Monday, February 08, 2010

Let's look at this again.

One of the classes I am taking this term is Abnormal Psychology; it is, as I've told all who will listen, the "meat" of psychology--this is where we learn to diagnose and treat various disorders. It's a fascinating course for me. While I could not care less about most theoretical aspects of it, now that we're in to the practical stuff of applying these theories, I am into it enough that I'm discussing changing my major. I could so practice clinical psychology.

It's prompted me to check out a book from our school's library for the first time ever: Case Studies in Abnormal Psychology, 6th ed (Oltmanns, Neale, Davison). And in there, I found this:

Rape is a prominent and alarmingly frequent problem on college campuses and in other areas of our society (Calhoun & Wilson, 2000; Spitzberg, 1999). Consider, for example, the results of one study in which a sexual experiences survey was administered to more than 6000 female college students from 32 institutions across the United States. Twenty-eight percent of these women had been the victims of either attempted or completed rape. An addtional 11 percent of the women reported that they had been subjected to sexual coercion, and 15 percent had been touched sexually against their will. An astounding 84 percent of the raped women knew their attacker (Koss, 1998). Similar figures regarding the frequency and form of coercive sexual experiences were found by the National Health and Social Life Survey, the first large-scale examination of sexual behavior in the United States since the Kinsey reports (Laumann, Gagnon, Michael, and Michaels, 1994). In this national probability sample of women betwen the ages of 18 and 59, 22 percent reported that they had been forced by a man to do something sexually that they did not want to do. Only 4 percent of these coercive sexual acts were committed by a stranger.(p 41)

This information was contained in the chapter on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Popularly, this is known for afflicting combat veterans (and it most certainly does; however that discussion is one for a different post). The book also contains this info:

The overall rate of PTSD in the general population is higher for women (10 percent) than for men (5 percent), according to data from the NCS (Kessler et al., 1999). This pattern may be surprising in light of the fact that men are somewhat more likely to be exposed to traumatic events. How can it be explained? The NCS investigators suggest that, in comparison to men, women may be more likely to be exposed to traumatic events that are psychologically catastrophic. Rape is one example. Women are much more likely to be raped than men, and the rate of PTSD (for both male and female victims) is much higher following rape than following any other type of traumatic event. What are the distinguishing features of rape that account for its devastating impact? In comparison to many other traumatic events, rape involves directed, focused, intentional harm that is associated with the most intimate interpersonal act (Calhoun & Wilson, 2000).(p 45)

The bolding here is mine, but the italics are original to the text.

This post is prompted by the (as of right now) most recent one at BobS's place. Specifically, this part:

The kicker for me was his stance on abortion/contraceptive rights versus 2nd Amendment rights. He doesn’t mind having contraceptives available on campuses (neither do I) even if the school is morally opposed to that idea (many Catholic/Christian collegse) yet sees not irony in keeping people from being able to effectively defend themselves on those very campuses or to and from those campuses.
He's right, of course, about the issue. As I said in comments to that post, the twin stances on abortion and guns make me wonder if Farouk Shami is one of those people who thinks that the only damage done by rape is sexual. It is not.

This is from the case study:

Most of Jocelyn's symptoms had begun about two months before she visited the university's counseling service. Since then she had been having nightmares almost every night about unfamiliar men in dark clothing trying to harm her. She was not having trouble falling asleep, but she was trying to stay awake to avoid the nightmares. During the day, if someone walked up behind her and tapped her unexpectedly on the shoulder, she would be extremely statled, to the point that her friends became offended by her reactions. When she was studying, especially if she was reading her English textbook, images of physical brutality would intrude on her thoughts and distract her. She had a great deal of difficulty concentrating on her schoolwork.


During these first few sessions, Jocelyn reported that she had begun ot feel more and more dissociated from herself. She would catch a glimpse of herself in the mirror and think, "Is that me?" She would walk around in the midwestern winter with no gloves on and be relieved when her hands hurt from the cold, because "at least it's an indication that I'm alive."

