alexa Personalizing illness and modernity: S. Weir Mitchell, literary women, and neurasthenia, 1870-1914.
Clinical Research

Clinical Research

Journal of Clinical Case Reports

Author(s): Schuster DG

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Abstract This article examines how the affliction of neurasthenia, commonly diagnosed in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, acted as a catalyst for intellectual and lifestyle changes during a time of modernization. At the center of the study are three individuals: neurologist S. Weir Mitchell (1829-1914) and two of his patients, critic and historian Amelia Gere Mason (1831-1923) and writer and homemaker Sarah Butler Wister (1835-1908). Using archived correspondence between Mitchell and his patients, this article seeks to reveal how each woman tailored her treatment to fit her personal sensibilities; to reassess Mitchell's notorious reputation as a misogynist (gained largely from his 1887 treatment of Charlotte Perkins Gilman); and to develop a more nuanced understanding of the doctor-patient relationship in neurasthenia cases. This article was published in Bull Hist Med and referenced in Journal of Clinical Case Reports

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