Professor Jane Ussher

Professor Jane Ussher


Awarded a personal chair in Women's Health Psychology in 2002, Jane Ussher has been working on research on gendered health, since she started her PhD in 1983. Her research focuses on examining gendered factors underlying mental health problems, subjectivity and identity in relation to the reproductive body and sexuality, and gendered issues in cancer caring. As a trained clinical psychologist, she has also made a contribution to the integration of research and clinical practice in women's health, and has developed a women centred psychological treatment for PMS.

Jane is editor of the Routledge Women and Psychology book series, and author of a number of books, including The Psychology of the Female Body (Routlege 1989), Women's Madness: Misogyny or Mental Illness? (Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991), Fantasies of Femininity: Reframing the Boundaries of Sex (Pengin, 1997), and Managing the Monstrous Feminine: Regulating the Reproductive Body (Routledge, 2007).

She has edited a number of books: Gender Issues in Clinical Psychology (with Paula Nicolson; Routledge 1992); The Psychology of Women's Health and Health Care (McMillan, 1992); Psychological Perspectives on Sexual Problems (Routledge, 1993); Bodytalk: The Material and Discursive Regulation of Madness, Sexuality and Reproduction (Routledge, 1997); and Women's Health: Contemporary International Perspectives (Blackwell, 2000).

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Areas of Research / Teaching Expertise

Women's Health; Gender and Sexuality; Critical Health Psychology; Feminist Psychology

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Grants / Current Projects

2009 Cancer Institute NSW
Randomised controlled trial of acupuncture to reduce fatigue post breast cancer treatment: a pilot study.
Smith, C., Ussher, JM. & Perz, J.
2009 ARC Discovery Grant
Evaluation of the relative efficacy and mechanisms of a couple based intervention for Premenstrual Syndrome through a randomised control trial using mixed methods.
Ussher, JM, & Perz, J.

2008 ARC Linkage Grant
Multiple perspectives on sexuality and intimacy post-cancer, leading to the development and evaluation of supportive interventions
Ussher, JM, Perz, J. Gilbert, E., Sundquist, K. Batt, G., Hobbs, K. Kirsten, L.

2008 Research Contracts Panthers on the Prowl
Panther Bytes: An examination of the effects and impacts of a mobile healthy lifestyle program and Tackle it Now: An examination of the effects and impact of a support program for children at risk of developing antisocial behaviour.
Perz, J. & Ussher, J.M.

2007 Research Contract Panthers on the Prowl
'Local Answers' - A pilot study examining the effects and impact of a school community support program.
Perz, J., Chessor, D., Gilbert, E., & Ussher, J.M.

2005 ARC Discovery Grant
An examination of the development. Experience and construction of premenstrual symptoms: A comparative study of relationship types and contexts.
Ussher, J.M., Perz, J., Lee, C., Nicolson, P. & James, K.

2005 ARC Linkage Grant
An evaluation of concerns and self perceived needs for primary carers of a person with cancer: A comparative study of female and male carers, leading to the development of supportive interventions.
Ussher, JM, Butow, P, Wain, G, Sundquist, K, & Batt, G.

2005 ARC Linkage Grant
Meeting the needs of cancer support group leaders.
Butow, P, Ussher, JM, Wain, G, Sundquist, K, & Batt, G

2005 Research Contract - New South Wales Health (Partnership with NSWCC)
The development and delivery of a state-wide community education and support program for carers of people with cancer in NSW.
Sundquist, K. & Ussher, JM

2005 Research Contract - Centre for Health Equity Training Research & Evaluation.
An examination of the effectiveness of cognitive behavioral therapy for unemployed individuals.
Perz, J. & Ussher, J.M.

2005 Research Contract - Nepean & Hawkesbury Divisions of General Practice.
Gender issues in presentation and treatment of mental health problems.
Ussher, J.M. & Perz,

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Awards and Recognition

Honorary Professor, Centre for Values, Ethics and Law in Medicine, Sydney University (awarded 2008).

Editorial Board Member:Counselling Psychology Quarterly
Psychology Health and Medicine
Psychology Review
International Journal of Critical Psychology
British Journal of Clinical Psychology
Psychology, Evolution and Gender
Social Theory and Health
Psychology and Sexuality
Recent Keynote conference presentations:

Ussher, JM. Managing the Monstrous Feminine: Regulating the premenstrual body. Invited speaker, University of Oslo and University of Bergen, September 2005.

Ussher, JM. Managing the Monstrous Feminine: Subjectification of women and regulation of the Reproductive Body. Challenging Illnesses conference, Vancouver, November 2005.

Ussher, JM Managing the Monstrous Feminine Constructing and Deconstructing PMS in lesbian and heterosexual relationships. Keynote speaker, Annual research Update Conference, Centre for Values, Ethics and Law, Sydney University, May 2006.

