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Bundesgesundheitsblatt Gesundheitsforschung Gesundheitsschutz. 2008 Jan;51(1):46-52. doi: 10.1007/s00103-008-0418-8.

[Gender differences in dissociative disorders].

[Article in German]

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  • 1Universit├Ąt Greifswald, BRD.


The relationship between mental illness, on the one hand, and sex and gender, on the other hand, has received interest since the beginning of medicine in antique times. A prototypical example of a seemingly woman-specific disease is hysteria. The term itself, which is derived from the Greek word for womb, denotes a psychosexual dimension comprising the current attitude towards sexuality and the dominating gender relationship. In addition, the colourful history of hysteria indicates that illness is not exclusively determined by biological factors, but also significantly by socio-cultural influences, for example in the treatment of hysterical women. Even nowadays, there is a wide-spread belief that dissociative symptoms and disorders, which have succeeded hysteria in current classification systems, are predominantly seen in women. However, empirical studies in the general population and in different clinical samples using sound instruments have indicated that dissociative symptoms do not differ between the genders. The seemingly dominance of dissociative disorders in women may also depend on the socio-cultural context, because men with dissociative disorders usually do not enter the general health system, but rather the legal system, i.e. they can be found in jail or forensic institutions.

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