The Cost of Competence: Why Inequality Causes Depression, Eating Disorders, and Illness in Women

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9780195069860: The Cost of Competence: Why Inequality Causes Depression, Eating Disorders, and Illness in Women
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In The Cost of Competence Brett Silverstein and Deborah Perlick argue that rather than simply labelling individual women as, say, anorexic or depressed, it is time to look harder at the widespread prejudices within our society and child-rearing practices that lead thousands of young women to equate thinness with competence and success, and femininity with failure.

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"The use of historical figures--actresses, scientists, authors, activists, and world leaders--lends an interesting aura to this reevaluation of the reasons behind anxious somatic depression, anorexia, and overeating."--Booklist


"By explicitly linking a pattern of symptoms to the social position of young women, they argue powerfully for a cure at the level of society rather than at the individual or family levels"--Women's Review of Books


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In The Cost of Competence, authors Brett Silverstein and Deborah Perlick argue that rather than simply labeling individual women as, say, anorexic or depressed, it is time to look harder at the widespread prejudices within our society and child-rearing practices that lead thousands of young women to equate thinness with competence and success, and femininity with failure. They argue that continuing to treat depression, anxiety, anorexia and bulimia as separate disorders in young women can, in many cases, be a misguided approach since they are really part of a single syndrome. Furthermore, their fascinating research into the lives of forty prominent women from Elizabeth I to Eleanor Roosevelt show that these symptoms have been disrupting the lives of bright, ambitious women not for decades, but for centuries. Drawing on all the latest findings, rare historical research, cross-cultural comparisons, and their own study of over 2,000 contemporary women attending high schools and colleges, the authors present powerful new evidence to support the existence of a syndrome they call anxious somatic depression. The authors show that identifying this devastating syndrome is a first step toward its prevention and cure. The Cost of Competence presents an urgent message to parents, educators, policymakers, and the medical community on the crucial importance of providing young women with equal opportunity, and equal respect.

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