Social Issues I believe that as a psychiatrist i need to understand the specific social issues affecting each person I work with. A 60 year old African-American woman executive from an upper middle class family faces different social pressures than a 23 year old white PhD student from a family where no one else even went to college.
Negative social conditions such as sexism and racism contribute to psychiatric disorders. A lesbian woman who is subtly sexually harassed at work may become anxious, angry, or depressed. A man who is passed over for promotion because of unspoken racism may have similar emotional reactions.
A feminist analysis, an understanding of 21st century racism, a discussion of homophobia, more knowledge about age prejudice, or a review of class prejudice can sometimes help people clarify what part of their problem comes from outside. And that understanding can be the beginning of change.
Positive social forces are also important. Meaningful work and decent housing can help a depressed person make the effort to get up and go to work or make it easier to re-establish good sleep and eating habits at home. Knowing what's needed in the outside world can focus and energize efforts to get it.