“Entangled in the Net of the Gynecologist”: Evolutionary Psychiatry, Mind-Body Dualism, and the Psychosomatic Treatment of Women in England, 1860-1890 公开

Helmey, Hannah (Spring 2018)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/ws859f652?locale=zh
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Abstract

From 1860 to 1890, British gynecology was characterized by its intersection with  psychiatry, particularly as it was influenced by the Darwin’s new theory of evolution by natural selection. This thesis aims to examine the science that made this overlap possible, as well as its impact on the social standing of women in Victorian moral culture. In this paper I attempt to answer the question of what enabled the rise of gynecology as a professional discipline and a powerful force in women’s lives, and to understand the influence of contemporary scientific theories and discoveries on gynecological practice. I argue that the combined forces of Darwinism and professional psychiatry created “psychosomatic gynecology,” which increasingly expanded its dominion over women’s bodies, minds, and social lives in the latter half of the century. The scope of this argument is fairly narrow, being concerned mainly with on white, middle- and upper-class Englishwomen. However, I aim to show that British gynecology focused on this demographic with the intention of protecting the British “race” and the global dominance of its empire. This research is primarily based on archival medical texts and secondary literature by historians of British medicine, science, women, and education. My argument emphasizes the role of Darwinism, mind-body dualism, and thermodynamics in the medical construction of the female body and its illnesses. In the three chapters of this paper, I explore ideas of scientific authority, degenerationism, early biopsychology and psychosomatic medicine, the pathologizing of the female mind and body, and surgical treatment of mental illness. Ultimately this thesis endeavors to contribute to the historiography of women in late nineteenth-century science and medicine. I argue that physicians upheld the psychiatric-gynecological paradigm to limit the sphere of women’s activities, and in the process not only contributed to a dangerously broad application of gynecology, but produced false “knowledge” under the guise of scientific objectivity and progress.

Table of Contents

Introduction……………………………………………………………………………..…………1

Chapter One: Darwinism and Evolutionary Psychiatry…………………………………...………9

Chapter Two: Mind-Body Dualism, Conservation of Energy, and Vital Force…………………22

Chapter Three: Hysteria, Psychosomatic Gynecology, and “Gynecological Tyranny” ………...35

Conclusion………………….……………………………………………………………………50

Bibliography……………………………………………………..………………………………56

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