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Turning the tide

By Wang Qian | China Daily | Updated: 2023-09-16 10:03
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Psychologist Zhang Chun likes to try new things, such as boxing and stand-up comedy. She used to suffer from depression, which inspired a book, 1,003 Days in Another Universe.  [Photo provided to China Daily]

Psychologist seeks to combat deep-rooted bias in society and dispel feelings of gender inferiority, Wang Qian reports.

In psychologist Zhang Chun's consult ing room in Xiamen, Fujian province, she has witnessed the struggles of women, their awakening in society and their changing attitudes to traditional family roles.

In more than 3,000 hours of consulting hundreds of women, she finds they share a similar dilemma which she labels the "double bind". It is a psychological predicament, in which a person receives from a single source conflicting messages that allow no appropriate response to be made.

"Under this logic, women should be pretty, but not too pretty; women should be independent, but not too independent. It's like women are trapped in a paradox," Zhang, 41, says.

What's worse, in her observation, is that many women are unaware of the situational biases at play and get used to the inequities.

Research figures echo her observation. According to the World Health Organization, about 264 million people around the world have depression, and more women are affected than men. A report led by Huang Yueqin, director of the Division of Social Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine at Peking University's Institute of Mental Health, which was published in The Lancet Psychiatry in 2019, indicates that, in China, about 65 percent of people with mental disorders are female.

"Besides reasons caused by biology, I think the answer is simply that women live under more stress than men," Zhang concludes.

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