This collaborative volume explores changing perceptions of health and disease in
the context of the burgeoning global modernities of the long nineteenth century.
During this period, popular and medical understandings of the mind and body were
challenged, modified, and reframed by the politics and structures of ‘modern
life’, understood in industrial, social, commercial, and technological terms.
Bringing together work by leading international scholars, this volume
demonstrates how a multiplicity of medical practices were organised around new
and evolving definitions of the modern self. The study offers varying and
culturally specific definitions of what constituted medical modernity for
practitioners around the world in this period. Chapters examine the ways in
which cancer, suicide, and social degeneration were seen as products of the
stresses and strains of ‘new’ ways of living in the nineteenth century, and
explore the legal, institutional, and intellectual changes that contributed to
both positive and negative understandings of modern medical practice. The volume
traces the ways in which physiological and psychological problems were being
constituted in relation to each other, and to their social contexts, and offers
new ways of contextualising the problems of modernity facing us in the
Cancer, modernity, and decline in fin-de-siècle Britain
. This body of literature dealt with the ‘apparent paradox’ that civilisation itself ‘might be the catalyst of, as much as the defence against, physical and social pathology’.
Fin-de-siècle commenters were anxious that neither the ‘natural’ triumph of the ‘civilising’ imperial Western powers, nor the stability of the racial order, was guaranteed. Such a socio-cultural evolutionary viewpoint was characteristic of British anthropology after c . 1860 and infiltrated a range of academic pursuits
Melissa Dickson, Emilie Taylor-Brown, and Sally Shuttleworth
The present volume, which examines the correlations that were being drawn between notions of progress and pathology across a diverse range of socio-economic cultures in the long nineteenth century beginning with the French Revolution, interrogates such notions of exceptionalism. Our purview is deliberately transnational, drawing on case studies from Britain, America, France, Germany, Finland, Bengal, China, and the South Pacific, in order to provide rich comparative perspectives on medical responses to, and constructions of, modernity, while demonstrating that
’ and ‘chronic’ forms.
Increasingly, distinctions were drawn between normal and pathological states of fatigue, or ‘between fatigue and over-fatigue’.
By the early twentieth century the ‘pathology of fatigue’ was also supplemented by a proliferation of related conditions, from ‘fatigue dyspepsia’ to ‘exhaustion psychosis’.
The particular discursive configuration of
The ‘pathology’ of childhood in late nineteenth-century London
, and familial viewpoints, would fit somewhere between these binaries. This chapter concentrates on those that congregated around notions and conceptions of ‘imperfection’. It is therefore important to delve a little deeper into what is meant by the idea of ‘pathology’ in this context.
In its strictest definition the term refers to the scientific process of exploring the causes of disease through the inspection of bodily materials. However, the phrase has evolved into common usage and developed a pseudo-scientific social meaning. Those whom we
Health as moral economy in the long nineteenth century
By this standard the pathologies of progress are at a disadvantage. George Beard's neurasthenia, flagship of the conditions considered here (can we even call them diseases?), is no longer a medical entity, only a curious conceptual relic. Given that we have decided that the persons thus diagnosed had no such disease, must we throw out their whining? Without a way to validate what brings suffering persons to clinical encounters, we risk doing that. One sort of validation comes from subjectivity: we have suffered from analogous conditions
neurodiversity movement, offers a more positive and less dangerous response to mainstream medicine's stance on autism as largely untreatable. Though not a ‘new phrenology’, the neurodiversity movement shares certain features with the Fowlers’ practical phrenology, both in theory and methods. Neurodiversity activists pursue alternatives to the ‘pathology paradigm’ surrounding the rise in neurological disorder diagnoses, and argue that neurodiversity is both a ‘natural and a valuable form of human diversity’.
The hygienic utopia in Jules Verne, Camille Flammarion, and William
defeat in the Franco-Prussian war and at a point when France was acutely aware of its ailing position on the world stage, with falling birth rates, and a range of serious pathologies plaguing the nation.
Docteur Sarrasin in Bégum , for example, reads an article at the beginning of the novel, entitled ‘Why are all Frenchmen suffering from varying degrees of hereditary degeneration?’
There is therefore a dark side to the relentless emphasis on health and strength
voluntary, or were somehow predetermined by social and cultural forces. The mounting statistical data on rising suicide rates provided groundwork for the idea that suicide was an illness of society rather than an outcome of voluntary human behaviour or, in a more modern view, a specific and individualised pathology.
Towards the end of the century, suicide together with madness was increasingly interpreted as a symptom of harmful aspects of modernity, but also as a sign of civilisation that separated modern nations from
Parkinson did not include personality or behavioural characteristics in his analysis of etiology but attributed the cause to pathology of the spinal cord.
He described each patient as having a different life story, their ages ranging from their mid-fifties to early seventies. Parkinson included contrasting psychological profiles of his subjects, but did not offer cultural characterisations comparable to contemporary medical discourses on gout or tuberculosis.