Rakesh Bhandari bhandari at phoenix.princeton.edu
Wed Nov 17 11:00:13 PST 1999

Hi Katha,

Quite a storm about your book has appeared on amazon.com!

By the way, does Acocella analyze the iatrogenic (sp?) effects of such invidious classification--in other words, how the helping professions acting in terms of their own classifications themselves induce the behavior they are treating? I can't remember the precise dynamics of this process, but remember reading somewhere something by Ian Hacking about this well known psychological process.

Yours, Rakesh

On Wed, 17 Nov 1999, Katha Pollitt wrote:

> In line with the daycare satanic abuse and feminism thread, I recommend
> Jona Acocella's new book 'Creating hysteria:women and Multiple
> Personality Disorder.' Some of you might have read the section that
> appeared in the new Yorker, about how "sybil," whose case history
> started the fad for MPD diagnosis, wasn't really a multiple. I think
> Acocella does a brilliant job of unpacking the many meanings of the MPD
> craze -- like Satanic ritual abuse it has feminist aspects, Christian
> fundamentalist aspects, nutty-psychiatry aspects, class aspects--also
> medical insurance aspects (MPDs were hospitalized in special units and
> used to generate huge insurance claims -- when the insurance dried up,
> they were released).. She sees MPD as a misogynist diagnosis (not that
> women can't be misogynous, it's a fact that the top shrinks in the field
> are all men) that once again told women that their problems lay deep in
> the inner self, not in their actual circumstances (invariably grim for
> this kind of patient -- working class women with tons of problems,
> including mental and emotional ones).
> It's a really good book. And Acocella is a feminist. maybe Alex will
> write a column accusing her of not having written her book twelve years
> ago!
> Katha Pollitt

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