I’ve noticed there is an association between depression and female traits in many people’s minds. People with depression are often seen as overly sensitive, weak, indecisive, unstable and perhaps just neurotic. Many of Freud’s patients were women who were often seen in a negative light and that still continues today.
Yesterday I came across an article in the Atlantic regarding how women like Hillary are viewed as candidates. Generally strong women like her are viewed in a negative light and when I say strong, I mean being the opposite of clinically depressed. Hillary is a woman with more male characteristics and Trump supporters are attacking her at the moment for being overly male, “Trump that bitch”, and somewhat ironically also for being weak as well when focusing on her health. According to some psychologists the reason might be that some men feel emasculated by a women leader.
To understand this reaction, start with what social psychologists call “precarious manhood” theory. The theory posits that while womanhood is typically viewed as natural and permanent, manhood must be “earned and maintained.” Because it is won, it can also be lost. Scholars at the University of South Florida and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign reported that when asked how someone might lose his manhood, college students rattled off social failures like “losing a job.” When asked how someone might lose her womanhood, by contrast, they mostly came up with physical examples like “a sex-change operation” or “having a hysterectomy.”
In the end women like Hillary can’t win, if they appear feminine, they are seen as poor leaders and if they display more male characteristics they are out to neuter the male population. How does this tie into mental illness? The mentally ill are seen by a good segment of the population as weak-willed and neurotic much like women. In job interviews they tend to come off poorly, lacking enthusiasm, confidence and motivation. For some reason it is perfectly acceptable to discriminate against a person based on a lack of enthusiasm or confidence. I think this has happened to me quite a few times.
An interesting thing that I’ve noticed about conservatives/libertarians vs. liberals is that conservatives/libertarians,who are more likely male, seem to have more of an internal locus of control than liberals. In other words, they seem to believe that they have more power over a given situation and psychologists say that people with a greater internal locus of control tend to be happier. This can be good because in some situations we do have more control than others and internal locus types are quick to act however there are other situations where we don’t, such when suffering mental illness. I am willing to bet supporters of Trump have doubts about the veracity of mental illness and would have little sympathy for such a feminine illness. Women by the way are at a much greater risk for depressive disorder than men.
What is notable, as well, is the fact that female’s depression often starts around puberty and this is when society starts to control women’s behavior to a greater degree. For some reason fertile women are seen as more dangerous. Perhaps this due to the perception that fertile women have the potential to disrupt family units when they have affairs and consequently destabilize society. Women start to realize at puberty that their value revolves mainly around their looks and reproductive value. This means that they have less control over their lives than men do and that can lead to higher stress levels.
How can female candidates like Hillary change these negative perceptions? Perhaps she should model herself after Sarah Palin a little. Palin was accepted by conservative males and females by emphasizing her role as a mother and a champion of gun rights. She pacified males by looking like a model, acting like their mother and protecting their right to fire arms, She made them feel secure while Hillary does not. A second female whose leadership is accepted is Oprah. She also gives off a strong maternal vibe while also championing women’s rights
When I was younger I remember not really caring whether my behavior feminine or masculine. I remember being reprimanded for being arrogant when quite young. I think it was because I refused to read a children’s bible. I didn’t like how religion constantly made people feel guilty about everything. My father was incredibly upset but it was rather impossible to force someone to read something they don’t want to. Perhaps depressed people should be a little more rebellious and state their beliefs even if it makes them sound arrogant or bitchy. They should additionally embrace their feminine side which might be perceived as a little neurotic. Health,like most things in life, is about maintaining a balance and in the case of depression, it is somewhat of a male/female balance.