Nineteenth Century Hysteria: The Yellow Wallpaper

Nineteenth Century Hysteria: The Yellow Wallpaper

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Nineteenth Century Hysteria: The Yellow Wallpaper
Early nineteenth century hysteria in women was extremely common. It was the first mental disorders attributed only to women. However, there was a grave misconception; the symptoms of hysteria at the time were seen as nervousness, hallucinations, emotional outbursts, various urges of sexual variety, sexual thoughts, fainting, sexual desire or frustration and irritability (Pearson). Although there were many symptoms they were not limited to this list. Many of these symptoms were just signs of expression that women had; however, society immediately decided that these women had hysteria with no real proof. These women then had a label, holding them back from their normal everyday lives that they were unable to fix because they were not allowed to. Because most doctors were men, they relayed the cure to these symptoms with sexual acts which were masked by portraying them as a cure such as “hysterical paroxysm” (Pearson). These so called “treatments” carried on for centuries after but are no longer used as a cure to hysteria. Charlotte Perkins Gilman, the author of The Yellow Wallpaper was a feminist who at one point in her life was said to be labeled as hysteric. She then began expressing these feelings that she had through her writings. Most of these writings were based on her personal experiences with the disease. She believed that if she wrote about her situations and how she was able to push away from society to better herself that it could help other women with hysteria or the symptoms of it. Her representation of hysteria in The Yellow Wallpaper does not really differ from what women at the time expressed about themselves. Gilman’s representation and first hand experiences wit...


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Pearson, Catherine. "Female Hysteria: 7 Crazy Things People Used To Believe About The Ladies' Disease." The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 21 Nov. 2013. Web. 30 Apr. 2014. .
Tasca, Cecilia , Mariangela Rapetti, Mauro Giovanni Carta, and Bianca Fadda. "Women and Hysteria In The History of Mental Health." U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health. N.p., 1 Oct. 2012. Web. 19 Apr. 2014. .
"hysteria." Oxford English Dictionary . Oxford University Press, n.d. Web. 6 Apr. 2014. .


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