Psychology and the Misandry of Feminism

[dropcap]T[/dropcap]he Sadistic Personality Disorder was officially recognized as a psychiatric diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Third Edition, Revised (DSM-IIIR). It was described as:

[quote]a pervasive pattern of cruel, demeaning, and aggressive behavior, beginning by early adulthood, as indicated by the repeated occurrence of at least four of the following:[/quote]

[unordered_list style=”green-dot”]

  • has used physical cruelty or violence for the purpose of establishing dominance in a relationship (not merely to achieve some noninterpersonal goal, such as striking someone in order to rob him or her);
  • humiliates or demeans people in the presence of others;
  • has treated or disciplined someone under his or her control unusually harshly, e.g., a child, student, prisoner, or patient;
  • is amused by, or takes pleasure in, the psychological or physical suffering of others (including animals);
  • has lied for the purpose of harming or inflicting pain on others (not merely to achieve some other goal);
  • gets other people to do what he or she wants by frightening them (through intimidation or even terror);
  • restricts the autonomy of people with whom he or she has a close relationship, e.g., will not let spouse leave the house unaccompanied or permit teen-age daughter to attend social functions;
  • is fascinated by violence, weapons, martial arts, injury, or torture.


The behavior has not been directed toward only one person (e.g., spouse, one child) and has not been solely for the purpose of sexual arousal (as in Sexual Sadism)” (p. 371).

However, this disorder was removed as a diagnosis from the DSM-IV. According to Robert Spitzer, author of the Treatment Companion to the DSM-IV-TR Casebook:

[quote]Certain feminist groups were concerned that inclusion of the disorder would serve the interests of defense attorneys representing sadistic offenders. They could claim that their clients “suffered” from Sadistic Personality Disorder, which could then be exculpatory of their wife-bashing, rape, or other sadistic crimes, the diagnosis could at least argue for “diminished responsibility” (p. 295-296).[/quote]

Feminist groups were concerned because those fitting the diagnostic criteria were almost always male. Spitzer argues that the DSM is not intended as a guidebook for judges. Its intent is to identify and describe mental disorders. He further indicates that a study of 119 serial killers that contained sadistic components showed that only four sentences of less than life without parole or death and in all four cases the sentences and ages of the perpetrators were such that none would ever be released.

In The Myth of Male Power Warren Farrell discusses the feminist outrage over Dr. Edgar Berman’s statement that women’s hormones could have a detrimental effect on decision making during menopause and menstruation but how a mere ten years later feminists were supporting PMS as a legal defense of women who kill their male partners. He demonstrates how this led to the use of “battered woman syndrome,” learned helplessness, and post partum depression as legal defenses for women who kill men and children. These diagnoses are made almost exclusively for women.

It is interesting that feminist groups oppose the inclusion of a mental diagnosis that is primarily given to men on the basis that it could be used as a criminal defense while at the same time supporting the use of mental diagnoses for women who kill their babies or partners. It is not just opposition to using the diagnosis for a legal defense, it has resulted in opposition to the diagnosis itself. This is an important distinction. Inclusion of a diagnosis in the DSM spurns investment into research and treatment. Exclusion can hinder research and eliminate treatment as insurance companies will stop paying for said treatment. This means that many men who suffer from this disorder are not being treated and may be incarcerated in prisons where adequate treatment is not possible.

In addition, the exclusion of sadistic behaviors from defining a disorder allows feminists to continue their assault on masculinity. If these behaviors defined a mental disorder it would differentiate them from normal masculine behavior. But by excluding them as such, feminists can group them with more “normal” behavior and vilify masculinity as a whole referring to it as “testosterone poisoning” or “hypermasculinity” neither of which are actual disorders. Both terms, however, can be used to refer to any unapproved male behavior and applied to all men in general instead of a few men with a mental disorder. Thus it helps to justify the position that all men are evil, potential rapists, wife beaters, and child molesters.

At the same time, creating mental disorders that applied almost entirely to women in order to explain abhorrent behaviors such as murder and infanticide perpetuates the myth that women do not commit such crimes and when they do there is obviously something wrong with them. Such behaviors can then be excluded from “normal” femininity and frequently blamed on a male who abused her. The normalization of abhorrent behavior in men and the exclusion of that same behavior in women permits the blaming of men for all of society’s ills.

This is just further evidence of the hypocrisy of feminist groups making excuses for women who commit violent crimes against men and children while using the very same reasoning to deny men proper and adequate psychological treatment. The exclusion of Sadistic Personality Disorder from the DSM-IV is evidence that feminism is a hypocritical hate movement bent on vilifying and destroying masculinity while excusing the same behaviors it vilifies in men when committed by women. It perpetuates the man=evil / woman=good myth as well as harmful negative stereotypes of masculinity.

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