Rako, Susan (Mandell) 1939-

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RAKO, Susan (Mandell) 1939-

PERSONAL: Born September 4, 1939, in Springfield, MA; children: Jennifer. Education: Attended Wellesley College, 1957-60; University of Cincinnati, B.S., 1961; Albert Einstein College of Medicine, M.D., 1966; Boston University, M.S. (film), 1986 Politics: Independent.

ADDRESSES: Offıce—P.O. Box 600762, Newtonville, MA 02460. E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER: Worcester Foundation for Experimental Biology, Shrewsbury, MA, medical research assistant, 1959; May Institute, Cincinnati, OH, medical research assistant, 1961-62; Mount Auburn Hospital, Cambridge, MA, intern, 1966-67; Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Boston, MA, resident, 1967-69; Harvard Medical School, Boston, teaching fellow in psychiatry, 1967-69, clinical fellow in psychiatry, 1969-70, clinical instructor in psychiatry, 1970-75; Beth Israel Hospital, Boston, resident, 1969-70; private practice of psychiatry, 1970—; Massachusetts Mental Health Center, Boston, staff psychiatrist, 1970-77; Newton-Wellesley Hospital, Newton, MA, staff psychiatrist, 1982; Cutler Counseling Center, Norwood, MA, consultant in child and adult psychiatry, 1983; Veterans Administration Hospital, San Juan, PR, consultant in psychiatry, 1990-94.


(Editor, with Harvey Mazer) Semrad: The Heart of aTherapist, Jason Aronson (New York, NY), 1980.

The Hormone of Desire: The Truth about Sexuality,Menopause, and Testosterone, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 1996, revised edition, Three Rivers Press/Random House (New York, NY), 1999.

No More Periods? The Risks of Menstrual Suppression and Other Cutting-Edge Issues about Hormones and Women's Health, Harmony Books (New York, NY), 2003.

Contributor to periodicals, including Journal of Women's Health and Gender Based Medicine, Directions in Psychiatry, Psychiatric Annals. The Hormone of Desire: The Truth about Sexuality, Menopause, and Testosterone has been translated into Spanish and Japanese.

SIDELIGHTS: Psychiatrist Susan Rako has written and lectured extensively on the issues of women's health, especially in the areas of menstrual pain and post-menopausal hormonal problems. She has published two books on the subject: The Hormone of Desire: The Truth about Sexuality, Menopause, and Testosterone and No More Periods? The Risks of Menstrual Suppression and Other Cutting-Edge Issues about Hormones and Women's Health. In the former, Rako advocates the careful use of testosterone to help alleviate post-menopausal symptoms, while in the latter she warns that use of the birth control pill can lead to undesirable, even dangerous side effects. In both books, she advocates better education in the area of hormonal therapy for women, both on the part of patients and for their physicians.

In The Hormone of Desire, Rako writes that the usual estrogen therapy many post-menopausal women receive is not enough; they also need some testosterone—specifically in the form of methytestosterone—in their systems to prevent such problems as hair loss, decreased libido, and decreased mental agility. However, the male-dominated field of medicine has been reticent to prescribe such therapy, largely because of "fear, ideological resistance and sexual politics," according to a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Overcoming this ignorance and reticence is the key in helping women with hormonal imbalances, believes Rako. "What is so astonishing about this book" commented Judith S. Askew in Menopause News, "is the thoroughness of the coverage of the subject of testosterone and how marvelous it is to find all this information in one place."

While The Hormone of Desire recommends hormonal therapy for post-menopausal women, Rako's No More Periods? opposes the growing movement of suppressing menstrual cycles in healthy, fertile women through the use of the birth-control pill and Depo-Provera. Such drugs can make women vulnerable to cervical cancer, for example; on the other hand, Rako notes that the blood loss caused by monthly periods can actually be beneficial to women by reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke. Martha E. Stone, writing in Library Journal, complained mainly that Rako's book, which is only 192 pages long, does not delve deeply enough into the issues despite its "impressive amount of research." Nevertheless, the critic concluded that libraries "will want to purchase Rako's book."

In addition to her medical background, Rako also has a degree in film communication. She once told CA: "While maintaining a primary interest in the practice of psychiatry, I completed a graduate degree in film production at Boston University's College of Communication. I have produced one documentary film on the subject of healing massage and one cinema verite film, 'Susan and Janni,' that was a finalist in the New England region of the Student Academy Award competition in 1984. I have a strong interest, as well, in directing theatre. The leading edge of my growth in film production and in theatre direction has as its main thrust communication that does not rely on dialogue but on design, movement, non-verbal sound, light, and color."



Booklist, February 15, 1996, William Beatty, review of The Hormone of Desire: The Truth about Sexuality, Menopause, and Testosterone, p. 975.

Boston Globe, July 4, 1994, Judy Foreman, "Testosterone's Use as a Love Potion—For Women," p. 25.

Chicago Sun-Times, December 2, 2003, Jennifer Fried, "Ending Your Monthly Cycle. Period," p. 44.

Library Journal, March 1, 2003, Martha E. Stone, "No More Periods?: The Risks of Menstrual Suppression and Other Cutting-Edge Issues in Women's Reproductive Health," p. 110.

Menopause News, March-April, 1996, Judith S. Askew, review of The Hormone of Desire, p. 6; January-February, 1998, "Expert on Testosterone Talks about Supplementation," p. 2.

New York Times, October 14, 2003, Tina Kelley, "New Pill Fuels Debate over Benefits of Fewer Periods," p. F5.

Publishers Weekly, January 8, 1996, review of TheHormone of Desire, p. 66.


Susan Rako Home Page,http://www.susanrako.com/ (May 3, 2004).*