The Female Malady: Women, Madness, and English Culture, 1830–1980 Elaine Showalter. Comment. Please take a moment to review it. Accessible writing style. (it might have been better if Showalter had co-authored with the one both). In other words whether someone was a man or woman became their most important distinguishing feature which I thought created its own gendered differences. For me it was interesting to see how closely the symptoms of hysteria matched those of saint possession, demon possession and mediumship in other times and other cultures. And yet, as Elaine Showalter shows, for many years that is exactly what 'madness' was considered, a largely female malady, a result of the fragility of female minds. by Elaine Showalter. Ruth Harris Elaine Showlater's The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture, 1830-1980 is a brilliant discussion of the perception and treatment of mental illness, focusing on the female perspective. Reviewed in the United Kingdom on July 31, 2020. Along with vivid portraits of the men who dominated psychiatry, and descriptions of the therapeutic practices that were used to bring women 'to their senses', she draws on diaries and narratives by inmates, and fiction from Mary Wollstonecraft to Doris Lessing, to supply a cultural perspective usually missing from studies of mental illness.Highly original and beautifully written, The Female Malady is a vital … Nearly all the examples she used of women diagnosed with conditions were women who would not be classified as having those conditions today. facebook twitter linkedin pinterest. Male Hysteria in Elaine Showalter’s The Female Malady. This is a very enlightening book. Highly original and beautifully written, The Female Malady is a vital counter-interpretation of madness in women, showing how it is a consequence of, rather than a deviation from, the traditional female role. We might be sent away, at first, for a rest cure which would require we do absolutely nothing with our time - we could not write, we could not read, we could not work. One thing that was interesting, that I didn't know about while reading this section was her talking about Florence Nightingale's depression (or hysteria) and her book/memoir called Cassandra about a woman restricted by society, which sounded really interesting. Complaining that women's treatment in Victorian psychiatry silenced women (98) didn't really differ from the treatment of non-mad women in normal society. I definitely learned some fascinating things while reading this book, and despite its flaws I'd definitely recommend it. Highly original and beautifully written, The Female Malady is a vital counter-interpretation of madness in women, showing how it is a consequence of, rather than a deviation from, the traditional female role. The book discussese women and madness in British culture, and it makes me want to smack Victorian men in the head... and then show them my Master's degree diploma... and then show them my bra... and then smack them on the other side of their head. Welcome back. One of the most interesting things I did learn was that there was a female psychiatrist who was a contemporary with Freud who denounced his ideas for being totally sexist, and failing to understand women's problems had nothing to do with "penis envy". That's a sobering thought, and this is a sobering read. Other readers will always be interested in your opinion of the books you've read. Start by marking “The Female Malady: Women, Madness and English Culture 1830-1980” as Want to Read: Error rating book. Another essential secondary source to understanding gender in Victorian England. The author looked at the history of women and "madness" and the way they were treated by doctors and psychiatrists in the 19th and 20th century. (An argument that really didn't hold out). Comparing women's treatment in the asylums, to that within mainstream society, would have given a better understanding I think. It wasn't until the large numbers of men suffering from a the illness labelled as shell shock that there was a shift in the way mental illness was dealt with. I couldn't help but wonder why she'd not looked at actual case notes from the institute of psychiatry instead. Well worth reading for changing attitudes to mental health, particularly in women. You can unsubscribe at any time via the link in any email we send you. Fascinating read. THE FEMALE MALADY? As would you. Prime members enjoy FREE Delivery and exclusive access to music, movies, TV shows, original audio series, and Kindle books. You are successfully signed up! This is a fascinating book. A stellar analysis of women's issues in a time when it was easier to just decide that she was crazy, rather than giving her any rights. By Victorian standards almost every modern woman would have been considered insane. I've always been a massive fan of Showalter, and this book is possibly among the most interesting non-fiction reads I've ever had. Very interesting and well structured book.