How Society Has Turned Its Back on Mothers

Connecting the Dots – #YesThisIsAnArtsStory Repost from The New York Times: The Primal Scream

Pooja Lakshmin | 04 February 2021

As a psychiatrist specializing in women’s mental health, nearly every mother I have treated during the pandemic fights through decision fatigue, rage and a feeling of powerlessness every day.

This isn’t breaking news. Burnout among parents, in particular moms, has been a defining principle of this global disaster. Clinical-level burnout is defined by a triad of symptoms: exhaustion, a sense of futility and difficulty maintaining personal connections.

And yet, the more I hear my patients use the term “burnout,” the more I think it doesn’t capture the depth of despair they describe. These are mothers who are faced with impossible choices: sending their child to school, and risking viral exposure, or not showing up to work; plopping their child down in front of a screen just to get a moment of peace.

To get another perspective on burnout, I spoke to Dr. Wendy Dean, a psychiatrist who has dedicated her career to fighting moral injury in physicians, which is the concept that systemic problems in the medical industry prevent doctors from doing what they know is right for their patients. Dr. Dean said what working moms are facing is not identical, but it’s similar, and a consequence of “our society’s decision to pursue profit at all cost.”