transportation and
pared to peers without these impairments. It is                  environment but also to social isolation. For the
difficult to make generalizations about depres-                   ethnic minority woman with a disability this iso-
sion across all disabilities. The second aspect to               lation is compounded by dual minority status.
remember about depression in women with dis-                     She is an outsider in her ethnic group and in her
                                                                Chapter 10 Physical or Systemic Disabilities   99


women’s group (due to disability), as well as in         abuse, and disability-related abuse as well.
her disability group (due to ethnicity). This isola-     Measures such as the Abuse Assessment Screen—
tion may contribute to the absence of demo-              Disability (McFarlane et al., 2001) can aid in
graphic and research data on minority women              detecting disability-related abuse that might
with disabilities (Bernal, 1996).                        otherwise be overlooked. Five factors predict
    Women who incur disabilities after marriage          with 80% accuracy whether a woman has expe-
are four times as likely as their male counterparts      rienced physical, sexual, or disability-related
to divorce. Disabled women are one third less            abuse in the past year: her age, education, mo-
likely to marry than are disabled men, and are           bility, social isolation, and depression (Nosek &
older when they do marry. This higher rate of sin-       Hughes, 2003).
gle status puts women with disabilities at eco-              Violence and abuse are also a cause of disabil-
nomic risk. For example, they are more likely to         ity (Olkin & Pledger, 2003). Suicide attempts ac-
live below the poverty level, less likely to have pri-   count for some disabilities. A study of 8,000 peo-
vate health insurance, and less likely to receive        ple over a period of 40 years found that 1.6% of
social security benefits (Nosek & Hughes, 2003).          cases of spinal cord injury (SCI) were caused by a
Their participation in the workforce is less than        failed suicide attempt (Kennedy, Rogers, Speer, &
that of women without disabilities or men with           Frankel, 1999). For those 1.6% the gender ratio
disabilities (see table 10.3), and their monthly         was equal, although a high proportion were sin-
earnings are similarly less (see table 10.2). Lower      gle (49%), unemployed (42%), and parents (33%).
marriage and employment rates means that                 Another study of SCI survivors in Denmark from
women with disabilities have fewer social con-           1953 to 1990 found that 3% of all SCI cases were due
tacts. Isolation is itself a risk factor for morbidity   to suicide attempts (Hartkopp, Bronnum-Hansen,
                                                         Seidenschnur, & Biering-Sorensen, 1998). Physical
and mortality, as well as for depression, and is an
                                                         abuse may cause disability onset or exacerbation.
important target for clinical intervention.
                                                         Although no statistics are kept on this cause of dis-
                                                         ability, one study of mothers with visual impair-
                                                         ments found that 5% of the 31 participants re-
Abuse
                                                         ported that their disability was caused by or
                                                         exacerbated by family violence (Conley-Jung &
Disability is not a protective factor against abuse,
                                                         Olkin, 2001). Another study involving 31 mothers
it is a risk factor. Children with disabilities are
                                                         with various disabilities indicated a 32% rate of vi-
significantly more likely to be physically and sex-
                                                         olence in the family of origin, though participants
ually abused than nondisabled children, and the
                                                         did not report whether the violence was impli-
abuse is more likely to be chronic and perpe-
                                                         cated in the onset or exacerbation of the disability
trated by a family member or attendant (Nosek &
                                                         (Cohen, 1998). It is imperative for health-care pro-
Hughes, 2003; Sobsey, Randall, & Parrila, 1997).
                                                         fessionals to collect data about the role of family
Abuse and other types of victimization (e.g.,
                                                         violence as a cause of disability, as the first step to-
harassment, neglect, withholding of assistance,
                                                         ward prevention.
taking of assistive devices) must be assessed for
all clients with disabilities of whatever age. It is
important for assessment of traditional types of
                                                         HEALTH AND WELLNESS


table 10.3 Participation in the Workforce, 1994          The life situation of women with disabilities is
                                                         complex and permeated with attitudinal, social,
                               Men            Women      and economic obstacles to psychosocial well-
No disability                 89.9%            74.5%
                                                         being (Nosek & Hughes, 2003, p. 229). One ob-
                                                         stacle is the ways in which women with disabili-
Mild disability               85.1%            68.4%
                                                         ties are perceived as romantic partners. Physical
Severe disability             27.8%            24.7%
                                                         attractiveness means being socially and sexually
Source: Data from McNeil (1997).                         desirable. Disability is seen as counter to attrac-
100   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


tiveness, and hence limiting to opportunities to                from a like ethnic minority infrequently. African
find partners, mate, and have children. Women                    Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, and Native Amer-
with disabilities are often viewed as unable to                 icans together make up about 22% of the general
perform useful functions in society, either eco-                population, but only 8.5% of physicians (Bernal,
nomically productive roles or reproduction and                  1996). Women with disabilities are even less likely
nurturance (Bernal, 1996; Gill, 1996). The stereo-              to encounter physicians with disabilities; medi-
type of women with disabilities is that they are                cine is a field in which people with disabilities are
passive and recipients but not givers of care.                  severely underrepresented. So too is psychology;
Consistent with this stereotype, they are not ex-               fewer than 2% of the members of the American
pected to be workers, romantic partners, care-                  Psychological Association identity themselves as
givers, or mothers (Gill, 1996). Unfortunately,                 people with disabilities, although some unknown
most people indicate that they would not marry                  number of members with disabilities do not
a person with a disability (DeLoach, 1994; Olkin &              identify themselves as such. Girls and women
Howson, 1994). The disability pride movement is                 with disabilities are unlikely to receive either
working to counter these notions of disability as               medical or psychological care from someone with
unattractive. Still, very little is known about the             a disability.
dating and mating patterns of women with dis-                      Women with disabilities have difficulty gain-
abilities. Men with disabilities are more likely to             ing access to appropriate health care, although
marry if they are employed, and it can be sur-                  their need is great. Approximately 33% of women
mised that the same holds true for women with                   with at least three functional limitations rate
disabilities as well.                                           their overall health as poor, compared to fewer
    The definition of disability as a social con-                than 1% of women with no limitations (Nosek &
struction removes the burden of blame from                      Hughes, 2003). Typical women’s health prob-
women with disabilities and places it in the phys-              lems, such as stress, hypertension, depression,
ical, social, economic, educational, legal, and po-             smoking and weight, are more problematic when
litical environment. This moves the focus off                   they interact with disability. Rehabilitation spe-
people with defects requiring cure or normaliza-                cialists are not trained in women’s health and re-
tion, to a view of women with disabilities as part              productive issues; general practitioners are not
of a disability community and culture in which                  trained in disability issues and often work in of-
they can take pride. However, “we [women with                   fices or with equipment devices that are inacces-
disabilities] are finding ourselves and each other               sible. In this way, the medical care of women
as never before. We are joining forces across the               with disabilities splits them into their gendered
country and across generations to take our right-               selves and their disabled selves.
ful place in society . . . we know our greatest                    As people with disabilities take more control of
power to get what we need is not by doing it alone              the disability dialogue, they will become a part of
but through cooperation and collaboration–skills                key processes that impact their lives. This requires
that are hallmarks of the culture of both women                 that it is people with disabilities who (a) set the re-
                                                                search agenda and funding priorities, (b) partici-
and people with disabilities” (Gill, 1996, p. 14).
                                                                pate in health research that is not focused on dis-
The emphasis within the medical service deliv-
                                                                ability as well as that which is, (c) have access to
ery system on the medical model (burden, pain,
                                                                research findings and assistive technologies that
personal tragedy) (McLaughlin, 2003) focuses at-
                                                                impact the lives of people with disabilities, and
tention on only the physical and medical aspects
                                                                (d) encourage the voices of those who have been
of disability. Such an emphasis ignores the so-
                                                                most invisible.
ciopolitical and cultural realities of women with
disabilities and the stigma that permeates every
level of their lives (Gill, 1996).                              INTERVENTION
    Clients may prefer health professionals from
the same cultural background, and achieve bet-                  Clinical work with girls and women clients with
ter outcomes (Bernal, 1996). However, ethnic mi-                disabilities might incorporate three areas of in-
norities with disabilities encounter medical care               tervention (ideas in this section come from Olkin,
                                                                 Chapter 10 Physical or Systemic Disabilities     101


1999, 2001; Solomon, 1993; and colleagues at              NOTE
Through the Looking Glass1). The first is process:
How does disability affect the process of inter-             1. Through the Looking Glass, 2198 Sixth St.,
vention? The second is content: What should               Berkeley, CA 94710.
be the focus of treatment? And third, the role of
the therapist: How does disability affect the             REFERENCES
role(s) of the therapist?
    Regarding process, it is essential for the health     Bernal, D. L. (1996). The perspective of ethnicity on
                                                              women’s health and disability: More questions
professional to become comfortable with disabil-
                                                              than answers. In D. M. Krotoski, M. A. Nosek, &
ity. It is helpful if professionals are not startled or       M. A. Turk (Eds.), Women with physical disabili-
put off by encountering a new client with a dis-              ties: Achieving and maintaining health and well-
ability. Also, the pace and timing of psychother-             being (pp. 57–61). Baltimore: Paul Brookes.
apy may need to be adjusted to accommodate                Cohen, L. J. (1998). Mothers’ perceptions of the influ-
                                                              ence of their physical disabilities on the develop-
the girl or woman with a disability. Some clients             mental tasks of children. Unpublished doctoral
(e.g., with traumatic brain injury) may need more             dissertation, California School of Professional
frequent sessions, and others (e.g., someone liv-             Psychology, Alameda, CA.
ing with multiple sclerosis) may need a slower            Conley-Jung, C., & Olkin, R. (2001). Mothers with vi-
                                                              sual impairments or blindness raising young chil-
pace to assimilate therapeutic ideas. The psycho-
                                                              dren. Journal of Visual Impairment and Blindness,
therapist must feel free to bring up the disability           91(1), 14–29.
even if the client does not, and know how to talk         Deegan, M. J., & Brooks, N. A. (Eds.). (1985). Women
about it respectfully.                                        and disability. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction
                                                              Books.
    Regarding content, all of the risk factors are
                                                          DeLoach, C. P. (1994). Attitudes toward disability: Im-
prime areas for treatment focus. A therapeutic                pact on sexual development and forging of inti-
case formulation incorporates disability issues               mate relationships. Journal of Applied Rehabilita-
into the treatment plan without unduly over- or               tion Counseling, 25, 18–25.
                                                          Fine, M., & Asch, A. (Eds.). (1988). Women with dis-
underemphasizing their role. It can be therapeu-
                                                              abilities: Essays in psychology, culture, and poli-
tic to provide concrete assistance (e.g., give the            tics. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
client the phone number of a national disability          Gerrschick, T. J. (2000). Toward a theory of disability
organization; provide a form to apply for para-               and gender. Signs, 25(4), 1263–1268.
transit; suggest useful Web sites) and may move           Gill, C. J. (1996). Becoming visible: Personal health ex-
                                                              periences of women with disabilities. In D. M.
the therapy forward into new phases. The eco-                 Krotoski, M. A. Nosek, & M. A. Turk (Eds.), Women
nomic realities of living with a disability often are         with physical disabilities: Achieving and maintain-
essential to address as well. “Unless we change               ing health and well-being (pp. 5–15). Baltimore:
the tide of poverty within this population, we are            Paul Brookes.
                                                          Gill, C. J. (1997). Four types of integration in disability
not going to see an improvement in their health,
                                                              identity development. Journal of Vocational Re-
health care delivery, or their abilities to afford a          habilitation, 9, 39–46.
decent lifestyle” (Bernal, 1996, p. 61).                  Hanna, W. J., & Rogovsky, B. (1991). Women with dis-
    Regarding the role of the therapist, work out-            abilities: Two handicaps plus. Disability, Handi-
                                                              cap & Society, 6(1), 49–63.
side the office is at least as important as work in-
                                                          Hartkopp, A., Bronnum-Hansen, H., Seidenschnur,
side the office. This suggests being an advocate,              A. M., & Biering-Sorensen, F. (1998). Suicide in a
and working for social, political and legal changes           spinal cord injured population: Its relation to
that affect the lives of people with disabilities.            functional status. Archives of Physical Medicine
Girls and women with disabilities seem to bear an             and Rehabilitation, 79(11), 1356–1361.
                                                          Healey, S. (1993). The common agenda between old
undue burden of society’s ills—abuse, poverty,                women, women with disabilities and all women.
isolation, and depression. These ills are not in-             Women and Therapy, 14(3/4), 65–77.
herent in disability, but in the stigma, prejudice        Kennedy, P., Rogers, B. A., Speer, S., & Frankel, H.
and discrimination that disability incurs. Psy-               (1999). Spinal cord injuries and attempted suicide:
                                                              A retrospective review. Spinal Cord, 37(12), 847–852.
chotherapists are limited in their abilities to help      McFarlane, J., Hughes, R. B., Nosek, M., Groff, J.,
the individual without addressing the sociopolit-             Swedlund, N., & Mullen, P. (2001). Abuse Assess-
ical environment.                                             ment Screen–disability (AAS–D): Measuring fre-
102    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


   quency, type, and perpetrator of abuse toward                    on the psychology of women (3rd ed., pp. 144–157).
   women with physical disabilities. Journal of                     New York: McGraw-Hill.
   Women’s Health and Gender-Based Medicine, 10,                 Olkin, R. (2004). Disability and depression. In F.
   861–866.                                                         Haseltine (Ed.), Women with disabilities—a com-
McLaughlin, J. (2003). Screening networks: Shared                   prehensive guide to care. Philadelphia: Lippincott,
   agendas in feminist and disability movement                      Williams & Wilkins.
   challenges to antenatal screening and abortion.               Olkin, R., & Howson, L. (1994). Attitudes toward and
   Disability and Society, 18(3), 297–310.                          images of physical disability. Journal of Social Be-
McNeil, J. M. (1997). Americans with disabilities,                  havior and Personality, 9, 81–96.
   1994–95. Current Population Report No. P70-61.                Olkin, R., & Pledger, C. (2003). Can disability studies
   Washington, DC: U.S. Bureau of the Census.                       and psychology join hands? American Psycholo-
Nosek, M. A., & Hughes, R. B. (2003). Psychosocial is-              gist, 58(4), 296–304.
   sues of women with physical disabilities: The con-            Sobsey, D., Randall, W., & Parrila, R. K. (1997). Gen-
   tinuing gender debate. Rehabilitation Counseling                 der differences in abused children with and with-
   Bulletin, 46(4), 224–233.                                        out disabilities. Child Abuse and Neglect, 21(8),
Olkin, R. (1999). What psychotherapists should know                 707–720.
   about disability. New York: Guilford Press.                   Solomon, S. E. (1993). Women and physical distinc-
Olkin, R. (2001). Disability-affirmative therapy. Spinal             tion: A review of the literature and suggestions for
   Cord Injury Psychosocial Process, 14(1), 12–23.                  intervention. Women and Therapy, 14(3/4), 91–103.
Olkin, R. (2003). Women with disabilities. In J. C.              Wright, B. (1983). Physical disability: A psychosocial
   Chrisler, C. Golden, & P. D. Rozee (Eds.), Lectures              approach (2nd ed.). New York: Harper and Row.
                                  Traumatic events are commonplace and can
                                  occur in the lives of any of us. Between 70–90% of
                                  all individuals in the United States experience at
                                  least one traumatic event in their lives and a third
                                  to a half must contend with a second trauma
                                  (Breslau & Kessler, 2001; Solomon & Davidson,
                                  1997).
                                      An individual’s history, experience, tempera-
                                  ment, and resiliency all shape the potential im-
                                  pact of trauma. Although reactions can be unique
                                  and subjective, gender mediates exposure to
                                  trauma in the lives of women and girls. Women
                                  face trauma imposed by the vulnerability of in-
                                  habiting a female body. In addition, they are ex-
                                  posed to unique traumas in patriarchal societies
                                  that implicitly or explicitly support the subordi-
                                  nation of women. Unequal status makes women
                                  and girls vulnerable to trauma. Each year, 20 mil-
                                  lion women have unsafe abortions, resulting in
                                  78,000 mortalities; one in four women are abused
                                  in pregnancy; one in three are beaten or sexually
                                  coerced; 60 million girls are reported as missing
                                  due to infanticide or neglect; and 5,000 women
                                  and girls are killed by their own families due to per-
                                  ceived violations to the family’s honor (Solomon,
                                  2003).
                                      Women who suffer from a traumatic event are
                                  twice as likely as men to develop problems fol-
                                  lowing the experience (Kessler, Sonnega, Bromet,
                                  Hughes, & Nelson, 1995). The higher rates of help
JANIS SANCHEZ-HUCLES              seeking for women in medical and mental health
                                  systems may reflect the gender effects of trauma.
and K I M B E R L Y G A M B L E
                                  Research shows that half of all women in psychi-
                                  atric hospitals were previously abused physically
                                  or sexually (Beck & van der Kolk, 1987). Following
Trauma in the Lives of            trauma, women are more likely than men to en-
                                  gage in self-destructive behaviors like suicide and
Girls and Women                   mutilation, and they are disproportionately ex-
                                  posed to trauma that is severe, sustained, and
                                  repetitive.




11
                                  HISTORICAL CONCEPTIONS OF TRAUMA

                                  Although references to traumatic events have
                                  been found in literary references for more than
                                  4,000 years, it was not until 1980 that the Ameri-
                                  can Psychiatric Association introduced a formal
                                  category of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
                                  Herman (1992) has identified three eras in the


                                                                                     103
104   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


conceptualization of trauma. In the late 19th cen-              Type I and II Trauma
tury, the label of trauma was used in conjunction
with “hysterical women.” It was applied next to                 Terr (1991) distinguishes between events that are
male soldiers who suffered shell shock, beginning               sudden, brief, unexpected, and devastating and
with World War I. Only in the last 20 years has the             those that involve chronic and repeated exposure.
sexual, physical, emotional, and psychological                  She classified the former as type I trauma and the
abuse of women and children been recognized as                  latter as type II. Type I traumas encompass nat-
another significant source of trauma.                            ural disasters, accidents, and a single episode of
    The American Psychiatric Association, in its                rape or robbery. Type II traumas include multiple
Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Dis-                or long-term experiences of sexual harassment,
orders (DSM-IV), classifies PTSD as a form of                    abuse, incest, or rape and appear to engender
anxiety disorder and defines a traumatic stressor                more long-term damaging effects and a poorer
as: “the experiencing, witnessing, or being con-                prognosis for recovery. Type II symptoms include
fronted with an event or events that involve ac-                numbing, dissociation, detachment, and possible
tual or threatened death or serious injury or a                 long-term cognitive, emotional, and interpersonal
threat to the physical integrity of self or others              difficulties.
and to which the person’s response was one of
intense fear, helplessness, or horror” (American
Psychiatric Association, 1994, p. 428). Some of the             Complex PTSD and DESNOS
clinical assessment tools used to explore trauma
and PTSD include the childhood trauma ques-                     Complex PTSD or DESNOS (disorders of extreme
tionnaire, the trauma life history, and the struc-              stress not otherwise specified) as proposed by
tured clinical interview for DSM-III-R/DSM-IV                   Herman (1992) refer to type II traumas involving
(Hien & Bukszpan, 1999).                                        interpersonal threats that are severe, sustained,
    The DSM definitions of PTSD trauma seem                     and repetitive. One assessment instrument that
                                                                attempts to measure the possible symptoms of
to apply best to large-scale and single-episode
                                                                complex PTSD or DESNOS is the dissociative ex-
events. But more attention should be focused on
                                                                perience scale (DES). This test assesses symp-
the repeated and long-term effects of chronic ex-
                                                                toms such as disturbances in affect, cognition,
posure to racism, sexism, classism, homophobia,
                                                                perceptual alterations, dissociation, and amne-
disability, religious persecution, the witnessing of
                                                                sia (Bernstein & Putnam, 1986).
violence, and assisting those who have been trau-
matized. In addition, what factors explain why
some individuals show resilience after trauma
                                                                Violation of Just
while others develop psychopathology?
                                                                or Safe-World Expectations

                                                                Janoff-Bulman (1992) has expanded ideas of
NEWER CONCEPTIONS OF TRAUMA                                     trauma by underscoring the subjectivity of indi-
                                                                vidual responses to traumatic events. Her defin-
Not all trauma reactions meet the criteria for                  ition of a traumatic event is one that violates an
PTSD diagnoses. Some individuals exposed to                     individual’s expectations of a just or safe world.
trauma never come to the attention of profes-                   Trauma victims experience a shattering of their
sionals because they self-medicate with alcohol or              beliefs that the self is valuable, that they live in a
drugs. Other individuals receive a primary diag-                benevolent world where people are treated with
nosis in the areas of affective, anxiety, eating, dis-          fairness, and that life is meaningful. The particu-
sociative, somatoform, conversion, borderline, or               lar trauma may be very personal, such as a hate
psychotic disorders. Clinicians and researchers                 crime based on ethnicity, religion, sexual orien-
have developed newer conceptions of trauma in                   tation, or sex. It may be associated with a life
an attempt to be more attuned to the day-to-day                 threatening illness, infertility, or miscarriage of a
experiences of women and girls.                                 pregnancy.
                                                         Chapter 11 Trauma in the Lives of Girls and Women   105


Betrayal Trauma                                          experience violence or sexual aggression. Chil-
                                                         dren and adults with physical disabilities are at
Traumas that develop in response to violations           higher risk for abuse and neglect (Mueser, Hiday,
of trust in significant relationships are defined as       Goodman, & Valenti-Hein, 2003). Gay, lesbian,
betrayal trauma by Freyd (1996). These relation-         and transgendered individuals are at increased
ships often involve an imbalance of power, de-           risk for physical violence (Franklin, 2001).
pendence, and nurturance. The betrayal is typi-
cally sexual, physical, or emotional abuse carried
out by parent and parent figures, relatives, reli-        Postcolonial Syndrome
gious figures, teachers, therapists, and other fig-
ures of power in or about the home. Freyd notes          The long-lasting effects of genocide, racism, and
that this type of abuse can produce significant           oppression have been termed postcolonial syn-
cognitive and emotional barriers for victims espe-       drome (Duran, Duran, Brave Heart, & Yellow
cially in the development of other interpersonal         Horse-Davis, 1998). Groups that have been colo-
relationships.                                           nized or have been the targets of ethnic cleansing
                                                         endure torture, rape, violence, threats, murder,
                                                         displacement, theft, and disruption of their fam-
Insidious Trauma and Domestic Captivity                  ilies, language, culture, and values. There is pres-
                                                         sure on these groups to assimilate a dominant
Insidious trauma also involves sustained, repeti-        culture, and there is no legal redress for the prob-
tive, and cumulative trauma, but here the acts           lems that victims experience as the governments
of trauma are aimed systematically at the less           typically sanction the actions against them where
powerful by those who are in power (Root, 1996).         they live. Colonized individuals may internalize
Examples of insidious trauma include sexism,             their rage, despair, and lack of self-efficacy and
racism, systematic murder of female infants, ho-         develop posttraumatic stress disorders. They
mophobia, and religious persecution. An exam-            may also at times redirect their internalized
ple of insidious trauma is the “driving while Black      racism against themselves or others in their
or Brown” racial profiling that leads minority par-       group. This can lead to high rates of suicide and
ents to warn their adolescents of the real dangers       violence. For many men who suffer from post-
of random traffic stops.                                  colonial syndrome, women and girls become the
    Other examples are the domestic violence and         all too easy targets as outlets of rage, despair, and
rape sustained by women. Historically, women             frustration (Sanchez-Hucles & Dutton, 1999).
were perceived to be the property of men and
what occurred in the home was deemed private.
Conceptions of women’s complaints as “hysteri-           GENDER AND DEVELOPMENTAL
cal” made it more difficult for women to be taken         DIFFERENCES IN TRAUMA
seriously. Making formal complaints within the
legal system can be even more daunting to women          Women are more exposed to high-impact trauma
of color because of gender, race, or class and the       like rape, childhood physical abuse, and neglect
beliefs that our society does not value their lives or   and they are twice as likely to receive a PTSD di-
try to protect them from harm (Sanchez-Hucles &          agnosis (Kessler et al., 1995).
Dutton, 1999).
    Root (1996) uses the term “domestic captivity”
to refer to the chronic state of vigilance that          Criminal Victimization, Rape, and Abuse
women must maintain to protect themselves in
societies where they are subject to violence from        Clear sex differences exist for crime victims and
partners, acquaintances, and strangers. Many             include the following findings (Feuer, Jefferson, &
girls and women are fearful of traveling alone, of       Resick, 2001): Females are more likely to experi-
being out at night, of walking in their neighbor-        ence violence at the hands of a partner or ac-
hoods, and of living in unsafe locations lest they       quaintance and are at higher risk for rape, abuse,
106   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


neglect, and molestation. Women account for                     to the teenaged years, when there is less pressure
94% of rape victims (Kessler et al., 1995), and a re-           to conform to societal stereotypes.
cent national survey indicated that 18% of women
reported a completed rape or attempted rape in
their lifetime (Tjaden & Thoennes, 2000).                       TYPES OF TRAUMA
    There are also gender differences in childhood
sexual abuse. Girls are more likely rape victims                Medical Trauma
than boys, with occurrence rates of 27% and 16%,
respectively (Finkelhor, Hotaling, Lewis, & Smith,              It was not until 1994 that DSM-IV included being
1990). There are also differences in the perpetra-              diagnosed with a chronic or life threatening ill-
tor of the abuse. Girls are more likely than boys to            ness as a possible antecedent for PTSD (American
suffer sexual abuse from their biological fathers               Psychiatric Association, 1994). This inclusion was
(13% vs. 4.5%, respectively). In general, girls are             significant as it recognized how the diagnoses and
at greatest risk from relatives, whereas boys are               the aggressive treatment of diseases such as can-
more likely to be the victims of strangers and                  cer can elicit symptoms of PTSD, such as fear,
friends (Feinauer, 1989).                                       helplessness, hyperarousal, avoidance, blunted
    Up to approximately the age of 12, there are                affect, and reliving of experiences. The majority of
no obvious sex differences associated with expe-                cancer patients do not meet the criteria for PTSD,
riencing or observing a trauma (Pynoos et al.,                  as incidence rates vary from 2.5–20% (Alter et al.,
1987). After the age of 12, gender mediates the im-             1996). However, children who suffer from PTSD
pact of trauma, with females showing worse ef-                  symptoms as a result of serious illness are at risk
fects. This is due apparently to the greater expo-              for developmental disruptions, and parents can
sure of women and girls to rape, and rape is the                be harmed by the stresses associated with the
traumatic event most likely to result in posttrau-              illnesses of their children. Stuber, Christakis,
matic stress (Kessler et al., 1995).                            Houskamp, and Kazak (1996) report symptoms of
                                                                PTSD in 12.5% of children two years after treat-
                                                                ment, with mothers and fathers also evidencing
Symptom Expression                                              PTSD symptoms at the rates of approximately
                                                                40% and 33%, respectively. Adult survivors of can-
Gender patterns in trauma are not always clear                  cer show adverse impact in their overall quality of
and consistent. Feuer and her colleagues (2001)                 life, social effectiveness, and mental and physical
reviewed the literature on symptom expression                   health (Jacobsen et al., 1998). Research suggests
and summarized several themes. In general, fe-                  that it is important to identify those medical pa-
males demonstrate a greater number of symp-                     tients with PTSD complications, as they may need
toms following a traumatic event, and more of                   additional interventions to avoid long-term nega-
these symptoms are associated with the diagnos-                 tive consequences (Meeske, Ruccione, Globe, &
tic criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder. Part            Stuber, 2001).
of the difficulty in achieving accurate data to un-
derstand possible sex differences for the diagnos-
ing of PTSD is the fact that most trauma follow-                Homicide
up studies focus on the internalizing symptoms
of women rather than the externalizing symp-                    Although males account for the majority of all
toms of men (Heath, Bean, & Feinauer, 1996).                    homicide victims, women are at greater risk to be
Whereas females are encouraged to express emo-                  killed by a spouse. Browne (1987) reports that a
tions, males are reinforced for emotional inhibi-               significant number of women who murdered
tion (Feuer et al., 2001). Hence, girls and women               their domestic partners have a long history of
are more likely than males and boys to report                   threats and abuse from those partners. Further-
trauma and their symptoms. There are minimal                    more, they were unable to obtain protection and
gender differences in symptom expression prior                  relief from social services.
                                                        Chapter 11 Trauma in the Lives of Girls and Women   107


    Ritchie (1996) has coined the term “gender          elderly and are dependent on others for their care
entrapment” to describe a cycle for many im-            (Maker, Kemmelmeier, & Peterson, 1998).
prisoned African American women who were
physically and sexually abused as children, later
became involved in violent and abusive rela-            War, Torture, Terrorism,
tionships with men, and became dependent on             and Refugee Status
alcohol and drugs and lives of prostitution. This
lifestyle of violence and abuse led to retaliatory      Although war represents one of the most persis-
violence toward their partners and arrests for          tent examples of human violence, it is important
homicide.                                               to note the different experiences that males and
                                                        females encounter. Unlike men, women are rarely
                                                        the initiators of war, leaders in combat, or invited
Spouse or Partner Abuse                                 to negotiations; nevertheless, they play active
                                                        roles (Bop, 2001). When females serve in the mili-
Violence that occurs in the context of an intimate      tary, they are exposed to a variety of combat and
sexual, spousal, or cohabitation relationship is        hospital settings where they witness death, in-
                                                        juries, and destruction. They must also contend
commonly referred to as spousal or domestic vi-
                                                        with sexual harassment and rape. Only since the
olence or abuse. This violence may be physical,
                                                        Vietnam War has it been noted that women can
psychological, or emotional. There are widespread
                                                        suffer from intense emotional effects, psychiatric
beliefs that domestic violence is most prevalent
                                                        symptoms, and secondary traumatization when
among the poor. Domestic violence exists across
                                                        their partners have combat stress reactions and
all cultural, ethnic, and social classes; however,
                                                        PTSD (Nelson & Wright, 1996).
those with financial resources and high social
                                                            Women and children are increasingly counted
status are better able to avoid detection and
                                                        as war casualties, primarily as civilians but also as
prosecution.
                                                        combatants. UNICEF has estimated that 80% of
    Domestic violence is the major cause of injury
                                                        international warfare victims are women and chil-
to females. Domestic violence incidence rates
                                                        dren (Yule, Stuvland, Baingana, & Smith, 2003). It
have been reported to range from 10–30% (Fagan
                                                        has been noted that the assault of women and
& Browne, 1994). Although women can become
                                                        girls is a central and universal component of war
violent, men are far more likely to be arrested,
                                                        (Bop, 2001). Women and girls are the more invisi-
and women are at higher risk for injury in do-
                                                        ble casualties of war because they are traumatized
mestic violence. In addition, the abuse of women        and terrorized in order to weaken the morale and
tends to be more severe, repetitive, and long           commitment of men. The daily atrocities that fe-
term than violence toward men. Women are at             males endure, such as rape, torture, captivity, and
higher risk to sustain serious injuries and hospi-      confinement, are often unreported. When the
tal visits and are more at risk to be killed by their   enemy brutalizes these women, they are all too
male partners than by other assailants (Sanchez-        frequently blamed for their traumatic treatment
Hucles & Hudgins, 2001). People often wonder            and are shunned by their partners and families.
why battered women do not leave their batterers.        They may endure additional abuse from their
A woman is most at risk of being killed when try-       partners. Many of these women and girls must
ing to escape from a batterer. Also, there are          contend with pregnancy, sexually transmitted
complex emotional, financial, and psychological          diseases, sexual injuries, and dysfunctions and
dependencies that tie women to batterers.               can be forced into prostitution as a result of their
    Girls who witness domestic violence are at          experiences in war (Solomon, 2003).
higher risk for aggression, withdrawal, anxiety,
somatization, and suicide at that time, and even
                                                        Torture
as adults are at higher risk for physical and sexual
abuse and violence in their dating relationships.       Most definitions of torture involve the basic ele-
Women are also at risk for abuse as they become         ments of intentional infliction of physical or psy-
108   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


chological pain and repression against individu-                the fate of loved ones. The combined losses of
als and communities. The United Nations has                     immigration can lead men to react by increased
described torture as encompassing intentional                   violence and intimidation directed at women
acts of severe mental and physical pain that is                 (Sanchez-Hucles & Dutton, 1999).
designed to punish, intimidate, or obtain infor-
mation or a confession (Vesti & Kastrup, 1995).
    Pope (2001) has noted that women and chil-                  RISK AND RESILIENCY FACTORS
dren are at special risk for torture because of
their smaller physical size relative to most men                Although many individuals are exposed to trau-
and the likelihood they will not be deemed cred-                matic events, only a minority meet the full PTSD
ible reporters of their experiences. Women and                  criteria (North, 2003). In general, the younger a girl
girls are often tortured in retaliation for actions             is when subjected to trauma, the more severe the
of their husbands or male relatives, as a ploy to               consequences. Children are not equipped with
intimidate or subordinate plans or as a demon-                  the practical, emotional, and cognitive resources
stration in front of males to make them divulge                 to handle overwhelming challenges. Trauma can
information.                                                    cause developmental delays and can place girls at
                                                                greater risk for revictimization and PTSD (Astin,
Terrorism                                                       Ogland-Hand, Coleman, & Foy, 1995).
                                                                    Traumas caused by other people are more
Terrorism is variously described as the use of
                                                                devastating than those due to natural causes, and
force, violence, or intimidation to demoralize,
                                                                the closer the relationship between victim and
intimidate, or control others for political reasons
                                                                victimizer, the greater the trauma. When girls are
(Baker, 2003). Typically, terrorism is aimed at vi-
                                                                violated by a parent, teacher, relative, or religious
olating a sense of safety and disrupting normal
                                                                figure, it eliminates that person as a potential re-
routines and activities. What makes terrorism
                                                                source in the young person’s life that is unlikely
unique is that this criminal violence is directed at
                                                                to be filled by anyone else. In the case of sexual
civilian rather than military targets to induce fear
                                                                abuse, more severe trauma is associated with
and dread (Marsella, 2004). Women can be ter-
                                                                physical force, genital contact, and the involve-
rorized by attacks of sexual violence, random
                                                                ment of an authority figure or other loved one.
and suicidal bombings, drive-by shootings, and
                                                                Children and adolescents are most vulnerable
psychological abuse and intimidation.
                                                                to harm as they are still developing (Browne &
                                                                Finkelhor, 1986). Less socially acceptable traumas
Refugees                                                        like rape, gay bashing, and hate crimes against
Mothers and children account for more than 70%                  ethnic minorities, immigrants, prostitutes, and
of the refugee population (Martin, 1994). In exam-              the homeless revictimize individuals with feel-
ining the research on mental health effects of im-              ings of shame, guilt and self-blame (Briere, 1997).
migration on Latino children, researchers found                     There are also psychosocial risk factors that
that acculturation has a more negative effect on                impact on responses to trauma. Adverse impact
women and children than men and that the re-                    is more likely if any of the following coexist: the
silience of children was highly correlated to the               presence of high stress before or after a trauma,
positive adaptations of mothers (Garrison, Roy, &               psychiatric history in an individual or in close
Azar, 1999). Women and girls are at high risk for vi-           relatives, low self-esteem, living in a home with
olence and abuse as they try to leave their home                a marital disruption before adolescence, and
countries and resettle in new locations.                        exposure to poverty, violence, homelessness,
    Sexual violations are used to intimidate fe-                abuse, or trauma as a child. In addition, being
males especially in cultures that highly value                  female or an ethnic minority contributes higher
chastity in women. Refugees are exposed to lack                 risk for both experiencing trauma and having
of food, shelter, and health care, as well as the               a poorer prognosis (Briere, 1997; Friedman &
trauma of witnessing atrocities or not knowing                  Marsella, 1996).
                                                       Chapter 11 Trauma in the Lives of Girls and Women   109


