According to Susan Faludi, author of the recent Backlash, married women experience twenty per cent more depression than single women, and three times the rate of severe neurosis. They have more nervous breakdowns, migraines and inertia; they suffer worse insomnia, hypochondria and nightmares. Back in the Seventies, American sociologist Jessie Bernard found that women became ‘deformed’ through marriage and that it brought ‘genuine emotional health hazards’. This reviewer is married and does indeed have a terrible headache and a deep feeling of gloom. But only because she has spent far too many hours struggling with The Erotic Silence of the Married Woman, by Dalma Heyn.
Ms Heyn’s task was to explode the myth that women prefer to live in a monogamous state; that they only have affairs when driven to it by a terrible marriage; that it is men who commit adultery for the sake of it. She starts by examining the taboos about adultery,