WOMEN WHO MARRY HOUSES: Panic and Protest in Agoraphobia by Robert & Karen DeCrow Seidenberg

WOMEN WHO MARRY HOUSES: Panic and Protest in Agoraphobia

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A feminine psychiatrist and a past president of NOW teamed up for this interesting--if conjectural--look at agoraphobia's roots in the oppression of women. Women who panic at the thought of leaving their homes may indeed be ""the most completely uncompromising feminists of our times,"" the authors conclude; ""Sensing that they are not welcome in the outside world, they have come to terms with their own sense of pride by not setting foot on land that is deemed alien and hostile."" The first manifestation of the ""problem"" often occurs when the woman refuses to set foot in a supermarket or department store--the bastions of commerce traditionally reserved for them. Seldenberg and DeCrow contend that if the same women were to shrink back from the prospect of visiting Wall Street, doctors wouldn't dub it a disease, since women aren't seen to ""belong"" there. The phenomenon is sketched in a little: agoraphobics are on strike, enacting a ""one-person lock-in, yet unwilling or unable to articulate accumulated grievances. . . ."" We have wondering chapters on the seclusions of Emily Dickinson and Queen Victoria. We hear how the ""eventlessness"" of a housewife's life--the lack of stimulus--can itself be traumatic. None of the ""experts""--behaviorists, paternalistic therapists, or single minded biochemists producing mood-altering drugs--can effect the ultimate change, we're told: that's up to society. Women at home must have their work valued, women who enter the ""agora"" (marketplace) must be welcomed. Considering how little is really known about agoraphobia (the number of victims could be anywhere from 5 to 20 million in the US, with 88 percent estimated to be female), this may serve to illuminate one cause of the condition.

Pub Date: April 11th, 1983
Publisher: McGraw-Hill