    Bonanno (2004) has noted that for some indi-       love, and hate. Emotions are often intense and
viduals, trauma has a transformative function.         challenge the stability of the therapeutic relation-
The majority of individuals exposed to a trau-         ship, especially in cases of complex PTSD and
matic event experience only brief and minor dis-       with borderline individuals.
ruption to functioning. Bonanno argues that re-            The treatment options most frequently
silience is more common than pathology. Some           employed for traumatized individuals include
individuals emerge from trauma with a stronger         cognitive behavioral, psychodynamic, interper-
sense of self-efficacy, empowerment, and coping         sonal, group, and pharmacological interventions.
skills; a keener appreciation of priorities in their   Choices of treatment must be matched to the
lives; improved interpersonal relationships; and       needs of clients, their stage of trauma, the severity
a heightened capacity to bring sense and mean-         and type of symptoms, and their responses to in-
ing to their lives (Updegraff & Taylor, 2000).         terventions. In general, treatments are designed
                                                       to help clients regain a sense of safety, diminish
                                                       adverse symptoms, and heal the trauma by a
                                                       process of reintegration and restructuring of
TREATMENT
                                                       thoughts, behaviors, and relationships (van der
                                                       Kolk & McFarlane, 1996).
The first task of helping professionals who seek to
                                                           Treatment research suggests the greatest effi-
assist individuals exposed to trauma involves as-
                                                       cacy for cognitive behavioral techniques but most
sessment. Assessment of trauma entails a multi-
                                                       clinicians use psychodynamic and interpersonal
dimensional approach that examines emotional,
                                                       models to treat trauma clients perhaps due to
behavioral, and cognitive status, and an investi-
                                                       the greater emphases these approaches place on
gation of symptoms and developmental history           emotional regulation, dissociation, somatization,
(Drake, Bush, & van Gorp, 2001). Whether the di-       depression, reintegration, and relationship issues
agnosis is PTSD, complex PTSD, or some other           (van der Kolk, McFarlane & van der Hart, 1996).
variation, clinical pictures are dominated by anx-     Clinical treatment studies have supported the ef-
iety in one form or another. Across theoretical        ficacy of cognitive behavioral techniques such as
orientations there is agreement that it is chal-       exposure therapy, cognitive restructuring, educa-
lenging to treat women who have been exposed           tion such as stress inoculation, and anxiety man-
to trauma, as it requires clinicians with strong       agement approaches such as biofeedback and
clinical skills, sensitivity, and empathy. No one      relaxation (Rothbaum & Foa, 1996).
therapeutic intervention has emerged as the de-            Group therapy can also be a particularly help-
finitive treatment of choice, and there are even        ful treatment; by interacting with other trauma-
controversies with respect to the efficacy of early     tized individuals, a victim’s feelings of safety,
interventions. For example, although stress de-        mastery, normalization and bonding can be
briefing has been widely advocated as a primary         achieved (van der Kolk, van der Hart, & Burbridge,
intervention for trauma victims, research indi-        2002). What remains a treatment challenge is de-
cates that this process may cause harm to indi-        termining the best protocol to address both the
viduals by stimulating depression, retraumatiza-       deconditioning of anxiety symptoms and the re-
tion, arousal, and distress, and it may interfere      structuring of the way trauma clients view them-
with natural recovery (Watson et al., 2001).           selves and the world to promote greater personal
   The first intervention following exposure to         integrity and control (van der Kolk, McFarlane, &
trauma entails providing safety, stabilization, and    van der Hart, 1996).
psychological first aid which consists of emo-              Medications may also be used as adjuncts to
tional support, education about typical stress re-     psychotherapy, primarily to assist with symp-
actions, and responsiveness to what the person         toms of anxiety and depression. Two medical in-
wants and needs (Litz & Gray, 2004). Another key       terventions have recently been recommended
element of treatment is the therapeutic relation-      for PTSD by the Food and Drug Administration:
ship because traumatized individuals often have        sertraline and paroxetine (Danieli, Engdahl, &
issues relating to trust, betrayal, dependency,        Schlenger, 2004).
110   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


   Often people with trauma need long-term psy-                  Browne, A., & Finkelhor, D. (1986). Impact of child
chotherapy to learn to resolve issues of self-blame                 sexual abuse: A review of the research. Psycholog-
                                                                    ical Bulletin, 99, 66–77.
and guilt, and to develop appropriate boundaries
                                                                 Danieli, Y., Engdahl, B., & Schlenger, W. E. (2004). The
and an accurate sense of reality. Trauma experts                    psychosocial aftermath of terrorism. In F. M.
generally agree that the process of healing in-                     Moghaddam & A. J. Marsella (Eds.), Understand-
volves helping victims to regain a sense of safety,                 ing terrorism: Psychosocial roots, consequences,
mourn their losses, and reconnect with others.                      and interventions (pp. 223–246). Washington, DC:
                                                                    American Psychological Association.
Treatment effects should be monitored and ad-
                                                                 Drake, E. B., Bush, S. E., & van Gorp, W. G. (2001). Eval-
justed if indicated. Increasingly, more attention is                uation and assessment of PTSD in children and
directed toward the development of holistic ap-                     adolescents. In S. Eth (Ed.), PTSD in children and
proaches that match victims’ needs and are at-                      adolescents (pp. 1–31). Washington, DC: American
tentive to cultural frameworks, familial and com-                   Psychiatric Press.
                                                                 Duran, E., Duran, B., Brave Heart, M., & Yellow
munity support, and reducing the possibility of
                                                                    Horse-Davis, S. (1998). In Y. Danieli (Ed.), Interna-
future trauma.                                                      tional handbook of multigenerational legacies of
                                                                    trauma (pp. 341–354). New York: Plenum Press.
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   Strategies for comprehensive treatment in clinical               New York: Kluwer.
                              Women have a long history of using and abusing
                              drugs in the United States, use that compromises
                              their physical, psychological, and social health
                              and development. Attention to substance abuse
                              in women, however, is recent and still emerging.
                              To respond effectively to the substance-abuse
                              prevention and treatment problems of girls and
                              women requires understanding the factors that
                              contribute to their use and intervention ap-
                              proaches that address their needs.



                              EPIDEMIOLOGY OF DRUG USE
                              IN WOMEN AND GIRLS

                              The overall prevalence of drug use by females
                              and males from the late 1970s until the mid-1990s
                              has generally decreased for all drugs with some
                              yearly fluctuations (Substance Abuse and Men-
                              tal Health Services Administration [SAMHSA],
                              2002). Although males report using both licit
                              (e.g., alcohol and nicotine) and illicit substances
                              (e.g., marijuana, cocaine, heroin) more than fe-
                              males, the gender gap in drug use has been
                              shrinking over time (SAMHSA, 1997; Weiss, Kung,
                              & Pearson, 2003). Starting in the early 1990s, girls
LULA A. BEATTY,               and boys began increasing their use of cigarettes,
CORA LEE WETHERINGTON,        alcohol, and illicit drugs, particularly marijuana,
                              with boys still using more than girls (SAMHSA,
DIONNE J. JONES,
                              1997). Recent research suggests that males have
and A D E L E B . R O M A N
                              more opportunity to use drugs, and if given the
                              same opportunity, males and females are equally
                              likely to use (Van Etten & Anthony, 1999), which
Substance Use                 may account for the rising rates in female use of
                              drugs.
and Abuse by Girls                 Estimates of substance use by females may
                              differ slightly based on the data source and
and Women                     methodology used, but the pattern of drug use
                              among females reported across studies is similar.
                              The National Household Survey on Drug Abuse
                              (SAMHSA, 2002), an annual survey of about
                              70,000 noninstitutionalized Americans 12 years of




12
                              age and older, is the largest and most frequently
                              used data set on drug use. Its findings show that,
                              overall, girls and women, like boys and men,
                              most frequently use the licit drugs of alcohol and
                              nicotine (primarily cigarettes), followed by the
                              illicit drugs, most frequently marijuana (accounts
                              for about 75% of all illicit drug use), with smaller
                              numbers of women using psychotherapeutics,


                                                                               113
114   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


cocaine, and other illicit drugs (SAMHSA, 1997).                 more current use of most of the substances in-
About 42.3% of the female respondents reported                   ventoried including cigarettes, alcohol, and mari-
current use (at least once in last 30 days) of alco-             juana. Their use of marijuana in eighth grade
hol with females under 18 years of age reporting                 (24.9%) was nearly double the rate for the next
use at about the same rate of boys (17.3% for fe-                most frequent users of that drug, the Mexican
males vs. 17.2% for males). In women 18 years of                 American girls (13.8%). Asian American and
age and over, alcohol is frequently used; over 50%               African American girls were less likely to report
of the women 18–34 years of age and over 45% of                  substance use. Similarly, nearly one third (31.3%)
women over 35 years old report current use.                      of adult American Indian/Alaska Native women
Nearly one quarter (23.8%) of the females re-                    currently smoke cigarettes, a rate higher than any
ported current use of a tobacco product, usually                 other racial/ethnic group of women (Misra, 2001).
cigarettes. Misra (2001) reports that about 22 mil-              American Indian women in comparison to all
lion women over 18, about one in five, and 1.5 mil-               other women also report more current use of any
lion girls under 18 currently smoke cigarettes.                  illicit drug while White women report more cur-
Current cigarette smoking is most often reported                 rent use of alcohol and Black women report more
by women in the 25–44 age range, although differ-                current use of cocaine. In comparison to Ameri-
ences between age groups are minor (ranges from                  can Indian women, White, Black, Latina, and
21.5–25.7%) except for women over 65, where less                 Asian/Pacific Islander women are, in descending
than 12% report smoking.                                         order respectively, less likely to use drugs (Weiss
    Female users in comparison to men may differ                 et al., 2003).
in their drug using patterns. For example, among                      Differences in drug use also occur within
treatment seekers, females were found to be more                 racial/ethnic groups. For example, among Asian
likely than males to be daily users of cocaine,                  American women, Japanese women were found
heroin, and sedative barbiturates (Wechsberg,                    to smoke more than Korean and Chinese women;
Craddock, & Hubbard, 1998) and to use greater                    and among Latina women, foreign-born Latina
quantities of cocaine per week (Hays, Farabee, &                 women were less likely to smoke than Latina
Patel, 1999).                                                    women born in the United States. Moreover,
    Factors associated with drug use in females                  other factors such as educational level seem to
include age, race/ethnicity, region of the coun-                 influence smoking, with generally more educa-
try, socioeconomic status, neighborhood, per-                    tion indicating less smoking for White and Black
ceptions of harm, drug availability, and personal                women (Leigh & Jimenez, 2002).
trauma (SAMHSA, 1997). Girls were nearly twice as                     Substance use is problematic when it becomes
likely (10.2%) as adult women to report current il-              excessive (e.g., binge drinking, heavy daily drink-
licit drug use (SAMHSA, 2002); women who cur-                    ing, heavy smoking) and interferes with everyday
rently use illicit drugs are most often aged 18–25,              living and functioning, when a clinical diagnoses
with rates decreasing with advancing age (Misra,                 of dependency or addiction can be made, or when
2001). Striking differences in drug use have been                drugs are used by minors. Substance use during
found among females by race/ethnicity and age                    pregnancy is not recommended because of its po-
particularly in the rate of drug use, drug prefer-               tential negative impact on the fetus. About 2.8% of
ence, and the degree to which use becomes prob-                  pregnant women use an illicit drug and more than
lematic (Leigh & Jimenez, 2002; Misra, 2001; Weiss               half (54%) of pregnant women use alcohol and
et al., 2003). Wallace et al. (2003) examined gender             cigarettes (Ebrahim & Gfroerer, 2003). Research is
and ethnic differences in substance use among                    not definitive on the interplay of factors that dif-
adolescents in eighth, tenth, and twelfth grades                 ferentially predict drug dependency at the indi-
over the 1976–2000 time period. The great major-                 vidual level; however, progression from initial
ity of girls did not report current use of any sub-              drug use to dependence appears equally likely to
stance although their lifetime prevalence rate                   occur for males and females for the most com-
(used at least once) for alcohol and cigarette use               monly used drugs, although females who report at
was fairly high. At all grade levels, Native Ameri-              least one nonmedical usage of a sedative, anxi-
can girls in comparison to other girls reported                  olytic, or hypnotic are more likely than men to
                                                                    Chapter 12 Substance Use and Abuse   115


become dependent on those drugs (Anthony,               Beardslee, 2001). In a sample of at-risk minority
Warner, & Kessler, 1994).                               adolescent females, age was found to be a differ-
                                                        entiating factor for the initiation of substance use
                                                        and other risky behaviors (Bachanas et al., 2002).
MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS, HIV/AIDS,                       Younger girls, 12–15 years old, reported more
AND OTHER CONSEQUENCES                                  symptoms of depression and earlier initiation of
OF SUBSTANCE USE                                        sexual activities than older girls, 16–19 years old,
                                                        and older girls reported more substance use and
Substance use and abuse are a primary or under-         were more likely to be pregnant and to have con-
lying cause of medical and social illness in the U.S.   tracted an STD than younger girls. Moreover,
population, accounting for a significant number          there was a significant association between risky
of preventable deaths and nearly $300 billion dol-      sexual behavior with conduct problems and sub-
lars a year in costs associated with health care and    stance use for younger girls, but not for older
criminal justice programs (Office of National Drug       adolescents.
Control Policy, 2001). The proportion of these dol-         Using drugs often reduces inhibitions and in-
lars devoted to the care of women with substance-       creases vulnerability to high-risk behaviors. Girls
abuse problems is not clear; however, girls and         and women who use alcohol and illicit drugs are at
women experience myriad problems associated             increased risk of participating in unplanned and
with substance use similar to men and, in many          unprotected sexual intercourse, leading to a much
ways, they suffer greater medical and emotional/        greater likelihood of their contracting HIV/AIDS,
psychological consequences of drug use.                 STDS, and other diseases transmitted by inti-
    Substance abuse and psychological problems          mate contact (e.g., hepatitis). Moreover, they are
are comorbid disorders, with co-occurring rates         more likely to engage in other high-risk behaviors
higher in females than in males. Substance-             such as prostitution and the exchange of sex for
abusing women are more likely to be diagnosed           drugs, and they are at increased risk of rape and
with a mental health disorder, particularly depres-     unwanted pregnancies. Relationship dynamics
sive, personality, and anxiety disorders. Although      (power, money, control, dependence, insecurity,
there has been debate regarding the temporal            and decision-making authority) influence par-
relationship between substance use and mental           ticipation in substance use, and girls and women
health disorders, in women substance abuse              who use drugs may find themselves in dependent
most often occurs subsequent to depression and          and exploitative relationships with men. Women
anxiety disorders, including posttraumatic stress       whose partners have more control over them re-
disorder (PTSD) and eating disorders (Weiss et al.,     port more substance use (Riehman, Iguchi, Zeller,
2003). Violence-related trauma is related to sub-       & Morral, 2003), and women who feel powerless
stance use in women. Women in violent rela-             in their relationships are less likely to protect
tionships often become depressed and use alco-          themselves against HIV exposure (Wechsberg
hol and other drugs as a way to help them cope          et al., 2003).
(Wechsberg et al., 2003).                                   Of the new AIDS cases among women in 2002,
    An association among substance use, other           21% were attributable to injection drug use (IDU)
risky behaviors (e.g., early sexual involvement),       and 42% were contracted through heterosexual
and mental health problems is also evident in           contact, a category that includes having sex with
adolescent girls. For example, a significant re-        an injecting drug user, a bisexual male, and an
lationship between problematic drug and alco-           HIV infected person, among others. Ethnic mi-
hol use and posttraumatic stress was found in           norities are disproportionately affected by the
girls but not in boys (Lipschitz, Grilo, Fehon,         HIV/AIDS epidemic in the United States. Of the
McGlashan, & Southwick, 2000), and alcohol and          AIDS cases reported to CDC in 2002 for all races,
marijuana use appeared to be a mediating factor         69.8% were among ethnic minorities. African
for an association found between depressive             American women represented 65.2% of the AIDS
symptoms and sexually transmitted diseases              cases among women, and they constituted 58.5%
(STDs) and girls (Shrier, Harris, Sternberg, &          of new AIDS cases among women in the IDU
116   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


exposure category. HIV infection rates among                     woman than in men (Liechti, Gamma, & Vollen-
African American and Latina women reflect a                       weider, 2001).
similar pattern. African Americans and Hispanics/
Latinas represented 67.1% of all new HIV infec-
tion cases reported in 2002, and 81.6% of new HIV                Pregnancy Complications
infection cases reported for women. For African                  and In Utero Drug Effects
American women, heterosexual contact was the
highest reported mode of exposure (34%) and                      Substance use during pregnancy is associated
IDU accounted for 9%. Similarly, for Hispanic/                   with low birth weight, small head circumfer-
Latina women, heterosexual contact was the most                  ence, and preterm delivery. Excessive drinking
frequently reported mode of exposure (37%), fol-                 during pregnancy can cause fetal alcohol syn-
lowed by IDU (15%) (Centers for Disease Control                  drome and fetal alcohol effects, leading causes
[CDC], 2002).                                                    of birth defects and mental retardation in chil-
    There are gender differences in the clinical sig-            dren. Tobacco use is associated with stillbirth
nificance of CD4+ cell counts and viral load (RNA                 and neonatal deaths and the risk of sudden in-
level), major indicators of disease status. Women                fant death syndrome (U.S. Department of Health
with the same CD4+ cell counts tend to have lower                and Human Services [USDHHS], 2001). More-
viral loads than men. Women with lower plasma                    over, substance use in pregnancy is associated
RNA levels of HIV than men were found to be at                   with an increased risk for medical complica-
risk of progression to AIDS at the same rate as                  tions, including infectious diseases, with co-
men. However, women and men with similar                         caine abusers especially vulnerable to abruptio
CD4+ cell counts appeared to progress to AIDS at                 placenta. These outcomes can be ameliorated
the same rate. Current treatment guidelines using                by medical monitoring through routine prenatal
CD4+ counts are based on male cohort studies.                    care (Bauer et al., 2002).
Research supports the use of lower HIV RNA
thresholds for the initiation of antiretroviral
therapy (ART) for women (Napravnik, Poole,                       Stigma Associated With Drug Use
Thomas, & Eron, 2002). Ongoing research in this
area should include appropriate, proportional                    Substance abusers are a stigmatized population,
representation of female cohorts in treatment re-                held in low regard because of presumed voluntary
search studies.                                                  behaviors and lifestyles that are believed to be
    Other consequences of drug use include a va-                 contrary to the morals and norms of responsible
riety of body and cognitive functions. For exam-                 adult living. Stigmatization affects the entire com-
ple, prolonged high-level use of methamphet-                     munity including the substance abuser, who may
amine can lead to cardiac arrhythmia, shaking,                   delay seeking treatment because of shame, em-
stomach cramps, insomnia, paranoia, and struc-                   barrassment, and fear (e.g., loss of family stand-
tural changes to the brain in both males and fe-                 ing and employment, criminal prosecution) and
males. Long-term alcoholism is associated with                   treatment providers who may view substance
atrophy of several brain regions, with the frontal               abusers as difficult, nonresponsive, and costly.
lobes and limbic structures appearing to be most                 Ritson (1999), who identified stereotypes held of
vulnerable, although continued abstinence ap-                    drug users (e.g., problem is self-inflicted hence
pears to reverse this effect (Netrakom, Krasuski,                less worthy of help) and reasons professionals
Miller, & O’Tuama, 1999). Sex-specific research in                resist working with substance users, advocates
this area is limited, but needed. For example,                   training and public education as a means of
placebo-controlled studies of the subjective                     changing stereotypic perceptions. Female sub-
effects of MDMA (“ecstasy”) have shown that                      stance abusers appear to experience stigmatiza-
this drug produces greater subjective effects                    tion to a greater extent than males because of
(e.g., more intense psychological effects, anxi-                 society’s lower tolerance of deviant behavior in fe-
ety reactions, and hallucinogen-like effects) as                 males, especially deviant behaviors typically asso-
well as more adverse effects and sequelae in                     ciated with males and that interfere with their tra-
                                                                 Chapter 12 Substance Use and Abuse     117


ditional duties as mother and wife. Women from       follicular phase (Snively, Ahijevych, Bernhard, &
ethnic minority populations (e.g., African Ameri-    Wewers, 2000).
can and Hispanic/Latina) that hold strong cul-           Cigarette smoking in women is more highly
tural, idealized views of women as mothers and       controlled by the smell and taste of a cigarette
culture bearers may not find their families and       then in men (Perkins, 2001). Human studies have
communities to be supportive or tolerant of them.    found that nicotine metabolism can be impaired
Further, the stereotypes and disadvantage they       by a natural genetic mutation. For males, this im-
face in the larger society may stigmatize them       pairment acts as a protective factor resulting in
even more when they abuse drugs.                     considerably less cigarettes smoked per day and
                                                     per week, but women’s smoking is not affected
                                                     by the presence or absence of this mutation
VULNERABILITY AND PREDICTORS                         (Tyndale, Pianezza, & Sellers, 1999). The predic-
OF DRUG USE AND ADDICTION                            tors and risk factors associated with nicotine use
IN GIRLS AND WOMEN                                   and dependence often vary by gender. For exam-
                                                     ple, smoking in girls is associated with stress re-
Drug dependence is both a psychological and a        lief, dieting, conduct disorder, and high levels of
neurobiological phenomenon. Addiction is in-         sociability (e.g., Sarigiani, Ryan, & Petersen, 1999),
creasingly acknowledged as a brain disease, based    and parental approval (more than peer approval)
on a body of research that shows the mechanisms      of smoking (Siddiqui, Mott, Anderson, & Flay,
of drug action in the brain as they affect neuro-    1999). Moreover, cigarette use is more predictive
transmitter activity (particularly the mesolimbic    of progression to marijuana use by girls than boys
dopamine system) and sometimes alter brain           (Kandel, Yamaguchi, & Chen, 1992).
structure and function. These brain changes lead         Various theories have been offered to explain
to the outward behavioral manifestations such as     why people initiate drug use, including models
craving, withdrawal (depending on the drug), and     that emphasize stress-vulnerability, relative de-
drug-seeking behaviors commonly associated           viance, and ecological systems. None of them
with addiction. The basic neurobiology of addic-     have proved to be sufficient, stand-alone expla-
tion in women has not been fully explored; how-      nations. Research strongly suggests that drug ini-
ever, females differ from males in some ways in      tiation and abuse in women is related to stress,
their biological response to drugs. Animal studies   trauma, social networks, and relationships with
on acquisition of self-administration of cocaine     men and family. For example, Russac and Weaver
and heroin, for example, find that females self-      (1995), in reviewing research on substance abuse
administer sooner and in larger amounts than do      in females, found that adolescent girls who abused
males. Furthermore, the reinforcing properties of    drugs were likely to have a parent who abused
cocaine and nicotine are stronger for females than   alcohol or other drugs, and addicted women were
for males, and females demonstrate greater pro-      more likely than addicted men to have disturbed
pensity to cocaine relapse than do males (Lynch,     family backgrounds including violence and sexual
Roth, & Carroll, 2002).                              abuse. Childhood sexual abuse places females
    Recent studies in humans indicate that both      at substantially greater risk than males for the
the pharmacological and behavioral actions of        development of numerous psychopathologic
drugs can be affected by the menstrual cycle. A      outcomes, especially, drug and alcohol abuse
study of cocaine pharmacokinetics, for example,      (Kendler et al., 2000). Family characteristics such
found that women in the follicular phase of the      as maternal substance use, insufficient parental
menstrual cycle reached peak plasma levels in a      bonding, and family dysfunction are more pre-
considerably shorter time (4 minutes) than did       dictive of drug abuse in females than males
either males (8 minutes) or women in the luteal      (e.g., Chatham, Hiller, Rowan-Szal, Joe, & Simp-
phase (6.7 minutes) (Mendelson et al., 1999).        son, 1999). Early pubertal maturation, both bio-
Women’s smoking is also affected by the men-         logical and psychosocial, is a high-risk factor for
strual cycle, with more cigarettes smoked per day    substance use for girls in general (Lanza &
during the late luteal than during the late-to-mid   Collins, 2002). Women are more likely than men
118   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


to have been introduced to drug use through sex-                 TREATMENT
ual partners.
                                                                 Drug abuse can be successfully treated using a
                                                                 variety of behavioral, cognitive, and pharmaco-
PREVENTION                                                       logical treatment interventions, often in combi-
                                                                 nation with one another. Factors that influence
Although drug-abuse prevention programs are                      treatment success include availability of and ac-
cost-effective, there are not enough of them to                  cess to services and treatment, competency of
meet the need. Effective substance abuse preven-                 the treatment provider (e.g., knowledge about
tion programs are comprehensive, skill-driven                    addiction, therapeutic skills), appropriateness of
(e.g., teach resistance strategies) and theory-                  the treatment program, and client characteris-
driven, among other characteristics, and ideally                 tics (e.g., motivation, engagement in the treat-
are tailored to fit the gender and cultural needs of              ment process). Commonly employed substance
girls and women (National Institute on Drug                      abuse treatment models and techniques that
Abuse [NIDA], 1997). Prevention programs should                  have been relatively successful with men have
also target peers and address both the interper-                 often been less effective with women, leading re-
sonal underpinnings and the addiction processes                  searchers to investigate reasons for treatment
that are intrinsic to chronic use, dependence,                   failure in women and to develop improved treat-
and abuse. In a review of prevention programs,                   ment services for them.
                                                                     Treatment models and strategies frequently
Catalano, Hawkins, Berglund, Pollard, and Arthur
                                                                 do not accommodate or appropriately address
(2002) observed that prevention programs for
                                                                 the concerns and problems of women currently in
females should include the specific substance
                                                                 or needing drug abuse treatment. Issues that af-
abuse risk factors that propel girls and women to
                                                                 fect treatment in women include current life cir-
use drugs and the protective factors that block
                                                                 cumstances such as social support, chronic med-
their drug use. They recommend that prevention
                                                                 ical conditions, and historical profiles of personal
programs address the whole person, not be
                                                                 risks such as homelessness, depression and part-
single-problem-focused, and that they be imple-
                                                                 ner abuse, the influence of intimate partners on
mented early (before age 14) in order to postpone
                                                                 treatment engagement, and drug use (Riehman
early use by girls.
                                                                 et al., 2003), and negative treatment and system
    Gender neutral approaches to drug abuse pre-
                                                                 experiences (Penn, Brooks, & Worsham, 2002).
vention have been the norm. There are few sub-
                                                                     Two major barriers to effective treatment with
stance-abuse prevention programs specifically                     women may be inadequate attention to parent-
designed for girls and women. Prevention pro-                    ing and family responsibilities and co-occurring
grams are usually developed for children and ado-                disorders. Women may delay or not seek treat-
lescents and are frequently school-based. Girls                  ment because they fear losing custody of their
are included in large numbers in these programs,                 children, or they may not have someone to care
but their concerns and styles do not drive the pro-              for their children while they are in treatment.
grams’ designs. Few prevention programs are di-                  Child custody and care issues may be particularly
rected to adult women, yet the epidemiologic data                salient for ethnic minority and poor women who
show that females, especially ethnic minority fe-                have fewer resources for alternative child care
males, are at risk for substance abuse at later ages.            and who are more likely to be involved with or
Intensive efforts to halt HIV/AIDS transmission                  subject to the scrutiny of public agencies. Inter-
has yielded useful information and models for                    estingly, a finding that African American women
developing prevention strategies with women.                     with children in foster care were more likely to
Amaro (1995) concluded that effective HIV pre-                   complete drug abuse treatment (Scott-Lennox,
vention for women must be gender specific and                     Rose, Bohlig, & Lennox, 2000) confirms both the
recognize the importance of women’s connec-                      importance of children to treatment involvement
tions with others, the role of male partners in their            and outcome and the stage in the addiction at
lives, their fears, and their unequal social status              which treatment is sought or ordered when chil-
and power in relationships with men.                             dren have to be considered.
                                                                  Chapter 12 Substance Use and Abuse   119


    Women enter drug abuse treatment with high        the components and successful treatment out-
rates of psychological comorbidity, usually de-       comes such as treatment completion, decreased
pression and/or anxiety disorder, and experi-         use of substances, employment, HIV risk reduc-
ences of physical and sexual abuse and other          tion, and reduced mental health symptoms.
forms of violent trauma. Histories of physical and    These findings suggest that widely used treatment
sexual abuse in both men and women affect             models can be effective with women if women
treatment engagement and outcome. Substance-          specific components are included in the treat-
abuse treatment that focuses exclusively on the       ment plan. Unfortunately, most treatment pro-
drug addiction to the exclusion of the comorbid       grams do not provide these services.
disorder (which may not be obvious in the face of
addiction) will likely fail. The National Institute
on Drug Abuse (NIDA, 1999) identified 13 princi-       IMPLICATIONS FOR RESEARCH
ples of effective drug abuse treatment, several of    AND PRACTICE
which have particular relevance to women’s
treatment needs: to match treatment settings,         Research on substance abuse in girls and women
services, and interventions to each individual’s      has grown and considerably advanced our under-
need, gender, ethnicity, and culture; to address      standing of the factors that lead to drug use in
the individual’s drug use and all associated med-     women and to interventions that facilitate recov-
ical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal    ery. But there are major gaps in our knowledge.
problems; and to treat co-occurring disorders in      Research shows, for example, that ethnic minority
an integrated way.                                    status and age are associated with substance-
    Research suggests that women differ in their      abuse risk and protection, sometimes in un-
response to certain drug treatment therapies or       expected ways. We need more research on sub-
strategies. For example, in smoking cessation         stance use, prevention, and treatment for ethnic
treatment, nicotine patch gum, and spray have         minority girls and women, lesbians, and girls and
better outcomes in men but the nicotine inhaler is    women with disabilities, living in rural areas, and
more effective in women; women are concerned          in correctional facilities. We need to know more
about reduction of weight gain; and menstrual         about protective factors for girls and women and
phase affects depressive symptomatology and           how they can be used to develop and improve
withdrawal (Perkins, 2001). Women in women-           gender-specific or gender-sensitive prevention
only treatment versus mixed-gender treatment          and treatment programs. Another issue of in-
remain in treatment for a longer period of time       creasing concern is the misuse of prescription
and are twice as likely to complete treatment         drugs and other substances, especially alcohol,
(Grella, Polinsky, Hser, & Perry, 1999); and treat-   among older and elderly women. The abuse of
ment attendance and abstinence in methadone-          substances by older, often middle-class women,
maintained pregnant women was increased by            is frequently hidden or shrouded in secrecy and
using an escalating voucher incentive schedule        ignored by professionals who do not expect, rec-
compared to a non-incentive schedule (Jones,          ognize, or screen for it.
Haug, Silverman, Stitzer, & Svikis, 2001). A review       Professionals providing substance-abuse ser-
of 38 studies on substance-abuse treatment pro-       vices to girls and women must be well informed
gramming in women examined the association            and trained about their specific problems and
among six components of substance-abuse pro-          needs. Because of the high rates of comorbidity of
gramming purported to be instrumental in treat-       substance abuse and mental health disorders in
ment effectiveness with women (i.e., child care,      women, and the growing number of women who
prenatal care, women-only programs, supple-           will present with both problems, mental health
mental services, and workshops that address           professionals must be knowledgeable about co-
women-focused topics, mental health program-          morbidity and skilled in both the diagnosis and
ming, and comprehensive programming) and              treatment of addiction and mental disorders in
treatment outcomes (Ashley, Marsden, & Brady,         women. Similarly, substance-abuse counselors
2003). Positive associations were found between       must be capable of providing mental health
120    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


counseling or have a professionally trained men-                    1996–1998. Obstetrics and Gynecology, 101(2),
tal health specialist available as part of the treat-               374–379.
                                                                 Grella, C. E., Polinsky, M. L., Hser, Y. I., & Perry, S. M.
ment staff. Professionals working in general com-
                                                                    (1999). Characteristics of women-only and mixed-
munity practices such as psychologists, social                      gender drug abuse treatment programs. Journal
workers and primary care physicians can be par-                     of Substance Abuse Treatment, 17(1–2), 37–44.
ticularly helpful in the screening and early iden-               Hays, L. R., Farabee, D., & Patel, P. (1999). Character-
tification of substance-abuse problems in their                      istics of cocaine users in a private inpatient treat-
clients. Training programs for psychologists, clin-                 ment setting. Journal of Drug Education, 29(2),
                                                                    157–164.
ical social workers, physicians, and others should
                                                                 Jones, E. E., Haug, N., Silverman, K., Stitzer, M., &
include these issues in their curricula. Profes-                    Svikis, D. (2001). The effectiveness of incentives
sional associations and service agencies also need                  in enhancing treatment attendance and drug ab-
to include these topics as part of their continuing                 stinence in methadone-maintained pregnant
education and staff development series.                             women. Drug and Alcohol Dependence, 61(3),
                                                                    297–306.
                                                                 Kandel, D. B., Yamaguchi, K., & Chen, K. (1992). Stages
                                                                    of progression in drug involvement from adoles-
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                          The United States is an extremely wealthy nation.
                          Yet poverty constitutes one of the most serious
                          and pervasive threats to the lives and emotional
                          well-being of women and girls in the United
                          States. The insidious and complex stress factors
                          associated with poverty damage women’s mental
                          and physical health, shortening the life span of
                          many poor women. Living in poverty may also
                          compromise a woman’s capacity to protect and
                          nurture her children. Girls growing up in poor
                          families suffer from material deprivation and may
                          be obligated to assume adult roles if parents are
                          frequently away at work or debilitated by poverty-
                          related conditions. The cycle of hardship, extreme
                          effort, and exhaustion exact a gendered toll on
                          women and girls who often care for others as they
                          try to survive and pursue their own lives.



