Oeuvres, Tome 6 by Poincare H.

By Poincare H.

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Nervous suffering was viewed not so much as a disease to be combated and overcome but as a permanent part of la condition humaine. Accordingly, British medical discourse of the period is comparatively free of the sort of stigmatizing, value-laden rhetoric that became so common in the following century. The hysteric and hypochondriac were at times subjected to derision or caricature; but this was the worst of it, and they were just as likely to be regarded as victims of real physical and emotional distress.

75 At this point, it be­comes clear that Misomedon is part of an acutely dysfunctional family of neurotics. ”76 He suggests different causes for nervous affections in women, including thinner blood and greater physical delicacy and emotional lability. Nevertheless, he judges male and female cases to be the same malady, and throughout the treatise he uses the terms “vapours,” “hysteria,” and “hypochondria” interchangeably. 77 Mandeville’s dialogues, written in the generation immediately following the deaths of Willis and Sydenham, initiated the ­eigh­teenth-century British tradition of the treatise on nervous disorders.

14 Willis was convinced that the brain and spinal cord played a much larger role than previously realized in the genesis of many illnesses, including hysteria. ”16 Elsewhere, Willis demonstrated beyond doubt on the autopsy table that patients who had been diagnosed with hysteria in ev­ery case disclosed no structural uterine abnormalities. Thomas Sydenham agreed. A founder of modern clinical medicine and epistemology, Sydenham (1624–1689) was among the first physicians to emphasize the maintenance of detailed medical records and the unbiased observation of patients.

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