Medicine’s Failure With Women in Pain - The Wall Street Journal
Jun 12, 2021 52 secs
Unwell women emerged from the annals of medicine, like so many Russian nesting dolls.

I tried to imagine what it felt like to be an unwell woman struggling with a disease that resisted medical understanding at these different points in history.

Specters of doubt and discrimination have haunted medical treatises on female health since ancient Greece.

The authors of the Hippocratic Corpus, the foundational treatises of Western medical practice, spoke of women’s “inexperience and ignorance” in matters of their bodies and illnesses.

In the 17th century, hysteria emerged as an explanation for a variety of symptoms and illnesses in women.

During the 19th century, female hysteria “moved center-stage” and “became the explicit theme of scores of medical texts,” especially when the cause of an illness was not immediately identifiable, wrote the British medical historian Roy Porter in “Hysteria Beyond Freud.” As the cultural critic Elaine Showalter showed in her influential history “The Female Malady,” notable physicians and psychiatrists of the day linked hysteria to women’s perceived tendency to fabricate symptoms for attention and sympathy.

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