                          ECONOMIC REALITIES

                          Although corporate profits and chief executive
                          pay have been at record levels in recent years, over
                          34 million Americans live below the poverty line,
                          and a majority of these are women and children
                          (Proctor & Dalaker, 2003). Among women who
                          head their own households, 28.8% are poor, with
                          even higher poverty rates among single mothers
                          who are African American (37.4%) or Hispanic/
                          Latina (36.4%) (Proctor & Dalaker, 2003). The
DEBORAH BELLE             United States has the highest child poverty rate
                          among the wealthy nations (Mishel, Bernstein, &
and L I S A D O D S O N
                          Boushey, 2003). Economic mobility for those in
                          poverty is also lower in the United States than in
                          other rich countries (Mishel et al., 2003).
Poor Women and Girls          Recent decades have been difficult ones for
                          most working Americans, as many workers have
in a Wealthy Nation       lost health insurance, retirement benefits, and
                          paid sick leave. Half of U.S. workers earn less than
                          $13 an hour (Mishel et al., 2003), a wage that
                          would provide a minimal living standard for a
                          parent of two children who was employed full




13
                          time year-round. Responding to these realities,
                          U.S. workers now work more hours per year than
                          workers in any of the other industrialized nations,
                          and with fewer supports, such as subsidized child
                          care, paid vacations, and paid parental leave
                          (Heymann, 2000). More jobs now require work in
                          the evening and weekend hours, when child care
                          is particularly hard to arrange (Heymann, 2000).


122
                                                                      Chapter 13   Poor Women and Girls   123


Such jobs are easily lost when a parent must miss      characteristics and other social and environmen-
work to care for an ill child or when other child      tal risk factors (Siefert et al., 2001).
care arrangements break down.
    Nor, since the U.S. government ended 60 years
of guaranteed economic assistance to poor fam-         LIVING WITH BLAME
ilies in 1996, do poor women have many options
for survival beyond their own employment. For-         Poverty is deeply discrediting within U.S. society.
mer welfare recipients who find jobs typically         Many Americans blame poverty on poor people,
earn only $6–7 an hour (Seccombe, 2000), and           particularly poor women, without understanding
many are not employed or are employed only             the forces that stratify society and prevent millions
sporadically. Well-documented increases in de-         from escaping poverty (Cozzarelli, Wilkinson, &
mand at food banks and homeless shelters have          Tagler, 2001). While many categories of Americans
resulted (Burnham, 2002; Green, 2000). Today,          receive public aid, such as the elderly, the disabled,
poor women and their children make up a large          farmers, and college students, poor mothers who
portion of the U.S. homeless population (Bassuk,       receive welfare payments are uniquely stigma-
Buckner, Perloff, & Bassuk, 1998) and hunger is        tized. Welfare recipients often describe experi-
increasingly a problem for poor women with             ences of humiliation and denigration and many
children, especially poor women of color (Siefert,
                                                       internalize shameful welfare-mother portraits.
Heflin, Corcoran, & Williams, 2001).
                                                       As one mother reported in 1992, “I would cry all
                                                       the way to the welfare office and my daughter
                                                       would cry with me. Once inside, I never cried,
POVERTY AND STRESS
                                                       never smiled, never said nothing I didn’t have to”
                                                       (Dodson, 1998, p. 127). Yet some mothers under-
The association between poverty and mental
                                                       stood and resisted the damage of accepting a
health problems is firmly established, and the
                                                       “welfare mother” identity. A mother of two in
stress processes that account for this association
                                                       Milwaukee in 2002 commented, “Just ignore
are increasingly well understood. Poor women ex-
                                                       them [the caseworkers], that’s what I say. Just
perience more threatening and more uncontrol-
                                                       think of yourself someplace else and do their lit-
lable life events than does the general popula-
                                                       tle thing and get out of there.”
tion (Makosky, 1982), typically in the context of
                                                           Most low-income mothers consider the pro-
ongoing, chronic deprivation (Ennis, Hobfoll, &
Schroder, 2000). Poverty increases a woman’s vul-      tection and care of their children their overriding
nerability to violence and abuse. In one sample of     imperative (Jarrett & Jefferson, 2003). Poverty
low-income mothers, 83% had been physically or         undermines the ability to protect children and
sexually assaulted during their lifetimes, and over    often demands unconventional and even risky
a third had experienced posttraumatic stress dis-      strategies to ensure children’s well-being. As
order (Bassuk et al., 1998). The onset of depression   Edin and Lein (1997) point out, the poor mothers
has been linked to the experience of humiliating       they studied generally wished to be employed,
or entrapping severe life events, which are, in        both to avoid the stigma of receiving welfare pay-
turn, more common among women experiencing             ments and to offer their children positive role
financial hardship (Brown & Moran, 1997). Loss of       models. Yet these mothers also realized that paid
material resources, or the threat of their loss, was   employment was hardly a solution to their eco-
associated with more depressed mood in low-            nomic troubles and carried serious risks for their
income single women (Ennis et al., 2000). Inade-       children, including the loss of health insurance
quate housing, burdensome responsibilities, and        and maternal supervision. To supplement wages
other chronic conditions are even more stressful       and welfare payments too low to support their
than acute crises and events (Makosky, 1982;           families, mothers sometimes turned to under-
Stansfeld, Head, & Marmot, 1998). Going hungry is      the-counter or illegal work (Edin & Lein, 1997).
a significant predictor of major depression among       However, breaking laws and powerful social
low-income women, controlling for background           norms is very stressful.
124   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


    Poor mothers also describe the complexity of                 energy that are already in short supply. Economi-
teaching their children the conventional “rights                 cally secure women can more easily extricate
and wrongs” while also training them for life in                 themselves from difficult relationships than poor
the real world of poor America (Dodson, 1998).                   women who rely on others for services they can-
Poor women have such acute needs that they                       not afford to buy, such as child care. Kin-care op-
have little leverage when dealing with employers,                tions have also declined in recent years, as grand-
landlords, and government bureaucracies. Some-                   mothers, aunts, and other members of the social
times powerful institutions and individuals sim-                 network are likely to be employed themselves
ply decline to respond. Caseworkers, counselors,                 and unable to offer regular help with child care
police officers, building managers, job training in-              (Roschelle, 1997).
structors, and others with power can also sexually
exploit women in desperate need (Dodson, 1998).
“Whenever power is particularly unbalanced,                      PHYSICAL HEALTH PROBLEMS
there is covert license to abuse those with the least
of it, ‘and who’s got less power than some girl on               The stresses that compromise women’s mental
welfare?’ ” (Dodson, 1998, p. 134).                              health also damage their bodies, and poor women,
    Repeated experiences unsuccessfully negoti-                  especially those living in persistently poor com-
ating for their own and their families’ well-being,              munities, age before their time (Geronimus, 1996).
or succumbing to sexual exploitation as a pre-                   During the reproductive years, African American
condition, can become overwhelming. Women                        women experience higher rates of hypertension,
may turn to palliative coping strategies such                    obesity, and diabetes than do White women.
as self-medication with drugs or alcohol, over-                  Geronimus (1996) refers to this process as “weath-
eating, sleeping during the day, and repressing                  ering,” and notes that the probability among
thoughts of the problem. These behaviors, while                  White women of surviving until the age of 65 is
generally viewed as pathological, may represent                  equal to the probability among African American
the only self-protection possible (Dodson, 1998).                women living in Harlem of surviving to age 45.
Not surprisingly, long-term economic hardship                    (The disparity is even more marked for African
is associated with a diminished sense of efficacy                 American men.) It is reasonable for young African
(Popkin, 1990), while increases in household in-                 American women to have doubts about living to
come, regardless of their source, are associated                 experience what the larger society refers to as
over time with increases in the sense of personal                “middle age.”
efficacy expressed by women who head house-
holds (Downey & Moen, 1987).
                                                                 CHILDREN IN POVERTY

SOCIAL SUPPORTS: BENEFITS                                        In comparison to their middle-class peers, low-
AND BURDENS                                                      income children face an accumulation of risk fac-
                                                                 tors, both physical and psychosocial, and it is
Many poor women create mutual aid networks                       such cumulative risk that best predicts psycho-
through which they care for each other in times of               logical and physical morbidity (Saegert & Evans,
stress (Higginbotham & Weber, 1992), and support                 2003). Poor neighborhoods, particularly those
from family, friends, and other network members                  in which African Americans are ghettoized, are
is associated with a reduced risk of depression                  characterized by inferior public services ranging
among low-income women (Coiro, 2001). Yet so-                    from sanitation to health care to schools to rec-
cial networks can serve as conduits of stress just as            reational opportunities (Saegert & Evans, 2003).
they can serve as sources of social support (Belle,              Poor children are more likely to experience inad-
1982). Network members are themselves likely to                  equate prenatal care, low birth weight, birth de-
be poor and stressed and in need of assistance.                  fects, hunger and malnutrition, elevated lead lev-
Reciprocating the help that is received from net-                els, iron deficiency, diarrhea, colitis, and asthma
work members can consume time, resources, and                    (Seccombe, 2000), and poor adolescents are at
                                                                       Chapter 13 Poor Women and Girls   125


elevated risk for depression, obesity, poor self-        family work, often in addition to paying jobs nec-
rated health, and suicide attempts (Goodman,             essary to supplement parental earnings. They
1999). These problems also foreshadow further            were often exhausted by the time they had a
serious psychological and physical debility on           chance to begin their own schoolwork.
into adulthood.                                             Many girls respond positively to the chal-
    Inflexible work schedules mean that poor par-         lenge of family demands with greater apprecia-
ents often find it difficult to care for their ill chil-   tion of their mothers’ efforts, strengthened con-
dren, visit children’s schools, or supervise chil-       nections to younger siblings, and pride in their
dren in the afternoon and evening hours without          own extreme competence and tough-girl identi-
losing their jobs (Heymann, 2000). Children then         ties. “Ain’t no Barbie dolls living around here”
suffer when they cannot turn to their parents            (Dodson, 1998, p. 81). Such girls may learn lessons
for comfort when they are ill or need help with          about strength and about holding onto their
schoolwork, and when they must spend long                selfhood and this may protect them to a certain
hours without effective adult supervision. Poor          degree from the silencing which affects middle-
children are more likely than affluent children to        class girls (Dodson, 1998). Yet many find that
be on their own for lengthy periods in the after-        their heavy responsibilities destroy opportuni-
school hours (Halpern, 1999), and the risks of un-       ties to focus on their own education and devel-
supervised time are greatest for low-income chil-        opment. Some are required to be family media-
dren and for those in dangerous neighborhoods            tors and protectors when adult strength breaks
(Belle, 1999).                                           down. Girls with such responsibilities take on
    Even if they can be at home with their children,     the anxieties of caretaking in precarious circum-
economically stressed parents may be so over-            stances, in many ways experiencing the stresses of
worked, demoralized, and depleted that the qual-         mothering in poverty before they ever bear chil-
ity of their parenting deteriorates. Financially         dren of their own (Dodson & Dickert, in press).
stressed and depressed mothers are less respon-             Poor children worry about survival issues
sive to their children, more coercive, and less con-     and about their own futures, and they are aware
sistent in setting limits (Raver, 2003). Some stud-      that poor people are stigmatized and devalued
ies find that for poor women, employment is               (Seccombe, 2000). Not surprisingly, poor children
associated with better morale and more positive          are more likely than middle-class children to
parenting styles. Yet mothers’ entry into menial,        suffer from depression, low self-esteem, behav-
low-prestige jobs was associated over time with          ioral problems, and poor school performance.
more angry and coercive parenting, suggesting            Deep poverty, persistent poverty, and poverty ex-
the negative implications of such jobs on family         perienced early in life are most strongly associ-
functioning (Raver, 2003).                               ated with decrements in academic performance,
                                                         while children’s mental health disadvantages
                                                         increase with the length of time they spend in
GIRLS AS FAMILY WORKERS                                  poverty (Seccombe, 2000).

When parents are away at work or psychologi-
cally unavailable, girls are likely to be drawn into     EARLY CHILDBEARING
demanding household responsibilities (Dodson,
1998). More than half of the poor high school girls      Poverty is associated with childbearing at earlier
Dodson studied contributed regular child care to         ages than is typical of the middle-class popula-
their families, 80% did regular housecleaning,           tion, and teenage childbearing is highly stigma-
and half did the family laundry, typically without       tized by the larger society when it occurs. To
having a washer or dryer in the home. Thirty per-        many in the middle class, childbearing by poor
cent provided regular help with an ill or incapac-       young people proves that they are too selfish or
itated relative or family member, and one in four        impulsive to delay sexual gratification, and helps
girls routinely cooked for their families. Girls         to make the case that poor people deserve their
spent between 16 and 20 hours each week on this          own impoverishment.
126   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


    Yet teenage childbearing may in some ways be                dren had more psychiatric symptoms than chil-
an adaptive response to growing up in poor Amer-                dren living above the poverty level. After the
ica. In impoverished African American communi-                  casino opened, children whose families moved
ties, life expectancies are drastically shortened for           out of poverty showed a significant decrease in
both women and men, and serious health prob-                    psychiatric symptoms, particularly conduct and
lems tend to arise much earlier in life, realities of           oppositional defiant disorders. Further analyses
which young people are quite aware (Geronimus,                  demonstrated that this improvement was medi-
1996). So rapid is the health decline that among                ated by parental supervision: parents who had
poor African Americans, adolescent mothers ex-                  moved out of poverty had more time to pay atten-
perience lower rates of low-birth-weight babies                 tion to their children.
and infant death than do mothers in their twen-
ties. Adolescence is the healthiest time for them to
have a child. Such realities can push young people              WHAT HELPS?
to begin childbearing while their own health and
that of their potential support providers remains               Resistance to poverty’s assaults comes in many
good. Nor, without an evident educational and                   forms. Poor girls speak of the importance of hav-
occupational trajectory that will be risked by early            ing safe spaces to talk with other girls and with re-
childbearing, do young people have strong incen-                spectful women of their own ethnicity who know
tives to wait. Many are already caring for children             the real conditions of low-income girlhood. Many
and managing a household. A boyfriend may                       mothers insist on telling the truth to their daugh-
seem the only available hope for a new role, a new              ters about life, relationships, violence, and “what
life (Dodson, 1998).                                            a girl’s gotta do to get by” (Dodson, 1996). Raising
                                                                daughters not to expect a life of fairness and care,
                                                                some mothers truth-tell with “tongues of fire”
EXPERIMENTAL RESEARCH ON POVERTY                                (Lorde, 1982).
AND WELL-BEING                                                      Many women find that talking with a trained
                                                                clinician about old pain, recalling the troubles
Most research on the psychological impact of                    which haunted their earlier lives, and considering
poverty has been correlational, focusing on the                 the connections between what they experienced
statistical associations between poverty and neg-               then and their lives today makes them stronger.
ative psychological states. Some recent studies,                Counseling also helps women to raise their own
however, have actively experimented or have                     children more thoughtfully, changing family pat-
taken advantage of natural experiments to inves-                terns so that the pain is not passed on. Mental
tigate whether improvements in material condi-                  health services are hard to access without money,
tions can lead to improvements in physical and                  and many who suffer from emotional problems
psychological health as well. In the Moving to                  receive no help. Restored public funding is essen-
Opportunity program, residents of low-income                    tial if they are to obtain the treatment they need.
public housing projects in neighborhoods of                         Since low-wage jobs provide no economic
concentrated poverty were randomly assigned to                  security, poor women and girls need access to
low-poverty neighborhoods and enabled to move                   the postsecondary education that will enable
there. The low-income mothers who had been                      them to move out of the minimum wage ghetto.
helped to move reported less depression than the                A single year of college cuts minority women’s
control group mothers, and the children who                     poverty rate in half, and welfare recipients who
moved experienced a dramatic decline in asthma                  have attended college report significant improve-
symptoms (Goering, Feins, & Richardson, 2003).                  ments in self-esteem and agency (Rice, 2001;
    Another recent study monitored the impact on                Scarbrough, 2001). Ironically, welfare “reform”
Native American children of royalties their fami-               has foreclosed this opportunity for many women,
lies received from a new casino on the Indian                   who have been forced to leave colleges and seri-
reservation (Costello, Compton, Keeler, & Angold,               ous vocational training programs to take dead-
2003). Before the opening of the casino, poor chil-             end jobs that will never enable them to support
                                                                       Chapter 13 Poor Women and Girls        127


their families at a decent level (Scarbrough, 2001).   Yet individual efforts will often be swamped by
Some states redefine work requirements to in-           the immensity of the problem.
clude higher education, and other states should            Political organizing is needed to fight for af-
follow these examples. Clinicians can help women       fordable housing and health care, living wages,
to think seriously about education and career and      and a just tax system. Revived union strength is
can work with women who are struggling to suc-         crucial if workers are to reclaim power in their
ceed in these endeavors despite the difficulties.       negotiations with powerful employers. Con-
    When a woman attempts to change her life it        temporary U.S. society provides a unique labo-
sometimes seems as if there is a conspiracy to         ratory in which to examine the psychological
hold her back, particularly at first. Friends and       consequences of poverty and economic inequal-
family members may reinforce a woman’s fears           ity. Only economic justice will dismantle that
that going to class and leaving children is self-      laboratory.
ish. “My mother told me it was and so did their
father. I kept trying to do everything at home,
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    What have we learned about housing mobility and                 predicting depressive symptoms and parenting
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    Freedom, CA: Crossing Press.                                    Epidemiology, 33, 1–9.
                    Sex differences in suicide rates indicate that girls
                    and women have strengths, and some risks, in
                    this area. The present chapter examines these
                    rates, and treatment, highlighting the issues spe-
                    cific to girls and women.
                        Suicide is a problem for both women and
                    men. In 2001, a total of 30,622 people in the
                    United States (24,672 men, 5,950 women) died by
                    suicide (Centers for Disease Control and Preven-
                    tion [CDC], 2001). Given that the population was
                    285 million, that number of deaths gives a death
                    rate by suicide of 10.73 per 100,000. Practically
                    speaking, this number means that 1 or 2 of every
                    100,000 people alive in 2001 died by suicide, and
                    these deaths were more likely to be men than
                    women, although misclassification may mean
                    that women are not as protected from suicide as
                    these numbers imply (Phillips & Ruth, 1993).
                    About .01% of the population of the United States
                    will die by suicide.
                        The percentages are higher on suicide thoughts
                    and attempts. In a random-digit telephone survey
                    of over 5,000 citizens in the United States, 5.6% re-
                    ported thinking of suicide in the previous year,
                    2.7% reported planning their own suicide in the
                    previous year, and .7% had attempted suicide in
                    the previous year (Crosby, Cheltenham, & Sacks,
                    1999). Although only 1 person in 100,000 actually
                    dies by suicide, about 1 person in 20 has thought
                    about suicide in the past year.
                        Women and men are not at equal risk of dying
                    by suicide. In the United States in 2001, across
                    different cultural groups, the rate for women was
                    only 4.10, whereas for men the rate was 18.10
LILLIAN M. RANGE    (CDC, 2001). The same kind of gender gap in sui-
                    cide death rate between women and men is true
                    in most developed countries (Cutright & Fern-
Women and Suicide   quist, 2003), with the major exceptions of India
                    and China, where the suicide rate is highest for
                    young married women (Brockington, 2001). The
                    difference in suicide death rates between women
                    and men is striking.
                        Women and men are also not at equal risk for




14
                    attempts. Women attempt suicide more than
                    men (CDC, 1996). By mid adolescence, girls out-
                    number boys as attempters by a ratio of roughly
                    4:1 (Maris, Berman, & Silverman, 2000). One likely
                    explanation is that cultural forces acting on the
                    individual influence suicide rates.
                        Different cultural groups have different sui-
                    cide rates. In the United States, Hispanic/Latino


                                                                      129
130      Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


Americans have a very low suicide rate, and Na-                          & Lewis, 1998). Among urban, public hospital
tive Americans have about 50% higher suicide                             African American adults, high religiosity/
rate than the population as a whole. Among U.S.                          spirituality was associated with low suicide
women, African American women have a very                                risk (Kaslow et al., 2004). Among a national
low suicide rate, and East Asian American women                          sample of adolescents, frequency of prayer
have the highest suicide rates of all women over                         and importance of religion were associated
the age of 65 (McKenzie, Serfaty, & Crawford,                            with low probability of suicide thoughts or
2003). Internationally, some South and Central                           attempts (Nonnemaker, McNeely, & Blum,
American and Eastern European countries report                           2003). However, in one American and Ghana-
annual rates as lower than 3 per 100,000, whereas                        ian sample religion did not correlate with sui-
the former Soviet Union and eastern bloc coun-                           cide (Eshun, 2003). The benefits of religion as
tries have rates as high as over 60 per 100,000                          a protection against suicide are not universal.
(World Health Organization, 2004). In most coun-                         Women’s greater religious beliefs and prac-
tries, suicide rates are highest in men, those who                       tices than men’s can convey some protection
are divorced or separated, unemployed, poor, and                         against suicide. Best practices for suicide pre-
socially isolated (McKenzie et al., 2003). In terms                      vention involve exploring a suicidal individ-
of suicide, women in some cultural groups are at                         ual’s religious beliefs and personal meanings.
more risk than women in other cultural groups,                       •   Coping strategies among women are often bet-
and men generally are at more risk than women.
                                                                         ter than among men, particularly in late life.
    Paradoxically, then, women are more likely to
                                                                         Older women may have more flexible and di-
attempt suicide, but men are much more likely
                                                                         verse ways of coping than older men, greater
to die by suicide. What is it about the impact of
                                                                         capacity and/or willingness to accommodate
women’s lives, options, and roles that has such a
                                                                         and adapt to situations, and greater flexibility
beneficial impact on their health—at least in re-
                                                                         in the capacity and/or willingness to be active,
gard to preventing them from committing sui-
                                                                         resourceful, and independent (Canetto, 1992).
cide? Knowing their strengths and risks could
                                                                         However, differences among women and men
help in making appropriate interventions.
                                                                         are greater than differences between them, so
                                                                         best practices would involve exploring per-
STRENGTHS                                                                sonal coping strategies with suicidal women
                                                                         and men.
Focusing on strengths is a core tenet of modern                      •   Feminine gender socialization entails women
practice, so it is appropriate to focus first on                          being more willing than men to admit to hav-
the strengths of girls and women with regard to                          ing fears and anxieties (Feingold, 1994), which
suicide.                                                                 allows expression of emotion and help seek-
                                                                         ing. Feminine sex roles are associated with
 •    Children, in terms of probability, protect                         several reasons for living: survival and coping
      against suicide (Brockington, 2001). The pro-                      beliefs, responsibility to family, child concerns,
      tective effect appears to operate so long as an                    and moral objections (Ellis & Range, 1988).
      offspring lives at home, irrespective of the off-                  These cognitive beliefs serve as some protec-
      spring’s age (Driver & Abed, 2004). The fact                       tion against suicide. Children, religion, and
      that women are more likely than men to have                        coping strategies convey some protection
      children at home is a reflection of cultural                        against suicide, and may all be related to fem-
      practices in society.                                              inine gender socialization.
 •    Religion provides some protection against sui-
      cide (McKenzie et al., 2003). In a large sample
      of African Americans and European Ameri-                     RISKS
      cans, orthodox religious beliefs and personal
      devotion were associated with beliefs that sui-              These strengths of girls and women that result
      cide is never acceptable (Neeleman, Wessely,                 in lower suicide rates compared to boys and
                                                                          Chapter 14   Women and Suicide   131


men are (not entirely) counterbalanced by some              portant to keep in mind that every individual is
risks.                                                      unique.

 •   Depression affects 1 out of every 5 women,
     twice the rate found in men (Kessler,               INTERVENTION
     McGonagle, Swartz, Blazer, & Nelson, 1993).
     The gender disparity in rates of first onset of      Intervention for suicidal thoughts and behaviors
     major depressive episodes begins around age         can focus globally, at the community or societal
     13 to 15 and lasts until approximately age 50       level, or locally, at the individual or family level.
     (Kessler et al., 1993). This depression may be      Interventions at both levels can have an impact
     women’s response to a discriminatory soci-          on suicide deaths.
     ety. In that women are less likely to die by sui-
     cide than men, their higher depression, at
     least in some cases, may be protective against      Restricted Access to Guns
     suicide.
 •   Blocked or distorted relationships, in one view,    Restricted access to guns is vital in preventing sui-
     induce suicide thoughts more often in women         cide. Evidence from epidemiological, case con-
     than in men. This view recognizes that U.S. so-     trol, quasi-experimental, and prospective stud-
     ciety teaches women that their sense of mean-       ies is that there is a relationship between gun
     ing and value derive from mutuality of care         availability in the home and completed suicide
     and responsibility in relationships. Women’s        by firearms. The risk conveyed by availability of
     vulnerability to suicide, therefore, increases      guns may be particularly high among adoles-
     when they perceive their opportunity for            cents and young adults. Laws restricting gun
     growth within relationships to be blocked or        possession may substantially reduce the rate of
     distorted (Maris et al., 2000). This view posits    suicide in the United States. Further, because the
     that women’s suicidal behavior represents a         risk is greater in the first year of gun ownership
     desperate plea for engagement under condi-          than in other years, a “cooling off” period may
     tions of threat. Further, relatedness to others     reduce some suicidal deaths (Brent & Bridge,
     and social supports serve women most pro-           2003). Gun control laws prevent suicide among
     foundly both as a protection against suicidal       women and men.
     urges and as a precipitant for nonfatal suicidal       However, from a practical point of view, it is
     behavior (Maris et al., 2000).                      unwise to assume that telling parents to remove
 •   Gender role socialization, particularly very thin   of guns will work because the non-gun-owning
     body image ideals, have a toxic impact on body      parent typically brings the youth to treatment
     satisfaction and eating patterns (Thompson &        (Brent & Bridge, 2003). Best practice with a suici-
     Heinberg, 1999). Bulimia and anorexia are as-       dal individual would include discussing gun
     sociated with suicide. In one study, about 25%      ownership, conveying risks to parents, learning
     of eating disordered women reported a history       about the suicidal person’s history of owning
     of suicide attempts (Corcos et al., 2002). When     and using guns, and exploring the meaning of
     treating a suicidal adolescent girl, a knowl-       guns to all family members.
     edgeable therapist would examine her under-
     standing and acceptance of society’s mes-
     sages, such as the pressure to be thin. When        Restricted Access to Alcohol
     examining a suicidal individual, it is helpful to
     understand that men are at more risk than           Restricted access to alcohol may prevent suicide
     women, that some age and cultural groups are        as well. In the United States in 1976–1999, in-
     at more risk than others, and that some aspects     creases in the excise tax on beer were associated
     of socialization can be both strengths and risk     with a reduced number of suicides by boys and
     factors for women and men. However, it is im-       men (but not girls and women). Suicides by men
132   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


aged 20–24 related positively to the availability of             Education
alcohol and negatively to the presence of drunk
driving laws. Suicides by women were unrelated                   Education, particularly for youth, might reduce
to availability of alcohol, but presence of drunk                suicide. It is important to teach youth to be dis-
driving laws reduced suicides by teenage girls                   criminating in their acceptance of mass media
(Markowitz, Chatterji, & Kaestner, 2003). Strict                 ideals and to develop strategies to reduce social
drunk driving laws, high excise taxes on alcohol,                comparisons (Shaw & Waller, 1995). In one study,
severe gun restrictions, and total bans on hand-                 psycho-educational interventions challenging ac-
guns are political steps that would reduce suicide               ceptance of media pressures and explaining air-
among women and men.                                             brushing, computer generated images, and other
                                                                 technology reduced appearance and weight anx-
                                                                 iety more than standard health classes (Thompson
Intervention in the Lives                                        & Heinberg, 1999). Suicide attempts among ado-
of Both Women and Men                                            lescent girls might decrease with interventions
                                                                 that promote positive redefinitions of femininity
Intervention, both at the political and commu-                   as multifaceted, help them resist pressure for
nity level, could reduce suicide. A healthy envi-                thinness and attractiveness, and contrast the
ronment would encourage both women and men                       artificial, carefully manipulated media images
to pursue a variety of interests and talents, within             with the diversity of women’s sizes and shapes
and across gender roles (Canetto, 1992). Interven-               (Thompson & Heinberg, 1999). It can be very em-
tions that might reduce suicide rates for both                   powering for an adolescent girl to recognize in-
women and men, but particularly older men,                       creasingly that her despair has arisen in a context
would keep them busy, give them relational ex-                   beyond her own intrapsychic difficulties, and
periences and responsibilities, and encourage                    that she can reclaim her own voice and validate
them to ask for help (Canetto, 1992). Societal in-               her feelings and needs (Manley & Leichner, 2003).
terventions to reduce suicide would authorize                    Both women and men would benefit from a
voices of the oppressed, and help women and                      healthy skepticism toward the media.
men develop better coping strategies, actively                       For women and men of all ages, but especially
seek social connections, and refute societal mes-                youth, suicide prevention education interven-
sages that guns are prestigious or masculine.                    tions challenge the notion that nonfatal suicidal
   Interventions for suicide should focus on at-                 behavior is a feminine way to cope with problems
risk groups, particularly early adolescents and                  (Canetto, 1997). Suicide interventions evaluate
elderly individuals. Mid to late adolescence is a                the meaning of girls’ accepting attitudes toward
high-risk period for suicide, with suicide being                 suicidal persons, and explore with boys and men
the third leading cause of death in adolescence                  the meanings of their focus on the right to kill
(Goldman & Beardslee, 1999). Early adolescence                   oneself, while reducing the stigma of surviving a
may be a particularly powerful time to intervene                 suicidal act (Canetto, 1997). For elderly individu-
for depression because during this time the sex                  als, suicide educational interventions convey the
difference in depression emerges and depres-                     message that having any kind of weapon in the
sion rates rise dramatically (Gillham, 2003). Uni-               home is risky for suicide, and handguns are par-
versal interventions for depression might teach                  ticularly dangerous (Conwell et al., 2002). Best
strategies for coping with difficult interpersonal                practices for women and men who are suicidal
events. Late life is the highest risk period for sui-            would reinforce rules for safe gun storage.
cide (McIntosh, 1992), and is another time to in-                    For physicians, education about interventions
tervene for depression and suicide. Organized                    should stress active listening, and should encour-
telephone checks can decrease suicide rates                      age all physicians, but particularly primary prac-
among elderly individuals (De Leo, Carollo, &                    tice physicians, to be alert for suicide signs (see
Buono, 1995). For both women and men, adoles-                    table 14.1), and for indirect clues of suicidal intent,
cents and the elderly are at higher risk than                    such as vague physical complaints. In several ret-
other age groups.                                                rospective studies, most (70%) elderly individuals
                                                                        Chapter 14 Women and Suicide    133


table 14.1 Suicide Warning Signs                        Media Activism
Category     Signs
                                                        The media can protest unhealthy messages with
Global       Specific plan                               regard to suicide and reward healthy messages.
             History of suicide attempts                For example, after rock musician Kurt Cobain
             History of drug or alcohol abuse           committed suicide, psychologists and other
             Talk of suicide                            health professionals worked with the media to
Mood         Feeling powerless                          inform the public of resources for suicidal indi-
                                                        viduals, warn people to be sensitive to suicidal
             Depression
                                                        messages from friends and family, describe the
             Anxiety/panic attacks
                                                        painful consequences of suicide for bereaved
             Unexplained mood change
                                                        loved ones, and overall diminish the possibility
Behavior     Withdrawal/isolation
                                                        of suicidal contagion (Jobes, Berman, O’Carroll,
             Final arrangements                         Eastgard, & Knickmeyer, 1996). In addition, for
             Unexplained behavior change                women and men of all ages, it is important to pay
             Recent loss                                attention to the power of language, including
             Drop in grades                             avoiding terms such as “suicide gesture” to de-
             Drop in activities                         scribe suicide attempts (Miller & Paulsen, 1999).
             Change in eating or sleeping habits or     Boycotting, writing letters of complaint, writing
             eating disorder                            letters to editors, and other forms of activism
             Outbursts of unusual or reckless           about the dangers (and health benefits) of the
             behavior                                   media with regard to suicide is part of a suicide
Cognitions   Rigid thinking                             prevention mandate.
             Preoccupation with death                       Suicide prevention interventions can take a po-
             Feeling hopeless about future              litical, public health, or educational focus. These
                                                        global interventions can change society and
                                                        thereby reduce suicide deaths. On an individual
who committed suicide visited their primary care        level, some approaches such as crisis intervention
physician in the previous month, many (>33%)            and dialectic behavior therapy are established
within the past week (Brown, Bruce, & Pearson,          treatments for suicidal individuals. Other rele-
2001). In terms of suicide reduction, physicians        vant approaches and combinations of approaches
should also be alert for depression, inasmuch as        include family systems, humanistic, dynamic,
there is some epidemiological evidence that             and cognitive behavioral therapy. Feminist ther-
antidepressant availability reduces suicide rate        apy is more of an approach, a framework, or a
(Olfson, Shaffer, & Marcus, 2003). Physicians           way of analyzing therapy than an actual system
should screen for psychiatric correlates of sui-        (Fodor, 1993). Feminist therapists are highly sen-
cide including depression, anxiety, psychosis,          sitive to issues of advocacy, power, and inherent
and substance abuse; ask directly about suicidal        power imbalances in therapy; they strive for an
thoughts, plans, behaviors, or history; investigate     egalitarian relationship with clients and maintain
medical conditions associated with suicide; and         a heightened awareness of power relationships
search for physical or cognitive changes that may       so as not to abuse or restrict unduly a client’s
increase suicide risk (Miller & Paulsen, 1999). Fur-    choices (Wyche & Rice, 1997). In the case of a sui-
ther, antidepressants can relieve depression, but       cidal client, the feminist therapist focuses on
because of the possibility of overdose it is safer at   strengths, not deficits. Variables that may cause
the beginning of treatment to dispense only a           oppression include gender, ethnic minority status,
week’s supply (Miller & Paulsen, 1999). Physi-          class, age, sexual identity, and able-bodiedness
cians, as well as others with prescription author-      (Wyche & Rice, 1997). So the feminist therapist ex-
ity such as psychologists and nurse practitioners,      amines how the suicidal individual’s culture, his-
may have unique opportunities to intervene with         tory, and traditions intersect with the person’s
suicidal individuals.                                   suicidal thoughts/plans/actions, in the process
134   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Problems and Risks


demystifying therapy and language. Despite the                   and often reinforce inappropriate and suicidal
fact that the client is suicidal, the feminist thera-            behaviors (Linehan, 2001). DBT presumes that
pist negotiates the pace of therapy with the client              psychotherapy must pay attention to both skill
(Wyche & Rice, 1997), integrating feminist tenets                acquisition and behavioral motivation, but it
into a crisis intervention, dialectic, family, or other          also recognizes that patients are likely to experi-
orientation.                                                     ence the therapist’s focusing on change as inval-
                                                                 idating. Therefore, DBT balances acceptance and
                                                                 change within the treatment as a whole and within
Crisis Intervention                                              each interaction. The therapist structures therapy
                                                                 targets in the following order: life-threatening be-
Crisis intervention involves engaging the suici-                 haviors, therapy-interfering behaviors, quality-
dal individual in a working alliance, providing                  of-life-interfering behaviors, and increasing
structure for managing emotional turmoil, and                    behavioral skills. DBT includes four modes: struc-
involving family and friends (Kleespies, Deleppo,                tured individual or group therapy (for skills train-
Mori, & Niles, 1998). The focus is on decreasing                 ing), individual psychotherapy (for motivation
acute psychological disturbances rather than                     and skills training), telephone coaching (for gen-
curing long-term personality or mental disorders                 eralization), and peer consultation or supervision
(Brown, Shiang, & Bongar, 2003). The psycholo-                   (for the therapist) (Linehan, 2001).
gist or other mental health practitioner may con-                    A core strategy for those who offer DBT is to
duct a mental status exam (see Kleespies et al.,                 search for, recognize, and reflect the current va-
1998, p. 59), negotiate a no-suicide contract, and               lidity or sensibility of the patient. Regarding sui-
determine whether medicine and/or hospital-                      cidal behavior, the therapist must recognize how
ization are necessary. In negotiating contracts,                 life may not be worth living for the patient unless
rather than assuming that therapist and client                   she makes substantial changes. Pointing out how
are of equal status, which is an illusion, best prac-            a response was functional in the past but is not
tices would involve awareness of power differ-                   functional in the present is invalidating, not val-
ences inherent in the relationship (Brabeck &                    idating. The therapist presumes that the patient
Brown, 1997), recognizing that the relationship is               can make these changes (Linehan, 2001). DBT
more important than the contract. Power imbal-                   balances the immediate concerns characteristic
ances might be especially relevant to hospital-                  of crisis intervention with the clinical under-
ization decisions. For example, a youth’s reluc-                 standings that context is critical, that the client’s
tance to voice an opinion about hospitalization                  voice is as important as the therapist’s voice, and
could be due to power imbalance in the relation-                 that society often labels women as unhealthy.
ship with the parent. For a suicidal individual,
immediate safety is the primary concern.
                                                                 Multisystemic Therapy

Dialectic Behavior Therapy                                       Multisystemic therapy (MST; Huey et al., 2003) is
                                                                 a family-centered, home-based intervention.
Dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT; Linehan,                    MST therapists intervene primarily at the family
2001) is an outpatient psychotherapy approach                    level, empowering caregivers with the skills and
for chronically suicidal adults with borderline                  resources they need to communicate with, mon-
personality disorder. Many suicidal individuals                  itor, and discipline children effectively. They
have borderline personalities, but others have                   assist caregivers to engage their children in pro-
depression, bipolar disorder, posttraumatic stress               social activities and disengage them from deviant
disorder, or other disorders. DBT is based on the                peers. MST therapists address individual and
premise that suicidal individuals lack important                 systemic barriers to effective parenting. To min-
interpersonal, self-regulation, and distress toler-              imize self-harm, MST therapists develop a safety
ance skills, and that personal and environmental                 plan with the family that includes securing or
factors inhibit the use of the skills they do have,              eliminating potentially lethal methods (i.e., guns,
                                                                           Chapter 14 Women and Suicide        135


knives, etc.), particularly those used in past at-       REFERENCES
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standing and treatment of suicidal girls and
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women individuals can also focus on the person              perspectives on assessment. In J. Worell & N. G.
or family. In this case, what makes the most sense          Johnson (Eds.), Shaping the future of feminist psy-
is not one specific therapeutic orientation, but             chology (pp. 37–57). Washington, DC: American
rather multifaceted, knowledgeable, sensitive ap-           Psychological Association.
                                                         De Leo, D., Carollo, G., & Buono, M. (1995). Lower sui-
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Strengths and Resources
                                    To my daughter Rebecca
                                    Who saw in me
                                    what I considered
                                    a scar
                                    And redefined it
                                    as
                                    a world.
                                    —Alice Walker,
                                    In Search of Our Mothers’ Gardens
                                    (1983, p. ix)




                                    There’s no question that ample opportunities for
                                    coping exist in the 21st century. Stress and anxiety
                                    are the norm, with terrorism and economic un-
                                    certainty at the social level, as well as develop-
                                    mental, personal, and interpersonal challenges at
                                    the individual level. For girls and women who are
                                    socialized today to care for others and to achieve,
                                    coping can have particular challenges. Being fe-
                                    male brings with it special privileges and burdens
                                    related to social role conflicts, sexist behavior,
                                    and gendered belief systems. In this chapter, we
                                    explore the many ways girls and women cope, the
                                    common challenges they face, and the need to
                                    balance what Bakan (1969) called agency (self-
                                    efficacy) and communion (connection) in order
                                    to promote optimal growth. We review the devel-
                                    opmental stages of women’s lives, beginning in
PATRICIA A. BENNETT                 adolescence, and underline the need to enhance
                                    both agency and communion for healthy coping
and S U S A N H . M C D A N I E L
                                    at each stage. We illustrate with case examples
                                    that have been altered to protect confidentiality.

Coping in Adolescent
                                    DEFINING COPING
Girls and Women
                                    Stress and coping are two of the most ubiquitous
                                    words in the literature of psychology. Perhaps this
                                    is why attempts to define them tend to fall at
                                    either end of the continuum: broad and vague




15
                                    or narrow and restricted. Richard Lazarus and
                                    Susan Folkman (1984) define coping as “con-
                                    stantly changing cognitive and behavioral efforts
                                    to manage specific external and/or internal de-
                                    mands that are appraised as taxing or exceeding
                                    the resources of the person” (p. 141). A more recent
                                    definition from the APA Dictionary of Psychology
                                    (VandenBos, in press) includes the importance of


138
                                                       Chapter 15   Coping in Adolescent Girls and Women   139


context and development: “Adaptation to stress.        including depression and rumination (Fritz &
This involves the use of social and psychological      Helgeson, 1998).
resources to reduce the negative emotions and
conflict caused by stress associated with changes
in life.” We elaborate on this definition by consid-    GENDER DIFFERENCES IN COPING:
ering coping from a biopsychosocial perspective.       TAYLOR’S TEND AND BEFRIEND MODEL
This perspective recognizes that biological, psy-
chological, and social factors are all-important       The importance of communion to women may
components for understanding stress and coping,        have a neurophysiological basis. Taylor et al.
although the weight of each will vary according to     (2000) suggest that women may be primed to-
the particular stressor.                               ward relational coping for survival. The tradi-
    Women are socialized to value and to care for      tional model of stress and coping is the fight-or-
relationships (Gilligan, 1993). Balancing agency       flight response, which Taylor asserts may be more
and communion throughout the life span re-             applicable to men. Instead, women may tend to
flects the importance for women of all ages to         their offspring and befriend others in their com-
cope by attending to care of the self as well as       munity to cope during stressful times. Tending
care of others. This approach highlights the im-       and befriending have psychological and physi-
portance of maintaining one’s unique identity          ological bases, and both increase a woman’s
and strengthening rather than losing it through        chance for not just survival but also growth. Tend-
relationships. Balancing agency and commu-             ing to offspring promotes a secure mother-child
nion refers to the ability to be separate yet          attachment, which is associated with healthy
connected.                                             child development (Carlson & Sroufe, 1995). Tay-
    We propose that healthy coping is reflected by      lor suggests that attachment is beneficial for the
the woman who prioritizes her dreams and rec-          mother as well. Likewise, befriending other
ognizes her limits in creating a balanced lifestyle.   women affords a woman the greater safety of
This approach to coping depends on where one is        numbers as well as access to more resources.
within life-span development, within one’s cul-            Taylor’s model proposes that women’s ten-
ture, and within a given time and space. At the ex-    dencies to use coping strategies that are focused
tremes, either unmitigated agency or unmitigated       on relational needs may be beneficial. This con-
communion, there are risks to the self such that       trasts with other research literature, which sug-
the cost of the behavior outweighs its benefits.        gests not only that problem-focused coping is
The autonomy of unmitigated agency guards the          better but also that men are more likely to use
self against hurt by considering the needs of the      problem-focused coping (Tamres, Janicki, &
self as paramount. Unmitigated agency often pre-       Helgeson, 2002). The model may explain the ten-
sents as a negative worldview and hostile attitude.    dency of women to use emotion-focused strate-
It is associated with negative social interactions,    gies, which generally involve a relational compo-
psychological distress, lower self-esteem, and         nent. For example, discussing problems with and
decreased engagement in good health behavior           venting to a friend are two of the more frequently
(Helgeson & Fritz, 1999). Clearly, the cost of un-     employed emotion-focused strategies. The model
mitigated agency includes losing the contribution      suggests that these coping strategies may be ben-
to coping provided by support systems, the con-        eficial as they may increase the attachment re-
nection and validation of close friendships, and       sponse and engage social support networks.
the meaning that relationships can generate.
    In contrast, unmitigated communion overfo-
cuses on relationships. A woman’s positive self-       COPING: IT’S ALL IN THE FAMILY
image is contingent upon the well-being of the
relationship, and she may feel ineffective and dis-    While the details of the relationship between
connected from her self. Not surprisingly, unmit-      gender and coping remain tentative, it is clear
igated communion has been linked to low self-          that coping starts within the family. Families
esteem, dependency, and psychological distress,        teach the children what is stressful, how to cope
140   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


with stressors, and expectations about the effi-                 Falicov (2001) notes that this custom is common
cacy of coping. Parents model for their children                in Latino cultures, where extended family mem-
how to manage distress and what distress is                     bers and members of the support network are
manageable. Children learn how to demonstrate                   expected to assist with the financial and emo-
their emotions and what level of emotionality is                tional needs of other family members. This con-
acceptable. Families develop support networks                   trasts with a typical middle-class White Ameri-
of extended family members and friends. They                    can, who might try to cope on her own with
determine when, from whom (doctors, spiritual                   loans, rather rely on a godparent who is not re-
leaders, or friends), and for what reasons one                  lated by blood.
seeks help.                                                         Jones (2003) discusses how African American
    Parents and family members shape coping                     values translate into coping in his TRIOS theory.
skills by reinforcing and rewarding as well as ig-              He proposes that the values of time, rhythm, im-
noring and punishing. Children may learn that it                provisation, orality, and spirituality have been
is more effective to cope by venting, somatizing,               incorporated into a way of being in the world
or denying because that particular style is un-                 that enables African Americans to cope with daily
derstood within the family. A mismatch in tem-                  hassles, and the ongoing and inherent stress of
perament between parent and child can impede                    racism. The findings of Chapman and Mullis’s
the acquisition of coping skills. Linehan (1996)                (2000) comparison of coping preferences of
proposed that exposure to an invalidating envi-                 African American and White adolescents support
ronment can result in deficits in major areas of                 Jones’s theory. The authors reported that African
coping skills and in a diagnosis of borderline per-             American adolescents employed close friend-
sonality disorder.                                              ships, seeking spiritual support, solving family
    The family’s ability to teach offspring coping              problems, developing self-reliance, and relaxing
skills is tempered by the availability of resources.            more than White adolescents, whereas White
Impoverished families are not only likely to have               adolescents used venting and avoidance more.
less access to resources but also the available re-             Of note, the authors did not find a significant
sources are likely to be overtaxed and of lower                 relationship between coping preference and
quality. Families dealing with multiple stressors               self-esteem.
will require greater supports but are often less                    Many cultures incorporate rituals as a form of
able to obtain those supports. Parents who are                  communion, even while honoring an individual’s
depressed and impoverished illustrate this                      agency. Imber-Black (1988) has identified five
point. These parents often experience difficulty                 purposes of rituals: relating, identity, healing,
in spending the time and energy needed to wade                  affirming/celebrating, and expressing beliefs—
through the paperwork and the systems to se-                    all of which encourage communion. The rituals
cure assistance.                                                that accompany celebrations such as quinceañera
                                                                in the Latino culture, bat mitzvahs among Jews,
                                                                and Juneteenth in the African American culture
COPING IN CONTEXT: THE IMPORTANCE                               reinforce the connection between individuals and
OF CULTURE                                                      their culture. These rituals symbolize the cultural
                                                                values and beliefs, strengthen the network of sup-
Coping is acquired within the context of culture.               port and belonging on multiple levels, and remind
Cultural beliefs, roles, and rituals help to shape              members of inherent resources and coping skills.
which coping skills are considered to be useful,                    Racism and prejudice are sources of stress
appropriate, and effective. Cultural values trans-              that women of color face daily. Coping with such
late into different preferences for coping skills.              ubiquitous stressors creates a need for addi-
For example, Maria, who is Costa Rican, chose                   tional coping resources and skills.
her daughter’s godparents carefully because
godparents are important members of the sup-
port network. They are helping Maria to plan and                   ■ Suzanne, an African American graduate
to finance her daughter’s quinceañera (the cele-                 student, grew up in a predominantly White
bration of a girl’s coming of age at 15 years old).             well-to-do suburb. Her parents chose to
                                                      Chapter 15 Coping in Adolescent Girls and Women   141


increase her skills in coping with racism by
enhancing her sense of communion with                     ■ Jill, a 30-year-old lesbian White woman
her own culture. They had her join the local          with cerebral palsy, used crutches longer than
branch of Jack and Jill, spend vacations with her     her doctor recommended during adolescence to
extended family in the South, and encouraged          please her parents who thought the crutches
her to attend a historically Black college. Now,      made her look more “normal.” She recalls it took
as one of the few women of color in her pro-          time to figure out that she was more than her
gram, she is coping successfully with racism by       disability. During college, she created a support-
employing similar strategies. She created an          ive network of friends, and with their encourage-
informal support network locally, maintains           ment she began using a motorized wheelchair.
regular contact with family and friends, and          That change enabled her to expand her focus
participates in the national organization for         from walking to living. As an adult, she works as
African Americans in her field.                ■       an advocate and has recently moved in with her
                                                      partner of many years. Jill is now dealing with
                                                      the effects on her intimacy and sexual relation-
                                                      ship with her partner because of the early morn-
COPING THROUGH THE LIFE SPAN:                         ing arrival of the aide who assists with her daily
MANAGING TIMES OF TENSION BY                          living skills. This dilemma, related to the stress
BALANCING AGENCY AND COMMUNION                        of a chronic illness, is forcing Jill to find a way
                                                      to care for herself and her relationship.        ■
To consider development in isolation is to lose
valuable information and understanding. Rather,
development and, more specifically, the develop-
ment of coping skills are best understood as pro-     ADOLESCENT GIRLS: SEPARATING
ceeding within the overlapping spheres of family,     WHILE REMAINING CONNECTED
community, society, and culture (Bronfenbren-
ner, 1979).                                           The task in adolescence is to develop one’s own
    As girls develop into adolescents and then        identity, that unique sense of self that results from
women, they face challenges that exceed, pro-         teens’ synthesizing their thoughts, feelings, and
mote, and enhance their coping skills. Each stage     behaviors into a coherent whole and balancing
of development brings its unique pathway for          the need for independence with the need for con-
growth modified by the resources and opportuni-        nection. Some adolescents will value their indi-
ties available. Girls, adolescents, and women ne-     vidual identity and independence above fitting in,
gotiate these choice points in order to grow. Each    while others will choose social support and vali-
negotiation reflects the balance between the self      dation at the expense of more openly acknowl-
and the other, and sets the stage for the decisions   edging the self.
to follow. Communion driven by agency rather              Communion and connection play critical
than anxiety enhances the development of a            roles in teaching adolescents how to cope. Im-
healthy self for girls and women.                     portant relationships communicate the family’s
    While development proceeds along a chrono-        values; a secure attachment increases the likeli-
logical path, there are also unpredictable stres-     hood that the adolescent will listen. As the ado-
sors that occur throughout the life span. These       lescent’s needs to belong and be safe are met,
stressors include, for example, racism, chronic       she internalizes a positive view of her self and the
illness, and disability (McDaniel & Cole-Kelly,       world, which enhances her sense of self-efficacy.
2003; McDaniel, Hepworth, & Doherty, 1992),           Her relationships become a mirror for her self
trauma (Johnson, 2002), and terrorism and war.        and her strengths. The adolescent then under-
The features of these unanticipated stressors in-     stands relationships as supports and as scaffold-
teract with developmental challenges, adding an-      ing that facilitate her ability to define her self
other layer of complexity. A history of childhood     (Vtogtsky, as cited in Sigelman, 1999).
sexual abuse both affects and is affected by how an       The danger lies in unmitigated communion
individual negotiates a new developmental stage.      if the adolescent learns it is acceptable to lose
142   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


one’s self to connect with others. A daughter may
watch her mother sacrifice her own wants and                          ■ Nikkia’s family attended church several
needs for the family and then do the same. The                   times a week for extended periods. Nikkia knew
family may divide roles along gender lines, with                 that faith and the church community helped her
females expected to do the caregiving and males,                 mother to become and remain sober. At the
the “real work.” The family may consider women                   same time, she longed to go out with all of her
to be emotional and dependent, in contrast to                    friends. She began seeing the church as the
men being unemotional, independent, and pow-                     source of her unhappiness and started to skip
erful. Gendered messages are reinforced by teen                  choir practice. This led to a confrontation with
magazines that suggest that girls should alter                   her mother and the minister, and Nikkia stopped
their appearances and their selves to secure a                   attending church. Over time, she missed the
boy’s attention.                                                 comfort of the community but was too proud to
    Adolescent girls learn to disconnect from their              return. Now, a young mother herself, she is con-
selves and to wear masks that fit the occasion                    sidering rejoining the church.                ■
and the need. When the mask is reinforced, it is
brought out more often and a girl’s true self be-
comes submerged. Gilligan (1993, p. xxii) describes
this developmental process as “the dissociation                  YOUNG WOMEN: CHOOSING
of girls’ voices from girls’ experiences” and notes              A PATH AND A PARTNER
that this division results in the silencing of voice
both to avoid hurting others and to avoid not                    Young adult women must find a way to express
being heard. This process may explain research                   and reinforce a budding self-identity, whether
findings that indicate that adolescent girls more                 through a career, a relationship, or both. Rules,
than boys tend to employ rumination as a coping                  roles, and expectations from the family-of-origin
strategy (Broderick, 1998). Broderick found that                 help to determine the relative importance of inti-
boys were more likely to use distraction strate-                 macy for a woman, as well as where she should
gies to decrease distress, while girls’ responses                look for it. Families influence who is an accept-
were more self-focused and seemed to increase                    able partner and what is a valid career. Some fam-
the level of distress.                                           ilies teach that finding a partner is the only mean-
    Agency is also required for effective adoles-                ingful activity for a young woman to engage in,
cent development and coping. Families teach                      while other families teach that a fulfilling career
agency by promoting independence and auton-                      is more stable and satisfying than a partner.
omy. They encourage the adolescent to follow                         Intimacy has the power to strengthen and
her dreams without dictating the content of those                consolidate an identity as well as to submerge
dreams. They let her take risks and step in to brace             and hide it. A balance between communion and
her if she falls. When a family values agency, the               agency in this stage might mean dating while in
adolescent gains a greater variety of coping skills.             graduate school, or marrying and starting a fam-
The risk of unmitigated agency is a family that is               ily, or coming out with one’s sexual identity. A
so distant and disengaged that the adolescent                    successful balance is determined by increased
must prematurely take full care of herself. She is               self-knowledge, a growing ability to be intimate
not afforded the benefits of her parents’ learning                while remaining oneself, and a greater ability to
to shape her attempts and assist her in evaluating               act independently while maintaining connec-
her coping strategies. She succeeds and fails on                 tions to others.
her own, which in turn, may lead to the use of                       Unmitigated communion is a particular dan-
strategies that further isolate her.                             ger at this life stage. A woman might give up her
    One challenge that faces young women of                      life dream to find or please her partner. She might
color is managing the conflict between the val-                   silence herself in order to be who she believes he
ues of the majority and minority cultures as they                wants her to be, hiding her desires and wants
create an individual identity yet remain con-                    even from her own awareness to fulfill her fam-
nected to their community.                                       ily’s wishes. For example, Katy, who struggled
                                                        Chapter 15 Coping in Adolescent Girls and Women   143


with substance abuse as a teenager, describes           becomes an opportunity to increase intimacy
herself as a chameleon that shifted to meet her         with their partners, their children, and their
parents’ expectations. This is her way of making        selves. However, the mother who struggles with
amends and assuaging her guilt about the pain           unmitigated communion may find herself rating
that she caused her parents during her addiction.       herself by her baby’s moods. She may have diffi-
                                                        culty sorting through others’ advice and try pleas-
                                                        ing others rather than herself. She may have to
    ■ Julie, a biracial Latina woman, sought            forgo roles that she values in order to keep the
therapy because she was silencing her true self         peace in her marriage. For example, Eliza would
to please her partner. The more she relied on           like to be a stay-at-home mother with her first
his approval, the more distant he became. At            child but her boyfriend’s sister has told the family
the same time, her depression was interfering           that she can babysit the child while Eliza works.
with her ability to complete her college degree.        Eliza would like to say no but is afraid of angering
Julie began volunteering at a local business to         family members, especially her boyfriend who
gain experience in her field. The positive feed-         thinks the offer is very generous.
back that she received provided momentum for                Women also establish expectations around
completing her schoolwork. In therapy, she              agency and independence in adulthood. Some
examined the legacy of her history of childhood         women expect their partners to be equal partners
physical abuse and of her last failed relation-         in sharing household chores, child-raising duties,
ship for her self-concept. She learned alterna-         and work responsibilities. Other women prefer to
tive coping strategies to express her needs and         divide responsibilities along traditional gender
to manage conflict. In turn, her partner began           lines. A woman at this stage who struggles with
to feel more connected to her and their rela-           unmitigated communion may wish for the same
tionship became stronger. Julie’s increased             freedom that her partner has to participate in
agency enabled her to gain increased commu-             recreational activities or to sleep in, but as a
nion in her relationship.                     ■         woman may not feel entitled to ask for such priv-
                                                        ileges. A woman who struggles with unmitigated
                                                        agency might postpone childbearing, not wanting
                                                        to be saddled with the burdens of caregiving.
ADULT WOMEN: DEFINING AND CREATING                          A common stressor that may occur during this
FAMILIES OF THEIR OWN                                   developmental stage is infertility. Berghuis and
                                                        Stanton (2002) studied 43 heterosexual couples
At this stage, women and their partners decide          with a failed artificial insemination attempt. They
how to form a family and what roles will be.            found that women who used social support seek-
Some women choose to create a family without            ing, emotional approach coping, and/or problem-
a partner. Choosing roles becomes the means of          focused coping were protected from depression.
implementing agency and communion within a              In contrast, women who used avoidant strategies
relationship and within a family of creation. The       were more likely to display depressive symptoms.
balance itself will depend upon what each part-         Interestingly, when women had low or average
ner learned in his/her family-of-origin as well as      use of emotional strategies for coping, their part-
his/her development thus far. Women decide              ners’ high use of emotional approach coping can
how to define their roles as partners, mothers,          compensate and serve as a protective factor. The
friends, employees, sisters, and caregivers. Each       authors suggest that this may occur because the
role has a personal valence for a woman and she         partners’ actions convey investment and attach-
will select if and how to fill it, balancing of agency   ment to the women. Thus, this connection acts as
and communion to meet her needs.                        a scaffold to promote healthier coping for women.
    Women help to set expectations about the ac-
ceptable level of intimacy within their families of
creation. For women who are able to achieve a             ■ Sonia, a 37-year-old Peruvian lawyer,
satisfying level of communion, their new family         and her husband, a 35-year-old French college
144   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


professor, experienced infertility caused by                     highlight the importance of context and social
multiple factors. They attempted artificial                       class. Women of color may be exposed to racism
insemination but the fetus died in the second                    and discrimination, while all women working at
trimester. Sonia coped with the loss of this                     minimum wage jobs may work in demoralizing
potential child and her fertility by e-mailing sup-              environments. Clearly, both of these situations
portive friends, writing poetry, and discussing                  decrease the quality, and therefore, the benefit of
the loss with her husband. She joined a preg-                    that particular role for a woman.
nancy loss support group and was matched with                        The research on multiple roles points to the
another woman who had suffered a similar loss.                   importance of social support networks for en-
She spoke regularly with this “buddy.” The                       hanced coping. This is true as women deal with
couple decided to discontinue fertility treatment                unexpected stressors such as health concerns,
to grieve their loss. Now, a year later, they are                like breast cancer. Stanton et al. (2000) studied
ready to consider adoption.                     ■                the coping styles of 92 women with breast cancer
                                                                 and found that emotional coping skills were as-
                                                                 sociated with decreased distress, increased en-
                                                                 ergy level, fewer medical visits, and improved
WOMEN AND MIDDLE AGE:                                            self-perceptions of health status. Coping by ex-
THE BALANCING ACT                                                pressing emotions was associated with improved
                                                                 quality of life when women rated their supports
At this stage of life, women’s roles generally in-               as receptive to their concerns.
clude being a family caregiver. Caregiving ex-                       Weingarten (1997) shares the story of her ex-
tends to the previous generations (parents and                   perience of coping with breast cancer in her book
in-laws) and to the next generation (children),                  The Mother’s Voice: Strengthening Intimacy in
resulting in the labeling of women in this stage as              Families. Weingarten balanced multiple roles—
the “sandwich” generation. This situation has
                                                                 wife, mother, daughter, psychologist, family ther-
become more common for women today as life
                                                                 apist, and author—when she was diagnosed with
expectancy continues to increase. For example,
                                                                 cancer. In part, she copes with her illness, obliga-
Beth gave up her job, which she loved, to stay at
                                                                 tions, desires, and needs through sharing her
home with her active toddler and her chronically
                                                                 story. As she puts words to her experience within
ill mother-in-law. Beth’s husband was an only
                                                                 her family, the medical system, and society-
child and both he and Beth agreed that it was
                                                                 at-large, she offers examples of how she main-
best for his mother to live with them. To cope,
                                                                 tains agency and communion. She gives voice to
Beth needed to find other sources of meaning
                                                                 the unspoken cultural pull toward unmitigated
and enjoyment in her life besides her employ-
                                                                 communion in the name of good mothering.
ment. She worked to elevate her needs to the
same level of importance as those of other fam-
ily members, and to decrease her feelings of guilt
when she attended to herself.                                    OLDER WOMEN: SHARING WISDOM
    Balancing multiple roles is critical for a                   WITH ONE’S COMMUNITY
woman’s well-being. Barnett and Hyde (2001), in
their review of the literature, report that multiple             The concept of communion includes the impor-
roles are beneficial in terms of physical, psycho-                tance of spirituality, especially for older women.
logical, and relationship health. Multiple roles                 Spirituality reflects a connection to God, to greater
can increase agency and communion; however,                      meaning, or to a larger purpose. This in turn
there is also a risk of role strain, exceeding per-              broadens the meaning of the self because com-
sonal limits for the number of roles and the time                munion occurs within and outside of the self.
spent in each role. The quality of the roles is an               Simoni, Martone, and Kerwin (2002) suggest that
important factor in enhancing the benefits of                     spirituality enhances coping because it offers re-
multiple roles and decreasing the disadvantages                  sources (such as prayer, ritual, and community),
(Barnett & Hyde, 2001). Barnett and Hyde also                    increases one’s sense of control, and suggests a
                                                       Chapter 15 Coping in Adolescent Girls and Women   145