Ussher, JM. Premenstrual Syndrome and Self-Policing: Constructing and Deconstructing PMS in lesbian and heterosexual relationships. Keynote speaker, Marginalisation and Health conference, Leicester University, May 2006.

Ussher, JM. The Construction and Regulation of Women's Madness: Managing the Monstrous Feminine Keynote speaker, Madness, Citizenship and  Social Justice conference, Vancouver, June 2008

Ussher, JM. Rejecting raging hormones: The socio-cultural construction and experience of reproductive distress. Keynote speaker, Marce Society Annual conference, Sydney, July 2008.

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Recent Books

Ussher, J.M. (forthcoming). The Madness of Women: Myth and Experience. London; Routledge.

Ussher, J.M. (2006). Managing the Monstrous Feminine: Regulating the Reproductive Body. London; Routledge.

Recent Invited Contributions and Book Chapters

Ussher, J.M., & Perz, J. (2010). Disruption of the Silenced-Self: The Case of Pre-Menstrual Syndrome. In D.C. Jack & A. Ali. (Eds.), The depression epidemic: International perspectives on women's self-silencing and psychological distress 435-456. Oxford: Oxford University Press

Ussher, J.M. (2009). Madness and misogyny: My mother and myself. In J. Reynolds, R. Muston, T. Heller, J. Leach, M. McCormick, J. Wallcraft & M. Walsh (Eds.), Mental health still matters (pp. 78-80). London: Palgrave Macmillan

Ussher, J.M. (2009). Sexual science and the law. In A.L. Ferber, K. Holcomb, & T. Wentling (Eds.), Sex, Gender & Sexuality (pp. 377-416). New York: Oxford University Press.

Ussher, J.M. (2008). Managing the Monstrous Feminine: The Role of PMS in the Subjectification of Women. In Moss, P. & Teghtsoonian, K. (Eds.), Challenging Illness: Authority, Bodies and Context. Columbia University Press.

Perz, J., & Ussher, J.M., (2008). Connectedness, communication and reciprocity in lesbian relationships: implications for women's construction and experience of PMS. In Hammock, PL & Cohler, B.J. Life Course and Sexual identity: Narrative perspectives on gay and lesbian identity (p. 223-250). Oxford University Press.

Ussher, J.M. (2007). Gender Issues and Women's Health. In Ayers, S. et. al. (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine (2nd Edition). Cambridge University Press.

Ussher, J.M. (2007). Premenstrual Syndrome. In Ayers, S. et. al. (Eds.), Cambridge Handbook of Psychology, Health and Medicine (2nd Edition). Cambridge University Press.

Ussher, J.M. (2006). The material-discursive construction of lesbian sexuality: Examining the experiences of young lesbian avengers. In Malterud, K. & Ohnstad, S. (Eds.), Lesbiske og homofile i mote med helse- og sosialtenesta. (Lesbian and gay people encountering health care and social workers). Rivertoininprison, Oslo.

Ussher J.M. (2005) Unravelling Women's Madness: Beyond Positivism and Constructivism and towards a Material-Discursive-Intrapsychic Approach. In Menzies, R., Chunn, D.E. & Chan, W. (Eds.), Women, madness and the law: A feminist reader. Glasshouse Press.

Ussher, J.M. (2004). Postnatal depression: A critical feminist perspective. In M. Stewart (Ed.), Pregnancy, birth and maternity are - A feminist perspective. Butterworth Heinemann.

Ussher, J.M. (2004). Blaming the Body for distress: Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder and the subjectification of women. In Potts, A, Gavey, N & Wetherall, A. (Eds.), Sex and the Body. Dunmore Press.

Recent Refereed Journal Articles

Ussher, JM & Perz, J. (2010) Gender Differences in self-silencing and psychological distress in informal cancer carers Psychology of Women Quarterly 34, 228-242

Ussher, JM. (2010) Are we medicalizing women's misery? A critical review of women's higher rates of reported depression. Feminism and Psychology 20(1) 9-35

Gilbert, E., Ussher, J.M., & Hawkins Y. (2009). Accounts of disruptions to sexuality following cancer from the perspective of informal carers who are partners of a person with cancer. Health: An Interdisciplinary Journal 13 (5) 523-541

Ussher, JM, Perz, J., Hawkins, Y. & Brack, M. (2009) Evaluating the efficacy of psycho-social interventions for informal carers of cancer patients: A systematic review of the research literature Health Psychology Review 3 (1) 85-107

Ussher, J.M. (2009) Hetero-centric practices in health research and health care: Implications for mental health and subjectivity of LGBTQ individuals Feminism and Psychology 19(4) 561-567

Mooney-Somers, J., Perz, J. & Ussher J.M. (2008). A risky negotiation: Women's experiences of naming and not naming PMS in couple relationships. Women and Health 47(3), 57-77.

