The Wrong Prescription for Women
How Medicine and Media Create a "Need" for Treatments, Drugs, and Surgery
by Maureen C. McHugh and Joan C. Chrisler, Editors
July 2015, 292pp, 6 1/8x9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3176-8
$75, £58, 66€, A103
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3177-5
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

The stigmatization of menstruation has serious implications for women.

This groundbreaking book challenges the medicalized approach to women's experiences including menstruation, pregnancy, and menopause and suggests that there are better ways for women to cope with real issues they may face.

Before any woman diets, douches, botoxes, reduces, reconstructs, or fills a prescription for antidepressants, statins, hormones, menstrual suppressants, or diet pills, she should read this book. Contesting common medical practice, the book addresses the many aspects of women’s lives that have been targeted as “deficient” in order to support the billion-dollar profits of the medical-pharmacological industry and suggests alternatives to these “remedies.”

The contributors—psychologists, sociologists, and health experts—are also gender experts and feminist scholars who recognize the ways in which gender is an important aspect of the human experience. In this eye-opening work, they challenge the marketing and “science” that increasingly render women’s bodies and experiences as a series of symptoms, diseases, and dysfunctions that require treatment by medical professionals who prescribe pharmaceutical and surgical interventions. Each article in the book addresses the marketing of a specific “condition” that has been constructed in a way that convinces a woman that her body is inadequate or her experience and behavior are not good enough. Among the topics addressed are menstruation, menopause, pregnancy, post-partum adjustment, sexual desire, weight, body dissatisfaction, moodiness, depression, grief, and anxiety.


  • Addresses popular topics including the "thin ideal," the health realities of weight, cosmetic surgery, birth as a medical emergency, sexual desire and menopause, depression, and mourning
  • Critiques the "science" and marketing that sees all women's complaints as symptoms, diseases, and dysfunctions requiring medical treatment
  • Explains how psychological and social factors affect women's health and argues for a more well-founded approach such as using talk therapy first
  • Explains why events like menopause, sexual desire, body dissatisfaction, and grief are examples of issues often not best treated with drugs, but with psychotherapy for permanent resolution
  • Will appeal to all adult women who might, or do, question current medical approaches and media promises
Maureen C. McHugh, PhD, teaches gender and diversity at Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP). She founded the Women's Studies program at IUP in 1986 and served as director for 12 years. McHugh also served in leadership roles in the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP) and as chair of the Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP) for the American Psychological Association (APA), and as president of the Society for Psychology of Women (SWP). A pioneer in teaching the Psychology of Women, she was awarded the Christine Ladd Franklin Award (AWP) for her contributions to feminist psychology and the Florence Denmark Award for Distinguished Mentoring (AWP). She has published more than 50 journal articles and chapters in the area of feminist methods, violence against women, gender differences, sexual scripts and slut bashing, older women, fat prejudice/sizism, and the history of feminist psychology. McHugh is a recipient of the AWP Distinguished Publication Award.

Joan C. Chrisler, PhD, is the Class of 1943 Professor of Psychology at Connecticut College, where she teaches courses in gender, health, and social psychology. Chrisler served as chair of the Committee on Women in Psychology (CWP) of the American Psychological Association and is active in APA Division 35, the Association for Women in Psychology (AWP), and the Society for Menstrual Cycle Research (SMCR). She has received a number of honors for her work, including the Christine Ladd Franklin Award (AWP), the Carolyn Wood Sherif Award (Div 35), the Ann Voda Distinguished Career Award (SMCR), a Distinguished Leader for Women in Psychology Award (CWP), and a Distinguished Publication Award (AWP) for her coedited book Lectures on the Psychology of Women. Chrisler has published many articles, chapters, books, and reviews in her areas of interest: women's health, menstruation and menopause, reproductive rights, body image, women and weight, eating disorders, women and aging, and professional women's careers. She was an early contributor to the anti-dieting movement and serves on the editorial board of the new journal Fat Studies. Her coedited book Women over 50: Psychological Perspectives was praised for bringing much-needed feminist analysis to issues of women and aging.


"The threads that tie the volume together are clear: the pathologizing and undervaluing of women’s health-related experiences; the double-edged sword of medicalization, which can take women’s health risks seriously while patronizingly 'localizing authority for [their health] care in the hands of physicians' (to quote the chapter titled 'Pregnancy and Birth as a Medical Crisis'); and social context and the influences of the media. Summing Up: Highly recommended. All readers."—Choice, January 4, 2016

"Maureen C. McHugh and Joan C. Chrisler have gathered together an impressive collection of chapters on the medicalization of women's normal physical experiences throughout the life cycle. While researchers have been writing about this phenomenon in relation to particular issues for decades, this collection highlights the broader problematic treatment of women's experiences, exposing commonalities concerning the treatment of the menstrual cycle, pregnancy and birth, infertility, sexual response, menopause, body size and image, and depression. Taken as a whole, the pattern is striking. . . . Because these chapters present research thoroughly, in language that is accessible for readers, they will help women to better understand their own life experiences and provide the impetus to think critically about their choices."—Psychology of Women Quarterly, May 31, 2017
By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyze site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.
Accept All Cookies | Decline.