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GENITAL SURGERIES AND STIMULATION IN NINETEENTH CENTURY PSYCHIATRY

Gendered Perspectives on Reproduction and Sexuality

ISBN: 978-0-76231-088-3, eISBN: 978-1-84950-256-6

ISSN: 1529-2126

Publication date: 30 June 2004

Abstract

The medical suppression of female sexuality in Victorian society has long been the subject of historical and cultural scholarship, with documentation not only of textual threats by religious and medical “experts,” but also of surgical assaults on female reproductive systems (Longo, 1979, 1986; Scull & Favreau, 1986; Sheehan, 1997). Less well known is the apparent obverse: the use of medical techniques to stimulate the female genitalia as a means of treating hysteria and other mental disorders (Maines, 1999; Schleiner, 1995). In this paper, I trace the cultural history (mainly Anglo-American) of the psychiatric enhancement, as well as repression, of female sexual pleasure, through various genital treatments, including the surgical and the electrical.1 I then make the case that these “opposite” treatments are, in the context of Victorian society, two sides of the same coin of the patriarchal, medical control of female sexuality.2

Citation

Warren, C.A.B. (2004), "GENITAL SURGERIES AND STIMULATION IN NINETEENTH CENTURY PSYCHIATRY", Texler Segal, M., Demos, V. and Jacobs Kronenfeld, J. (Ed.) Gendered Perspectives on Reproduction and Sexuality (Advances in Gender Research, Vol. 8), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 165-197. https://doi.org/10.1016/S1529-2126(04)08006-3

Publisher

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Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited