Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth-Century Paris

Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth-Century Paris

4.5 2
by Asti Hustvedt
     
 

ISBN-10: 0393025608

ISBN-13: 9780393025606

Pub. Date: 05/23/2011

Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.

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 1870s Paris, where their care was directed by the prominent neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot. They became medical celebrities: every week, eager crowds arrived at

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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 1870s 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.
But who were Blanche, Augustine, and Genevieve? What role did they play in their own peculiar form of stardom? And what exactly were they suffering from? Hysteria—with its dramatic seizures, hallucinations, and reenactments of past traumas—may be an illness of the past, but the notions of femininity that lie behind it offer insights into disorders of the present.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780393025606
Publisher:
Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date:
05/23/2011
Pages:
384
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.40(h) x 1.40(d)

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Medical Muses: Hysteria in Nineteenth-Century Paris 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
A_Sloan More than 1 year ago
Hustvedt Explores Medical Muses and Exploitation It comes as no surprise that photography and entertainment have been used as tools to exploit the oppressed, but what happens when medical professionals are the ones behind it? Asti Hustvedt explores this idea in Medical Muses. In the beginning, Hustvedt alludes to an Andre Brouillet painting of a doctor lecturing a group of men about hysteria with a female model. This model is a performing hysteric who works for Dr. Charcot and she is just one of the several women exploited for this purpose. Blanche Wittmann was considered the "queen of hysterics" at the age of 18. Her traumatic childhood left her imprisoned in a hospital for those deemed insane or untreatable. The ability to perform gave Blanche a dose of freedom in a time when "hysteria has become a fascinating and fashionable spectactle." Hustvedt demonstrates excellent research and intriguing depictions of those involved. The author's rich backgrouns as a writer, editor, and traslator has perfectly suited her to write this piece, which is in no way clinical or dry. "Medical Muses" is not only nuanced and insightful, but it also delves into the role of photography in exploiting the oppressed. By the end of the book, she arrives at an intriguing concept: not only were these "muses" exploited by others, but they were also exploiting the system in their own right! Ultimately, these women found that the hospital they were living in was less oppressive than the world waiting for them outside - what a scary thought!
hellraiser More than 1 year ago
Highly Recommended - you must check it out!!