Idioms of Distress: Psychosomatic Disorders in Medical and Imaginative Literature

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SUNY Press, 2003 - Literary Criticism - 225 pages
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This interdisciplinary study examines the enigmatic category of psychosomatic disorders as articulated in medical writings and represented in literary works of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Six key works are analyzed: Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, Émile Zola’s Thérèse Raquin, Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks, Arthur Miller’s Broken Glass, Brian O’Doherty’s The Strange Case of Mademoiselle P., and Pat Barker’s Regeneration. Each is a case study in detection as the hidden sources of bodily ills are uncovered in intra- or interpersonal conflicts such as guilt, family tensions, and marital discord. The book fosters a better understanding of these puzzling disorders by revealing how they function simultaneously as masks and as manifestations of inner suffering.
  

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Contents

Speaking through the Body
3
Swings of the Historical Pendulum
19
The Mysterious Leap
37
Literary Patients
53
Metaphors of Distress
71
A Strange Sympathy betwixt Soul and Body Nathaniel Hawthorne The Scarlet Letter 1850
73
Nerves At the Interstices of Physiology and Psychology Emile Zola Therese Raquin 1867
93
A Sick Spot on the Body of the Family Thomas Mann Buddenbrooks 1990
111
Legs Turned to Butter Arthur Miller Broken Glass 1994
129
Substance and Shadow Brian ODoherty The Strange Case of Mademoiselle P 1992
149
Shell Shock Pat Barker Regeneration 1991
169
Outing the Distress
191
Notes
201
Bibliography
211
Index
221
Copyright

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About the author (2003)

Lilian R. Furst is Marcel Bataillon Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her previous books include Medical Progress and Social Reality: A Reader in Nineteenth-Century Medicine and Literature, published by SUNY Press; Just Talk: Narratives of Psychotherapy; and Between Doctors and Patients: The Changing Balance of Power.

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