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Depression as a counter for women against men who renege on the sex contract

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Abstract:

Humans have some unique qualities for a primate, if not a mammal. For example, men systematically align themselves and are aligned with a woman-child dyad. In the Sex Contract , Fisher has proffered a synopsis of behavioral traits which facilitated, if not caused, the alignment. For any contract to be effective, penalties or threats of penalties for violations must be available. Available sanctions by a man toward àviolating' woman are manifest: no food, no protection, physical punishment. These sanctions have been well documented in the literature. Available sanctions by a woman toward àviolating' man are argued to be just as real, but more indirect and subtle. One example of these putative sanctions is argued to be an increased vulnerability to a psycho-emotional ` shut-down', i.e. depression. Accordingly, the consistent over representation of women in recorded incidences of depression (28 of 29 countries) may be better understood when also viewed through this biocultural filter. A complementary, if not competing, hypothesis of decreased independence and/or autonomy for women is not supported by cross-cultural data.

Keywords: BIOCULTURAL EVOLUTION; DEPRESSION; GENDER ROLES; NUCLEAR FAMILY

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14616660050082915

Publication date: 2000-04-01

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