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On HysteriaThe Invention of a Medical Category between 1670 and 1820$
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Sabine Arnaud

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226275543

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: May 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226275680.001.0001

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Names and Uses of a Diagnosis

Names and Uses of a Diagnosis

(p.9) 1 Names and Uses of a Diagnosis
On Hysteria

Sabine Arnaud

University of Chicago Press

The first chapter addresses the dissemination of diagnoses later associated with hysteria. Rather than reading the new use of “hysteria” as a sign of changing perceptions, it measures the rupture that the appearance of the term introduced in the enunciation of knowledge, analyzing how specific meanings were created and to which ends. It follows three threads, which would seem at first sight to offer a continuous interpretation: the construction of a female illness; an approach to the pathology that established the role of social class; and a medical interpretation that was proposed in a religious context. Yet this was anything but a seamlessly linear development. The criteria for identifying the pathology changed repeatedly, depending upon the political and epistemological priorities of the moment.

Keywords:   nosology, vapors, sensibility, nervous illness, female illness, aristocracy, George III, Convulsionaries, Philippe Pinel, Louyer-Villermay

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