structure for meaning and significance. These           and agencies that recognize her as human,
factors promote both agency and communion.             and distances herself from those that expect
    A study of older mothers as caregivers of          her to be a self-sacrificing superhero.     ■
adults with developmental disabilities found that
religious coping was associated with higher levels
of caregiving satisfaction (Miltiades & Pruchno,
2002). Furthermore, African American women             INCREASING COPING THROUGH
were more likely to use religious coping and to        INCREASED AGENCY AND COMMUNION:
experience higher levels of caregiving satisfac-       TREATMENT, POLICY, AND RESEARCH
tion than were White women. The authors sug-
gest that religion may provide a positive reframe      Clinical work, public policy, and research are all
for the experience of caregiving and place it within   valuable forums for increasing coping skills for
a broader context. In essence, religious coping        girls and women through the life span. Several
may enable a woman to engage in caregiving as a        psychotherapies have philosophical foundations
form of communion, while maintaining a sense of        that are congruent with the treatment goals of in-
agency.                                                creasing agency and communion to strengthen
    In general, it is important that a woman be        coping. Transitional family therapy posits that
able to access her faith community as a resource,      families seek treatment when their current skills
rather than as a restraint. The woman needs to         are not sufficient for adjusting to a transition
be able to remain differentiated within her com-       (Seaburn, Landau-Stanton, & Horwitz, 1995). The
munity in order to cope in the manner that best        use of a genogram to map the family’s history,
meets her needs and suits her style. If a woman        negotiation of transitions, and strengths pro-
feels the need to silence her voice because the        vides the clinician with a contextualized under-
church community might not want to hear it,            standing of the problem and the family’s skills
then she begins to engage in unmitigated com-          and resources. The clinician is able to reinforce
munion. For example, in more fundamentalist            and nurture existing coping skills as well as to
religions, the belief that the wife is required to     teach coping skills that fit with the family’s style
honor and obey her husband might impede a              and needs.
woman’s willingness to discuss domestic vio-               Likewise, solution-focused family therapy (De
lence within the religious community.                  Jong & Berg, 2001; de Shazer, 1985) recognizes that
                                                       families are skillful but may not be aware they al-
                                                       ready possess the coping skills needed to resolve
   ■ Louise is a 62-year-old married African           their problems. Solution-focused family therapy
American woman. Her two adult biological               uses techniques such as the Miracle Question and
children are successful professionals; however,        scaling techniques to facilitate a family’s ability
both children have chronic medical conditions          to implement preexisting coping skills. Inter-
with ongoing complications. Her adoptive               personal psychotherapy is a short-term therapy
son has special needs and requires a group-            that focuses on relationships and helps clients to
home placement to meet those needs. Louise             enhance their coping through improved commu-
decreased her hours at her job in a human              nication, problem solving, and increased support
service agency because she felt that it was too        networks (Stuart & Robertson, 2002). It has been
overwhelming to work with such needy people            effective with women dealing with diverse issues
given her family’s stress level. She joined a          such as poverty, postpartum depression, and bu-
neighborhood walking group where nobody                limia. Relational therapy is based specifically on a
knew her role as problem-solver. She began to          psychology of women that recognizes the impor-
prepare for her adoptive son’s move and to             tance of connections to women and has been
accept that she has done what she can for him.         applied to a range of problems including eating
She remains active in her church but has dis-          disorders (Tantillo, 2000).
continued her membership on several boards.                There are also therapies that directly teach
She noted that she interacts with the people           coping skills, which increase agency and commu-
146   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


nion. Many of these have a cognitive-behavioral                  and employment opportunities, often need to be
underpinning, and the therapist takes an active                  federally funded. Currently, programs exist across
stance in teaching and promoting the active use                  the spectrum of development; however, these
of coping skills. For example, Dialectical Behav-                programs are often on a shoestring budget and
ior Therapy (Linehan, 1996) teaches coping skills                depend upon charitable donations. Such pro-
in four areas: mindfulness, interpersonal effec-                 grams include enriched day-care programs, after
tiveness, emotion regulation, and distress toler-                school recreational programs, college-bound pro-
ance. Clients learn and practice in skills train-                grams, adolescent mother programs, women’s
ing groups while individual therapy is used to                   career centers, family-based homeless shelters,
troubleshoot problem areas as identified by the                   and inclusive battered women’s shelters.
client’s diary card. Mindfulness cognitive-based                     It is also critical that public policy support
therapy teaches clients how to engage in a med-                  parents’ care of their children. Maternity and pa-
itation practice and how to incorporate mind-                    ternity leaves enable parents to create a healthy
fulness skills in their daily lives to prevent recur-            attachment with their children. Affordable, fam-
rent depression (Segal, Williams, & Teasdale,                    ily friendly day-care arrangements that facilitate
2001). Simonds (2001), in her therapy for women                  children’s development are necessary for work-
with depression, recommends an individualized                    ing parents. Laws such as the Family Leave Act,
approach to the development of coping skills.                    which permits time off for family members to
She teaches women to create concrete plans for                   care for sick relatives and new children (whether
relapse prevention and encourages them to en-                    biological, foster, or adoptive), promote effective
gage in meaningful activities.                                   coping. These laws are necessary to create a so-
    Often, as implied above, the therapist will act              ciety that values both agency and communion
as a coach or mentor in the teaching of coping                   for women, a state in which families matter.
skills. The therapist can model coping skills in                     Another important arena of public policy is
session, either explicitly or implicitly. The ther-              preventive services. Programs and policies that
apeutic relationship can enable the client to ex-                implement early intervention often create short-
perience a balance of connection and auton-                      term and long-term changes. Prenatal programs
omy. Processing interactions in session can                      offer additional services for women at risk dur-
highlight the client’s typical style of interaction,             ing pregnancy; these services increase coping
as well as any shifts that may occur as the ther-                by fostering a support system and providing
apy progresses.                                                  education (Klerman et al., 2001). Several early
    Genograms, as noted earlier, can provide a                   intervention projects provide mentors who visit
powerful picture of the balance of agency and                    mothers and their children in the home, en-
communion in a family. Gendered patterns and                     hancing the mother’s coping skills and support
cultural values become clear when the genogram                   system (Wallach & Lister, 1995). This not only fa-
is drawn. Other helpful therapeutic techniques                   cilitates the biological mother’s acquisition of
include rituals, letters to deceased relatives, the              skills through scaffolding but also models for
empty chair technique, and internal family sys-                  the children a healthy balance of agency and
tems work. Striepe and Coons (2002) provide a                    communion.
detailed example of a group therapy program for                      Public policy is increasingly needed to assist
Hmong women, which teaches coping skills in a                    for women in coping with the threat of terrorism.
manner that respects their culture and enhances                  In the 12 months after the September 11, 2001,
their well-being.                                                tragedies, large-scale studies report that 7.5–40%
    Public policy has the potential at the larger sys-           of adults carry diagnoses of posttraumatic stress,
tems level to increase or decrease adolescent girls’             depression, anxiety, or stress-related somatic
and women’s coping skills. Public policy must ad-                symptoms, with the higher percentages related to
dress poverty, which is a risk factor for many ad-               proximity to the sites (Miller & Heldring, 2004).
verse events such as depression and violence, and                Successful coping styles in this challenging situa-
impedes development. Programs that provide re-                   tion include increased agency and communion
sources, such as access to education, health care,               through community action and response, as well
                                                          Chapter 15 Coping in Adolescent Girls and Women       147


as working toward increased preparedness for fu-          Carlson, E. A., & Sroufe, L. A. (1995). Contribution of
ture problems. It is imperative that public policy            attachment theory to developmental psychology.
                                                              In D. Cicchetti & D. J. Cohen (Eds.), Developmen-
support these response efforts, which are critical
                                                              tal psychopathology: Vol. 1. Theory and methods
in reorganizing the community and providing                   (pp. 581–617). New York: John Wiley & Sons.
vehicles for women and their families to cope             Chapman, P. L., & Mullis, R. L. (2000). Racial differ-
through meaningful activism.                                  ences in adolescent coping and self-esteem. The
    Research informs how we teach coping skills,              Journal of Genetic Psychology, 161, 152–160.
it guides our interventions, and it suggests ap-          De Jong, P., & Berg, I. K. (2001). Interviewing for solu-
                                                              tions. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.
propriate public policy. Much existing research           de Shazer, S. (1985). Keys to solutions in brief therapy.
on coping is cross-sectional in design (Somerfield             New York: Norton.
& McCrae, 2000). Research that considers gender           Falicov, C. J. (2001). The cultural meanings of money:
as a variable tends to compare emotion-focused                The case of Latinos and Anglo-Americans. The
                                                              American Behavioral Scientist, 45, 313–328.
and problem-focused coping skills. In general,
                                                          Fritz, H. L., & Helgeson, V. S. (1998). Distinctions of
the literature is limited and would benefit from a             unmitigated communion from communion: Self-
broader conceptual base that considers coping in              neglect and overinvolvement with others. Journal
context, rather than as good versus bad strategies.           of Personality and Social Psychology, 75, 121–140.
New research in this area should include longi-           Gilligan, C. (1993). In a different voice: Psychological
                                                              theory and women’s development. Cambridge,
tudinal systemic intervention studies in areas
                                                              MA: Harvard University Press.
such as coping with chronic abdominal pain or             Helgeson, V. S., & Fritz, H. L. (1999). Unmitigated
responses to genetic testing.                                 agency and communion: Distinctions from agency
    Whether it is demonstrated in research, clini-            and communion. Journal of Research in Personal-
cal stories, or great literature, girls and women             ity, 33, 131–158.
                                                          Imber-Black, E. (1988). Ritual themes in families and
have a long history of coping creatively with chal-
                                                              family therapy. In E. Imber-Black, J. Roberts, &
lenges that are uniquely female, such as childbirth,          R. A. Whiting (Eds.), Rituals in families and family
and with challenges that are uniquely (in)human,              therapy (pp. 47–83). New York: Norton.
such as terrorism. Strategies span the possibili-         Johnson, S. M. (2002). Emotionally focused couple
ties, but often include turning to relationships              therapy with trauma survivors: Strengthening at-
                                                              tachment bonds. New York: Guilford Press.
for nurturance. Balancing agency and a focus
                                                          Jones, J. M. (2003). TRIOS: A psychological theory of
on self, with communion and a focus on others,                the African legacy in the American culture. Journal
helps to ensure healthy coping in a 21st century              of Social Issues, 59, 217–242.
full of both opportunity and stress for women.            Klerman, L. V., Ramey, S. L., Goldenberg, R. L.,
                                                              Marbury, S., Hou, J., & Cliver, S. P. (2001). A ran-
                                                              domized trial of augmented prenatal care for
                                                              multiple-risk, Medicaid-eligible African Ameri-
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   Chicago: Rand-McNally.                                     and coping. New York: Springer.
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   ing. Journal of Counseling Psychology, 29, 139–147.                psychology. Washington, DC: American Psycho-
Somerfield, M. R., & McCrae, R. R. (2000). Stress and                  logical Association.
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Stanton, A. L., Danoff-Burg, S., Cameron, C. L., Bishop,              ery of home-based services to parents at risk of
   M., Collins, C. A., Kirk, S. B., et al. (2000). Emotion-           child abuse: A healthy start experience. Scholarly
   ally expressive coping predicts psychological and                  Inquiry for Nursing Practice, 9, 159–173.
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   Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 875–882.                   ing intimacy in families. New York: Guilford Press.
                                            Much has been written about self-esteem in the
                                            past 50 years, most of it with the assumption that
                                            self-esteem is a pervasive and universal phenom-
                                            enon with primarily beneficial outcomes. The
                                            emphasis has been mostly on levels of self-
                                            esteem and their accompanying correlates, with
                                            a concomitant interest in how to obtain high self-
                                            esteem. This line of research eventually fostered
                                            a practical approach in the 1980s on how to pro-
                                            vide self-esteem to children in school-based pro-
                                            grams (Mecca, Smelser, & Vasconcellos, 1989). No
                                            easily definable outcomes having resulted from
                                            this approach, an extensive review of the litera-
                                            ture was undertaken in the 1990s. The surprising
                                            conclusion was that self-esteem is not discernibly
                                            related to any beneficial outcomes and that high
                                            self-esteem may not always be a good thing
                                            (Baumeister, Campbell, Kreuger, & Vohs, 2003).
                                            Most recently, the focus has shifted from self-
                                            esteem as an entity to self-esteem as a process,
                                            from self-esteem as a passive personality charac-
                                            teristic to self-esteem as a motive (Crocker & Park,
                                            2004a). New theories have arisen as to the func-
                                            tions that self-esteem serves: as an anxiety buffer
                                            against death (Pyszczynski, Solomon, Greenberg,
                                            Arndt, & Schimel, 2004b) or social exclusion
                                            (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Leary, Tambor, Terdal,
                                            & Downs, 1995). But the argument has been
                                            made that the pursuit of self-esteem is not a fun-
                                            damental need, that it is very costly both physi-
                                            cally and psychologically, and that perhaps pur-
                                            suing self-esteem should not be a normative goal
OKSANA MALANCHUK                            (Crocker & Park, 2004a). Before turning to these
and J A C Q U E L Y N N E S . E C C L E S   newer trends in self-esteem research and the im-
                                            plications for mental health, a review of the ba-
                                            sics, especially as they relate to gender, is in order
                                            (definition, distribution over the life span, and
Self-Esteem                                 sources of self-esteem).



                                            DEFINING SELF-ESTEEM




16
                                            The concept of self-esteem originated with
                                            William James (1890), in which he referred to it as
                                            a person’s evaluation of, or attitude toward, the
                                            self. The most prevalent definition of self-esteem
                                            views it as the extent to which an individual likes,
                                            values, and accepts himself or herself (Rogers,
                                            1951). This differs from related constructs such as
                                            self-confidence or self-efficacy, which refers to


                                                                                               149
150   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


beliefs about one’s abilities to obtain desired out-             women report only slightly higher levels of self-
comes (Bandura, 1997). Several distinctions have                 esteem than men (Robins et al., 2002).
been made about the concept of self-esteem.                          The dramatic drop in adolescent girls’ self-
Valuing and accepting oneself is considered to                   esteem has been noted in several studies
have both cognitive (i.e., self-knowledge) and af-               (e.g., American Association of University Women
fective (i.e., evaluative) components. Considered                [AAUW], 1990). But in one study this result was
as a basic component of the self, it can be stable               found to be true only for European American
across situations (trait self-esteem) or it can be               early adolescents who made a transition from el-
open to change and be situationally manipulated                  ementary school to junior high school at the same
(state self-esteem) (Kernis & Waschull, 1995). Self-             time as they moved from sixth to seventh grade,
esteem can be global or domain-specific, and it                   suggesting that both school structure and ethnic
rises and falls around its typical level in response             culture play important roles in this develop-
to successes and failures in domains on which                    mental change (Simmons & Blyth, 1987). Draw-
one has staked one’s self-worth (James, 1890). It                ing upon cumulative stress theory, the argument
can also be contingency-based and fluctuate as a                  was made that the gender differences in the rate
function of accomplishments, requiring contin-                   of decline in self-esteem among European Amer-
ual validation and resulting from matching some                  ican youth was an outcome of the girls’ coping
standard or excellence or living up to some inter-               with two major transitions (both pubertal and
personal expectations. Or it can be noncontingent                school changes) at the same time. Since coping
or “true” self-esteem, based on intrinsic motiva-                with multiple transitions is more difficult than
tion which is the natural, innate tendency to ex-                coping with only one, these young women should
plore, assimilate, and experience mastery within                 be at greater risk of negative outcomes than ado-
one’s surroundings (Deci & Ryan, 1995).                          lescents who have to cope with only one transi-
                                                                 tion (either school or pubertal changes) during
                                                                 this developmental period.
DEMOGRAPHIC DISTRIBUTION OF                                          Indeed, a more recent study indicates that
SELF-ESTEEM ACROSS THE LIFE SPAN                                 pubertal development is not the same kind of
                                                                 risk factor for African American females as it is
While some researchers argue that the pursuit of                 for some European American females (Michael
self-esteem is a fundamental need and universal                  & Eccles, 2004). Separating out each ethnic group
feature of human nature (Baumeister & Leary,                     into early and on-time maturers, the researchers
1995; Pyszczynski et al., 2004b), others question                found that only the European American girls’
whether the self-esteem motive is specific to West-               self-esteem and mental health were related to
ern culture (Heine, Lehman, Markus, & Kitayama,                  their maturational rate—with the early matur-
1999). Empirical research in the United States in-               ing females reporting lower self-esteem and
dicates that levels of self-esteem vary according                mental health and higher rates of bulimic eating
to age, gender, and ethnicity. Self-esteem is at its             patterns. Maturational rate had no relation to
highest in early childhood at ages 9 through 12; it              these outcomes among the African American
drops sharply in adolescence (13–17); continues                  females.
its decline into the college period (18–22); rises                   With the exception of early childhood, African
slightly in the post-college years (23–29); and then             Americans consistently report higher self-esteem
reaches a plateau in the 30s with gradual increases              than Whites or other minority groups (Robins
from then on until it declines markedly from                     et al., 2002; Twenge & Crocker, 2002). Until the
the 60s to the 80s (Robins, Trzesniewski, Tracy,                 1970s this was considered counterintuitive as re-
Gosling, & Potter, 2002). Both boys and girls start              searchers had hypothesized that African Ameri-
out high in self-esteem in early childhood, but                  cans and members of other oppressed or stigma-
during adolescence, girls’ self-esteem drops twice               tized groups would have low self-esteem because
as much as boys’. According to their data, this                  they were held in low regard by others, because
gender difference persists throughout adulthood                  they were excluded from desirable occupations,
and only narrows in old age (70s and 80s), when                  or because they had fewer opportunities to con-
                                                                                Chapter 16 Self-Esteem     151


trol their environment (Gray-Little & Hafdahl,         SOURCES OF SELF-ESTEEM
2000). Using meta-analysis, Twenge and Crocker
(2002) considered four distinct theoretical per-       Neither the processes underlying individual dif-
spectives as to why ethnicity may play a role in       ferences nor the process underlying developmen-
self-esteem differences between groups: internal-      tal changes in self-esteem are well understood.
ization of stigma, stigma as self-protection, ethnic   Harter (1993) reports that there are two main
identity, and cultural differences in self-concept.    sources of global self-esteem: (a) direct experi-
The cultural perspective fit best, especially since     ences of competence and efficacy and (b) social
the pattern of differences by ethnicity in individ-    feedback, particularly as it is reflected in the
ualism mirrored the differences in self-esteem,        appraisals of significant other people. These
with African Americans scoring highest on both.        sources differ somewhat by gender. Men’s self-
The authors caution against single-variable ex-        esteem tends to be based on achievements and
planations and suggest an interactive approach         women’s self-esteem on interpersonal connect-
involving moderator variables to more fully un-        edness (Josephs, Markus, & Tafarodi, 1992). As
derstand the phenomenon, as well as examining          noted above, other researchers have focused on
how self-esteem is constructed in different ethnic     changes in the school environment as an impor-
groups.                                                tant influence on the age-related changes over
    Eccles, Barber, Jozefowicz, Malanchuk, and         time (see Eccles et al., 1993; Simmons & Blyth,
Vida (1999) in fact compared African American          1987). They have also suggested that changes in
and European American girls’ self-perceptions in
                                                       the nature of one’s familial relationships during
two studies, one of which was a primarily Euro-
                                                       adolescence could contribute to the developmen-
pean American working-class and middle-class
                                                       tal declines in self-esteem during early adoles-
sample and one of which was a normative African
                                                       cence (Eccles et al., 1993). Finally, the variations in
American sample. First, in both studies, the gen-
                                                       the patterns of self-concepts and values discussed
eral pattern of gender differences were much
                                                       earlier are also likely to be relevant.
weaker, if significant at all, among the African
                                                           In a recent study that undertook to examine
Americans. Second, the African American females
                                                       several sources of self-esteem simultaneously, re-
had higher self-esteem than both the European
                                                       searchers found that a number of factors were
American girls and the African American males.
                                                       predictive: popularity, appearance, parent ap-
Third, there were significant differences by ethnic-
                                                       proval of peers, worries about weight, importance
ity in these young women’s self-perceptions that
                                                       of schooling, self-consciousness, and concerns
could explain the ethnic minority differences in
                                                       about sexuality (Davis-Kean, Eccles, Malanchuk,
young women’s self-esteem: the African Ameri-
can girls had either similar or higher academic        & Peck, 2004). In middle school, White girls are
ability self concepts than the European Ameri-         worried about their weight, their popularity with
can girls. The African American girls also had         the same sex, and their appearance. African
higher athletic and social self-concepts and were      American girls are more concerned about their
more satisfied with their physical attractiveness       popularity with the opposite sex, their looks,
(Winston, Eccles, Senior, & Vida, 1997). Finally,      being self-conscious, and worries about their
unlike the evidence for the European American          weight in that order (Eccles et al., 1999). By high
girls, there was no evidence of a decline in the       school, White and African American females are
African American girls’ self-esteem over the early     equally impacted by wishes to be more popular
adolescent years. However, a subsequent study          with opposite-sex peers, as well as desires to be
of self-esteem in later adolescence indicated a        good looking and fears about negative sex-related
slight downward trend for African American girls       outcomes. Numerous other studies indicate that
in the 11th grade (Malanchuk & Eccles, 1999), in-      physical appearance is an important domain pre-
dicating that their sources of self-esteem might       dicting to self-esteem for girls but not for boys
be converging with those of European American          (e.g., Harter, 1990), and to a greater extent for
girls. Similar comparative studies on other eth-       European American than African American girls
nic groups are badly needed.                           (e.g., Simmons & Blyth, 1987).
152   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


    The salience of physical appearance for the                  period. It seems likely that cultural differences in
stability of young women’s self-esteem is trou-                  the standards of feminine beauty are one piece
bling. Given that both individual differences in                 of this difference but this hypothesis has not
physical appearance and the exact nature of pu-                  been fully studied. Other possible influences in-
bertal changes in different individuals’ bodies are              clude variations in meaning of sexual maturity
substantially biologically determined and thus is                and in the response of both adults and peers to
somewhat out of the individual’s control, a focus                signs of pubertal development.
on physical attractiveness for persons who are
not, or do not feel, attractive enough is likely to
undermine some young women’s self-esteem. It                     FUNCTIONS OF SELF-ESTEEM
is also likely to push some young women toward
extreme efforts to try to change their bodies in                 Why do we need self-esteem and what functions
order to meet both real and perceived peer and                   does it serve? Some innovative new theories have
societal standards. It follows that girls at this age            recently emerged with compelling explanations
who have a negative perception of their appear-                  for why we might choose to seek self-esteem. The
ance may be at risk for developing symptoms that                 most influential is terror management theory
reflect their diminished self-esteem, such as eat-                (Pyszczynski et al., 2004b) which argues that self-
ing disorders. And in fact, lack of confidence in                 esteem serves as a buffer against death anxiety.
one’s physical appearance was one of the pri-                    Arguing that a biologically rooted desire for life
mary significant predictors of bulimia-related                    and the uniquely human awareness of the in-
eating behaviors (Michael & Eccles, 2004).                       evitability of death lead to an existential anxiety,
    Sources of self-esteem during the college                    these theorists posit that our forefathers sought
years are similarly contingency-based: competi-                  to alleviate this death anxiety by creating cultural
tion, family support, appearance, God’s love,                    worldviews (“humanly constructed shared sym-
approval from others, school competence, and                     bolic conceptions of reality that give meaning,
virtue (Crocker and Wolfe, 2001). In this study,                 order, and permanence to existence; provide a
White females were highest of all the subgroups                  set of standards for what is valuable; and promise
on family support, appearance, and approval                      some form of either literal or symbolic immor-
from others as their sources of self-esteem. African             tality to those who believe in the cultural world-
Americans were highest on God’s love and low-                    view and live up to its standards of value,” p. 436).
est on approval from others. African American                    Self-esteem thus serves as a shield against exis-
females were lowest on competition; African                      tential anxiety by giving us a sense of personal
American males were lowest on appearance. All                    value obtained by living up to the standards of
subgroups were equally impacted by virtue and                    one’s cultural worldview and being a contributor
school competence.                                               to a meaningful universe. That is why people are
    It is critical to take note of the ethnic group              motivated to maintain high levels of self-esteem
differences summarized above. African Ameri-                     and why they defend their self-esteem when it
can adolescent females do not appear to be at                    comes under threat. While terror management
greater risk than their male peers for declines in               theory makes a compelling argument for this
self-esteem. The reasons for this difference need                evolutionary hypothesis, critics of this theory
to be explored for three reasons: (a) because we                 argue that some of its fundamental assumptions
need to understand the sources of resilience in                  have not been adequately tested—specifically,
African American adolescent girls; (b) because                   that it has not been demonstrated empirically
understanding these differences will help us un-                 that people need self-esteem, that pursuing it is
derstand the nature of cultural differences be-                  an effective means for reducing anxiety, or that
tween these two ethnic groups; and (c) because                   death is the real issue driving the pursuit of self-
such studies will offer insights into the kinds of               esteem (Crocker & Nuer, 2004).
preventive interventions that might help bolster                     Another influential theory explaining why
European American and African American fe-                       we seek self-esteem is the sociometer theory
males’ self-esteem during this critical transitional             (Baumeister & Leary, 1995; Leary et al., 1995),
                                                                                Chapter 16 Self-Esteem     153


which suggests that we have a driving need to be-       esteem has a strong relation to happiness and that
long and that self-esteem is a buffer against anxi-     there were two benefits of high self-esteem: en-
ety about loneliness and social rejection. This         hanced initiative and pleasant feelings.
theory similarly posits that self-esteem evolved as         Indeed, self-esteem has been noted as the
an adaptive advantage that enhanced survival,           strongest predictor of life satisfaction in the
but the function of self-esteem in this view is         United States, outstripping all other predictors
thought to be the monitoring of the social envi-        such as age, income, education, physical health,
ronment for threats to social acceptance or rejec-      marital status, and other psychological variables
tion in any given situation, with perceived social      (Diener, 1984). In early adolescence, it is the best
exclusion leading to feelings of low self-esteem.       predictor of gains in mental health, surpassing
Thus, it is not success or failure per se that affect   such indicators as depression, coping, and re-
levels of self-esteem but how we think others will      silience (Peck, Davis-Kean, Schnabel, & Eccles,
react to our achievements or limitations.               2002). Furthermore, low self-esteem has consis-
    Both terror management theory and sociome-          tently been shown to be related to depression
ter theory have difficulty explaining all of the evi-    and suicidal ideation (Crocker & Wolfe, 2001;
dence regarding self-esteem, and some argue that        Harter, 1999).
the propositions of each theory can be roughly              Rather than focus on level of self-esteem,
translated into the concepts of the other (Leary,       Crocker and Park (2004a) argued that we should
2004). Another criticism of both theories is that       be looking at why people choose to pursue self-
they are primarily focused on defensive processes       esteem. They conceive of self-esteem not as a
and do not take into account intrinsic develop-         passive state or personality characteristic but as
mental processes (Ryan & Deci, 2004). The argu-         a dynamic human striving. They examined what
ment here is that this approach is akin to con-         people did to achieve boosts to their self-esteem
tingent self-esteem and that true self-esteem is        and to avoid drops in self-esteem in their daily
based on the ongoing satisfaction of needs for          lives and came to the conclusion that self-esteem
competence, autonomy, and relatedness.                  is costly to pursue. They argued that it impedes
                                                        the satisfaction of needs for competence, relat-
                                                        edness, and autonomy—all indicators of intrin-
IMPLICATIONS FOR MENTAL HEALTH                          sic or “true” self-esteem, as well as the ability to
                                                        self-regulate behavior. Furthermore, it has costs
There is a large literature on the implications of      to physical and mental health. Striving for self-
having high and low self-esteem where high self-        esteem makes people feel anxious and stressed,
esteem is generally related to better outcomes          potentially hostile, and may lead to unhealthy
and is assumed to have beneficial effects. (See         coping behavior or health risk behaviors, all of
Baumeister, 1993, 1998, for reviews.) The emphasis      which have negative effects on physical health.
on self-esteem as a source of positive well-being       Similarly, they found a relation between pursu-
and successes eventually led to the self-esteem         ing self-esteem and depression, narcissism, and
movement, epitomized by the California Task             anxiety.
Force to Promote Self-Esteem and Personal and               Crocker and Park neatly summarized their
Social Responsibility (Mecca et al., 1989), which       critics, who argued that they overstate the case
tried to promote self-esteem in the classroom on        for the costs of pursuing self-esteem (Sheldon,
the assumption that high self-esteem would cause        2004); that it is possible to strive for it in healthy
many positive outcomes. Baumeister et al. (2003)        ways (DuBois & Flay, 2004); and that it would be
criticized this view, arguing that there was no evi-    extremely difficult if not impossible for people to
dence supporting the claim that boosting self-          stop pursuing self-esteem (Pyszczynski & Cox,
esteem causes higher academic achievement,              2004). These critics suggested an integrative
better job performance, or leadership. Rather, it       perspective that acknowledges that self-esteem
seems that high but unstable self-esteem is actu-       buffers anxiety and is greatly influenced by social
ally related to hostility and aggression (Baumeister    relations; they also argued that when it is based
et al., 2003). These researchers did find that self-     on standards that are intrinsic or well-integrated
154   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


with one’s core self-elements, it is especially                  self-esteem is a developmental phenomenon
adaptive. But, they said, this is more than likely               and needs to be approached differently depend-
not the case. The pursuit of self-esteem is more                 ing on the current stage of development of the
often based on extrinsic factors. In addition, it                individual. Mruk (1999) has indicated that by
is unlikely that people will cease dealing with                  adulthood, it’s not a question of developing self-
their anxieties by pursuing high self-esteem                     esteem but of maintaining it, and he offers an in-
(Pyszczynski, Solomon, Greenberg, Arndt, &                       tervention program for clinicians for enhancing
Schimel, 2004a).                                                 self-esteem in adults.
    Are we inevitably prone to striving for self-                    Harter, who has written extensively on issues
esteem? Crocker and Park (2004b) argued that a                   in the development of the self-concept, has rec-
distinction should be made between having self-                  ommended various intervention strategies based
esteem and pursuing it. One can value and accept                 on the individual’s stage of development—from
oneself without continually seeking confirmation                  early to late childhood and early to late adoles-
from others. It is the pursuit of self-esteem that is            cence, at which point the self-concept is consid-
like a bad habit that can be broken with practice.               erably formed (Harter, 1999). She also has argued
In their view, self-esteem is not a fundamental                  that authenticity is a key factor in developing a
need, like competence, autonomy, or relatedness,                 strong self of self-worth. We concur with her as-
but a goal. Its pursuit, when successful, boosts                 sessment that educators should promote auton-
self-esteem and reduces anxiety but only for a                   omy and authenticity by giving greater voice to
short time (Crocker, Sommers, & Luhtanen, 2002).                 students by building upon the life experiences of
These authors suggested that rather than having                  the students, rather than on rigid adherence to
self-esteem as a goal, people should apply a learn-              academic content, thereby engaging them in the
ing orientation where successes and failures are                 learning process. The need for empowerment
viewed as learning opportunities and that this ap-               through providing opportunities for their voices
proach more effectively reduces anxiety than can                 to be heard may be especially true for girls and
boosts to one’s self-esteem. Along with others,
                                                                 young women who are faced with considerable
they also reflect on achieving self-esteem through
                                                                 devaluation in society and are valued more for
other means. That is, rather than focusing on con-
                                                                 their physical appearance than for their inner
tingent self-esteem with its emphasis on appear-
                                                                 qualities. Providing an atmosphere in which girls
ance or academic and other achievements, peo-
                                                                 are taken seriously by teachers, as well as their
ple should pursue goals that are larger than
                                                                 peers, will go a long way to contributing toward a
themselves. They note that it is in focusing be-
                                                                 more equitable society.
yond ourselves, without regard to self-esteem en-
hancement, that we may best satisfy ourselves
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                              Until recently, most psychological theory and re-
                              search on women’s health and well-being focused
                              exclusively on the vulnerability deficit model of
                              girls and women (c.f., O’Leary & Flanagan, 2001).
                              In actuarial terms, this focus appears warranted
                              as women are more likely than men to be poor
                              (Wyche, 2001), to have higher rates of morbidity
                              (Landrine & Klonoff, 2001; Stanton & Gallant,
                              1996), to be widowed (Lopata, 1988; Wortman &
                              Silver, 1989), and to be the victims of violence
                              (Koss, 1990). However, the same differential dis-
                              tribution of challenges that puts girls and women
                              at risk for adversity affords them the opportunity,
                              if they are empowered (Johnson, 2001; Worell,
                              2001), to exhibit resilience in the face of adversity
                              and even to thrive (O’Leary & Ickovics, 1995).
                                  Resilience was introduced into the psycholog-
                              ical literature relevant to children by investigators
                              interested in identifying factors that protected
                              those at risk for developmental psychopathology
                              from the negative consequences of stress (c.f.,
                              Masten, 1989; Werner & Smith, 1982). Garmezy
                              and Nuechterlein (1972) first used the concept of
                              resilience to describe a small sample of highly
                              competent African American children living in
                              the ghetto who were well adjusted despite pro-
                              found social and environmental challenges such
                              as poverty, prejudice, and difficult living condi-
                              tions. Luthar, Cicchetti, and Becker (2000) re-
                              cently defined resilience as a dynamic process
VIRGINIA E. O’LEARY           encompassing positive adaptation within the
                              context of significant adversity (p. 543). In the
and J E S H M I N B H A J U
                              early 1990s, resilience was invoked to elucidate
                              the processes of successive challenge and com-
                              pensatory recovery among the aging (Kahn, 1991).
Resilience and                In this context, Kahn and the MacArthur Foun-
                              dation Network on Successful Aging defined re-
Empowerment                   silience as the ability to recover swiftly from any
                              misfortune or challenge. As people age, they are
                              expected to exhibit declining health and mobility.
                              However, those who are aging successfully are
                              able to respond positively to this challenge and to




17
                              grow psychologically (Kahn, 1991).
                                  The idea that adversity might actually provide
                              the impetus for psychological growth, thereby
                              enhancing life, has proved particularly appealing
                              to advocates of the positive psychology move-
                              ment spearheaded by Seligman (2002) and his
                              colleagues (c.f., Keyes & Haidt, 2003). Paralleling
                              the positive psychology movement, but not well


