There’s a thing called dependent personality disorder (DPD) which refers to the suffering an individual faces when they are excessively dependent on another person. The person tends to have a dependent personality, lacks decision-making, confidence and possesses extreme fear of separation. Anyone can suffer from this personality disorder, those who are raised by overly protective and strict or divorced parents are more likely to do so but our main concern today is how traits of a personality like this is seen in suppressed housewives of Pakistan and considered normal. Let’s explore that in detail.
Unfortunately, in Pakistan this issue of suppression of housewives is often overlooked and they are expected to have traits of dependency. Of course with them it’s seen as being an obedient and caring wife to her husband. A housewife is in essence forced to be completely dependent on her husband. Apart from financially supporting his wife, the man is also thought to be in control of her entire life. She can’t buy or do anything without first informing her husband. When the housewife is in charge of menial tasks at the household and taking care of the children and not given any freedom of her own, she forms this personality disorder and suffers depression and anxiety. Not to mention that some husbands might even physically abuse their wives to exert their power more. She is stuck in a situation where she can’t do anything about her life, she can’t even get a divorce because societal pressures force her not to do that.
According American psychological association, men and women are prone to different mental disorders. This has much to do with environmental factors than entirely biological. Men are likely to develop anti-social behavior or substance abuse whereas women are likely to face anxiety and depression, PTSD, binge eating disorders including anorexia and bulimia.
From adolescence to adulthood, a girl has to face suppression of her true self and interests and it only gets worse as she goes through life. At a young age women are socially conditioned into accepting the suppressed in-house environment, usually through seeing their mothers do all that. The mothers who are taught to teach their daughters to keep their voice down, ask permission for everything, and utter this deadliest sentence “beti tou parai hoti hai, sabar aur bardasht karo apny (susral) ghar main” to them time and time again.
Suppression is not just an insult to one’s self dignity and esteem, it also has a far-reaching effect on mental health. Other than extreme anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts could be present on a suppressed housewife.
If they become mothers, they also have to suffer through postpartum depression by themselves while also trying to learn this new skill by themselves. They have to endure the following symptoms.
The suppression is common enough that even physical symptoms of depression and anxiety such as constant headache, joint pains, back pain, excessive nail-biting are paid no medical or moral attention. A brief insight into the life of suppressed wife can be read in Tehmina Durrani’s book “my feudal lord” where she openly states the event of her marriage to Mustafa Kher.
So before judging a housewife for not being able to take control of her own life, we need to realize that sometimes they’re forced to be in that position. We should try to look from their point of view and be more considerate of that.