By Andrew Scull

The 19th century turns out to were packed with hysterical women--or so that they have been clinically determined. the place are they now? The very sickness not exists. during this interesting account, Andrew Scull tells the tale of hysteria--an affliction that disappeared no longer via clinical pastime, yet via starting to be knowing and cultural swap. The lurid background of anxiety makes attention-grabbing interpreting. Charcot's clinics confirmed off flamboyantly "hysterical" sufferers taking over sexualized poses, and one of the traveling execs was once one Sigmund Freud. Scull discusses the origins of the belief of anxiety, the improvement of a neurological procedure by means of John Sydenham and others, hysteria as a modern situation, and its progress from the seventeenth century. to that end, the "disease" declined and finally disappeared.

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Extra info for Hysteria: The Biography (Biographies of Disease)

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Who was better placed to preach restraint than one who had experienced at first hand the perils of its opposite? But Cheyne was also a man prone to bouts of depression and despair, blessed or cursed with the very sort of nervous temperament that his professional brethren were now making so much G 43 hyster ia: the biogr aphy 4. George Cheyne (1671–1743) in 1732, a year before the appearance of The English Malady—a picture that flatters the corpulent diet doctor. (Wellcome Library, London) of. One is tempted to suggest that he leapt on the bandwagon, but leaping was, of course, not an activity George was actually able to perform.

His anatomical drawings were concrete illustrations of his radically different conception of the brain, for his use of preservatives allowed him to see the organ as no one had before him. Folds and fissures, the distinction between a variety of distinct regions and features of the brain—the brain stem, the pons, the medulla, and the circle of arteries at the base of the brain (still known as the circle of Willis)—the visualization of the infolding of the cerebellum and cerebral cortex, the structures of the mid-brain, all these marked a dramatic reconceptualization of the physical reality of the brain, and of its role as the organ of thought.

Alongside, and to some extent instead of, the ancient Hippocratic notions of disease as a systemic disturbance of the four humors—blood, phlegm, black and yellow bile—these pre-eminent physicians began to explore an alternative system of bodily regulation, the nervous system, as a new source of disequilibrium and debility. In some respects, these ideas were obviously at odds with tradition, and yet the nerves were, like the circulation of the blood, something that could be incorporated into the more broadly based model of illness that was almost universally embraced at the time.

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