A brief but comprehensive overview

The Female Mind: A User’s Guide by Kathryn Abel & Rosalind Ramsay (Eds.) (RCPsych Publications; Pb £13.99) Reviewed by Louise Beaton

This is a brief volume, with 35 short chapters, split into five sections, covering a wide variety of relevant health-related topics, such as obesity and pain, not just mental disorders. Each chapter is written by a different contributor, bringing together a wealth of knowledge and information and includes detailed references and lists of resources, where relevant.

The book starts by setting the overall context by giving the reader a history of the female mind, which is a whistlestop tour from Greek mythology to the civil rights movements of the 1960s and bringing us briefly to the present day. This sets the tone for the book overall as the chapters are mostly between three and ten pages, so cover a lot of ground very quickly. Use of case studies gives immediacy to the information that follows, and while none of the chapters are long enough to go into any real depth, the breadth of subjects builds to a comprehensive overview of women’s health.

Despite the suggestion that this is aimed at the general reader, it can be a quite a challenging read and feels more relevant to those working with women, rather than the women themselves. It is definitely more of a book to dip in and out of rather than read straight through. It makes a compelling argument for different approaches and treatment for women in mental, and overall, health treatment and how we can often fail to meet those differing patient needs.

Reviewed by Louise Beaton, who is an Open University psychology graduate

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