Andromache for psychologists: What can we learn from antiquity?


Greta Sykes

The place of women in society is a useful indicator of the extent of equality in that society suggests Wilkinson (2005). Concerns about stagnant (the West) or rising levels of inequality experienced by women globally requires that we look carefully at models of societies in the past and the historical development of male and female power and status differences. The negative impact of low status or lack of power on wellbeing has been sufficiently illustrated by Oliver James in ‘Affluenza’ (2007). Engels’ (1972) essay on ‘The Origin of the Family, Private Property and the State’ brought about a revolution of thinking at the turn of the previous century regarding the place of women in society. Anthropologists, historians, archaeologists and psychologists have since then engaged in debates and research to explore the contribution antiquity made to our understanding of gender roles and a male dominated world by querying the assumption that human societies have always been controlled by men. Goddesses, Angels, witches – which identity do we choose to regain the power and status we deserve? In this essay I explore some of the key points that are made by researchers of inequality leading to the proposition that being in charge of inner – reproduction and sexuality - and outer - occupying territory in society –space is the only way that women shall regain power and control as equals to men. Finally interventions and strategies are suggested that can assist psychologists to use their awareness of an empowering epistemology to guide families towards better mental and emotional health.


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