ISBN is

978-0-231-10458-6 / 0231104588

Hystories: Hysterical Epidemics and Modern Culture

by Showalter, Elaine

Publisher:Columbia Univ Pr

Edition:Hardcover

Language:English

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About the book:

Hysteria is tough to define, but Elaine Showalter knows it when she sees it. She argues that a host of phenomena, both medical and fantastical--alien abductions, recovered memories, chronic fatigue syndrome, multiple personalities--arise from a tripartite collaboration between physicians and mental-health professionals, unhappy patients, and a voracious, gullible media. Stories that should be metaphorical ("I feel that I've been taken advantage of in some way.") become real: "I have a recovered memory of ritual satanic abuse." She makes her case brilliantly, explaining the history, causes, and reactions, but offers no pat solution. "The hysterical syndromes of the 1990s clearly speak to the hidden needs and fears of a culture," she writes. When these go away, new ones will surely crop up to reflect the anxieties of a different era.

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