The Sledgehammer of Hysteria Term Paper by scribbler

The Sledgehammer of Hysteria
A look at the Victoria definition of hysteria and the modern day diagnosis of gender identity disorder.
# 152135 | 1,461 words | 4 sources | APA | 2012 | US
Published on Jan 04, 2013 in Women Studies (General) , Psychology (General)

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This paper discusses the use of the word hysteria in the 19th century and how it appeared in literature, using Charlotte Perkins Gilman's short story "The Yellow Wallpaper" as an example. It also goes on to explain how the Victorian psychiatric treated women who they diagnosed as suffering from hysteria and provides a case study of a woman and finally discusses the Victorian treatment of gender identity disorder in children.

From the Paper:

''As a result of these terrible conditions, she becomes obsessed with the wallpaper, imagining that there are women trapped behind its awful design and color. She begins to peel the wallpaper off so that she can free the woman, a task that captures her in an even deeper prison than the room had been. Even when her husband comes to free her on the last day of summer, she cannot break free from her psychosis. She cannot return to sanity: It has been stolen from her by the misogyny of Victorian psychiatry.
"Hysteria" is no longer a medical diagnosis, and has not been since the early decades of the last century. The extinction of this diagnosis came after centuries: The origin of the idea comes to us from the classical world where Greek physicians like Galen believed that the uterus ("hysteria" comes from the Greek word for "uterus") wandered around the body causing a variety of symptoms in women. (Obviously, men could not be affected by this "disease" since they are uterus-free.) The key symptoms of hysteria - extending from the classical world to the Victorian - included nervousness, difficulty in breathing, loss of appetite, a tendency to faint, lowered sex drive and - and this is key - a tendency to cause trouble, to be disobedient to their husbands, father, and brothers. This point will be elaborated later.''

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Lostracco, Marc. But For Today I Am A Boy", Torontoist, 9 May 2008.
  • Micale, Mark S. Approaching Hysteria: Disease and its Interpretations. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1995.
  • Murton, M. (1995). Behind the "barred windows": The Imprisonment of Women's Bodies and Minds in Nineteenth-Century America. The Women in Literacy and Life Assembly of The National Council of Teachers of English, 1995. Retrieved 20 March 2010 from
  • Pouba, Katherine and Tianen, Ashley. Lunacy in the 19th Century: Women's Admission to Asylums in United States of America. Oshkosh Scholar, Vol. 1, pp. 95-103, April 2006.

Cite this Term Paper:

APA Format

The Sledgehammer of Hysteria (2013, January 04) Retrieved March 01, 2024, from

MLA Format

"The Sledgehammer of Hysteria" 04 January 2013. Web. 01 March. 2024. <>