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History Psychiatry

The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830-1980

The Female Malady: Women, Madness, Culture, 1830-1980Elaine ShowalterPenguin1985

In this informative, timely and often harrowing study, Elaine Showalter demonstrates how cultural ideas about ‘proper’ feminine behaviour have shaped the definition and treatment of female insanity for 150 years, and given mental disorder in women specifically sexual connotations. Along with vivid portraits of the men who dominated psychiatry, and descriptions of the therapeutic practices that were used to bring women ‘to their senses’, she draws on diaries and narratives by inmates, and fiction from Mary Wollstonecraft to Doris Lessing, to supply a cultural perspective usually missing from studies of mental illness.

Highly original and beautifully written, The Female Malady is a vital counter-interpretation of madness in women, showing how it is a consequence of, rather than a deviation from, the traditional female role.

Table of Contents

Part 1: Psychiatric Victorianism
1. Domesticating insanity: John Conolly and Moral Management
2. Rise of the Victorian Madwoman
3. Managing Women’s Minds

Part 2: Psychiatric Darwinism
4. On the Borderland: Henry Maudsley and Psychiatric Darwinism
5. Nervous Women: Sex Roles and Sick Roles
6. Feminism and Hysteria: the Daughter’s Disease

Part 3: Psychiatric Modernism
7. Male Hysteria: W.H.R. Rivers and the Lessons of Shell Shock
8. Women and Psychiatric Modernism
9. Women, Madness, and the Family: R.D. Laing and the Culture of Antipsychiatry

Epilogue
10. Madness and the Rights of Women