                                                                                157
158   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


integrated into it, have been theories advanced                  merman, & Whalen, 2000). Some authors have
by feminist psychologists who actively rejected                  defined resilience as a set of personality traits
many of the traditional assumptions of the male                  (Al-Naser & Sandman, 2000) while others have
dominated medical model of psychology with its                   focused on defining behaviors such as achieving
emphasis on pathology (c.f., O’Leary & Ickovics,                 success despite risk (Brodsky, 1999). Recently,
1995; Worell & Remer, 1992, 2003; Wyche & Rice,                  Christopher (2000) used resilience to refer to a
1997).                                                           personal resource that contributes to positive
                                                                 outcomes. Luthar and her colleagues (2000) dif-
                                                                 ferentiate between resiliency—a set of personal-
DEFINITIONS OF RESILIENCE                                        ity traits—and resilience—the process of adapta-
                                                                 tion despite adversity—and identify two themes
Resilience is defined by Webster’s dictionary as                  that have repeatedly emerged in the literature
“the power or ability to return to the original                  relevant to resilience among children. These
from, position etc., after being bent, compressed,               are (a) the importance of close relationships and
or stretched; the ability to recover strength, spirit,           connections with competent adults and (b) effec-
good humor etc. quickly” (Merriam-Webster, 2003,                 tive schools.
p. 1220). The first definition comes from the phys-
ical sciences and refers to solid matter in response
to direct manipulation. The second definition is                  MODELS OF RESILIENCE
more psychological; it is the definition with which
most social scientists and the popular press                     The study of thriving grew out of a foundation
resonate.                                                        of research on resilience. Researchers have de-
    Despite its intuitive appeal, resilience has not             scribed several mechanisms by which environ-
been operationalized consistently in the scientific               mental and individual factors help reduce or offset
literature. Definitions have included school and                  the adverse effects of risk. Although different re-
social competence (Garmezy, 1983), overcoming                    searchers have suggested different models, many
adversity and rising above disadvantage (Rutter,                 researchers have given the same mechanisms
1981), the positive side of adaptation under exten-              different names. Garmezy, Masten, and Tellegen
uating circumstances (Masten, 1989), the capacity                (1984) have identified three models used to de-
to cope with stress (Werner & Smith, 1982), and re-              scribe the impact o f stress on the quality of adap-
cently, “a dynamic process encompassing posi-                    tation: the compensatory model, the challenge
tive adaptation within the context of significant                 model, and the protective factor or immunity
adversity” (Luthar et al., 2000, p. 543). The defini-             versus vulnerability model.
tion of positive adaptation remains elusive. Does
it refer to the failure to meet criteria for a specific
disorder or constellation of symptoms or some-                   The Compensatory Model
thing more, such as evincing positive change over
time (Johnson, 2001)? Luthar and her colleagues                  A compensatory factor is a variable that neutral-
(2000) identify six areas of concern that have been              izes exposure to risk (Garmezy et al., 1984). It does
raised about the construct: (a) varying definitions               not interact with a risk factor; rather, it has a direct
and terminologies, (b) variations in functioning                 and independent influence on the outcome of in-
within different behavioral domains, (c) varia-                  terest. Both risk and compensatory factors con-
tions in risk experiences among those labeled re-                tribute additively to the prediction of outcome.
silient, (d) the constructs situational specificity,                  Illustrative of the compensatory model of re-
(e) a lack of theory, and (f) questions regarding the            silience is the work of Werner and Smith (1982),
utility of the construct.                                        who conducted a landmark study of 700 native
    Despite these definitional and conceptual                     children born on the island of Kauai in 1955. Four
problems, the literature on resilience continues                 characteristics were common to the 10% of young
to grow (c.f., Carver, 1998; Felten, 2000; Todd &                adults labeled resilient: an active approach to-
Worell, 2000; Werner-Wilson, Schindler Zim-                      ward solving life’s problems; a tendency to per-
                                                                 Chapter 17 Resilience and Empowerment     159


ceive or construct their experiences positively;             In the course of a series of longitudinal studies
the ability, from infancy, to gain other people’s        referred to as Project Competence, Garmezy and
positive attention; and a strong reliance on faith       his colleagues (1984) have found that competent
to maintain a positive view of a meaningful life.        children have higher IQ scores and better cogni-
Thus, Werner and Smith identified compen-                tive abilities related to social know-how and are
satory factors that either lowered risk initially or     members of families with greater stability, better
ameliorated risk throughout development.                 parenting quality, and higher socioeconomic sta-
                                                         tus (Masten, 1989). It may be that higher IQ, in-
                                                         come, and stable parenting promote resilience.
The Challenge Model                                          The protective model of resilience is different
                                                         from the compensatory model or the challenge
The challenge model of resilience is one in which        model in that it operates indirectly to influence
a stressor is treated as a potential enhancer of         outcomes. It should be noted, however, that the
successful adaptation, providing that it is not ex-      three models, though different, are not mutually
cessive. In this model, too little stress is not chal-   exclusive (Zimmerman & Arunkumar, 1994).
lenging enough and too much results in dysfunc-              To promote our understanding of human
tion. Moderate levels of stress, however, provide        strength and adaptation, resilience must repre-
a challenge that, when overcome, strengthens             sent more than a semantic shift from the negative
competence. If the challenge is successfully met,
                                                         pole to the positive pole of the risk continuum.
it helps prepare the individual for the next diffi-
                                                         Rutter (1987) described four functions of re-
culty. Rutter (1987) referred to this process as “in-
                                                         silience: to reduce risk impact, to reduce negative
oculating.” If efforts to meet the challenge are not
                                                         chain reactions, to establish and maintain self-
successful, the individual may become increas-
                                                         identity and self-efficacy, and to enhance oppor-
ingly vulnerable to risk.
                                                         tunities. The emphasis on protective processes
    For example, mild childhood traumas appear
                                                         that affect adjustment following confrontation
to help adult women handle depression if their
                                                         with risk raises important questions regarding
childhood stress was handled well and instilled
                                                         the nature of reliance. Indeed, the successful ne-
a sense of resourcefulness. Using a life-course
                                                         gotiation of risk differentiates resilience from
analysis, Forest (1996) found that women who
                                                         vulnerability.
had experienced stressful events during child-
hood (e.g., death of a loved one or changes in
family structure due to divorce) were less likely to
respond with depressive symptoms to distress-            OUTCOMES OF CHALLENGE:
provoking situations in adulthood (e.g., divorce,        RESILIENCE AS THRIVING
death of a spouse, or major illness). In the case of
resilience, protection develops not through the          O’Leary and Ickovics (1995) suggested that when
evasion of risk but in successfully engaging it          individuals are confronted with challenge, they
(Rutter, 1987).                                          may respond in one of three ways: survive, re-
                                                         cover, or thrive. Figure 17.1 is a schematic repre-
                                                         sentation of the process of challenge and outcome
The Protective Factor Model                              for a single hypothetical stressor. Each alternative
                                                         represents a potential psychological outcome in
A protective factor is a process that interacts with     response to a specific challenge.
a risk factor to reduce the probability of a nega-           In figure 17.1, “Survival” (line A) implies that
tive outcome. It moderates the effect of exposure        an individual continues to function, albeit in an
to risk. Rutter (1987) described a protective mech-      impaired fashion—For example, a breast cancer
anism as an interactive process that helps iden-         patient who sits quietly at home waiting to die
tify “multiplicative interactions or synergistic af-     despite the fact that every indication suggests
fects in which one variable potentates the effect        her lumpectomy plus radiation was effective and
of another” (p. 106).                                    her prognosis is good. The psychological conse-
160   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources




                   figure 17.1 Outcomes of challenge: potential consequences for a single
                   hypothetical stressor.


quence of the event was so debilitating that re-                one’s sense of purpose, meaning, or identity. The
covery is not possible. “Recovery” (line B) indi-               construct of resilience in psychology has been
cates a return to baseline. After the decrement as-             essentially homeostatic, emphasizing an inher-
sociated with an initial challenge, the individual              ent human capacity to recover from adversity and
is able to return to previous levels of functioning.            restore equilibrium of functioning (Bonanno,
For example, following rehabilitation from a mild               2004). In contrast, O’Leary and Ickovics’s (1995)
stroke, an individual may be able to carry on with              conception of thriving represents a value-added
life much in the same way as before. “Thriving”                 construct. Understanding the concept and proc-
(line C) represents the ability to go beyond the                ess can provide an important basis for theoretical
original level of psychosocial functioning, to grow             development, empirical research, and clinical
vigorously, to flourish. Through the interactive                 intervention.
process of confronting and coping with a chal-
lenge, a transformation occurs. The individual
does not merely return to a previous state but,                 Determinants of Thriving
rather, grows beyond it and in the process adds
value to life. It is this conception of thriving that           Given the complexity of this process, thriving
differentiates this model of resilience from prior              must be multidetermined. The individual and so-
formulations. Thriving may be manifested in                     cial factors that may be important determinants
three domains; behaviorally, cognitively, and                   of health, prevention, recovery, and maintenance
emotionally. Thriving is transformative. It is con-             have been identified (for review see, e.g., Adler &
tingent upon a fundamental cognitive shift in re-               Matthews, 1994). However, few investigators have
sponse to challenge. Challenge provides the op-                 explored factors associated with moving beyond
portunity for change because it forces individuals              homeostasis in response to challenge. Individual
to confront personal priorities and to reexamine                and social resources have been found to play a
their sense of self. For such transformation to                 role in thriving (O’Leary & Ickovics, 1995).
occur the challenge must be profound, an event
such as facing a life-threatening illness, a severe
                                                                Individual Resources
traumatic accident or victimization, a great loss,
or an existential crisis-events that shake the                  Personality factors such as hardiness, coping,
foundation of one’s life, calling into question                 and a sense of coherence have been theoretically
                                                               Chapter 17 Resilience and Empowerment   161


and empirically linked to disease and health           examines meaning as an outcome of the process
(Friedman, 1990, 1991). Personality factors are        of adjustment (e.g., meaningfulness or increased
most often linked to thriving. For example, Siegel     existential awareness). For example, Park and
(1986) wrote about the exceptional cancer pa-          Folkman’s (1997) transactional model of coping
tients with whom he worked, pointing to their          with aversive life events delineates the functions
ability to mobilize personal resources in their        of meaning in the processes through which peo-
struggles. More recently, Florian, Mikulincer, and     ple cope with stressful events. They conceptu-
Taubman (1995) found that hardy individuals are        alize meaning as perceptions of significance
more confident and better able to use active cop-       and distinguish between two types of meaning,
ing and available social support, rendering them       global and situational. Global meaning refers to
more able to deal with distress when they experi-      an abstract, generalized form of meaning com-
ence it. Other individual difference variables that    prising an individual’s enduring beliefs and val-
have been identified as potentially important in       ued goals. It influences a person’s understanding
promoting thriving include self-enhancement            of the past, present, and future as it encompasses
(Bonanno, Rennicke, Dekel, & Rosen, in prepara-        her or his fundamental assumptions and expec-
tion), repressive coping (Bonanno & Field, 2001;       tations about the world. Alternatively, situational
Bonanno, Noll, Putman, O’Neill, & Trickett,            meaning denotes a more specific type of mean-
2003), and positive emotion (Fredrickson, Tu-          ing created through the interaction between a
gade, Waugh, & Larkin, 2003).
                                                       given situation and the individual’s global mean-
    Cognitive resources are also critical to thriv-
                                                       ing. Situational meaning is composed of ap-
ing. Cognition influences how individuals per-
                                                       praisal of meaning, the search for meaning, and
ceive risks and how they subsequently deal with
                                                       meaning as an outcome. The search for meaning
it. Cognitive factors such as threat appraisal, per-
                                                       refers to actual coping processes employed in
ceived personal risks, generalized expectancies
                                                       stressful situations, particularly those in which
for good versus bad outcomes, and self-efficacy
                                                       loss has occurred, such as bereavement. Accord-
may all be critical personal resources. The signif-
                                                       ing to Park and Folkman (1997), a fundamental
icance of finding meaning in the challenge is a
                                                       function of the meaning-making process entails
theme that reoccurs in the literature pertinent to
                                                       reappraisal of meaning in which an individual
thriving. For example, Folkman and her col-
                                                       attempts to diminish the disparity between the
leagues found that even in their darkest mo-
                                                       situational meaning of an event and the existing
ments, many caregivers to AIDS patients find
                                                       global meaning. Thus, “reappraisal processes
positive meaning in the context of caring for their
sick partners (Folkman, Chesney, & Christopher-        transform appraised meaning and global mean-
Richards, 1994).                                       ing either by modifying the meaning of an event
                                                       to make I consistent with preexisting beliefs and
                                                       goals or by modifying relevant beliefs and goals
Meaning
                                                       to accommodate the event, or both” (p. 125). The
O’Leary, Alday, and Ickovics (1998) reviewed a         cognitive strategies used to change situational
number of current psychological models of              meaning may include attribution processes, com-
change and growth in an effort to identify the an-     pensatory self-enhancement, downward com-
tecedents and correlates of positive change re-        parisons, and developing new perspectives on
sulting from negative events. Of the eight models      the situation. Likewise, individuals may change
they reviewed in detail, six identified meaning         their global meaning by revising their global be-
making, or appraisal, as critical to growth. How-      liefs or altering their fundamental goals. Rumi-
ever, the conceptual and operational formula-          nation occurs if the reappraisal of meaning does
tions employed in these models vary greatly.           not diminish incongruence between situational
Recently, Acquirre (2004) has reviewed this lit-       and global meaning. In this event, fixation in this
erature distinguishing between meaning as a            cycle of reappraisal may occur, rendering the in-
coping activity or process (meaning making or          dividual powerless to engage the challenge effec-
meaning reconstruction), while other research          tively without assistance.
162   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


EMPOWERMENT                                                     own negative cognitions. Based on these results,
                                                                Ozer and Bandura contend that an effective
Most of what is known about those who are re-                   means of developing a resilient sense of efficacy
silient in the face of adversity and grow is based              is through mastery experiences. According to
on studies of individuals who have confronted                   them, performance successes build a sense of
challenge and both access and utilize the individ-              personal efficacy, whereas performance failures
ual and social resources necessary to thrive. One               undermine it. Thus, mastery can be regarded as a
critical determinant of the ability to utilize these            key component of empowerment. And mastery
resources is engaging directly with the challeng-               can be acquired through intervention.
ing event. Engagement may occur “naturally”—                        Empowerment has become one of the recent
that is, the individual may be predisposed to                   therapeutic approaches to enhance an individ-
stand and face threatening events, or it may be                 ual’s ability to successfully deal with adversity.
fostered through therapeutic intervention in                    One of the key characteristics of feminist ap-
which the individual is empowered to acquire                    proaches to therapy is empowerment. Anchored
a sense of control over her behavior, feelings,                 in its belief systems, empowerment feminist ther-
thoughts, and development (Worell & Remer,                      apy is based upon four principles: (a) personal
1992). People who are empowered have a pro-                     and social identities are interdependent, (b) the
active approach to life and understand the factors              personal is political, (c) egalitarian relationships,
that hinder or enhance their efforts to resolve is-             and (d) valuing the female perspective (Worell &
sues and to obtain desired outcomes (Lee, 1989).                Remer, 2003). The goal of feminist therapy is to
Given their (low) status in society, women are                  validate a woman’s experience and acknowledge
often among the groups, including ethnic mi-                    her right to make decisions affecting her own life.
norities, children, the homeless, the elderly, and              The goal of this therapy is to work on personal em-
the physically and mentally disabled, recognized                powerment, to help women to become more in-
and/or designated as oppressed or disempow-                     dependent and assertive about attaining goals
ered. Moving individuals or groups from their                   and achieving change and psychological growth.
disempowered status toward empowerment is                       This goal can be attained by working on the
contingent upon providing them with a sense of                  client’s ability to control her own life and by
control and promoting in them a feeling of self-                making changes that would have positive conse-
efficacy or self-competence (Bandura, 1997).                     quences for her well-being and circumstances
    According to Ozer and Bandura (1990), per-                  (Worell & Remer, 1992, 2003). The therapeutic
ceived self-efficacy is manifested in a belief in                process involves exploring various coping skills in
one’s capacities to mobilize the motivation, cog-               the face of external and internal stressors and mo-
nitive resources, and courses of action necessary               bilizing external and internal resources. Internal
to exercise control over events. Such beliefs are               resources are individual resources such as per-
essential to ensure the perseverance essential to               sonality traits like hardiness, self-appraisal, and
successfully confront or engage challenge.                      self-efficacy, and external resources are social
    A number of studies provide evidence for the                support and other external resources.
role of empowerment as requisite for personal                       In empowerment-focused therapy, a primary
and social change (Bandura, 1989; Rappaport,                    goal of intervention would be to encourage and
Swift, & Hess, 1984; Ratcliff, 1984). For example,              support the individual to engage in the issue,
Ozer and Bandura (1990) found that personal em-                 rather than avoid it. According to Ozer and
powerment is a critical determinant of the ability              Bandura (1990), individuals tend to avoid activi-
to control and prevent sexual abuse. Women who                  ties and situations they believe exceed their cop-
participated in a mastery-modeling program in                   ing capabilities, but readily undertake activities
which they mastered the physical skills necessary               and select social environments they judge them-
to defend themselves successfully against un-                   selves capable of handling. In empowerment-
armed sexual assailants became significantly                    focused therapy, the relationship between the
more confident in their abilities to cope with                   therapist and the client centers on discovering as-
problematic social situations and to control their              sertive and functional ways of expressing personal
                                                                 Chapter 17 Resilience and Empowerment   163


power and strong emotions such as anger. Self-           ening events (Bandura, 1989). Therefore, individ-
esteem is enhanced by highlighting the client’s          uals who believe in their perceived coping capa-
unique contributions, strengths, and achieve-            bilities do not cave in when faced with an adverse
ments. The therapist provides opportunities for          situation. However, those individuals who be-
constant evaluation and feedback of change and           lieve they cannot manage threats experiences
growth. In this way, the client becomes aware of         high level of anxiety (Ozer & Bandura, 1990). Such
external forces that limit her freedom as well as        individuals succumb to the situation and tend to
forces that can be mobilized to extend it (Worell        dwell on their coping deficiencies and view many
& Remer, 1992, 2003).                                    facets of the environment as dangerous, resulting
     A diagrammed representation of how empow-           in impaired level of functioning (Ozer & Bandura,
erment-focused intervention may foster resilience        1990). Intervention with such individuals will
is presented in figure 17.2. This model illustrates       focus on changing their negative cognitions about
that in the presence of an adverse life situation        the self and emphasize learning skills that will
a woman is provided with an opportunity for              aid them in increasing their capability to cope
growth and change. However, adverse situations           with threatening situations—for example, learn-
in life are not always perceived as opportunities.       ing self-defense for women.
It is our assumption that individuals who are able           Empowerment provides the individual with
to face the challenge and overcome the adversity         the ability to choose how she wishes to respond
are the ones who are able to recognize and mobi-         to the external world, within her own cultural
lize internal and external resources. They are re-       contexts and restraints by clarifying the line be-
silient. However, those individuals who are not          tween internally and externally controlled life
able to cope with the challenges life presents may       events. Those who are empowered can take ac-
be able to overcome the situation with the help of       tions to control potentially threatening situations
therapeutic intervention. As mentioned earlier,          and solve problems. As a result, they are able to
the goal of the therapy would be to empower              develop new positive behaviors, attitudes, and
such individuals by the means of increasing              motivation to assume control to actualize appro-
their self-efficacy, which in turn will strengthen       priate choices (Washington & Moxley, 2003). They
their beliefs in their capability to mobilize mo-        can identify and effectively utilize the resources
tivation, cognitive resources, and courses of ac-        available and have the confidence necessary to
tion needed to exercise control over the given           pursue resources that are currently not available
events (Ozer and Bandura, 1990).                         but which might be accessed over time, given
     Social cognitive theorists assert that self-        the appropriate strategy. As individuals are em-
efficacy provides control over potentially threat-       powered, either naturally or through therapeu-




 figure 17.2 Model of two possible routes to resilience and thriving.
164    Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


tic intervention they become resilient in the face                Fredrickson, B. L., Tugade, M. M., Waugh, C. E., &
of adversity.                                                        Larkin, G. R. (2003). What good are positive emo-
                                                                     tions in crisis? A prospective study of resilience
                                                                     and emotion following the terrorist attacks on the
                                                                     United States on September 11th, 2001. Journal of
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    of women’s health: Progress and challenges in re-            siliency: Implications for schools and policy. Social
    search and application. Washington, DC: American             Policy Report. Society for Research in Child Devel-
    Psychological Association.                                   opment, 8, 1–18.
                                  Since the Second World War, the psychological
                                  study of human emotions and mental health has
                                  focused primarily on negative moods and patho-
                                  logical states, rather than on positive ones (Selig-
                                  man & Csikszentmihalyi, 2000). Recognizing this
                                  imbalance, researchers have been showing in-
                                  creased empirical interest in topics such as pos-
                                  itive emotions, human strengths, and norma-
                                  tive functioning. Yet a focus on negative and
                                  maladaptive behavior continues to persist. For
                                  example, entering “depression” as a keyword
                                  into PsycINFO, a popular search engine for the
                                  psychological sciences, yields well over 85,000
                                  entries. The same search using “positive affect”
                                  as a keyword generates a comparatively paltry
                                  4,000 results and “happiness” only about 2,000
                                  results. Although researchers may never lose the
                                  undoubtedly natural and valuable inclination to
                                  study what is wrong with human behavior, they
                                  should not overlook the equally important ques-
                                  tion, “What is right with human behavior?” After
                                  all, the vast majority of individuals, including
                                  girls and women, report positive feelings most of
                                  the time (Diener & Diener, 1996).
                                      One of the domains of this long-overdue and
                                  more optimistic approach is the study of subjec-
                                  tive well-being (SWB). SWB, which is commonly
                                  termed “happiness” or “well-being” by the lay-
                                  person, concerns people’s day-to-day feelings
                                  and evaluations of their lives. With this in mind,
                                  the central goals of this chapter are to broadly
                                  define what is meant by SWB, to describe the
SONJA LYUBOMIRSKY                 central findings in this field, to provide a per-
and R E N E D I C K E R H O O F   spective of SWB as it relates to the unique lives of
                                  girls and women, and, finally, to briefly discuss
                                  the mechanisms by which women can increase
                                  their personal SWB levels.
Subjective Well-Being
                                  THE DEFINING CHARACTERISTICS
                                  OF SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING




18
                                  As mentioned previously, SWB is a construct that
                                  turns the spotlight away from dissatisfaction
                                  with life and undesirable emotional states, such
                                  as anxiety and stress, to satisfaction with life,
                                  happiness, and desirable emotional states, such
                                  as joy and excitement. SWB is defined as com-
                                  prising both cognitive (judgmental) and affective
                                  (emotional) components (Diener, Suh, Lucas, &


166
                                                                       Chapter 18 Subjective Well-Being    167


Smith, 1999). The cognitive component consists          of her emotional states, a measure of her well-
of a person’s judgments of her satisfaction with        being can presumably be acquired anytime and
life in general, as well as judgments about spe-        anywhere. Furthermore, the study of SWB is char-
cific areas of her life (e.g., marital satisfaction or   acteristically concerned with long-term evalua-
satisfaction with education). The affective com-        tions of a person’s life (Diener & Diener, 1998).
ponent, on the other hand, involves both a per-         Researchers in this field do not just want to know
son’s pleasant and unpleasant moods or emo-             only how a woman feels at any given moment;
tions. Thus, a woman who judges herself to be           they want to know how she feels over a more re-
very satisfied with life overall and who experi-         liable span of time. This distinction is important,
ences frequent pleasant or positive emotional           because an assessment of well-being made dur-
states, while experiencing infrequent unpleasant        ing a particular moment in time (e.g., immedi-
or negative emotional states, can be said to harbor     ately after a tense conflict with her husband) may
high SWB. In contrast, a woman who is generally         be entirely atypical of a woman’s aggregated self
dissatisfied with her life and who experiences rel-      (e.g., she may be upbeat and easy-going most of
atively few pleasant or positive emotional states,      the time).
while experiencing many unpleasant or negative
emotional states, may be said to have low SWB.
    Several other defining characteristics of SWB        THE MEASUREMENT OF SUBJECTIVE
should be noted. The first characteristic relates        WELL-BEING
to the uniqueness and importance of the evalua-
tor’s perspective—that is, the perspective of the       The construct of SWB is typically measured with
person whose well-being is being judged. Thus,          self-report scales. The consensus among re-
well-being is assessed by the target individual,        searchers is that, while not entirely unbiased,
and not by some objective measure, such as a            self-reports of SWB are generally valid (Diener &
physiological indicator or the report of a clini-       Lucas, 2000; Sandvik, Diener, & Seidlitz, 1993).
cian or peer (Diener & Diener, 1998). This being        For example, three commonly used scales that
the case, it is possible (although unlikely) for an     measure SWB—the Satisfaction With Life Scale
individual with high SWB, who feels very satis-         (SWLS; Diener, Emmons, Larsen, & Griffin,
fied and happy, to meet clinical criteria for a psy-     1985), the Positive Affect and Negative Affect
chiatric disorder. At the same time, SWB cannot         Schedule (PANAS; Watson, Clark, & Tellegen,
always be equated with superior functioning.            1988), and the Psychological Well-Being Scale
Whereas authors such as Virginia Woolf and              (PWB; Ryff, 1989)—have all been found to display
Sylvia Plath made significant contributions to           excellent psychometric properties (Pavot &
the world through their writing, neither of these       Diener, 1993; Ryff & Keyes, 1995; Watson et al.,
women could be said to have had a high level of         1988). The SWLS, which assesses the cognitive
well-being. Therefore, SWB is neither an adequate       component of SWB, asks participants to rate the
assessment of psychological mental health nor a         extent to which they agree with the following
reliable indicator of who will or will not be a pro-    items: (a) In most ways, my life is close to my ideal;
ductive member of society, but it does provide us       (b) The conditions of my life are excellent; (c) I am
with a very important piece of the well-being           satisfied with my life; (d) So far I have gotten the
puzzle—namely, the respondent’s point of view.          important things I want in life; and (e) If I could
    Another distinctive characteristic of SWB is        live my life over, I would change almost nothing.
that it is experienced unconsciously and contin-        In contrast, the PANAS, used to assess the affec-
uously (Diener & Lucas, 2000). Every individual,        tive component of SWB, comprises 10 positive
at any particular moment in time, is experienc-         and 10 negative emotions that describe the self
ing some type of emotion. These states are usu-         (e.g., enthusiastic, inspired, distressed, upset).
ally maintained just outside of the realm of            Respondents are asked to indicate the extent to
awareness and, indeed, must be called to a per-         which they have recently felt these emotions on
son’s attention when a particular mood is being         a scale from 1 (i.e., very rarely or not at all) to 5
assessed. However, once a person is made aware          (i.e., very often).
168   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


    Finally, a third commonly used measure of                   report measures are both practical and econom-
well-being, the PWB scale, assesses both cognitive              ically feasible for use in research, it is wise to con-
and affective aspects of subjective well-being and              tinue employing them in conjunction with addi-
can be used to show that women can differ in their              tional non-self-report assessment tools (Diener
levels of well-being in particular life domains.                & Larsen, 1993). Such supplementary measures
Based on a theory-driven conceptualization of                   might include experience sampling (e.g., obtain-
well-being, this 84-item measure taps six dimen-                ing multiple evaluations of a woman’s well-being
sions of SWB found to characterize positive psy-                over a single day, week, or month; see Larsen,
chological functioning: autonomy, environmen-                   Diener, & Emmons, 1986) and observational study
tal mastery, personal growth, positive relations                of affective expressions (e.g., using judges to as-
with others, purpose in life, and self-acceptance.              sess the sincerity of women’s smiles in yearbook
Sample items on each of these scales include,                   pictures; see Harker & Keltner, 2001).
“People rarely talk me into doing things I don’t
want to do” (autonomy), “In general, I feel I am in
charge of the situation in which I live” (mastery),             THE CORRELATES OF SUBJECTIVE
“I feel like I get a lot out of my friendships”                 WELL-BEING
(growth), “Most people see me as loving and af-
fectionate” (relations), “I have a sense of direction           What characterizes people who have high levels
and purpose in life” (purpose), and “In general, I              of well-being versus those who have low levels of
feel confident and positive about myself” (self-                 well-being? The first review of the correlates of
acceptance). Respondents select the degree to                   happiness and SWB was conducted over 35 years
which they disagree or agree with each item on a                ago (Wilson, 1967). This preliminary investigation
scale from 1 to 6.                                              made several bold yet premature statements
    The assumption behind these and other self-                 about what variables are related to well-being.
report measures of SWB is that the respondent—                  According to Wilson, “The happy person emerges
the person making the judgment—is uniquely                      as a young, healthy, well-educated, well-paid,
situated to provide a useful and accurate report                extraverted, optimistic, worry-free, religious,
of her cognitive and affective life experience. Yet,            married person with high self-esteem, high job
while it is intuitive that the respondent is in the             morale, modest aspirations, of either sex, and of
best position to report on her private, internal                a wide range of intelligence.” Since this initial re-
emotions, this “subjectivist” perspective has                   view, researchers still have not determined the
been criticized for its potential biases (Freund,               characteristics of the happy individual defini-
1985). Of course, biases in self-report measure-                tively; however, they have discovered that this
ment are not specific to the study of well-being.                conclusion was not entirely correct. For example,
Whenever self-reports are used, growing con-                    although Wilson proposed that income is impor-
cern and pressure exist to adopt a wider variety                tant to well-being, a large body of research now
of methodologies, such as observer/peer reports                 indicates that money is not necessarily the root
and physiological assessments. The primary con-                 of happiness (Diener & Biswas-Diener, 2002;
cern regarding error in the measurement of SWB                  Myers, 2000). In one oft-cited study supporting
is related to response biases—for example, the                  this conclusion, researchers found that a group
effects on well-being ratings of a woman’s cur-                 of lottery winners were not any happier than a
rent mood (e.g., due to a cloudy vs. sunny day, or              group of non-lottery winning controls (Brick-
a particularly stressful vs. fulfilling day at work)             man, Coates, & Janoff-Bulman, 1978). Further-
or of social desirability (e.g., the wish to appear             more, among a sample of 49 very rich people,
normal, healthy, and happy). However, many                      wealthy individuals were only slightly happier
studies have found that neither current mood                    than the average American (Diener, Horwitz, &
nor social desirability have discernible effects on             Emmons, 1985).
well-being measurement (Diener, Sandvik, Pavot,                     Additional studies have also revealed that
& Gallagher; 1991; Kozma & Stones, 1988). In light              once a person’s basic human needs have been
of these findings, and given the fact that self-                met (as they commonly are in industrialized na-
                                                                      Chapter 18 Subjective Well-Being   169


tions), wealth and SWB are only trivially corre-       sarily the happiest people after all (Charles,
lated with one another (Argyle, 1999; Inglehart,       Reynolds, & Gatz, 2001; Diener & Suh, 1998).
1990). Furthermore, gender has been shown to               What about ethnicity and well-being? Al-
moderate the effect of income on well-being. For       though this variable was left out of Wilson’s initial
example, Adelmann (1987) found that income was         review, many studies have focused on the ques-
positively correlated with happiness for men, but      tion of whether or not an individual’s ethnicity is
not for women. Likewise, among a sample of mar-        correlated to her SWB. Within the United States,
ried women, earnings did not affect a woman’s          for example, Whites are almost always found to be
likelihood of depression; however, among mar-          happier than their African American counterparts
ried men, income directly decreased the odds of        (Aldous & Ganey, 1999). Furthermore, a sample
becoming depressed (Ross & Huber, 1985). Such          drawn from South Africa (Moller & Schlemmer,
findings suggest that money may be relatively           1989) demonstrated that happiness could be or-
more likely to bring satisfaction and well-being to    dered from White participants (who were the
men because men are still more likely to assume        “happiest”) to Indians, to “Coloreds,” and then,
the role of breadwinner and, as such, rely on their    finally, to Blacks. These findings are not particu-
salaries to support their families. Yet, even given    larly surprising, given the benefits known to be as-
this result, it would appear that the common-          sociated with majority group affiliation. Indeed,
sense perception that “money can buy happi-            the primary explanation as to why Whites are gen-
ness” is not typically borne out in the empirical      erally more subjectively happy than ethnic mi-
findings, although many factors must be consid-         norities is that these minorities typically have less
ered (e.g., a nation’s economic growth status) be-     education, less income, and less access to desir-
fore definitive conclusions can be drawn.               able jobs (Argyle, 1999). After controlling for these
    In addition to the lack of evidence supporting     variables, the effect of ethnicity on well-being
a strong link between income and well-being,           becomes fairly weak (Veenhoven et al., 1994).
another variable whose association to SWB ap-              Although many of the original claims about
pears to have been overstated is health. Although      the links between SWB and other variables have
past research suggested that happier people are        since been found to be erroneous, a few findings
more healthy, more recent studies have not             continue to withstand the test of time. One ex-
replicated this finding. First, the positive correla-   ample is the link between well-being and person-
tion between health and SWB seems to hold up           ality. That is, individuals with high levels of SWB
only when the respondent rates his or her own          have still consistently been found to be relatively
health subjectively (Okun & George, 1984). When        more extraverted and optimistic, to have higher
a physician’s ratings of an individual’s health are    self-esteem, and to be less neurotic (Diener &
used, the correlation between health and SWB is        Lucas, 2000). Extraversion, optimism, and high
found to be much smaller. Whereas a strong case        self-esteem have all been shown to positively cor-
has been made for the importance of using sub-         relate with pleasant affect, whereas neuroticism
jective assessments of well-being (“Shouldn’t the      has been shown to positively correlate with un-
respondent know best how happy she is?”), the          pleasant affect. Further, life satisfaction, the cog-
same case for subjective assessments of physical       nitive component of SWB, has been found to be
health may not be so easily defended (“Should a        correlated with self-esteem across many Western
patient’s assessment of her physical health be         nations (Diener & Larsen, 1993).
considered over a doctor’s?”).                             Another one of Wilson’s (1967) conclusions
    Along with the mixed findings concerning the        that appears to have been accurate was the as-
relation of well-being to income and health, an        sertion that gender has no effect on a person’s
association between well-being and age has also        well-being. Can it truly be the case that women
not been upheld since Wilson’s 1967 review.            are no less happy than their male counterparts
Whereas, in the past, researchers believed that        given the androcentric world in which they live?
younger individuals are typically happier than         Although this notion challenges what is com-
older individuals, a brief overview of the current     monly understood about women and their his-
literature reveals that the young are not neces-       torical role in nearly all societies, much empiri-
170   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


