Hysteria: The Biography

Hardcover (Print)
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $22.55
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 35%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (10) from $22.55   
  • New (8) from $22.55   
  • Used (2) from $26.45   


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 endeavor, but through growing understanding and cultural change. 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 neurological approach by John Sydenham and others, hysteria as a fashionable condition, and its growth from the 17th century. Subsequently, the "disease" declined and eventually disappeared.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Neat and well-structured, written in a lively and stimulating style. It is much more than a superior work of historical systhesis. Scull expertly traces the story of hysteria as concept, diagnosis, cultural expression and lived experience, from the sixteenth century to the twenty-first, and sheds new light and offers new insights throughout. As an introduction to the turbulent and contested history of this most mutable but strangely enduring of disorders, Scull's book could not be bettered." — Metapsychology Online Reviews

"Scull's survey provides a welcome addition to the sizable historical literature on hysteria and nervous illness, and this slim volume manages to cover its topic well, placing outbreaks of hysteria in their social, cultural and medical-historical contexts, and highlighting major trends and turning points in the history of psychiatry, all in fewer than 200 pages. It offers an excellent introduction to the subject for a general audience, and its bibliography usefully guides interested readers on to more in-depth exploration of particular subjects. Finally, this work will provide a great service to teachers of undergraduate courses in the history of medicine and psychiatry, and students will appreciate that Scull writes with lucidity, grace and wit." —Medical History

"Lively and readable." — he British Journal for the History of Science

Listed in Science Book News

"This is dark stuff, but fascinating stuff. These four biographies of diseases go far beyond questions of biology or medical practice; they talk politics, sex and class, faith, how to plan a healthy world and how to be a proper woman or a proper man. Strangest and most fascinating of all is the way you keep glimpsing whole societies reflected in the surgery, from the drinking water to the high philosophy."—Scotsman.com

"Andrew Scull's sharp and witty biography of hysteria, part of Oxford University Press's new "Biographies of diseases" series, explores the history of a condition that was once practically a fashion statement, so strongly linked was it with breeding and social superiority." —New Scientist

"Utterly enthralling... Scull plots the formless character of hysteria as it evolved and shifted to fit cultural expectations across time."—British Medical Journal

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199560967
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 12/8/2009
  • Series: Biographies of Diseases Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.80 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Andrew Scull is Professor and Chair of the Department of Sociology at UC San Diego.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

List of illustrations vii

Prologue: Suffocation of the Mother 1

1 Mysteria 6

2 Neurologie 24

3 An English Malady? 43

4 Reflexly Mad 62

5 American Nervousness 84

6 A Hysterical Circus 104

7 Freudian Hysterics 131

8 The Wounds of War 152

9 L'Hystérie morte? 174

Glossary 191

Notes 197

Further reading 211

Index 217

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)