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BOOK REVIEW Hysteria: The History ofa Disease. By Ilza Veith, Ph.D. Chicago: University ofChicago Press, 1965. Pp. 301. $7.95. Hysteria, once believed to be exclusively a disease ofwomen, in some way related to the uterus, is now recognized as a condition that can affect any human being. Moreover, the solution of any case of hysteria may well involve gynecologists, internists, psychiatrists and perhaps other specialists. Dr. Ilza Veith has traced the evolution of scientific views ofthis disease from the earliest times, when it was associated with magic and witchcraft to the present when the concepts ofSigmund Freud have led to a reasonable understanding ofthe nature ofhysteria. This tracing ofthe evolution ofunderstanding ofhysteria is at the same time a tracing of changing concepts ofmental disease from the supernatural through Paracelsus to the beginnings of modern psychology after Mesmer and Charcot. This leads to the final chapter on hysteria and the evolution ofpsychoanalysis. Whereas the average writing in works ofmedical history tends to dullness, except for such masters as Neuburger, Singer, and Sigerist, the writing ofDr. Ilza Veith has the quality ofcharm. Her mind occasionally roams into areas ofinterest which are related to the subject only indirectly; for example, Whytt's recognition ofhysteria and his views ofmigraine as a possibly related disorder: also the beginnings ofscientific psychiatry by Pinel and varying views ofthe nature of hypnotism. All this is supplemented in this excellent book by an extensive bibliography representing what must have been many hundreds ofhours ofreading and an extraordinarily adequate index. Perhaps the classification ofhysteria as "a conversion symptom" is a recognition ofits nature, but the change in name does not mean that the problem has been solved. The manifestations are so numerous and the individual cases so varying that far more research is needed toward a complete solution. The condition has not disappeared and perhaps never will disappear. Morris Fishbein, M.D. 5454 South Shore Drive Chicago, Illinois 60637 436 Book Review Perspectives in Biology and Medicine · Spring 1966 1 diethylstilbesterol. hypothesis ofhormone distraction: zero-order Peripatetics gordon tomkins and kim yielding have tried to rival henry fielding with the lusty facts they're wielding 'bout seductive estrogens: certain enzymes we call 'commonplace' (glutamic dehydrogenase) they tell us disassociate when DES* is near. the slith'ring sister ofcholesterol (and niece ofplane desmosterol) reaks hydrophobic heck on all approaching tetramers. but: it hardly seems mysterious that steroids are deleterious; and, ifwe're somewhat query-ous we'll find they're nothing new: estrogenic compounds various have been disrupting—and hilarious making mankind's life precarious from the structural point ofview. for, in vivo, they're nefarious as "characteristics secondary-ous" making males weak and gregarious when spring begins to bloom. Sol Sepsenwol 437 ...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-8795
Print ISSN
0031-5982
Pages
pp. 436-437
Launched on MUSE
2015-01-07
Open Access
No
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