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By any normal standard, Blanche Wittman had no claim to fame. She was a deeply disturbed teenager, raped by her employer, and then, suffering nightmarish seizures, discarded to crowded charity wards. At Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris in 1877, however, she fell under the scrutiny of neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot, who recognized her symptoms as worthy of especial attention. Before long, Blanche and two other patients became objects of scientific study, herded before "experts," exhibited in public, and transformed into subjects of photographs, paintings, sculptures, and lengthy news stories. Asti Hustvedt's Medical Muses takes us inside this bizarre process and, in doing so, somehow rescues these three troubled women as human beings. One history of medicine book you will never forget.