19th Century Hysteria

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Hysteria: A Study on The Position of Women in The Nineteenth Century For generations there has been a power struggle between men and women. Social institutions, gender norms, and traditional roles are put in place to protect the existing power structure. For as long as these establishments have existed there have been those who oppose it. One example would be women in the 19th century who wanted to educate themselves and not start a family. These women frightened the establishment and made them feel uncomfortable. In response, the medical field did their best to categorize these women as mentally ill. They developed a disease called hysteria which ostracised any free thinking or unconventional women . How society thought of…show more content…
In 1873, Mitchell first presented the rest cure as a treatment for hysteria that took over patients lives. Suzanne Poirier in her article, The Weir Mitchell Rest Cure: Doctor and Patient, quotes Mitchell in saying "you cure the body and somehow find the mind is also cured."(17) She further analyzes the rest cure and breaks it down into five parts; "rest, seclusion, food, massage [and] electricity,"(20) with rest being the main component. In most cases patient were removed from their homes to ensure perfect rest. If they were not able to leave a nurse was brought in to watch over them.(20) Additionally, being removed from the home helped keep the women secluded, allowing them to forget their worries. Piorier goes on to reveal that diet is as important as rest. She says "milk was always central and often the only ingredient" (21) in a patient's meal plan. The amount of milk and what kind depended on the woman's weight. Finally, massage and electricity were treated as the least important aspect of Mitchell's plan and was often eliminated.(21) Granted some women felt better after receiving the rest cure because it took them away from the stress at home. However, for women with a mental illness, as we understand it now, or who were fine mentally ut, rejected the idea of gender roles, the rest cure was a jail sentence. The confinement and isolation was enough to break the spirit of even the strongest
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