2020 Lundquist Lecture: The Madwoman in the Classroom

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Dr. Catherine Borshuk, Professor of Psychology and Assistant Director of the IU South Bend Honors Program, is the 2019 recipient of the Lundquist Award. This prestigious award is the campus’ highest faculty award and it is given to a faculty member who has shown excellence in teaching, scholarly or artistic achievement, and community service.

Each year, the Lundquist Award winner presents a topical lecture at a public ceremony. In her 2020 Lundquist lecture, entitled “The Madwoman in the Classroom,” Dr. Borshuk discussed the understandings, misunderstandings, and constantly evolving outlooks on the mental health of women in the last 100 years.

Dr. Borshuk discussed examples of women who were identified as “mad” or “hysteric” throughout history. Her examples came from periods in social psychology where the mental health diagnoses for men and women differed greatly and were heavily based on sexist or ignorant assumptions.

Dr. Catherine Borshuk during the 2020 Lundquist Lecture. Photo by/TAYLOR WALDRON

Dr. Sigmund Freud, who is considered the father of psychoanalysis, was focused on during Dr. Borshuk’s lecture. She discussed how Dr. Freud systematically found ways to blame women for their own psychological struggles.

He often attributed the emotional struggles of women to their perceived attraction to men or lack thereof. Dr. Freud seemed to think that women’s issues could be solved by the admission of their guilt surrounding men or their lust for them.

Another basic example that Dr. Borshuk gave during her presentation was that at the beginning of the study of psychology, men were typically considered to suffer from Neurasthenia, an ill-defined medical condition characterized by working too hard or stressing too much.

Whereas women who exhibited similar emotional symptoms were told they were suffering from Hysteria, which is characterized by exaggerated emotions and meant to make women feel crazy.

Dr. Borshuk discussed the importance of mental health care and mental health advocacy. Women who have been misdiagnosed through the last 100 years, many who unfortunately faced permanent issues following their mistreatment, could have been helped if given the proper care.

The IU South Bend Student Counseling Center had free materials and representatives in attendance before and after the lecture to provide information regarding the resources available to students and faculty through the university.

For more information on the mental health resources available on campus, visit the Student Counseling Center in the IU South Bend Administration Building, Room 175A or via phone at 574-520-4125.

If you are interested in social psychology or mental health advocacy, consider taking a class with Dr. Borshuk. For more information, contact her at cborshuk@iusb.edu.

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