cal work continues to report that gender is unre-                employed); however, over a period of time, indi-
lated to well-being (Francis, 1999), and some                    viduals become habituated to these new circum-
studies have even found that women are happier                   stances and ultimately return to their baseline
than men (Aldous & Ganey, 1999). Along with the                  level of well-being. One study, for example, re-
appealing and intuitive belief that younger peo-                 vealed that paraplegics and quadriplegics experi-
ple should be happier than older people, the                     enced high levels of unpleasant affect immedi-
question of whether or not women are actually                    ately after their initial paralysis; but, a mere two
as happy or happier than men will be the focus of                months later, these same individuals showed
the remainder of this chapter.                                   more pleasant than unpleasant affect (Silver, 1982).
                                                                 Furthermore, Brickman and colleagues’ (1978)
                                                                 study of the well-being of lottery winners versus
THE SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING OF WOMEN                               nonwinners suggested that even extremely desir-
                                                                 able events can ultimately produce adaptation.
Throughout history, women have faced a broad                     Although participants in this study had recently
spectrum of discrimination, ranging from the                     won between $50,000 to $1 million, they were only
once commonly held belief that females are in-                   slightly more satisfied with their lives than non-
tellectually inferior to males, to the still prevalent           winners. Along these lines, perhaps because de-
objectification of women in all types of media. In                mographic status is typically stable throughout
addition to battling these ever-present sexisms,                 life, an adult would have long since adapted to the
on a global level, women continue to make less                   effects on her well-being of being young or old,
money than men; women experience greater                         female or male, and Black or White (Inglehart,
poverty and lack of power in their families and                  2002). Thus, it may be the case that adult women
communities; women endure violence specific                       have adapted to the disadvantages of being fe-
to their gender; and women are more likely to                    male by the time of childhood or adolescence
suffer a variety of poor reproductive and mental                 and, consequently, show no effects of these dis-
health outcomes, such as unwanted pregnancy,                     advantages on well-being through the course of
unsafe abortion, maternal mortality, and sexu-                   their lives. This argument explains why exposure
ally transmitted disease (Murphy, 2003). Indeed,                 to a set of distinctive life stressors (e.g., gender
the 1995 Human Development Report commis-                        discrimination and inequality) appears to have
sioned by the United Nations Development Pro-                    little to no effect on women’s well-being.
gramme (UNDP, 1995) stated that, “In no society                      However, although it is plausible that women
do women enjoy the same opportunities as men.”                   have simply adapted early on to many of the so-
Given these facts, it seems intuitive that women                 cietal drawbacks of being female, this notion
should not be as happy overall as men. Yet re-                   cannot account for one robust finding in the
search on well-being has consistently found that                 literature—that is, that not only are women
not only are women as happy as their male coun-                  equally as happy or more happy than men, but
terparts (Francis, 1999), but in some samples they               they are also twice as likely as men to be diag-
appear to be slightly happier (Aldous & Ganey,                   nosed with clinical depression (Nolen-Hoeksema,
1999).                                                           1987). Given this paradoxical result, the question
    One explanation for the lack of gender differ-               arises, “How can women be both more depressed
ences in well-being applies more broadly to un-                  and happier than men?” Hedonic adaptation
derstanding why many demographic variables                       cannot adequately explain these apparently di-
(e.g., income, gender, ethnicity, education, etc.)               vergent findings. A more persuasive account is
are not strongly correlated with SWB. Researchers                provided in research on “affect intensity,” defined
have attempted to account for such findings by                    as a person’s degree of response to emotion-
referring to the concept of hedonic adaptation                   provoking stimuli (Larsen & Diener, 1987). Inter-
(Diener et al., 1999). The process of adaptation                 estingly, people who experience high levels of
involves an initial reaction—either positive or                  negative affect have been found also to experi-
negative—to new life circumstances (e.g., moving                 ence high levels of positive affect (Fujita, Diener,
to a desirable new location or becoming un-                      & Sandvik, 1991; Larsen & Diener, 1987). Thus, it is
                                                                      Chapter 18 Subjective Well-Being   171


conceivable that an individual can simultane-          (Carstensen, 1995). As Lang and Heckhausen
ously report both depressive affect and high lev-      (2001) note, individuals are happy and satisfied to
els of well-being. For example, in one study, re-      the extent that they believe they can successfully
searchers demonstrated that, while women are no        master the goals and tasks of their everyday life.
happier than men, they are significantly more af-           Some researchers have focused on studying
fectively intense than men (Fujita et al., 1991).      how positive and negative affect change over the
Thus, the finding that women are twice as sus-          life course (Charles et al., 2001). For example, do
ceptible to depression as men is not necessarily       older people experience more positive emotions
inconsistent with the finding that women are also       and fewer negative emotions than younger peo-
as happy or happier than men. That is, women           ple, or is it the reverse? With regard to positive
may be both more depressed and happier than            emotions, the evidence is mixed—sometimes
men because they experience both positive and          studies show that positive affect increases across
negative emotions more intensely. Alternatively,       the life span (Mroczek & Kolarz, 1998), while
men may simply be relatively more emotionally          other studies show that positive affect decreases
inhibited. Further research is needed to clarify the   with age (Diener & Suh, 1998) or does not change
mechanisms by which affect intensity accounts          at all (Barrick, Hutchinson, & Deckers, 1989).
for gender differences in well-being, as well as in    Given these results, little overall evidence exists
depression.                                            to indicate definitive age differences in the expe-
                                                       rience of positive emotions (Charles et al., 2001).
                                                           With regard to negative emotions, the empiri-
WOMEN’S SUBJECTIVE WELL-BEING                          cal evidence has been more decisive. The general
ACROSS THE LIFE SPAN                                   finding is that negative affect is reported less fre-
                                                       quently by older persons than by younger persons
As noted previously, early research on well-being      (Charles et al., 2001; Gross et al., 1997), although
and age reported that younger people were gen-         this effect may reverse around the age of 60
erally happier than older people (Wilson, 1967), a     (Diener & Suh, 1998). Interestingly, just as gender
result that is consistent with most people’s ex-       differences in affect intensity have been used to
pectations. After all, one need only turn on a tele-   explain why women report both more depression
vision to capture a glimpse of Western youth-          and possibly more happiness than men, age dif-
obsessed culture. For example, plastic surgery,        ferences in affect intensity have been used to ex-
which essentially attempts to recover an individ-      plain why older persons may sometimes express
ual’s youth, is more popular than ever and many        both less positive and less negative affect than
pop stars’ careers (e.g., Britney Spears and Mandy     younger persons. For example, one study showed
Moore) now peak before they are even old enough        that emotional intensity decreases somewhat as
to drink legally. Meanwhile, at least in the United    people age (Diener, Sandvik, & Larsen, 1985). Fur-
States, a continued devaluation and disinterest        thermore, challenging the possibility that such
in older Americans persists (Inglehart, 2002).         findings may be a result of a cohort effect, a longi-
Given these facts, one is surprised to learn that      tudinal analysis indicated that both positive and
cross-sectional research has found negligible age      negative affect are reduced across individuals’
differences in well-being (Diener & Suh, 1998).        lives (Charles et al., 2001). In this study, negative
Furthermore, evidence that older people may be         affect decreased continuously with age, while
happier than younger people is now growing             positive affect remained relatively stable among
(Charles et al., 2001). Why might older women          the young and middle-aged, decreasing only
and men be happier than younger women and              slightly among the oldest group. It may be that, as
men, given the media’s overt message that youth        people grow older, they adapt to life’s ups and
is so desirable? One explanation, based in so-         downs, and this adaptation results in a smaller
cioemotional selectivity theory, proposes that         range of high and low emotional responses. Fur-
older people are essentially emotionally wiser—        ther research is needed to better understand how
that is, they learn to structure their lives and to    well-being changes as people move from youth
pursue goals that increase positive emotions           into old age. This research is particularly relevant
172   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


to women, whose estimated life expectancy in the                 repeatedly shown to have a positive impact on
last decade has been about 79 years, from 5.5 to                 peoples’ moods (Arent, Landers, & Etnier, 2000).
7 years longer than that of men (National Center                 Additionally, studies that have induced partici-
for Health Statistics, 2002). In any case, at present,           pants to practice particular intentional activities
the outlook is considerably more optimistic for                  with effort and commitment have demonstrated
older individuals than once thought. One can no                  that such activities as regularly counting one’s
longer assume that youth is the key to happiness                 blessings (Emmons & McCullough, 2003), com-
and, as people grow older, this is certainly some-               mitting systematic acts of kindness (Lyubomirsky,
thing in which they can take comfort.                            Sheldon, & Schkade, 2003), engaging in daily
                                                                 thoughtful self-reflection (Sousa & Lyubomirsky,
                                                                 2003), and practicing optimistic thinking (King,
ENHANCING WOMEN’S SUBJECTIVE                                     2001) can boost people’s happiness levels. Fur-
WELL-BEING                                                       thermore, it appears that setting and achieving
                                                                 “self-concordant” life goals (i.e., goals that match
As mentioned previously, positive psychological                  one’s interests and values) can help to increase
functioning and well-being were not always of                    well-being as well (Sheldon, Kasser, Smith, &
focal interest to students of human behavior.                    Share, 2002). These and other research programs
However, as this tide changes, researchers are                   are suggesting that increasing women’s SWB is
beginning to ask not only, “What characterizes a                 not only possible but readily accessible to most
happy individual?” but more applicably, “How                     people who are willing and able to put forth the
can people be made happier?” Initially, many                     effort. Women either unwilling or unable to im-
psychologists believed that a woman with low                     prove their well-being may be those experienc-
SWB might be doomed to accept her unhappy                        ing negative life circumstances (e.g., recent lay-
fate. One reason for such pessimism about the                    off, divorce, or unpleasant living quarters) or
possibility of boosting well-being is the assump-                those habitually engaged in self-destructive, self-
tion of a genetically determined set point for                   denigrating, or maladaptive practices (e.g., drug
happiness. That is, many researchers accept the                  abuse, excessive self-criticism, or obsessive ru-
notion that each person has a characteristic level               mination); these individuals must address their
of happiness to which they will inevitably return,               pressing problems to immediately relieve their
regardless of changing circumstances or any ef-                  depression or unhappiness before attempting to
fort to the contrary. This concept has been sup-                 bolster their happiness levels from the neutral to
ported by evidence suggesting that the heritabil-                the positive range.
ity of well-being may be as high as 80% (Lykken
& Tellegen, 1996). Another reason that many re-
searchers are pessimistic about people’s ability                 CONCLUSIONS
to actively increase happiness is the notion of he-
donic adaptation. As discussed previously, he-                   The purpose of this chapter was fourfold. We
donic adaptation suggests that gains in SWB will                 began by introducing the concept of subjective
be temporary because humans quickly adapt to                     well-being and discussed how SWB is character-
new positive life circumstances. This adaptation                 ized and measured in the literature. Next, we
is thought to cause initial increases in happiness               briefly reviewed a number of variables that corre-
to dissipate once the novelty of a positive cir-                 late with well-being. The remaining portions of
cumstantial change wears off.                                    the chapter were dedicated to three subtopics.
    Yet, even though a woman’s level of SWB may                  The first, an overview of how well-being is related
be highly heritable and prone to adaptation, new                 to gender, discussed the finding that women are
research is beginning to provide empowering evi-                 often as happy or happier than men while being
dence that women can increase and maintain                       twice as likely as men to be depressed. An expla-
their personal psychological well-being—through                  nation for this seemingly paradoxical, but robust,
their own physical and mental efforts. For exam-                 finding was provided. The second topic, a sum-
ple, maintaining an exercise program has been                    mary of how well-being changes across the life
                                                                             Chapter 18   Subjective Well-Being    173


span, addressed another surprising result—                   Charles, S. T., Reynolds, C. A., & Gatz, M. (2001). Age-
namely, that well-being often appears to increase               related differences and change in positive and
                                                                negative affect over 23 years. Journal of Personal-
as women and men grow older. This research
                                                                ity and Social Psychology, 80, 136–151.
challenges commonly held notions that the qual-              Diener, E., & Biswas-Diener, R. (2002). Will money in-
ity of one’s life will be reduced with age. Finally,            crease subjective well-being? A literature review
we broached the topic of how to increase women’s                and guide to needed research. Social Indicators
SWB. Although there may be limitations to this                  Research, 57, 119–169.
                                                             Diener, E., & Diener, C. (1996). Most people are
emerging line of research, initial attempts to in-
                                                                happy. Psychological Science, 7, 181–185.
crease well-being via effortful, intentional activi-         Diener, E., & Diener, M. B. (1998). Happiness: Subjec-
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acts, pursuing valued goals) have been promising                dia of mental health (pp. 311–321). San Diego, CA:
in samples of relatively healthy, nondepressed                  Academic Press.
                                                             Diener, E., Emmons, R. A., Larsen, R. J., & Griffin, S.
individuals.
                                                                (1985). The satisfaction with life scale. Journal of
    Given the complicated and unique life cir-                  Personality Assessment, 49, 71–75.
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                                                                263–274.
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                                                             Diener, E., & Larsen, R. J. (1993). The experience of
how they experience positive and negative emo-                  emotional well-being: Stabilities in the global as-
tions. All in all, the study of SWB is showing that             sessment of emotion. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland
many women are happy, contented individuals.                    (Eds.), Handbook of emotion (pp. 405–415). New
It is a testament to female resiliency that, in spite           York: Guilford Press.
                                                             Diener, E., & Lucas, R. E. (2000). Subjective emo-
of numerous life obstacles, injustices, and preju-
                                                                tional well-being. In M. Lewis & J. M. Haviland-
dices, women—and especially older women—                        Jones (Eds.), Handbook of emotions (2nd ed.,
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                                                             Diener, E., Sandvik, E., & Larsen, R. J. (1985). Age and
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                                The sense of entitlement is defined as a set of at-
                                titudes about what a person feels she or he has a
                                right to expect from others. As such, it is viewed
                                as key to the perception of unfair treatment and
                                the motivation to seek change. Because of its link
                                to social justice, entitlement has been a central
                                construct in attempts to understand the gen-
                                dered asymmetries of social life and in the search
                                to identify both the problems and facilitators as-
                                sociated with recent efforts to achieve gender
                                equality.



                                GENDERED ASYMMETRIES

                                Since the 1970s, the opportunities and achieve-
                                ments of women and girls have expanded dra-
                                matically. Unlike 30 years ago, women now re-
                                ceive the majority of associate’s, bachelor’s, and
                                master’s degrees, constitute almost half (47%) of
                                the paid labor force, and are increasingly visible
                                across all spheres of economic and public life.
                                Equally dramatic are the shifts in women’s rela-
VANESSA L. MCGANN               tionships at home. Women’s increased labor
and J A N I C E M . S T E I L   force participation, including the participation
                                of those who are married and mothers of young
                                children, has made the dual-earner family the
The Sense                       modal family in America. As well, dual-earner
                                families now have the highest median incomes,
of Entitlement:                 and this is increasingly due to the economic con-
                                tributions of employed wives. Indeed, almost
Implications                    30% of these women now earn more than their
                                spouses, and this has brought increasing expec-
for Gender Equality             tations of greater work sharing at home.
                                    Despite the advances, women have yet to
and Psychological               achieve outcomes equal to those of men. While
                                young women represent the majority of the stu-
Well-Being                      dent body, and receive the majority of degrees in
                                university undergraduate and master’s programs,
                                women remain underrepresented at the highest
                                levels. Women receive only 41% of doctoral de-
                                grees and represent less than 20% of tenured full




19
                                professors (Reid & Zalk, 2001). Women also reap
                                fewer returns on their educational investments. In
                                2001, the median income of a woman with an as-
                                sociate’s degree was less than that of a man with
                                only a high school education ($31,194 vs. $33,037,
                                respectively; U.S. Census Bureau, 2003). Women
                                who are employed full time earn only 79 cents rel-
                                ative to every dollar earned by a comparable man


                                                                               175
176   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


(Institute for Women’s Policy Research, 2004);                   served. Again, this was the case even when rele-
and women constitute only 5% of the top earning                  vant factors such as age, education level, and job
corporate officers at Fortune 500 companies. In-                  characteristics were held constant (Desmarais &
deed, “women earn less than men in all ethnic                    Curtis, 1997a, 1997b).
groups, across all educational categories, across                    Evidence from laboratory studies is equally
the life cycle, within detailed occupational cate-               compelling. Callahan-Levy and Messe (1979) asked
gories, as well as across male-dominated and                     women and men to work on a task for a fixed
female-dominated occupations” (Gutek, 2001,                      amount of time and then to pay themselves for
pp. 1197–1198).                                                  the work they did. Women paid themselves sig-
   This pattern of progress, but not to equality, is             nificantly less money and reported less money as
repeated across all spheres—public and private—                  fair pay than did men. Brenda Major and her col-
including relationships at home. In the 1970s, for               leagues replicated and expanded this self-pay
example, mothers performed two thirds more                       paradigm, finding that when women and men
household work and one third more child care                     were given a fixed amount of pay and asked to do
than fathers. Today, by contrast, wives perform                  as much work as they thought was fair for the
one quarter more of the household work and child                 amount of money they were paid, women worked
care, respectively (Bond, Galinsky, & Swanberg,                  significantly longer, did more work, completed
1998). Wives also seem to do vastly more of the                  more correct work, and worked more efficiently
emotion and interaction work that relationships                  than did men (Major, McFarlin, & Gagnon, 1984).
require, including initiating talk, communicating                    Neither women nor men are oblivious to these
feelings, and confiding innermost thoughts and                    differences. Among the employed, both women
feelings (Newman, Steil, & Novak, 2003). Thus,                   and men report that women, in general, are paid
asymmetries persist. Employed wives continue to                  less than men; and both women and men partic-
do a disproportionate share of household work,                   ipants in laboratory studies expect that men will
child care, and relationship work, and report less               pay themselves more than women. Still, women
choice over their involvement in these activities                report themselves as no less satisfied than men.
than their husbands do (Larson, Richards, &                      Crosby (1982) characterized these findings as the
Perry-Jenkins, 1994).                                            “paradox of the contented female worker” and
                                                                 wondered whether women’s lack of grievance
                                                                 over pay inequities extends to inequalities at
WOMEN’S LACK OF GRIEVANCE                                        home. To a large extent it does. Despite the gen-
                                                                 dered asymmetries in husbands’ and wives’ con-
Yet women do not seem proportionately ag-                        tributions to housework and child care, the ma-
grieved. A survey of 345 female and male full-time               jority of women and men report the division of
workers, matched on three levels of occupational                 labor at home as fair. African American and
prestige, found that women were underpaid rel-                   White women report the division of labor as less
ative to men in comparable positions but re-                     fair than Hispanic women, and women overall
ported themselves no less satisfied with their pay,               report the division of labor as less fair than men.
their jobs, or their treatment than their more                   Yet the differences between women and men are
highly paid male colleagues (Crosby, 1982). Other                small, and there is little to no difference between
studies, conducted in both the United States and                 full-time homemaker wives and wives who are
Canada, showed that even when controlling for                    employed (Sanchez & Kane, 1996).
academic major and career aspirations, college
women reported significantly lower income ex-
pectations across all points of their careers. And,              THE SENSE OF ENTITLEMENT
when a nationally representative sample of Cana-
dian workers were asked “What was the income                     Entitlement Defined
you deserved (in the previous year) all things con-
sidered?” women reported that they deserved sig-                 Seeking to better understand the persistence of
nificantly less money than men thought they de-                   the inequalities both at home and at work, as well
                                                                    Chapter 19   The Sense of Entitlement   177


as women’s lack of proportional grievance over          hold regarding both their capacities and their op-
these inequalities, a number of scholars have fo-       portunities (Okin, 1989). Beginning at an early
cused on the role of a sense of entitlement—as          age, boys receive larger allowances than girls, and
both a facilitator of and a barrier to social change.   “boys’ chores” are rewarded with higher wages
Defined as a set of attitudes about what a person        than “girls’ chores.” The pattern continues as col-
feels he/she has a right to and can expect from         lege women earn less in their summer jobs than
others, the sense of entitlement signifies claims        college men, and those areas of employment in
to legitimate rights and highlights the societal        which women predominate, such as nursing and
obligation to respect and enforce these rights          teaching, tend to be lower paid than those such as
(Nadkarni, Steil, Malone, & Sagrestano, 2003).          airline piloting and the law, in which men pre-
Thus, the sense of entitlement is viewed as key         dominate.1 Thus, girls learn at an early age that
to the perception of unfair treatment and the           women’s work is valued less than men’s and that
motivation to seek change.                              it is normative for women to be paid less than
                                                        men. Similarly, studies of family work show that
                                                        boys are allowed to spend more time in leisure
Gender Differences in Entitlement                       activities than girls; and girls are asked to spend
                                                        more time in household tasks and child care and
Extensive theorizing has focused on the degree          to undertake a greater share of family work than
to which society’s differential socialization of        boys. As these gendered patterns become inter-
women and men, and differential valuing of gen-         nalized they provide normative referents as to
dered attributes and behaviors, produces gender         what one can expect and feel entitled to. Accord-
differences in the sense of entitlement. Clinical       ing to Major (1994), these gendered differences
scholarship argues that women are socialized            in the sense of entitlement are then reinforced
to be nurturing caretakers whose priority is to         by a pattern of restricted comparisons in which
others’ needs first and to value connections above       women compare their expectations and out-
achievement (Chodorow, 1978). Thus, they argue          comes to their own past experiences and those of
that for women, nurturing, expressiveness, and          similar, primarily same-sex others. Thus, to the
relationship work come to be valued above inde-         extent that women work in low-paying jobs, and
pendent strivings, competition, and agency. Men,        see other women in similar jobs as their most rel-
by contrast, are lauded for concentrating on their      evant comparison, a low sense of entitlement will
own needs in order to become independent, suc-          be maintained and they will report themselves as
cessful, and achievement oriented. Thus boys            satisfied with their outcomes. In a parallel vein,
and men are rewarded for being self-reliant, con-       women who see the responsibilities of the home
fident, and adventurous; girls and women for             and relationships as women’s work, and compare
being nurturing, responsible, deferential, and          their relationships, their outcomes, and their lives
concerned for others’ welfare. These differences,       to those of other women, will tend to be satisfied
it is argued, result in a lower sense of entitlement    and believe they are faring better than most.
in women than men. Indeed, Jack (1991) argues
that it is men’s entitlements and women’s lack of
entitlement that contribute to relationship inter-      Adolescence
actions that often lead to women’s depression.
     Social psychologists argue that gender differ-     While gendered expectations begin early in life,
ences in entitlement emanate from differences in        they intensify at adolescence as the pressure to
status ascribed to various social groups, as well as    engage in gender appropriate behavior heightens.
to the differences in rights and responsibilities as-   Thus, at adolescence, one sees increasing diver-
sociated with different social roles. From the so-      gence between girls and boys in several important
cial psychological perspective, gendered expec-         domains (O’Sullivan, Graber, & Brooks-Gunn,
tations beginning early in family life, and the         2001). Girls begin to believe that they would be
division of labor along gendered lines, affects the     better at female-dominated rather than male-
expectations and beliefs that women and men             dominated occupations, girls begin to take fewer
178   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


math courses, and those girls with exceptional                   Specifically, passivity, deference to male part-
ability become less likely than their male counter-              ners, perceiving others’ needs and desires as more
parts to pursue majors in science or engineering                 important than one’s own, and suppression of
(Eccles, 1994). Girls become less happy with them-               one’s own instrumental traits including indepen-
selves and experience a decline in self-esteem                   dence and agency are inconsistent with both
(Basow & Rubin, 1999). As well, depression rates                 women’s safety and their pleasure. Indeed, it
that were similar for boys and girls in childhood                seems that the pressures of gender-role confor-
begin to increase at a fourfold rate for girls (Lewin-           mity peak at adolescence and diminish young
sohn, Hops, Roberts, Seeley, & Andrews, 1993). In-               women’s sense of entitlement at a time when
terestingly, this seems to be less true for girls of             they need it most.
African American descent than it is for girls of any
other ethnic group. Thus, it is noteworthy that
stereotypes of African Americans depict males                    GENDER DIFFERENCES IN ENTITLEMENT:
and females as more similar to each other in terms               EMPIRICAL EVIDENCE
of expressiveness and competence than do the
stereotypes of other ethnic groups and many                      The 1980s and 1990s
believe this is a source of resilience. By contrast,
Hispanic culture expectations of females are                     Over the last 15 years, research on the sense of
influenced by the traditional cultural values of                 entitlement has focused on three questions: Are
marianismo that honors self-sacrifice and nur-                    there differences in women’s and men’s sense of
turance. Traditional gender-role expectations                    entitlement, as both social psychological and
are also pronounced for Asian American women                     clinical theories suggest? If differences in the
where the culture emphasizes harmonious inter-                   sense of entitlement exist, are they related to a
personal relationships, interdependence, mutual                  pattern of restricted comparisons, specifically a
obligations and loyalty, and according to some,                  preference for comparisons to same-sex others?
women are expected to be particularly passive                    Is there a relationship between women’s entitle-
and subservient (Basow & Rubin, 1999). Despite                   ment levels and women’s satisfaction with lower
variations within ethnic groups, then, pressures to              outcomes? Findings suggest that the answers to
accommodate to gendered expectations seem                        these questions are yes, yes, and yes.
to intensify at adolescence in ways that are not                     Consistent with the findings reported earlier
always functional for girls.                                     in this chapter, studies conducted with college
    Adolescence is also the time of burgeoning ro-               students showed that, in the absence of social
mantic and sexual relationships. Here, young                     comparisons, women consistently paid them-
women are faced with a series of important chal-                 selves less than their male counterparts (Major,
lenges, including how to make active and safe                    1994). Findings also provided evidence of a pref-
choices about sexual behaviors of all kinds, how                 erence for both women and men to compare
to develop a sense of entitlement to their own                   their outcomes to the outcomes of similar others,
pleasure and desire, and how to develop a sense                  particularly same-sex, same-job others. Women
of agency grounded in their own bodies (Tolman,                  college students were more likely to ask for infor-
1999). As a number of investigators have pointed                 mation about the self-pay levels of other women,
out, rates of contraceptive use in the United                    and women who were employed full time were
States are lower than those of other Western na-                 more likely to say they compared their pay and
tions and the rate of adolescent pregnancy is                    their promotions to those of other women rather
higher (O’Sullivan et al., 2001). As well, dating vi-            than to men (Major, 1994; Steil & Hay, 1997). Yet,
olence during the teen years is pervasive, with as               among college students, the preference for same-
many as 35% of female and male students sur-                     sex comparisons was ameliorated for women as-
veyed reporting at least one episode (White,                     signed to typically male tasks, and among full-
2001). In these contexts, “femininity” has been                  time employed workers, women in prestigious
deemed an “unsafe sexual strategy” (Holland,                     and male-dominated positions were more likely
Ramazanoglu, Scott, Sharpe, & Thomson, 1992).                    to compare to both women and men than to
                                                                     Chapter 19   The Sense of Entitlement   179


women exclusively (Major, 1994; Steil & Hay,            fine themselves through relationships leads them
1997). Finally, women who made comparisons to           to feel that they are not entitled to ask to have
the highest achievers and to men (who were over-        their own needs filled, nor to feel that their own
represented in the high achieving positions),           needs are legitimate. This lack of entitlement in
achieved higher salaries and more prestigious           relationships leads to a loss of voice, a loss of self,
positions, and expressed less satisfaction with the     and ultimately to depression. Steil (1997), writing
status quo than women who compared primarily            from the perspective of the justice literature, ar-
to other women (Steil & Hay, 1997; Zanna, Crosby,       gued that a low sense of entitlement leads to
& Lowenstein, 1987). In sum, research conducted         women’s lack of grievance over inequality. Yet,
in the 1980s and 1990s strongly supported social        according to Steil, the literature clearly shows
psychological representations of sex differences        that women in unequal relationships pay sig-
in the sense of entitlement and the importance          nificant costs in terms of their psychological
of a sense of entitlement to the attainment of          well-being, including increased fatigue, low self-
more equal outcomes for women both at home              esteem, and dysphoria. Others, however, have
and at work.                                            argued that a low sense of entitlement can serve
     But a number of fundamental issues remained        a protective function (Major, 1993). From this per-
unexplored. Clinical theory suggests that a low-        spective, when change is unattainable, a sense of
ered sense of entitlement is associated with tradi-     entitlement leading to dissatisfaction with the
tional female characteristics such as nurturance        status quo only fosters dysfunctional anger and
and communality. Others, however, suggest that          discontent. In such situations, those who are dis-
it is the absence of traditionally male characteris-    advantaged avoid comparisons with advantaged
tics that is key (Whitley, 1984). From this perspec-    others so as to minimize psychological distress.
tive, both women and men who measure high               Thus, subordinated groups learn to accept injus-
on masculine-associated traits such as agency           tices as a way of surviving and a low sense of en-
should evidence higher levels of entitlement than       titlement facilitates coping (Miller, 1986). Under
those who measure low on these traits, whereas          what conditions, then, does an enhanced sense of
entitlement levels should be unrelated to traits        entitlement encourage voice, unfettered strivings,
typically viewed as feminine. Also ignored were is-     and a desire for change? Under what conditions,
sues of socioeconomic class and ethnicity. Yet, to      if any, are lower levels of entitlement functional?
the extent that values relevant to rights and obliga-       Finally, in all of the studies conducted during
tions vary across cultures, so should the sense of      that period, there was no measure of entitlement.
entitlement. Members of cultures that emphasize         Thus, rather than directly assessing respondents’
independence and individual rights over inter-          sense of entitlement, entitlement levels were in-
dependence and social obligation should report          ferred from women’s levels of self-pay and ex-
higher levels of entitlement than those who are         pressed satisfaction with their outcomes relative
socialized to put others first. And what of the          to others.
many other issues relevant to women and girls’
psychological well-being? Moving beyond issues
of pay equity and work sharing at home, what is         The Entitlement Attitudes Scale
the nature of the relationship between entitle-
ment and depression? And what of issues of voice,       To address this gap, Steil and her colleagues de-
of vitality, of healthy and safe sexuality?             veloped a 17-item Entitlement Attitudes Scale
                                                        (EAS; Nadkarni et al., 2003). The scale consisted of
                                                        two weakly related but qualitatively different di-
Entitlement and Depression                              mensions. One dimension, labeled “self-reliance/
                                                        self-assurance” (SRSA), seemed similar to social
At least three positions have been posed relative       psychological representations of entitlement as
to the relationship of entitlement and depres-          necessary to being an emotionally healthy person
sion. Writing from a clinical perspective, Jack         able to attain and safeguard legitimate rights. The
(1991) argues that women’s socialization to de-         other factor, labeled “narcissistic expectations/
180   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


