Hysteria: The disturbing history

Paperback | September 29, 2011

byAndrew Scull

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The nineteenth century seems to have been full of hysterical women - or so they were diagnosed. Where are they now? The very disease no longer exists. In this fascinating account, Andrew Scull tells the story of Hysteria - an illness that disappeared not through medical endeavour, but throughgrowing understanding and cultural change. More generally, it raises the question of how diseases are framed, and how conceptions of a disease change through history. The lurid history of hysteria makes fascinating reading. Charcot's clinics showed off flamboyantly "hysterical" patients taking on sexualized poses, and among the visiting professionals was one Sigmund Freud. Scull discusses the origins of the idea of hysteria, the development of a neurologicalapproach by John Sydenham and others, hysteria as a fashionable condition, and its growth from the 17th century. Some regarded it as a peculiarly English malady, "the natural concomitant of England's greater civilization and refinement". Women were the majority of patients, and the illness becameassociated with female biology, resulting in some gruesome "treatments". Charcot and Freud were key practitioners defining the nature of the illness. But curiously, the illness seemed to swap gender during the First World War when male hysterics frequently suffering from shell shock were alsosubjected to brutal "treatments". Subsequently, the "disease" declined and eventually disappeared, at least in professional circles, though attenuated elements remain, reclassified for instance as post-traumatic stress disorder.

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The nineteenth century seems to have been full of hysterical women - or so they were diagnosed. Where are they now? The very disease no longer exists. In this fascinating account, Andrew Scull tells the story of Hysteria - an illness that disappeared not through medical endeavour, but throughgrowing understanding and cultural change. M...

Andrew Scull has held faculty positions at the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and the University of California, where he is Distinguished Professor of Sociology and Science Studies. He is a past president of the Society for the Social History of Medicine, and has held fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the American ...

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Format:PaperbackDimensions:240 pages, 7.72 × 5.08 × 0.07 inPublished:September 29, 2011Publisher:Oxford University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:019969298X

ISBN - 13:9780199692989

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Table of Contents

Prologue: Suffocation of the mother1. Mysteria2. Neurologie3. An English malady?4. Reflexly mad5. American Nervousness6. A hysterical circus7. Freudian hysterics8. The wounds of war9. L'hysterie morte?Further reading

Editorial Reviews

"Should be required reading for all students of medicine." --Wendy Moore, British Medical Journal 31/10/2009