Monday, April 23, 2012

Time to be mad, bad, and dangerous to know?

To celebrate the sale of The Dark Lady I racked my brain, I wailed in the middle of the night, I endured angst, I sweated, I suffered from lack of sleep, and I fretted from dis-ordered eating to discover a topic worthy of this event. And then suddenly it came to me with the help of a Victorian Doctor. I was suffering from HYSTERIA. Oh no! 
Whatever is a hysterical girl to do? Now, if I had access to Herr Mesmer perhaps I could use his “Theraputic Touch” reputed to leave ladies quite relaxed after having under gone healing paroxysms. But alas, Herr Mesmer was not available. So, I took to the streets, desperately trying to find a doctor who would help me out.
The first doctor I met with assured me that this was quite common in females. In fact, there were at least seventy-five possible symptoms. If I met any number of them, I should seek help at once. And all of my symptoms fit the bill so to speak. Alright then. Its true. I have hysteria. What to do? What to do?
My doctor has suggested four separate possible courses of action. I can eat bland food, stop reading novels {the horror}, and avoid anything which might stimulate me. I have read a short story called The Yellow Wallpaper which leads me to believe this treatment will only make me crazier and eventually I will think that, like the woman in the story, I too have become one with my wall hangings. What next?
I can have my uterus removed. . . . Wait, what? I can have my UTERUS REMOVED?
My doctor assures me that this is a perfectly practical procedure but he feels that I am not so hysterical that it is necessary to remove my wandering uterus from my body {I had no idea my uterus could wander, but my physician assures me it does}. This procedure saves women from the animal like effects of the flighty organ. You see, my hysteria {this word's origin is from the Greek word coined by Plato for uterus} derives from my uterus which refuses to stay still and goes on a merry jaunt throughout my body, occasionally traveling through my limbs, causing chaos where ever it goes. So, in certain cases removing it all together is really the safest option for my continued mental and physical health. Hmmm. . . This seems a trifle extreme. What are my other options?
Well, the best way to get this rambunctious organ to stay put is to have a vaginal massage, claims my doctor. To which I can only reply, say what? But my doctor is quite adamant. He’s going to massage my genitals. Now, his skill set is quite good and he should be able to get me off. . . Pardon, induce healing paroxysms. . . within the hour. Some doctors take considerably longer {Freud is apparently quite bad at it and insists that hysteria is caused by mental lesions} as they don’t seem to understand how to best stimulate my vaginal. . . Area {Cough} Clitoris {Cough}.

Make sure you understand. This is not sexual. Really. Its not. I’m not having an orgasm. The doctor assures me it is purely therapeutic and that he might use a vibrating device to speed up the process allowing me to reach paroxysms within minutes. He describes what I’m to expect; shortening of breath, red cheeks, and an exquisite sort of pleasure which will travel down the vaginal channel, easing my uterus from its plight. Nope. Definitely not an orgasm. Really.
It turns out that I can also purchase this vibrating device from mail order catalogues. Who knew? Perhaps my doctor isn’t necessary at all. Poor fellow, he shall lose a great deal of business but I shall be very very pleased. . .
In all seriousness, Female Hysteria was considered to be an ACTUAL disease, most prevalent during the reign of Victoria, which allowed doctors to do things to their female patients that if done today would slap them in jail and land them law suits so large they’d be selling their unborn children for generations. If a doctor deemed his female patient a hysteric, he could probe her uterus via her vagina to track its "movements". Any resistance on her part to this examination {with out a speculum} resulted in her being diagnosed with an even more serious case of Female Hysteria because she was resisting being “treated”. 
During the Victorian period wives were expected to be sexless, yet doctors often recognized that their asexual marriages were bad for them, thusly they stimulated wives so that they would not be overly passionate in their marriages. It is ironic that these doctors were adamant for so long that this treatment was essential to female health and that they refused to acknowledge that it might be sexually violating their patients. It wasn’t until the vibrator used in treatment started showing up in pornography that many doctors stepped away. Female Hysteria was finally refuted by the American Psychological Association in the fifties. . . Of the LAST CENTURY. 
Women were relegated to very boring lives whilst trying to cure their hysteria and it is also true that they removed uteruses to cure hysteria. Today we can see what a demented, unethical practice this was. . . And it certainly makes me wonder what the heck husbands were doing with their wives. There must have been a lot of “grit your teeth and think of England” for such a practice to be necessary.
Alright my lady hysterics, what treatment would you choose? This Dark Duchess? Her Grace Maire would most definitely choose the vibrator. Here’s hoping my doctor would have been as gorgeous as Hugh Dancy as seen in the new film Hysteria. Also, enjoy the clips to Sara Ruhl’s The Vibrator Play. Was it good for you?
Let the Hysteria Begin. Comment away !