Freudian Slips: The History Of Male Hysteria

Why was hysteria mostly diagnosed in women? According to a new book, Hysterical Men: The Hidden History of Male Nervous Illness, it’s because dudes having mental problems was considered totally gay.

Specifically, author Mark S. Micale says “the specter of male physicians gazing with passionate intensity on other adult men in intimate emotional distress suggested an unacceptable homoerotic intimacy.” Reviewer Sherwin Nuland of The New Republic writes,

“Sustaining patriarchy, however,” Micale makes clear, “required both idealizing the virtues and denying the vulnerabilities of hegemonic bourgeois masculinity.” As a result, the homogeneously male medical community leaned toward restricting their diagnoses of nervous disabilities almost exclusively to female patients, thus contributing to a model of masculine human nature which, although fragile and ultimately shown to be untenable, operated successfully over a span of more than two centuries.

Translation: the patriarchy sucks for guys too, especially if you’re sick.

Macho Misery [The New Republic]

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