self-promotion” (NESP), was more closely aligned                to entertain”) and three times as likely to use sim-
with clinical representations of a non-reality-                 ilarity (“She works full time also”) as reasons for
based sense of entitlement consisting of grandi-                choosing to compare primarily to other females,
ose ideas of one’s rights without consideration of              primarily their mothers, sisters, and friends
the rights and feelings of others.                              (Newman et al., 2003).
    Consistent with social psychological repre-
sentations, in samples of both African American
and White women, SRSA was positively associ-                    CONCLUSIONS
ated with self-esteem, positively associated with
greater decision making (say, in relationships),                Over the last three decades, there has been signif-
and negatively associated with both depression                  icant interest in the sense of entitlement as an im-
and self-silencing in relationships (McGann, 2000;              portant precondition to the perception of unfair
Nadkarni et al., 2003; Vinograde, 2001). As well,               treatment. During that time, empirical studies
and consistent with predictions, among married                  focused primarily on women’s lower levels of a
women, higher levels of SRSA were associated                    healthy sense of entitlement relative to men and
with higher levels of sexual assertiveness and                  the extent to which this leads to continuing gen-
greater sexual satisfaction (Kahn, 2001).                       der inequalities both at home and at work. Empir-
    In studies with large samples, males scored                 ical work, over that same period, supported asser-
higher on SRSA than did females. Yet tests of the               tions that entitlement differences are maintained
predictive ability of gender-related attributes                 by women’s and men’s preference for comparing
showed that respondents’ agency, or capacity to                 their outcomes to others of the same sex. Yet the
independently and confidently get things done,                   findings also suggest that differences in the sense
was a better predictor of SRSA than was respon-                 of entitlement can be ameliorated if differential
dent sex. Further, SRSA was unrelated to respon-                socialization of women and men regarding their
dents’ communality or sensitivity and concern                   capacities and opportunities are eliminated, and
for others. Findings also supported the notion                  girls, as well as boys, are encouraged to compare to
that entitlement levels may vary by ethnicity.                  the standard setters, or highest achievers, whether
Consistent with predictions, Asians scored lower                female or male.
on SRSA than did non-Hispanic Caucasians and                        Women’s socialization to the role of nurturing
African Americans (Nadkarni et al., 2003).                      caretaker is often viewed as the source of a low-
    To date, studies of the relationship between                ered sense of entitlement, resulting in a loss of
entitlement and issues of social class have been                self-advocacy and effective voice in relationships.
extremely limited. Yet, in one of the first system-              Recent studies, however, consistently show that
atic assessments of the relationships among en-                 a healthy sense of entitlement is unrelated to
titlement level, sex of social comparison, and                  women’s nurturing qualities. Rather, lower levels
work sharing in a sample of professional (faculty)              of entitlement are associated with lower levels of
and nonprofessional (staff) women, higher levels                instrumentality. Thus, it is not that women need
of entitlement were reported by faculty, who                    to relinquish their concern for others but, rather,
made more frequent comparisons to men and                       that they need to be supported in maintaining
enjoyed more equal sharing of the work at home                  their own sense of agency so as to develop a
than did staff. As well, when asked the reasons                 healthy balance between concern for others and
for their choice of comparison other, faculty                   concern for self.
members were more likely to report issues of                        What, then, are the clinical implications of
equality (“Because I want to ensure that we split               these findings? While empirically unanswered
the housework 50–50”) and fairness (“He could                   questions remain, it seems clear that a sense of
be doing some of the work I’m doing”) as their                  entitlement is necessary to being an emotionally
reasons for choosing to compare to their male                   healthy person who can effectively assert her
partners. In contrast, staff members were almost                rights and seek change. Entitlement, then, be-
twice as likely to use positive role models (“Her               comes a lens through which clinicians and clients
house is always ready for guests, neat and ready                can examine themes of anger, self-esteem, and
                                                                        Chapter 19 The Sense of Entitlement     181


growth. Indeed, women in abusive relationships,            Callahan-Levy, C. M., & Messe, L. A. (1979). Sex differ-
marital distress, and career crisis can all be seen as        ences in the allocations of pay. Journal of Person-
                                                              ality and Social Psychology, 37, 433–446.
struggling to varying degrees with entitlement is-
                                                           Chodorow, N. J. (1978). The reproduction of mothering.
sues. The extent to which women feel they matter,             Berkeley: University of California Press.
whom they choose to compare to, and how they               Crosby, F. J. (1982). Relative deprivation and working
conceptualize just treatment for themselves be-               women. New York: Oxford University Press.
come pivotal issues. Using the perspective of en-          Desmarais, S., & Curtis, J. (1997a). Gender and per-
                                                              ceived pay entitlement: Testing for effects of ex-
titlement, clinicians can help girls and women to
                                                              perience with income. Journal of Personality and
understand these issues as a foreground of their              Social Psychology, 72(1), 141–150.
struggles in pursuing change, rather than allowing         Desmarais, S., & Curtis, J. (1997b). Gender differences
them to remain as an invisible background that                in pay histories and views on pay entitlement
maintains the status quo.                                     among university students. Sex Roles, 37(9/10),
                                                              623–642.
    As clinicians, we can investigate on an indi-
                                                           Eccles, J. S. (1994). Understanding women’s educa-
vidual level how entitlement varies across con-               tional and occupational choices: Applying the
texts and across roles. How is the sense of enti-             Eccles et al. model of achievement-related choices.
tlement affected by marriage, motherhood, and                 Psychology of Women Quarterly, 18, 585–609.
divorce, as well as women’s diverse professional           Gutek, B. (2001). Working environments. In J. Worell
                                                              (Ed.), Encyclopedia of women and gender (pp. 1191–
roles? How does the sense of entitlement expand
                                                              1204). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
or diminish over the life span? How does entitle-          Holland, J., Ramazanoglu, C., Scott, S., Sharpe, S., &
ment function for women and girls of different                Thomson, R. (1992). Pressure, resistance, empow-
ethnicities, from different family structures and             erment: Young women and the negotiation of
varied economic opportunities?                                safer sex. In P. Aggleton, P. Davies, & G. Hart
                                                              (Eds.), AIDS: Rights, risk and reason (pp. 142–162).
    Thus, while much has been learned over the
                                                              Washington, DC: Falmer Press.
last three decades, fundamental questions re-              Institute for Women’s Policy Research. (2004, Octo-
main as we seek to better understand how best to              ber). Fact sheet. The gender wage ratio: Women’s
develop and support a healthy sense of entitle-               and men’s earnings. IWPR Publication No. C350
ment, one that facilitates women’s and girl’s                 updated. Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved from
                                                              http://www.iwpr.org/pdf/c350updated.pdf
ability to approach life with a healthy zest, ready
                                                           Jack, D. C. (1991). Silencing the self: Women and de-
and able to claim their full share of its bounty              pression. New York: Harper Perennial.
and vicissitudes in the 21st century.                      Kahn, A. (2001). Entitlement and sexuality: An explo-
                                                              ration of the relationship between entitlement
                                                              level and female sexual attitudes, behaviors, and
                                                              satisfaction. Dissertation Abstracts International,
NOTE
                                                              UMI No. 3003516, 62(2-B), 1086.
                                                           Larson, R., Richards, M., & Perry-Jenkins, M. (1994).
   1. More than 90% of nurses and 80% of elementary           Divergent worlds: The daily emotional experience
teachers are women who earn $49,840 and $44,080               of mothers and fathers in the domestic and public
annually (based on median annual income). Over                spheres. Journal of Personality and Social Psychol-
90% of pilots and 70% of lawyers are men who earn             ogy, 6, 1034–1046.
over $100,000 annually. Since the 1970s, however, the      Lewinsohn, P. M., Hops, H., Roberts, R. E., Seeley,
number of women lawyers has increased threefold.              J. R., & Andrews, J. A. (1993). Adolescent psycho-
                                                              pathology: I. Prevalence and incidence of depres-
                                                              sion and other DSM-III-R disorders in high school
                                                              students. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 102,
REFERENCES                                                    133–144.
                                                           Major, B. (1993). Gender, entitlement and the distri-
Basow, S. A., & Rubin, L. R. (1999). Gender influences in      bution of family labor. Journal of Social Issues, 49,
   adolescent development. In N. G. Johnson, M. C.            141–159.
   Roberts, & J. Worell (Eds.), Beyond appearance: A       Major, B. (1994). From social inequality to personal
   new look at adolescent girls (pp. 25–52). Washing-         entitlement: The role of social comparisons, le-
   ton, DC: American Psychological Association.               gitimacy appraisals, and group membership. In
Bond, J. T., Galinsky, E., & Swanberg, J. E. (1998). The      M. Zanna (Ed.), Advances in experimental social
   1997 study of the changing workforce. New York:            psychology (pp. 293–355). San Diego, CA: Aca-
   Families and Work Institute.                               demic Press.
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Major, B., McFarlin, D., & Gagnon, D. (1984). Over-              Steil, J. (1997). Marital equality: Its relationship to the
   worked and underpaid: On the nature of gender                    well-being of husbands and wives. Thousand
   differences in personal entitlement. Journal of                  Oaks, CA: Sage.
   Personality and Social Psychology, 47, 1399–1412.             Steil, J., & Hay, J. (1997). Social comparison in the work-
McGann, V. (2000). Entitlement and depression: An                   place: A study of 60 dual-career couples. Personal-
   exploration of differences between the sexes and                 ity and Social Psychology Bulletin, 23, 427–438.
   among women. Doctoral dissertation, Adelphi                   Tolman, D. L. (1999). Female adolescent sexuality in
   University (UMI No. 9970474).                                    relational context: Beyond sexual decision mak-
Miller, J. B. (1986). Toward a new psychology of                    ing. In N. G. Johnson, M. C. Roberts, & J. Worell
   women (2nd ed.). Boston: Beacon.                                 (Eds.), Beyond appearance: A new look at adoles-
Nadkarni, L., Steil, J., Malone, J., & Sagrestano, L.               cent girls (pp. 227–246). Washington, DC: Ameri-
   (2003). The sense of entitlement: The development                can Psychological Association.
   of a self-report scale. Manuscript submitted for              U.S. Census Bureau. (2003). Historic income tables.
   publication.                                                     Washington, DC: Author. Retrieved July 31,
Newman, A., Steil, J., & Novak, A. (2003, May). Enti-               2003, from http://www.census.gov/hhes/income/
   tlement and work sharing in contemporary rela-                   histinc/p24.html
   tionships: A social comparison perspective. Poster            Vinograde, D. (2001). Black and white heterosexual
   session presented at the meetings of the American                women’s marital and same-sex best friend rela-
   Psychological Society, Atlanta, GA.                              tionships, and the contributions of entitlement,
Okin, S. M. (1989). Justice, gender and the family. New             relationship equality and relationship intimacy to
   York: Basic Books.                                               well-being. Dissertation Abstracts International,
O’Sullivan, L. F., Graber, J., & Brooks-Gunn, J. (2001).            61(9-B), 5010. (UMI No. 9988058.)
   Adolescent gender development. In J. Worell (Ed.),            White, J. (2001). Aggression and gender. In J. Worell
   Encyclopedia of women and gender (pp. 55–68).                    (Ed.), Encyclopedia of women and gender (pp. 81–
   San Diego, CA: Academic Press.                                   94). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Reid, P. T., & Zalk, S. R. (2001). Academic environ-             Whitley, B. (1984). Sex-role orientation and psycho-
   ments: Gender and ethnicity in higher educa-                     logical well-being: Two meta-analyses. Sex Roles,
   tion. In J. Worell (Ed.), Encyclopedia of women                  12(1/2), 207–225.
   and gender (pp. 29–42). San Diego, CA: Academic               Zanna, M. P., Crosby, F., & Lowenstein, G. (1987).
   Press.                                                           Male reference groups and discontent among fe-
Sanchez, L., & Kane, E. (1996). Women’s and men’s                   male professionals. In B. Gutek & L. Larwood
   constructions of perceptions of housework fair-                  (Eds.), Women’s career development (pp. 28–41).
   ness. Journal of Family Issues, 17, 358–387.                     Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
                           The topic of self-care and balance among women
                           continues to gain popularity within the litera-
                           ture and media, yet these practices remain rare.
                           Women know that self-care is important, yet it is
                           frequently compromised when the realities of
                           daily life force them to make decisions about how
                           to distribute time and energy, sustain relation-
                           ships, and meet commitments. Barriers to self-
                           care can be identified easily. Trying to negotiate
                           work demands, household obligations, child care,
                           familial needs, illnesses, and ailments, or deal
                           with economic constraints, life changes or trau-
                           mas, safety issues, and environmental constraints
                           makes self-care seem impractical. Less easily rec-
                           ognized, however, are the reasons and ways to
                           incorporate self-care into daily practice. Never-
                           theless, taking time for self-care, in spite of loom-
                           ing responsibilities, creates balance and fosters
                           health. Balance is not achieved by trying to han-
                           dle more or work faster and harder. In general,
                           balance is realized through meaningful work
                           (paid and unpaid), satisfying relationships and
                           personal rejuvenation.



                           DEFINING SELF-CARE

                           Self-care includes the activities women under-
                           take with the intention to promote, ensure, or re-
                           store psychological and physical health; to pre-
                           vent, manage, or recover from disease, injury, or
                           trauma; or to achieve a sense of well-being. Self-
CAROL WILLIAMS-NICKELSON
                           care is a multidimensional concept in which psy-
                           chological and physical well-being are inter-
                           dependent and lead to enhanced quality of life
Balanced Living            and a sense of fulfillment (Cameron & Leventhal,
                           2003; Johnson, 1991). Self-care activities must be
Through Self-Care          defined and discovered individually. What one
                           woman classifies as self-care may be what an-
                           other identifies as stressful. For example, sports
                           participation may be relaxing for some, but the
                           competitive tenor may be too stressful for others.




20
                           Self-care incorporates multiple components, in-
                           cluding physical, emotional, intellectual, spiri-
                           tual, social, relational, and safety and security
                           areas of function. This chapter addresses each of
                           these domains by providing a definition, critical
                           issues and research, and self-care activities.
                           Although these domains are presented as distinct
                           categories of self-care, they are not mutually


                                                                             183
184   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


exclusive; one activity might meet a number of                   sity increased from 12.0% in 1991 to 17.9% in 1998.
self-care needs.                                                 Residents in all states, in both sexes, across ages,
                                                                 ethnicity, and educational levels, experienced
                                                                 steady rises in obesity, regardless of smoking sta-
Physical Self-Care                                               tus. The largest increase was found in 18–29-year-
                                                                 olds (7.1–12.1%), individuals with some college
As one of the most widely researched self-care                   education (10.6–17.8%), and Hispanic/Latinos
practices, physical self-care concerns fitness, nu-               (11.6–20.8%). Many experts agree that the princi-
trition, preventive medical care, early interven-                pal causes of the accelerating obesity problem are
tion, and treatment (Cameron & Leventhal, 2003).                 sedentary lifestyles and high-fat, energy-dense
Fitness includes all aspects of physical activity,               diets (Berrigan et al., 2003). Some of the psycho-
and it need not interfere with one’s life, as many               logical ramifications of obesity include feelings of
inactive women believe it will (Kjelsas, Augestad,               low self-worth in girls (Zametkin, Zoon, Klein, &
& Gotestam, 2003). Exercise is a type of physi-                  Munson, 2004) and women (Matz, Foster, Faith, &
cal activity that consists of planned and struc-                 Wadden, 2002), social rejection due to weight
tured movement done for pleasure and fitness.                    stigmatization (Puhl & Brownell, 2003), and em-
But physical activity should be conceptualized                   ployment discrimination (Polinko & Popovich,
broadly to include a range of movement, not just                 2001). Women may buffer the effects of obesity
structured exercise. The positive relationship be-               prejudice by altering their own perceptions of
tween physical activity and emotional well-being                 weight appropriateness to participate in a range
among girls, younger women, and older women                      of physical, social, and career activities (Chang,
is well documented. Regular exercise reduces de-                 Christakis, & Chang, 2003).
pression (Faulkner & Biddle, 2004), contributes                      Research from the Centers for Disease Con-
to successful aging (Resnick & Nigg, 2003), ame-                 trol and Prevention shows fewer than 30% of
liorates the effects of maltreatment and depriva-                ethnic minority women in the United States ob-
tion on children (Lederman & Osofsky, 2004),                     tain moderate activity in amounts sufficient to
reduces stress (Ensel & Lin, 2004), improves self-               derive health benefits (Finkelstein, Fiebelkorn,
concept and body image (Stoll & Alfermann,                       & Wang, 2004). According to Karla Henderson
2002), reduces symptoms of premenstrual syn-                     and Barbara Ainsworth (2003), more than half
drome (Rapkin, 2003), and improves the quality                   of all women lead sedentary lives, and among
of life for women with chronic illnesses (Gandhi,                women of color this percentage is even higher,
DePauw, Dolny, & Freson, 2002).                                  although there is insufficient information about
    Nutritional aspects of self-care include eat-                the health needs of ethnic minority women. In
ing regular meals that limit fat and sugar and con-              girls, the onset of early puberty is linked with
tain a variety of fruits, vegetables, proteins, and              higher smoking rates and an increase in seden-
grains; and avoiding tobacco and excessive alco-                 tary lifestyle, as well as acceleration in the devel-
hol use. These basic fitness and nutrition prin-                 opment of unhealthy exercise and diet habits
ciples are among the major factors influencing                   (Simon, Wardle, Jarvis, Steggles, & Cartwright,
risks of morbidity and mortality in the United                   2003). Women can integrate physical activity and
States (Berrigan, Dodd, Troiano, Krebs-Smith, &                  healthy eating habits into daily life with minimal
Barbash, 2003).                                                  disruption and effort.
    Obesity is associated with several chronic dis-
eases, and its increasing prevalence is a major
public health concern. It is a major factor in sev-              Emotional Self-Care
eral noncommunicable diseases—for example,
diabetes and cardiovascular disease. Obesity also                Emotional self-care concerns the identification,
increases the risk of many types of cancer, gall-                acceptance, and expression of a range of feel-
bladder disease, musculoskeletal disorders, and                  ings. Women differ widely in how they interpret
respiratory ailments (Hartl, 1997). In 1999, research            and manage emotional experiences. Although
by Mokdad et al., showed the prevalence of obe-                  women might label themselves as experiencing
                                                           Chapter 20   Balanced Living Through Self-Care   185


similar emotions, they do not necessarily feel or       agery and self-talk to foster a sense of emotional
act the same. Women often camouflage or ignore           mastery and bolster immunity (Cameron & Lev-
their feelings because they believe some feelings       enthal, 2003). When upset, angry, or sad, women
are unacceptable, or they simply do not have the        must find outlets for those feelings, such as talk-
time or motivation to explore the physiological,        ing to a trusted friend or family member. If the
situational, and cognitive qualities of their emo-      feelings are persistent and intrude on daily life,
tions (Roysamb, Tambs, Reichborn-Kjennerud,             help from a psychologist or other mental health
Neal, & Harris, 2003). Because research shows           professional may be necessary. Recording feel-
clear links between emotions and health, it is im-      ings may help women identify, express, and
portant for women to understand and address             work through emotions. Many people find the
feelings (Frederickson, 2000).                          creative expression of feelings through various
    If not managed properly, anger, anxiety, isola-     forms of art to be healing and rejuvenating—for
tion, and depression can be debilitating or de-         example, drawing, painting, sewing, cooking,
structive. Chronic anger and anxiety may lead to        landscaping, floral arranging, or playing music.
increased susceptibility to a range of diseases. For    Meditation and relaxation can also help girls and
instance, anger can reduce the pumping effi-             women become more aware and comfortable
ciency of the heart and has been associated with        with a range of emotions.
higher incidence of heart attacks (Frederickson,
2000). Although anxiety may be a normal reac-
tion to stress and can serve a useful purpose,          Spiritual Self-Care
without a legitimate focus it can trigger the onset
of illness and affect recovery in women (Roysamb        Spiritual self-care includes an ongoing search for
et al., 2003). Social isolation, the subjective sense   meaning and understanding in life and what
of being cut off from people and having no one to       may extend beyond. It involves the exploration
turn to, may lead to depression, and it doubles         and expression of beliefs and values that are
the chances of sickness or death. Isolation is as       shaped by experience. Spirituality may be mani-
significant to mortality rates as smoking, high          fested through religion, but religion is not syn-
blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, and          onymous with spirituality (McCormick, 1994). It
lack of physical exercise (Casper, 2000).               may be expressed also through connections to
    Sex differences in depression begin to emerge       nature and the world, and may be characterized
in adolescence, with girls exhibiting higher vul-       as an individual sense of purpose.
nerabilities to depression (Simon et al., 2003). In         In his seminal work on the psychology of reli-
addition to a tendency to suppress feelings such        gion, Clark (1958) defined religion as “the inner
as anger and dissatisfaction, women perceive            experience of the individual when he senses a
emotional loss more frequently than men; such           Beyond, especially as evidenced by the effect of
occurrences may range from a single traumatic           this experience on his behavior when he actively
loss to frequent losses of emotional connected-         attempts to harmonize his life with the Beyond”
ness in the relationships women value so highly.        (p. 22). Others have distinguished between reli-
Women suffer more depression, anxiety, and eat-         gion and spirituality, suggesting that religion has
ing disorders than men. The explanation for this        an institutional connotation, involves the prac-
gender gap lies in a combination of complex bio-        tice of rituals, adherence to dogma, and atten-
logical, genetic, psychological, and social factors     dance at services (Conger, 1994). Still others de-
(Cameron & Leventhal, 2003). However, Johnson           scribe spirituality as more related to life’s deeper
(1991) suggests that women are socialized to be         motivations and an emotional connection to
more vulnerable to depression, based on a ten-          God or a force beyond oneself (Roof, 1993).
dency to focus more on others’ satisfaction rather          The meaning of spirituality and religion in
than understanding and satisfying their own             women’s lives is highly variable and subjective,
wishes, needs, and emotions.                            yet a considerable body of research suggests that
    The ability to recognize and show feelings is       it is helpful to a majority of American women
essential to women’s health. Women can use im-          (Taylor, Chatters, Jayakody, & Levin, 1996). Brown
186   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


(2000) found that African American women                        most simple form, this kind of self-care involves
used their religious beliefs to enhance their                   an abiding interest in ideas, learning, thinking,
ability to cope with medical problems. Other re-                and creativity.
search reports that the use of prayer and in-                       Intelligence is a multifaceted and well-studied
creased spiritual and religious activity are asso-              area of psychology. Many of its connotations and
ciated with higher self-esteem, greater personal                constructs have remained intertwined with the
happiness, higher life satisfaction, higher sense               techniques developed for its measurement. Binet
of control, and fewer depressive symptoms                       and colleagues (1912) developed the first test to
(Blaine & Crocker, 1995).                                       measure intellectual behavior in children, thought
    Because the preponderance of evidence gen-                  to be manifested in such abilities as reasoning,
erally indicates a positive association between                 imagination, judgment, and adaptability. Others
spirituality or religion and the health and well-               expanded Binet’s early notions of intelligence by
being of women, spiritual self-care strategies such             identifying components of intellect and addi-
as meditation (or prayer for women of faith) may                tional methods of measurement. For instance,
be useful. Meditation is a calm and focused                     the Wechsler Intelligence Scales (now more
process that takes various forms among diverse                  widely used) yield verbal and performance quo-
cultural and religious traditions. Meditative states            tients for both children and adults (Groth-Marnat,
have been induced in dance, song, relaxation, and               2001). Likewise, Raymond Cattel defined crystal-
prayer in spiritual or religious worship (Blaine &              lized intelligence as the ability to utilize facts and
Crocker, 1995). Transcendental meditation is a                  fluid intelligence as the ability to solve novel prob-
tool for personal growth and is commonly used by                lems creatively (Brennan, 1997).
clinicians who employ a mind-body approach to                       In 1983, a theory of multiple intelligences was
treating psychological disorders and other condi-               advanced by Gardner to provide practical defini-
tions; this includes applications for homeless and              tions of intelligence that pair cognitive skills with
addicted women (Plasse, 2001). But a calm and                   culturally valued activities. These types of intel-
relaxed state of being can also be self-induced                 ligences include verbal, mathematical/logical,
through a series of muscle relaxation exercises, fo-            musical, spatial, kinesthetic/body control, intra-
cused awareness on deep and rhythmic breath-                    personal (self-understanding), and interpersonal
ing, and visualization techniques, such as imagin-              (social understanding). Most recently, Goleman
ing oneself lying on the beach, floating on a cloud,             (1998) coined the term emotional intelligence,
or visiting a peaceful location.                                which involves personal and social competence.
    Spiritual self-care may be facilitated through              Personal competence refers to emotional aware-
participation organized religion, joining a spiri-              ness, accurate self-assessment, self-confidence,
tual community, taking a comparative-religions                  self-control, trustworthiness, conscientiousness,
course, visiting different houses of worship, or in-            adaptability, innovation, drive for achievement,
vestigating new religious movements as a woman                  commitment, initiative, and optimism. Social
seeks to understand her place in the universe                   competence refers to how one handles relation-
and feel connected to a larger purpose. Spiritual               ships through empathic understanding and help-
experiences can also be facilitated by visiting geo-            ing others, a service orientation, appreciation of
graphic areas of natural beauty, attending per-                 diversity, and political awareness. It also includes
forming arts events, visiting museums, or watch-                social adeptness such as the ability to influence
ing the sun rise or set.                                        others, communicate openly and convincingly,
                                                                manage conflict, lead and inspire others, initiate
                                                                and manage change, build relationships, collabo-
Intellectual Self-Care                                          rate, cooperate, and work with groups. Because
                                                                intelligence is a broad concept, there are many ac-
Intellectual self-care involves regular opportuni-              tivities for meeting intellectual needs, such as oc-
ties to engage in critical thinking and inquiry to              cupational or career development, awareness of
expand knowledge and stimulate the mind. In its                 current events, or creative arts participation.
                                                          Chapter 20 Balanced Living Through Self-Care   187


Social Self-Care                                       with life partners, spouses, children, parents,
                                                       and extended family. In the hustle of everyday life,
Social self-care pertains to regular emotional         families may neglect to talk regularly and partners
investment in relationships outside of the im-         may begin to take each other for granted or ignore
mediate family. It includes establishing, nurtur-      their health.
ing, and expanding social networks and friend-             Research shows that the quality of daily inter-
ships through community involvement, group             actions among family members impacts one’s
affiliation, and contribution to collective causes.     construction of health, talk about health, par-
Friendships, and especially those with other           ticipation in health-care systems, enactment of
women, may provide emotional support, com-             healthy or unhealthy behaviors, and health status
panionship, reciprocity, and assistance in prob-       (Bylund & Duck, 2004). People expect to live
lem solving.                                           longer, are reinforced for their healthy habits and
   The 2001 Harvard Medical School’s Nurses’           improve current health when they report high lev-
Health Study (Hankinson, Colditz, Manson, &            els of familial emotional support, mediated by the
Speizer, 2001) showed that friendships among           perception that one has someone to call on when
women play an important role in enhancing              one is sick or in need (Ross & Mirowsky, 2002).
health and quality of life. The study concluded
that the lack of at least one good confidante is as
detrimental to a woman’s health as smoking or          Safety and Security Self-Care
obesity. Taylor and colleagues’ (2000) research
suggests that the hormone oxytocin may be one          Self-care for safety and security involves per-
of the driving forces behind the formation and         sonal, environmental, and financial planning. It
maintenance of close social bonds because it en-       includes taking precautions to feel safe and com-
hances the ability to nurture and be nurtured.         fortable in your home and community. Under-
When women release oxytocin in response to             standing personal finances, obtaining health in-
stress, the hormone causes women to establish          surance, and taking steps to ensure a comfortable
and sustain friendships with other women and           financial future are critical, yet often overlooked
tend to children, rather than triggering the in-       aspects of self-care.
nate fight-or-flight response, as once thought. As          Too often, safety and security issues are ad-
these befriending and tending behaviors increase,      dressed only when a threat, breach of safety, or
more oxytocin is released, which further buffers       trauma occurs. People avoid checking their smoke
stress and produces a calming effect.                  detectors until they find, through an emergency,
   Self-in-relation theory postulates that women       that they are inoperable. People may be careless
organize their sense of identity, find existential      about locking car or house doors until they are
meaning, achieve a sense of coherence and con-         burglarized. Women may avoid taking a self-
tinuity, and are motivated, in the context of rela-    defense class until frightened or assaulted. Some
tionships (Jordan, Kaplan, Miller, Stiver, & Surrey,   women do not learn about their household bud-
1991). Over the course of women’s lives, friend-       get or long-term financial issues until faced with
ships with other women become increasingly im-         separation, divorce, children’s college educa-
portant, particularly as women move into middle        tion costs, or the death of a spouse (Miller & Iris,
age and face changes and challenges such as ill-       2002).
ness, divorce, the empty nest, and parents’ deaths
(Shapiro, 2001).
                                                       TRACKING SELF-CARE

Relational Self-Care                                   Writing or keeping a journal are common meth-
                                                       ods used for tracking and changing behavior.
Relational self-care concerns the establishment,       Food diaries, feelings and experiences journals,
development, and strengthening of relationships        exercise calendars, and even health diaries used
188   Part II   Risks and Strengths Across the Life Span: Strengths and Resources


to monitor treatment regimens (Keleher & Ver-                   well for an extended duration is impossible. Jug-
rinder, 2003), have been prescribed by a number                 gling is a coping mechanism women may use
of health-care providers and used regularly by                  when time is tight and seemingly nothing can be
patients with good results. Combining all of                    postponed. As long as they are rested and re-
these elements into a self-care journal may be a                flexes are sharp, it works. But they quickly tire
simple way to chronicle and monitor self-care                   and skills decline when women must respond to
activities. Some women may find it difficult or                   multiple demands over time. The following prin-
time-consuming at first, but after a few months                  ciples can help women develop a framework to
of careful attention to each self-care domain,                  stop juggling, rebalance life in a more gratifying
new habits form. The maintenance of the self-                   and sustainable pattern, and free up time for
care journal may become less important than the                 self-care activities.
continuation of the personalized activities.
    Bandura and Locke (2003) found that estab-                    •   Focus. The ability to focus on a discrete task
lishing and believing that you can accomplish                         without interruption for a specified period
personal goals enhances motivation, perfor-                           of time and then switch full attention to
mance, and ultimate goal attainment. Writing                          another task is critical. Likewise, one must
about self-care can give women the opportunity                        learn to focus on a particular activity in
to self-reflect, record and review accomplish-                         certain protected environments. This requires
ments, increase self-commitment, and set goals.                       limit-setting.
Because research shows that women prefer to                       •   Delegate. Responsibilities may be offloaded to
concentrate on positive aspects of health, self-                      free up time and energy. Many women erro-
care records should focus on the presence of                          neously believe that they must seize all op-
healthy behaviors, not the avoidance of destruc-                      portunities to get ahead. The ability to let go
tive behaviors (Kjelsas et al., 2003). In a study of                  of some control and say no is vital.
messages related to eating and exercise, college                  •   Consolidate. Women should build and rely on
women found a focus on healthy eating and life-                       a support network to aid efficiency. For in-
style more enjoyable, personally relevant, and                        stance, regular exercise with others creates
interesting compared to a focus on problematic                        the benefit of social contact and the chance to
eating and lifestyles, which they found to be                         deepen friendships.
anxiety-provoking, fear-inducing, and less helpful                •   Technology. New machines and methods may
to their overall health and well-being (Sanderson                     be utilized to add flexibility and to gain con-
& Holloway, 2003).                                                    trol over a full schedule. Banking, paying bills,
    Table 20.1 provides a sample self-care tracking                   and filing tax returns online can streamline
method that may be modified and completed                              these routine transactions.
based on an individual’s self-care preferences.                   •   Simplify. Women should reduce nonessential
The most important aspect of tracking self-care is                    activities and habits. Perfectionism is anti-
to assure that activities are completed regularly in                  thetical to simplicity, yet many are driven to
each domain. Self-care is a multidimensional                          be superwomen.
construct. There is no singular correct method to
achieve balance and foster self-care. The most ef-                 Living the principles of a balanced life by
fective strategies will be unique and personal for              spending an hour or two per week on the things
every woman and her circumstances.                              that matter most helps women manage stress,
                                                                maintain responsibilities, and engage in self-care.
                                                                Overdue for replenishment, but feeling pressured
PRINCIPLES OF BALANCED LIVING                                   for time, women often respond by returning to
                                                                patterns like juggling that place their health at
In unusual situations, many women can manage                    risk. Accustomed to focusing on others to the
a multitude of responsibilities for a short time.               exclusion of self, the thought of self-care may
But maintaining the necessary level of mental                   seem foreign. Balance is a difficult skill to mas-
and physical acuity to balance many activities                  ter, although learning to successfully balance
                                                               Chapter 20   Balanced Living Through Self-Care   189


table 20.1 Self-Care Tracking

Self-Care Tracking                             Week (Place a check or hash marks on days activity performed)

Domains              Activity (List)      Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday

Physical




Emotional




Spiritual




Intellectual




Social




Relational




Safety/security




Daily totals
Weekly grand total
Journal




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                                    This chapter is organized around a simple pre-
                                    mise: Sexuality is an integral component of psy-
                                    chological health. This claim is anchored in both
                                    theoretical and empirical scholarship. In 1986,
                                    the World Health Organization (WHO) issued a
                                    report that stated: “Sexuality influences thoughts,
                                    feelings, actions and interactions and thereby
                                    our mental and physical health” (Coleman, 2002).
                                    In 1994, the International Conference on Popula-
                                    tion and Development in Cairo declared that
                                    sexual health should be considered an important
                                    part of a person’s physical and psychological
                                    well-being (Lottes & Adkins, 2003). Similarly, in
                                    2001, the U.S. Surgeon General issued A Call to
                                    Action to Promote Sexual Health and Responsible
                                    Sexual Behavior, in which he proposed that sex-
                                    uality goes beyond the physical aspects and in-
                                    cludes emotional, mental, and interpersonal
                                    components as well (Satcher, 2001).
                                        These positions reinforce a view that sexual
                                    health is inextricably bound to both physical and
                                    mental health over an individual’s entire life span.
                                    To elucidate the relationships between sexuality
                                    and girls’ and women’s psychological health, we
                                    first explain the importance of viewing sexuality
LUCIA F. O’SULLIVAN,                through a gendered lens and also clarify the
                                    meaning of sexuality and sexual health. We then
M. C. MCCRUDDEN,
                                    review three arenas of research on women’s sex-
and D E B O R A H L . T O L M A N   uality that highlight the intersection of positive
                                    sexuality and psychological health: (a) mental
                                    and emotional health, (b) physical health, and
To Your Sexual Health!              (c) relational health. Finally, we describe recent
                                    attempts to apply existing knowledge in ways that
Incorporating Sexuality             promote sexual health among a range of groups.

Into the