Nervous Disease study, based on extensive use of eighteenth-century newspapers, hospital registers and case notes, examines the experience of suffering from nervous disease – a supposedly upper-class malady. Beatty concludes that ‘nervousness’ was a legitimate medical diagnosis with a firm basis in eighteenth-century medical theory.
Nervous Disease in Late Eighteenth-Century Britain: The Reality of a Fashionable Disorder Free Download Pdf
Cultural historians like Roy Porter, George S. Rousseau and many others have pointed out again and again that British culture in the eighteenth century cannot be properly understood without taking into account the manner in which it was influenced and shaped by the discourse of nerves. In the on-going debate on the precise quality and significance of this discourse, Heather R. Beatty’s monograph constitutes an important contribution, not least because it puts into perspective exaggerated claims as to the formative power of ‘culture’ (including literary productions, social and political debates, philosophy, and so on) over medicine. In Beatty’s words: ‘Whereas the modern historiography frequently illustrates the ways in which the eighteenth-century medical world was influenced by culture, this study highlights the equal power of medicine to belie social prescription and to affect the period’s cultural climate’ (p. 6).
Thanks to Beatty’s systematic approach, her research offers a comprehensive and multi-faceted…