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PMS a fact of life or all in the mind?

In her keynote talk: "Premenstrual Syndrome and Self-policing: Constructing and Deconstructing Premenstrual Distress in Lesbian and Heterosexual relationships", Professor Jane M Ussher, will put forward her views to delegates of an international 3-day conference for psychologists to be held at the University of Leicester, entitled "Qualitative Research and Marginalisation."

Professor Ussher is Professor of Women's Health Psychology and Director of the Gender Culture and Health Research at the University of Western Sydney, Australia, and a world-renowned expert in her field.

Her talk draws on her recently published book 'Managing the Monstrous Feminine: Regulating the Reproductive Body' (Routledge, 2006), She commented: "The majority of women experience physical and psychological changes in the premenstrual phase of the cycle, but only some women experience distress associated with these changes, and position them as PMS. My paper argues that this distress and self-diagnosis is associated with practices of self-policing negative self-judgement, self-silencing, self-sacrifice, over responsibility and self blame.

"My paper identifies self-policing practices in relation to the experience and construction of premenstrual depression and anger in lesbian and heterosexual relationships, and presents a model of clinical intervention which disrupts this self-policing, through a process of challenging PMS as a bio-medical problem, and unravelling the legitimate reasons why many women are distressed."

Drawing on in-depth interviews with 36 British and 64 Australian women, Professor Ussher argues that women's experience of distress or anger premenstrually is connected to the self-policing practices which women are expected to engage in order to fulfil their role as a 'good' wife or mother. She suggests that this is closely associated with notions of idealised femininity and the monstrous feminine, in other words the positioning of women a
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Contact: Gabrielle Ranson
0870-015-7013
University of Leicester
3-May-2006


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