Hysteria: the straight deal
Okay, so we've all heard of hysteria? The whole 'wandering womb' theory, the hysterectomies, the 'you're crazy because you've got too much sperm' thing...
Wait. What? Yep, part of the hysteria epidemic involved having too much sperm.
First, a word on female hysteria.
It's often believed that we have the otherwise excellent thinker Plato to thank for hysteria, but belief in the condition dates back to the ancient Egyptians. Early thinkers thought that the womb was a living creature, wandering the female body and wreaking havoc (picture the Blob, and if you can't picture the Blob, look it up on IMDB and welcome to the wonderful world of pre-2000 cinema, guys!).
Some of the other thoughts on hysteria included the idea that the womb could be lured back to its proper place by putting bad-smelling things near a woman's mouth and luring the womb back down with perfume near her vagina. Another, much more fun-sounding theory, was that the problem was caused by lack of orgasms.
Interesting etymological fact: the Greek word for uterus was hystera. You do the math.
Sigmund Freud was a fan of the latter theory, although his thoughts on the topic were wrapped up with his ideas on how everyone's parents ultimately scar them for life.
Fun fact: hysteria wasn't erased from the Bumper Book of Legit Psychological Disorders (otherwise known as the DSM III) until 1980.
Spermatorrhoea: the male hysteria.
So, if lack of orgasm in females is a cause of female hysteria, the male hysteria is also a lack of...
If you said 'orgasm', you're wrong. Spermatorrhoea, the male hysteria, is linked with excessive semen discharge. Folks thought that an involuntary leakage of semen was caused by, among other things, too much masturbation.
The cure? Stop being such a pansy. Get up at 5am, sponge yourself down with cold salt water, lift some weights and go for a jog.
Yep, that'd put most people off a quiet moment alone in the shower.
The cure is worse than the cause.
In both cases, the ultimate cure for chronic conditions was much worse than the cause. Females had to submit to invasive surgeries, while men had to submit to needles in their most beloved parts.
Yes. Needles. And worse. (Worse? Read the resources below.)
Hooray for medicine!
Want to read more? Check out these resources:
*This psych paper explores the history of female hysteria: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3480686/
*This article from The Conversation is an excellent read on spermatorrhoea: http://theconversation.com/spermatorrhoea-the-lesser-known-male-version-of-hysteria-9996
CC pictures courtesy of:
1. Quelle Horreur by Paul Stumpr
2.Uterus by Hey Paul Studios
3. Sperm race by Mike Goren
4. Ouch by Bark
Leave a Reply.
Keep up to date with members of our ensemble as they share their news and experiences.