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Emotional BodiesThe Historical Performativity of Emotions$
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Dolores Martín-Moruno and Beatriz Pichel

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780252042898

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.5622/illinois/9780252042898.001.0001

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Hysteria or Tetanus?

Hysteria or Tetanus?

Ambivalent Embodiments and the Authenticity of Pain

(p.19) 1. Hysteria or Tetanus?
Emotional Bodies

Rob Boddice

University of Illinois Press

This chapter details a mass outbreak of hysterical tetanus onboard an emigrant ship bound for Australia from London in the winter of 1874-75. Building a historical context of possibilities for the expression of emotional suffering, it argues that the ship served as an emotional refuge, allowing the female passengers a gestural expression that would be recognized by the medical staff as a diagnosable pathology. The epidemic nature of the outbreak, in which patients assumed the classic tetanic arch of Charcot's clinic, is evidence of a successful emotive process, and affords a novel way for historians to read for bodily signs of emotional pain.

Keywords:   Hysteria, Pain, Emotional Suffering, Emotional Refuge, Emotive, Charcot

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