Journal of Medical Humanities

, Volume 34, Issue 1, pp 1–14 | Cite as

Medical Men, Women of Letters, and Treatments for Eighteenth-Century Hysteria

  • Heather MeekEmail author


This paper explores evolving treatments for hysteria in the eighteenth century by examining a selection of works by both physician-writers and educated literary women. The treatments I identify—which range from aggressive bloodlettings, diets, and beatings, to exercise, fresh air, and writing cures—reveal a unique culture of therapy in which female sufferers and doctors exert an influence on one another's notions of what constitutes appropriate management of women's mental illness. A scrutiny of this exchange of ideas suggests that female patients were not simply oppressed and silenced by male practitioners; rather, their collective voice, intellect, and expertise helped to form progressive treatments for eighteenth-century hysteria.


Eighteenth century Mental illness Hysteria Medical literature Women's writing 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of EnglishUniversity of ReginaReginaCanada

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