Female Hysteria - No wonder Regency doctors were in such high demand!

Apparently, it was not the ‘husband’s responsibility’ to pleasure his wife. Nah, he left that to the doctor.

While researching this topic, I found my mouth was constantly agape as I read through article after article, fascinated, shocked and slightly amused by the foolishness of humanity on this certain subject during history. The earth being flat came to mind several times, and I wonder if you too will have the same reaction as you read on.
Female Hysteria – “an illness in which the patent suffered from symptoms such as faintness, nervousness, insomnia, heaviness in abdomen, muscle spasm, shortness of breath, irritability, sexual fantasies and vaginal lubrication as well as a ‘tendency to simply cause trouble’”. *Is anyone else’s eyebrow rising as they read this?*
I couldn’t help but laugh as I read articles from doctors in the 19th century where they claimed it was ‘their responsibility’ to treat these women for Hysteria. What we now know as ‘sexual frustration’ was treated by doctors (and sometimes midwives) through ‘pelvic massage’ until the patient achieved a... ahem...‘ hysterical paroxysm’. These days - and in the field that I’m in - I’d classify it as an orgasm, little death, explosion or something similar. But call it what you will, it all means the same thing. The family doctor would ‘massage’ her lady parts until she, well.... you know.
Through my research, I can’t help but think it was an excuse more than anything and I find myself glaring at the husbands of these poor women. What are they doing? Nothing with their wives, apparently.
As a romance writer, I’d love to believe that no woman would live without experiencing at least one orgasm in their life and if it had to be at the doctor’s hands, then so be it. But it strikes me as odd how the doctors, husbands and even these women couldn’t see the ‘treatment’ as sexual. According to both doctors journals and articles written at the time, any reference to treatment of ‘Female Hysteria’ was dismissed as being sexual as there was no penetration involved. This became somewhat harder to defend when the invention of ‘vibrators’ - which voided this point - slowly became the preferred method of treatment.
In 1957, ‘Female Hysteria’ was legislated out of existence by the American Psychiatric Association. The main reason behind this was that vibrators used to treat this ‘illness’ started to become used in the earlier forms of pornography. Ding, ding! Ahhh, now they see it!
In THE ROSE'S BLOOM, my first historical erotic novel and ELLA finalist story, the heroine has been informed by a dear friend that a woman requires a husband for nothing more than his seed to sire a heir, as a woman can find pleasure herself with nothing more than her fingers.
It’s good to see at least one woman knew the truth and is spreading the word!
My heroine therefore takes her friends advice and attempts to take matters into ‘her own hands’ so to speak. However, doing so by a river might not have been the wisest idea, especially as the neighbouring lord just happens to be out hunting alone at the time and comes across her appearing to be having a difficult time in following her friends instructions. He was a gentleman after all, and saw it as his duty to assist the poor damsel in distress. *giggle*


This is a expert of a guest blog post I did back in August 2012. To view the original, click here!

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