Crazy Brains and the Weaker Sex: The British Case (1860-1900)

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State: Public
Version: Final published version
Serval ID
serval:BIB_3A6ABF94757D
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Collection
Publications
Title
Crazy Brains and the Weaker Sex: The British Case (1860-1900)
Journal
Clio. Femmes, Genre, Histoire
Author(s)
Fauvel Aude
ISSN
1252-7017
ISSN-L
1777-5299
Publication state
Published
Issued date
2013
Peer-reviewed
Oui
Number
37
Pages
1-10
Language
english
Abstract
Psychiatry is sometimes described as a particularly sexist science, having contributed in the past to derogatory discourses on the inferiority of the so-called "weaker sex", and colluded in practice with the consignment of women to mental institutions. The "mad-doctors" agreed to hospitalize "abnormal" women who dared to rebel against male desires. This article does not question the link between psychiatry and anti-feminism, but considers this history from another angle, by analysing the repercussions of this sexist standpoint on the shaping of medical knowledge, and conversely, on representations of female patients. The British case demonstrates that not all physicians accepted theories about women's mental inferiority, and that such theories were sometimes contested by the patients themselves. "Psychiatric power" was not all-powerful, nor did it necessarily speak with one voice. By exploring the debates surrounding the "weaker brain" theory in nineteenth-century Britain, this paper aims to shed fresh light on the construction (and deconstruction) of psychiatric ideas, and to help understand how the subjects of such ideas-women patients-sometimes succeeded in challenging the views of their doctors, "from below".
Keywords
history, psychiatry, 19th century, women, gender, Great Britain, feminism, medical misogyny, Henry Maudsley, James Crichton-Browne, Louisa Lowe, Georgina Weldon
Create date
20/10/2016 16:27
Last modification date
20/08/2019 13:30
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