Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth-Century Paris
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In the epilogue, a rushed and somewhat careless afterthought, Hustvedt contrasts current therapies for women suffering from depression, fatigue, and undiagnosed pain with the treatment of hysterics of the past.
She reports that today women who suffer from these ills are often faced with the disbelief of the medical community. She is justly critical of Charcot for focusing exclusively on the classification and exhibition of symptoms, while ignoring the relief of symptoms or cure.
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Nonetheless, she persuasively concludes that Charcot deserves credit for recognizing that hysterical symptoms have a psychogenic basis and that the suffering of hysterics was real, not imaginary. Barbara Fisher, a freelance writer who lives in New York, can be reached at bfishershorttakes gmail. Local Search Site Search.
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Overview A fascinating study of three young female hysterics who shaped our early notions of psychology. Blanche, Augustine, and Genevieve found themselves in the hysteria ward of the Salpetriere Hospital in s Paris, where their care was directed by the prominent neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot.
They became medical celebrities: every week, eager crowds arrived at the hospital to observe their symptoms; they were photographed, sculpted, painted, and transformed into characters in novels. The remarkable story of their lives as patients in the clinic is a strange amalgam of intimate details and public exposure, science and religion, medicine and the occult, hypnotism, love, and theater.