Catalogue


Voices from the asylum : four French women writers, 1850-1920 /
Susannah Wilson.
imprint
Oxford [England] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2010.
description
248 p. ; 23 cm.
ISBN
0199579350 (hbk.), 9780199579358 (hbk.)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Oxford [England] ; New York : Oxford University Press, 2010.
isbn
0199579350 (hbk.)
9780199579358 (hbk.)
catalogue key
7387590
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. [226]-240) and index.
A Look Inside
About the Author
Author Affiliation
Susannah Wilson is a British Academy Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Warwick.
Summaries
Long Description
Voices from the Asylum is a fascinating investigation of the lives of four women incarcerated in French psychiatric hospitals in the second half of the nineteenth century. The renowned sculptor (and mistress of Rodin) Camille Claudel, the musician Hersilie Rouy, the feminist activist Marie Esquiron, and the self-proclaimed mystic and eccentric Pauline Lair Lamotte, all left first-hand accounts of their experiences. These rare and unsettling documents provide the foundationfor a unique insight into the experience of psychiatric breakdown and treatment from the patient's viewpoint.By linking the question of gender to the process of medical diagnosis made by contemporary clinicians such as Sigmund Freud, this book argues that psychiatric medicine functioned as an integral part of an essentially misogynistic and oppressive society. Wilson suggests that "delusional" utterances can be read as meaningful when read as metaphorical expressions of real suffering, and as strategies to ensure the survival of a self under threat. These narratives therefore constituted an act ofresistance on the part of the women who wrote them, and they prefigure the feminist revisionist histories of psychiatry that appeared later in the twentieth century.Straddling the disciplines of literature and social history, and based on extensive archival research, this book makes an important contribution to the feminist project of writing women back into literary history. It brings to light a remarkable but hitherto unrecognised literary tradition in the prehistory of psychoanalysis: the psychiatric memoir.
Main Description
Voices from the Asylum analyses the writings of four female psychiatric patients in France (1850-1920). These women provide articulate descriptions of the experience of psychiatric treatment from the point of view of the patient, which in the historiography of psychiatry has traditionally been sidelined. The book uses psychoanalytical theory to closely analyse the texts, and contributes to the feminist project of writing women back into literary history,by bringing to light an unrecognised writing tradition in the prehistory of psychoanalysis: the psychiatric memoir. It views 'delusional' utterances as meaningful when read as metaphorical representations of real suffering, or compensatory strategies to ensure the survival of the self, in a social contextthat oppressed women who deviated from traditional sex-role stereotypes. Writing by patients constituted an act of resistance prefiguring revisionist histories of psychiatry that appeared later in the twentieth century.
Main Description
Voices from the Asylum is a fascinating investigation of the lives of four women incarcerated in French psychiatric hospitals in the second half of the nineteenth century. The renowned sculptor (and mistress of Rodin) Camille Claudel, the musician Hersilie Rouy, the feminist activist MarieEsquiron, and the self-proclaimed mystic and eccentric Pauline Lair Lamotte, all left first-hand accounts of their experiences. These rare and unsettling documents provide the foundation for a unique insight into the experience of psychiatric breakdown and treatment from the patient's viewpoint.By linking the question of gender to the process of medical diagnosis made by contemporary clinicians such as Sigmund Freud, this book argues that psychiatric medicine functioned as an integral part of an essentially misogynistic and oppressive society. Wilson suggests that "delusional" utterancescan be read as meaningful when read as metaphorical expressions of real suffering, and as strategies to ensure the survival of a self under threat. These narratives therefore constituted an act of resistance on the part of the women who wrote them, and they prefigure the feminist revisionisthistories of psychiatry that appeared later in the twentieth century.Straddling the disciplines of literature and social history, and based on extensive archival research, this book makes an important contribution to the feminist project of writing women back into literary history. It brings to light a remarkable but hitherto unrecognised literary tradition in theprehistory of psychoanalysis: the psychiatric memoir.
Main Description
Voices from the Asylumis a fascinating investigation of the lives of four women incarcerated in French psychiatric hospitals in the second half of the nineteenth century. The renowned sculptor (and mistress of Rodin) Camille Claudel, the musician Hersilie Rouy, the feminist activist Marie Esquiron, and the self-proclaimed mystic and eccentric Pauline Lair Lamotte, all left first-hand accounts of their experiences. These rare and unsettling documents provide the foundation for a unique insight into the experience of psychiatric breakdown and treatment from the patient's viewpoint. By linking the question of gender to the process of medical diagnosis made by contemporary clinicians such as Sigmund Freud, this book argues that psychiatric medicine functioned as an integral part of an essentially misogynistic and oppressive society. Wilson suggests that "delusional" utterances can be read as meaningful when read as metaphorical expressions of real suffering, and as strategies to ensure the survival of a self under threat. These narratives therefore constituted an act of resistance on the part of the women who wrote them, and they prefigure the feminist revisionist histories of psychiatry that appeared later in the twentieth century. Straddling the disciplines of literature and social history, and based on extensive archival research, this book makes an important contribution to the feminist project of writing women back into literary history. It brings to light a remarkable but hitherto unrecognised literary tradition in the prehistory of psychoanalysis: the psychiatric memoir.
Table of Contents
List of Abbreviationsp. viii
Note on Presentationp. ix
Introductionp. 1
Women's Writing and Women's Incarceration: Historical and Theoretical Approachesp. 17
Psychiatric medicine and the incarceration of womenp. 18
'Les écrits des aliéné(e)s'p. 25
Literary precedents: validating the 'insane'p. 32
Mémoires d'une aliénée by Hersilie Rouy: 'Où est la folie là-dedans?'p. 38
A voice in isolationp. 53
A voice in dialoguep. 67
The asylum as a pathogenic spacep. 74
Marie Esquiron: 'Ma triste et injuste séquestration'p. 90
'Je me connais moi-même': the reasoning hystericp. 102
The institutional 'hysteria' of the psychiatric professionp. 112
The interminable narrative: 'mon internement à perpétuité'p. 121
Pauline Lair Lamotte: 'Je sens que la vérité est là'p. 142
'Le délire d'union avec Dieu'p. 156
'Le délire de séparation avec Dieu'p. 169
The intermediary states: 'tentation', 'sécheresse', and 'équilibre'p. 178
Camille Claudel: 'Du rêve que fut ma vie, ceci est le cauchemar'p. 184
Camille Claudel to Paul Claudel, before 7 December 1909p. 194
Camille Claudel to Dr Michaux, 25 June 1917 or 1918p. 212
Conclusionp. 222
Bibliographyp. 226
Indexp. 241
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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