Monday, 9 December 2013

Review of Mad, Bad and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors at the Freud Museum

Mad, Bad and Sad: Women and the Mind Doctors
Freud Museum
10 October 2013 – 2 February 2014

In late-19th-century Paris, after decades of political upheaval and social unrest, and an era of neurasthenia, fainting spells, and “the vapours”, a new psychological illness took to the stage: hysteria (from the Greek hystero, meaning womb) was pronounced “the illness of the age” by the prominent journalist, novelist, and playwright Jules Claretie. Largely considered a female malady, it turned women into the focus for the expression of many millennial fears and anxieties. From the 1870s onwards, stories about hysterical patients filled the newspaper columns. They were transformed into fictional characters by novelists, photographed, sculpted, painted, and drawn to such an extent that Georges Didi-Huberman feels “nearly compelled to consider hysteria, insofar as it was fabricated at the Salpêtrière [hospital] in the last third of the 19th century, as a chapter in the history of art.”

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