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'Paradigm of The Hysterical Woman': Doctors Are More Willing to Prescribe Pain Meds to ‘Rational’ Men Than 'Irrational' Women

August 12, 2018 in Blogs

By Emily Jordan, Salon

Why a woman’s pain isn’t her own.

Amanda Stern is anxious. A native New Yorker, she spent her childhood, adolescence, much of her adulthood (and possibly the entirety of her walk over to meet me) in a kaleidoscopic state of mild to debilitating anxiety. Yet, as we sit in Maison May, a homey, intimate café in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, eating an early lunch and chatting about her new memoir “Little Panic,” Stern is both warm yet sarcastic, unflappable yet neurotic, all while simultaneously emitting a low apprehensive buzz, like a tightly vibrating string.

Reading Stern’s book, anyone who grew up in the 1970s will recognize Etan Patz, the six-year-old boy who went for a two-block walk from which he never returned, not to mention that era’s total permissiveness, a supervision style which would later give rise to Just Say No in the Reagan '80s and then its bastard lovechild, helicopter parenting. Yet the disturbing details of the Etan Patz case incite and inform young Stern’s own childhood worries — will Patz be found, will she herself be taken, will her mother “disappear”? — as they mirror Stern’s childhood self’s unfulfilled desire to be seen and known.

“Little Panic” grips and discomfits in the best way. It is entertaining and sad and funny and relatable even as you wonder, where were all the adults of the '70s, and WTF were they doing? Were they all off punching pillows at EST or shtupping each other at Jewish resorts in the Catskills? And why didn’t anyone walk little Etan Patz to his damn bus?

“I’m the only one of my siblings I grew up with who’s anxious,” Stern informs me over an almond milk latte and a summer salad, artfully arranged on a butcher’s block. “When you have a lot of untreated, undiagnosed anxiety, it floods out of your brain and into your body and just sets up shop.”

Stern’s book is about how she navigated an undiagnosed panic disorder from childhood up to and through early adulthood, even though she was constantly undergoing rigorous diagnostic testing to uncover what was so “wrong with …read more


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