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January 17, 1966

Hysteria: The History of a Disease

Author Affiliations

Pittsburgh

 

by Ilza Veith, 301 pp, with illus, $7.95, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1965.

JAMA. 1966;195(3):231. doi:10.1001/jama.1966.03100030125047

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Abstract

Physicians, humanists, and behavioral scientists everywhere will welcome this distinguished contribution to the understanding of several phases of perplexing human behavior over a period of 4,000 years. As more materials, including works of art, become available for tracing the transformations of human aberrations over several millenia, it is increasingly possible to study those areas in terms of current insights. Professor Veith, a well-known medical historian, is superbly equipped for this monumental task. She was a pupil of Henry Sigerist and dedicates this book to him. In the best Sigerist tradition she describes the socioeconomic, political, medical, and philosophic backgrounds against which we can see the basic dynamics of a process or reaction type commonly called hysteria.

Beginning with Egyptian medical papyri, of about 1900 BC, which describe morbid states attributed to the displacement of the uterus, Professor Veith traces the persistence of this concept into modern times. The underlying theme

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