World of Weird: A handy cure for hysteria [Featured Site Content]
Jun 22, 2018, 12:34am
Vermin

Now that’s an arresting image, isn’t it? Why, that Victorian-era gentleman has his hands right up her skirt and, you know, it looks almost like the good Dr Swift is rummaging around in her bloomers and….you know…?

At this point, we really need to dispense with anything resembling decorum. It looks like he’s tossing her off, doesn’t it? That’s right. And there’s a really good explanation for why it looks like he’s tossing her off too. It’s because that’s exactly what he’s doing. Allow me to explain…

Nowadays we have lots of helpful terms for mental disorders affecting women. Typical examples include PMS, anxiety, depression, Bipolar and lots of other sexy diagnostic terms. The sort of thing we’d expect to see treated with anti-depressants, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and all those other groovy 21st century things. None of these treatments existed in the 19th century, when the good Dr Swift was practising, however. Because of that, treatment of women’s ailments were dramatically different. Rather than thinking that all of these ailments were mental disorders, our Victorian ancestors were convinced there was a physical cause for them- namely “hysteria”. Hysteria was a blanket term used to explain a whole swathe of inconvenient behaviour in women, ranging from expressions of sexual desire (because women were considered essentially sexless at the time) through crippling depression, right up to really outlandish behaviour like wanting the vote- and it was all believed to be caused by misalignment of the uterus.



What do you do if something is considered misaligned? Try to move it? That sounds logical, doesn’t it? And while uteruses are a bit buried away in an inconvenient internal location, what if you did the next best thing by giving something vaguely near it a jolly good rubbing? That should work. And the vaguely nearby thing they gave a good rubbing was the Lady Garden.



And that’s why, in the 19th century, respectable middle-to-upper class women experiencing a range of mental disorders could hire a respectable professional man of medicine to cure it by ensuring their wombs were correctly aligned. By giving their foofoo a really good rubbing until a “hysterical paroxysm” was achieved and everything was better. In case you were wondering what a “hysterical paroxysm” is, it’s the sort of thing we’d now refer to as a “thunderously massive orgasm.” And these good doctors had many, many satisfied female clients too, which should probably surprise nobody. It’s probably not very surprising given the attitudes to sexuality at the time, which saw the serious marketing of anti-masturbation devices like this one-




So a whole industry sprung up around this notion that just about any troubling behaviour in women was caused by “hysteria”. We have no reliable data on whether any of the female patients actually experienced any degree of cure from these professionally-administered handjobs, but I’ll bet it probably cheered them up for a bit.
Science got a look-in too, as doctors sought a more efficient way of delivering those paroxysms (probably experiencing repetitive strain injuries in their wrists)- this lead to the invention of vibrators. At first they were clockwork, but before the advent of the electrical versions there were even some alarming-looking steam powered devices



If that brings to mind an image of a stoker frantically shovelling coal into its smoke-belching boiler as its pistons shriek under the strain, well that’s Victorian romance for you.
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Jun 22, 2018, 12:43am
GothicSamurai
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Jun 22, 2018, 12:45am
PrettyPrincess
That's ingrained sexism for you.
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Jun 22, 2018, 12:47am
GothicSamurai
It's mostly superfical for me
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Jun 22, 2018, 12:51am
Vermin
History could repeat itself. I'm pretty sure the MRAs would be a lot less miserable if they were just prescribed the occasional five-knuckle shuffle.
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Jun 22, 2018, 02:58am
battleangel
I'd give that last device a go. Looks kinda of fun.
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Jun 22, 2018, 03:55am
Vermin
It adds a whole new host of options around stoking your boiler.
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Jun 22, 2018, 11:33am
jet
lmao. this article was pretty great. sounds like those doctors had a pretty decent job. and that steampunk vibrator tho
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Jun 22, 2018, 11:36am
GothicSamurai
jet You could mount it to your DJ station for volunteers!
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Jun 22, 2018, 11:36am
Dark_Gatekeeper
Wouldn't call it sexist since this applied to men just as much.
More that it's a prime history lesson on how little humans understood about how their own bodies and minds work in previous ages.
Modern age has seen a good deal of improvement but we aren't exactly Masters of Self in this age either.

For instance, saying "Bless You" whenever someone sneezed was derived from an actual belief that a sneeze was expelling a demon from within the body, not simply some environmental irritant.
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Jun 22, 2018, 11:38am
Dark_Gatekeeper
Even just a century ago, having attraction to someone of the same gender was legally curable by blasting their head with electricity at high voltage. Medical enlightenment is not exactly humanity's strong-suit.
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Jun 22, 2018, 01:43pm
frozenash
They also did a movie on this topic, kind of fun too :-)
(But maybe not too historically accurate)
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Jun 22, 2018, 03:32pm
Anima_Galattica
Bruh. This is awesome
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Jun 22, 2018, 08:38pm
X_Queen-of-Spades_X
Quite literally my favorite story of sexism doing something good for once.
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Jun 23, 2018, 01:19am
blackasShit
I have a device like the last one LOL
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Jun 23, 2018, 02:01am
EternallyDark
This was very interesting and highly entertaining.
Thank you for sharing this.
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Jun 24, 2018, 01:28am
_psychoholic_
flutters must resist must
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Jun 24, 2018, 11:12pm
AlejandroMarchegiano
So you telling me female happy endings were a thing back in 18th century? (Also, that steampunk vibrador looks so unsafe I can't even...)
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Jun 25, 2018, 07:21am
_psychoholic_
Wow I don't know what half this shit does
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Jul 02, 2018, 10:48pm
Roach
rofl
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