The psychological issues proved to be enduring. This case study included a 10-year followup, which noted the following:
During this therapy, Jocelyn acknowledged that she felt very close to her boyfriend, but she had a great deal of difficulty learning to trust him. She found it hard to believe him when he said that he loved her. They were also having some trouble in their sexual relationship. Many forms of touching, if the touch was not gentle enough, were upsetting to Jocelyn. If her partner accidentally did anything that caused her discomfort during physical intimacy, Jocelyn would think to herself: "This is it. He's been good until now, but now he's going to hurt me." Because of these irrational thoughts, Jocelyn frequently interrupted sexual contact with her boyfriend abruptly. He found these reactions confusing, and their relationship was becoming strained.

But, yeah. We can't allow guns on college campuses because, y'know, someone might get shot. Decades-long psychological problems are far preferable to that, eh?

Also: I should not need to spell this out, but I will anyway. Treating rape as only a sexual problem--which, frankly, I feel is at the root of a lot of this "women don't need guns to prevent rape" BS--reduces a woman to merely the sum of her reproductive organs. This is, almost by definition, anti-feminist. It's definitely anti-woman. That so many self-proclaimed feminists (progressives, the lot) lay claim to the anti-gun stance without realizing it is also anti-woman is why so many of my conservative sisters are hesitant to lay claim to feminism. We need to break that word loose from its political moorings, but that too is another post for another time.


Bob S. said...

What is the psych term for someone who continually thinks that people carry a certain inanimate object will suddenly go crazy and commit violent crimes?

When you boil down the Anti-Right Advocates arguments; that is what most of amount to.

We need to keep guns off campus because someone might start a gun fight over the last slice of pecan pie in the Cafeteria (I've had the pecan pie -- it isn't worth arguing over much less the cost of a single round of ammo).

We need to keep guns off the streets because someone might get upset over being cut off, we need to keep them out of parks because someone might confuse an attack of pigeon poop for a reason to start gunning down birds.

Unreasonable, excessive worry about something that might not happen-- there has to be a psych term besides paranoia, right?

David said...

Good post - seems like this is exceedingly deep on the emotional level. Forgive me for skipping over that part and getting to a solution for the crimes that have not yet been committed.

As a nation of laws the problem becomes enforcement. If sexual predators were prosecuted and sentenced properly in every case, there certainly would be less of them around to harm kids, woman and men. Just sayin'

As far as guns go, I am a fan of well trained citizens. Even here in MA, permitting is very strict - no one who has been in a mental institution or a detox can ever get one along with felons and kids.

The problem is that enough folks that are armed, don't get good training. I only had to pass a state police proficiency exam with a revolver, and a a semi-automatic (no long guns or shotguns), and answer 20 questions. It was not as comprehensive as a driver's exam.

I think we could do better. Safe gun ownership is a testament to legal gun use.

When it come to putting a plug in an attacker or an intruder, too often the aggressor ends up with the gun. This is why the military and law enforcement have extensive training.

I don't know what the balance is, but I'd like to see some better training and screening. That would weed out a lot of rampage killers. Then enforce the guns laws that we have. Train the rest.

In the end - I only wish more sane folks were armed and dangerous!

Sabra said...

What is the psych term for someone who continually thinks that people carry a certain inanimate object will suddenly go crazy and commit violent crimes?

A sort of phobia, perhaps? You could make a good case for agoraphobia too. It's an anxiety disorder and typified by anything from unease to outright terror in certain situations--and, of course, not knowing who is carrying can diffuse it into sort of a general anxiety disorder...

Definitely an interesting question. Maybe I will write a paper on it some day!

Bob S. said...


I'll make a case that the need for training is vastly over rated.

The use of a firearm isn't a complicated process and the decision to use it is fairly obvious.

There is a need to have a basic level of proficiency but that is it, in my opinion.

You say that "oo often the aggressor ends up with the gun; could you cite some evidence for that statement?

I just don't see that happening as much as people think. I would be happy to change my mind if shown the statistics.