Contents: Preface. Introduction: So What Is Abnormal?. 1. Culture, Context and Distress. 2. Finding a Way through the Labyrinth. 3. Deconstructing Madness: Possession and Pains. 4. Women, Social Structure and Distress. 5. Learning to Live Alone: Paisa, Bimari aur Jinn. Conclusion: Pathways to Health and Healing. Bibliography. Index.
Against All Odds: Psychosocial Distress and Healing among Women uses vivid ethnographic narratives to study linkages between socio-economic conditions and the mental health of women living in low-income neighbourhoods of big cities. After presenting anthropological insights related to the understanding of madness, mental health and mental illness, the author illustrates how the social position of women and factors inherent in urbanism have an impact on the level of psychosocial distress they experience. The book further explores the increasing medicalization of social problems whereby instead of actual problems being addressed, women get ‘treated’.
Nayar also takes stock of the different kinds of local ‘healing’ processes sought by women, and examines how the women’s movement and cultural ways of healing have helped women in reducing the distress and violence in their everyday lives. Drawing from the author’s ethnographic research in Delhi, the book offers a vital exploration of the interactions between individuals and systems, and argues that an equitable society is what is required to reduce psychosocial distress. This timely book that cuts across disciplinary locations will be of interest to scholars of gender studies, psychology and psychotherapy, social work and anthropology.