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Hystories Paperback – May 6, 1998
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From Library Journal
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
The book starts with a few chapters that introduce hysteria from the 1800's, both in women and, less frequently, in men. She talks about how the various hysteria doctors of the day became celebrities, as well as some of their patients, and the hospitals would actually put on "shows" for interested people. Come and watch as women contort themselves and display other odd behavior. The books goes on about how, back in Classical times, they thought that women's strange behavior was caused by a "wandering uterus," hence the name "hysteria." In Victorian times, the symptoms were all over the board, from convulsions to being mute even to having what they called a "double personality, ie, the beginnings of the idea of DID/MPD. The theories of the doctors involved were all over the place, but basically boiled down to...no one really knew what was causing this. Worst still, once a hysteria doctor began working in a hospital, then the hospital and even those working there, nurses and other doctors, would sometimes start to develop some of the same issues, which very much underlines that this is likely a version of mass hysteria.
Our friend, Freud, introduced the idea of repressed memory and how it can manifest itself physically in the body.Read more ›
Showalter ties the psychological basis of vaguely explained or ephemeral illness to more modern diseases like Chronic Fatigue Syndrome with its numerous psychological and physical symptoms and pinpoints the difficulty of many chronic illness sufferers. Namely that we "live in a culture that still looks down on psychogenic illness, that does not recognize or respect its reality. The self-esteem of the patient depends on having the physiological nature of the illness accepted. The culture forces people to deny the psychological, circumstantial, or emotional sources of their symptoms and to insist that they must be biological and beyond their control in order for them to view themselves as legitimately ill..." While this insight is excellent and, I believe, very true, what the author misses out on is the profound personal nature of the experience of chronic illness with its various ramifications.Read more ›
In closing, let me quote from a review by another academic, a history professor and an actual feminist:
"Why would a Princeton scholar ignore the abundant and growing scholarly literature on the physical basis of the symptoms of CFS?Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
As someone who suffered with CFS/ME in my teens and 20s this book offends me. No ambitious young person wants to be laid low with a life destroying sickness like this. Read morePublished 7 months ago by singingcapybara
Not the best book on the subject. It's mostly personal narratives.Published 9 months ago by Sally Davis
A fun read and more truth to it than people will accept. Many will hate it, and you'll see who they are and why they hate when you read it. Read morePublished 19 months ago by sparagmos
Although I agree with the conclusions of the book her arguments were not stated is a strong way. Many were just a rehash of some of the most outlandish cases, cases referred to as... Read morePublished on October 23, 2011 by T. Dreiling
If you want a laugh, I recommend reading Showalter's latest article in a comedy magazine called the Journal of Literary Criticism of Immunology. Read morePublished on October 24, 2009 by Justin Reilly, JD
Dr. Showalter's book is a well thought out critique of the "Medicalization of Human Distress." One does not need to look very far into the medical literature to find that many... Read morePublished on June 19, 2005 by Joe Walsh
While obviously more of an anecdotal examination than a scientific study, Elaine Showalter's presentation about various (in her estimation) hysterical manifestations is enjoyable,... Read morePublished on October 12, 2004 by J. Reynolds
Hystories, by Elaine Showalter, is elegantly written and enthralling. Showalter presents a clear and engaging history of hysteria as social phenomenom and medical curiousity. Read morePublished on August 26, 2002 by Carol Bardelli and Jerry Bardelli
Interesting read, although a little bit fuzzy in focus.
Ms. Showalter treats these subjects with compassion and intelligence, and it is not suprising to see the hysterical... Read more