Wong, W.K.T., & Ussher, J.M. (2008). Life with HIV and AIDS in the Era of Effective Treatments: "It's not just about living longer!". Social Theory and Health 6, 117-131.

Ussher, J.M. (2008). Reclaiming embodiment within critical psychology: A material-discursive analysis of the menopausal body. Social and Personality Compass, 2(5), 1781-1798.

Perz, J., & Ussher, J.M. (2008). 'The Horror of this Living Decay': Women's Negotiation and Resistance of Medical Discourses around Menopause and Midlife. Women's Studies International Forum 31, 293-299.

Ussher, J.M., & Sandoval, M. (2008). Gender Differences in the Construction and Experience of Cancer Care: The Consequences of the Gendered Positioning of Carers. Psychology and Health 1-19 23(8) 945-963.

Ussher, J.M., Kirsten, L., Sandoval, M., & Butow, P. (2008). A Qualitative analysis of reasons for leaving, or not attending, a cancer support group. Social Work in Health Care 47(1) 1-16.

Wong, W.K.T., & Ussher, J.M. (2008). How do subjectively constructed meanings ascribed to anti-HIV treatments affect their use within the context of treatment adherent practice? Qualitative Health Research 18(4), 458-468.

Ussher, J.M. (2008). Challenging the Positioning of Premenstrual Change as PMS: The Impact of a Psychological Intervention on Women's Self-Policing. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 5(1), 33-44.

Ayling, K., Ussher, J.M. (2008). If sex hurts, am I still a woman? The subjective experience of vulvodynia in hetero-sexual women. Archives of Sexual Behaviour 37, 294-304.

Ussher, J.M., & Perz, J. (2008). Empathy, egalitarianism and emotion work in the relational negotiation of PMS: The experience of lesbian couples. Feminism and Psychology, 18(1) 87-111.

Ussher, J.M., Perz, J., & Mooney-Somers, J. (2007). The Experience and Positioning of Affect in the Context of Intersubjectivity: The Case of Premenstrual Syndrome. International Journal of Critical Psychology – special edition on 'Feeling and Affect', 21, 145-165.

Butow, P.N., Kirsten, L.T., Ussher, J.M., Wain, G.V., Sandoval, M., Hobbs, K.M., Hodgkinson, K., & Stenlake, A. (2007). What is the ideal support group? Views of Australian people with cancer and their carers. Psycho-Oncology, 16,(11) 1039-1045

Kirsten, L.T., Wain, G.V, Butow, P.N., Ussher, J.M., Hobbs, K.M., Smith, K., Stenlake, A. (2006). Diversity and availability of support groups. Cancer Forum, 30(1), 35-38.

Perz, J., & Ussher, J.M. (2006). Women's Experience of Premenstrual Syndrome: A Case of Silencing the Self. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 24(4),289-303.

Ussher, J.M., & Perz, J. (2006). Evaluating the relative efficacy of a self-help and minimal psycho-educational intervention for moderate premenstrual distress conducted from a critical realist standpoint. Journal of Reproductive and Infant Psychology, 24(4), 347-362.

Ussher J., Kirsten L., Butow P., & Sandoval, M. (2006). The Experience of Peer Support Groups for People with Cancer: What do Cancer Support Groups Provide which Other Supportive Relationships do not? Social Science and Medicine, 62, 2565-2576.

Butow, P., Ussher, J., Kirsten, L., Hobbs, K., Smith, K., Wain, G., Petrovic, M., & Stenlake, A. (2005). Sustaining leaders of cancer support groups: the role, needs and difficulties of leaders. Social Work in Health Care, 42(2) 39-55.

Ussher, J.M. (2005). The meaning of sexual desire: experience of heterosexual and lesbian girls. Feminism and Psychology, 15(1) 27-32.

Ussher, J.M. (2004). Premenstrual Syndrome and Self-policing: Ruptures in Self-Silencing Leading to Increased Self-Surveillance and Blaming of the Body. Social Theory and Health, 2,3 49-62.

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Professional Affiliations

Associate Fellow & Chartered Psychologist, British Psychological Society (BPS)Member BPS Psychology of Women Section, Social Psychology Section, & Health Psychology Section

Member Society for Infant and Reproductive Psychology, International Society for Sex Research, International Academy of Sex Research, Australian Psychological Society (APS), APS College of Clinical Psychology,

Registered Psychologist (NSW), Editorial Board Member for: Counselling Psychology Quarterly Psychology Health and Medicine Psychology Review British Journal of Clinical Psychology Psychology, Evolution and Gender Social Theory and Health Book Series Editor for: Women and Psychology Series, Routledge: London/NYBoard Director: Karitane