From Masochists to Traumatized Victims: Psychiatry, Law, and the Feminist Anti-Rape Movement of the 1970s
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CitationAkhtar, Leena. 2017. From Masochists to Traumatized Victims: Psychiatry, Law, and the Feminist Anti-Rape Movement of the 1970s. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation is a study of how the women’s anti-rape movement of the 1970s transformed psychiatrists’ and other experts’ understandings of the psychology of rape victims. I start by using writing by psychiatrists, criminologists, and jurists to understand how gender inflected the way that psychiatrists understood rape in the mid-20th century, and trace how this knowledge was invoked by the legal system and other experts until the late 1960s. I then turn to the women’s movement and how feminists developed a new consciousness about rape, and pushed back against psychiatric and legal expertise. I draw on interviews, feminist literature, and the records of rape crisis centers and other movement groups to track how radical feminists politicized the question of sexual violence, prompting a cultural redefinition of rape and creating a national network of rape crisis centers. These developments laid the groundwork for new models for understanding the psychological impact of rape, most notably Rape Trauma Syndrome. I end by looking at the impact that these developments had on the field of psychiatry by the end of the decade, including the significance of the inclusion of Rape Trauma Syndrome as a precursor to Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:42061501
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