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Womens Illness Essay

1000 words - 4 pages

Women’s Illnesses
In the late 19th century and into the 20th century women were still inferior to men in society. Women did not have much freedom at the time and had to listen to the head of the households for all matters. Similarly, when a woman had an illness, not only did they have to obey to a doctor, but also their husbands. The short story “The Yellow Wallpaper” is a good example of the oppression women faced when they had an illness. The narrator Jane is controlled by her husband John and diagnosis her with a mental illness. John traps his wife in a room for weeks and it causes her to become mentally unstable. As mentioned in the short story the medical community used very unorthodox ...view middle of the document...

Most prominently during that time period, doctors began phrasing a new idea into medicine called mental illness. According to an article by the Science Museum organization, “the term ‘mental health’ was popularized in the early 1900s by the physicians, social reformers, and former asylum patients”. Contrary with the article, physicians diagnosed patients mostly women with terms such as “hysteria, nymphomania, nervous breakdown, epilepsy, schizophrenia, and depression”. Asylums sprung up like skyscrapers and became overly crowded with mentally ill patients. Women made up a large percentage of the patients in the asylums. In a journal by the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh “admittance to an asylum were decided by a husband, brother, or male friend.
Doctors did not know how to handle patients with mental illnesses. They were very unorthodox in the methods they used to treat a patient. Sigmund Freud a prominent psychiatrist used hypnosis to treat women. He soon found that the method was ineffective in treatment. A Times News LLC mention in an article that women were, “human death traps”, where there was no escape. The article also mentions that a New Jersey State Asylum in 1878 would “pour alcohol on the epileptic patients and then set them on fire in order to weed out the pretenders”. During that time most doctors did not believe that mental illness could be cured.
In “The Yellow Paper” John treats Jane’s diagnosis with the rest cure. The rest cure treatment was created by an American neurologist Silas Weir Mitchell according to an article from the Science Museum. This treatment almost always applied to women for an illness such as anorexia nervosa, which is written in the article. Anorexia nervosa is considered an eating disorder, which causes women to feel obese, when in reality they are excessively thin. Furthermore, the treatment lasted anywhere from six to eight weeks and required complete separation from people. Women were placed into asylums...

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