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Dangerous Motherhood : Insanity and Childbirth in Victorian Britain - Hilary Marland

Dangerous Motherhood

Insanity and Childbirth in Victorian Britain

Hardcover Published: 29th June 2004
ISBN: 9781403920386
Number Of Pages: 303

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Dangerous Motherhood is the first study of the close and complex relationship between mental disorder and childbirth. Exploring the relationship between women, their families and their doctors reveals how explanations for the onset of puerperal insanity were drawn from a broad set of moral, social and environmental frameworks, rather than being bound to ideas that women as a whole were likely to be vulnerable to mental illness. The horror of this devastating disorder which upturned the household and turned gentle mothers into disruptive and dangerous, mad women, was magnified by its occurrence at a time when it was anticipated that women would be most happy in the fulfillment of their role as mothers.

'Dangerous Motherhood is a tour de force of scholarship, which exploits a wide range of little-tapped sources to bring the poignant case histories of manic and depressed women to life. Marland fastidiously delineates the ambivalent attempts of Victorian obstetricians, asylum doctors, and general practitioners, as well as of families and husbands, to understand, classify and respond to the often bizarre and disturbing behaviour of these women. In doing so, she charts the veritable creation of a new female malady - 'puerperal insanity' - a 'dangerous' (if normally transient) affliction that not only transgressed the norms and expectations surrounding motherhood, but threatened the very integrity of the Victorian household.' - Dr Jonathan Andrews, Department of History, Oxford Brookes University

'Using a wealth of asylum records, case notes, diaries and medical texts, Hilary Marland's scholarly book, Dangerous Motherhood, provides a rich window into some of the anguish puerperal insanity could inflict on women and their families, and the variety of ways medical practitioners explained its cause and sought to treat it. Dangerous Motherhood not only provides a vivid study of the specific Victorian conditions that led to the rise and fall in the fascination of puerperal insanity, but a powerful insight into the relationships between doctors, patients and their families in this period.' - Medical History

'The variety and volume of primary source material that Marland consults in her history of puerperal insanity, from its conception in the early nineteenth century through to its demise in the early twentieth, leads to a wide-ranging and richly evidenced discussion of its cause, treatment and outcome.' - Beth Wright, Women: A Cultural Review

List of Figures
The Birth of Puerperal Insanity
Boundaries of Expertise and the Location of Puerperal Insanity
Disordered Households: Puerperal Insanity and the Bourgeois Home
Thin, Incoherent and Violent: Patients and Puerperal Insanity in the Royal Edinburgh Asylum
Women, Doctors and Mental Disorder: Explaining Puerperal Insanity in the Nineteenth
Century Dangerous Mothers: Puerperal Insanity and Infanticide
From Redemption to the Dark Age: The Decline of Puerperal Insanity
Tuke: Tables Illustrative of Puerperal Insanity in the Royal Edinburgh Asylum
Table of Contents provided by Publisher. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9781403920386
ISBN-10: 1403920389
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 303
Published: 29th June 2004
Publisher: Palgrave USA
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 21.6 x 14.0  x 2.54
Weight (kg): 0.55
Edition Number: 1