Media Treatment of Premenstrual Syndrome

  • Mary Brown Parlee


This topic was included in the Conference because, as the list of participants reflects, the phenomenon of premenstrual syndrome (PMS) and scientific knowledge about it bear on a wide range of clinical, social, and legal issues. Media coverage is one means by which the science-based knowledge about PMS is conveyed to the general public and to those non-scientific professionals for whom it is relevant. Research on the mass communication and the media has traditionally been conducted by sociologists, none of whom as yet has focused on contemporary media treatments of PMS or of women’s reproductive functions more generally (e.g., Curran, Gurevitch, & Wollacott, 1979; Dexter & White, 1964). Because of the importance of the topic for PMS researchers, however, this paper attempts to bridge the gap between relatively technical scholarly treatments of the media by sociologists (see, for example, works cited in Gans, 1979) and the practical concerns of the working scientists dealing with the media. It draws, in part, on the author’s experience as a full-time writer and editor for a monthly magazine covering social science, as chair of the Public Information Committee of the American Psychological Association during the time the Association was developing and testing strategies for promoting responsible media coverage of psychological research, and as a researcher who has often interacted with media representatives covering PMS and/or menstrual cycle research. As Dr. Halbreich suggested in discussion at the Conference, media coverage of PMS may represent a useful model for analysis of the complex issues arising in media treatment of medical subjects more generally (Dick, 1954). Systematic research of this sort is needed to bridge solidly the gap to which this paper is addressed in a necessarily preliminary way.


Menstrual Cycle Media Coverage Premenstrual Syndrome Invisible College Menstrual Problem 


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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1987

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mary Brown Parlee
    • 1
  1. 1.Graduate School and University CenterCity University of New YorkNew YorkUSA

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