Hysteria History In The Medical Field Centuries Ago

Today, the majority of women consult a female doctor. It makes her feel comfortable during a checkup. This is best for women to relate to each other as they hold an understanding of female anatomy. How to have an orgasm was unheard of.

The wandering womb caused Hysteria

According to Rachel Maines, a historian female patient suffering from a condition called ‘Hysteria’ was given a pelvic massage by the physicians. It was a mental health condition attributed to females. The term hysteria was associated with different symptoms and behavior.

Plato, a Greek philosopher, mentioned that Hysteria was a condition where a childless woman’s womb was distressed and caused health issues. Philosophers believed that wandering a woman’s womb caused organs like the brain, lungs, and liver.

Treatment like external vaginal stimulation, massaging female genitals with pleasant-smelling oil, marriage, sex, and pregnancy got recommended. The idea was to get the uterus to regain its location in the pelvis.

Every female issue got related to a medical condition – Hysteria.

Common hysteria symptoms

  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Excessive vaginal bleeding
  • Insomnia
  • Severe cramping
  • Forgetfulness
  • Nausea
  • Mood swings
  • Back pain
  • Appetite loss
  • Anxiety
  • Swollen legs
  • Organ failure
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Swollen feet
  • Depression
  • Other psychological disorders

Maine wrote that centuries ago, the doctors found women biologically vulnerable and unable to reveal their sexual desires that 21st-century experts regard as usual. The symptoms needed medical involvement and correction. The doctors and society of earlier times hardly found any connection between external genital stimulation to sexual desire.

Physicians called orgasm a paroxysm.

For sexual stimulation, women needed vaginal penetration. Many thought that masturbation could trigger uterine cancer. During the pelvic massage, if the women got flushed and relieved, the doctors explained it to be a hysterical paroxysm and not what we now identify as an orgasm. Paroxysm state indicated that the treatment was a success.

Hysteria led to the invention of vibrators and ultimately various sex toys

Physicians found it tiring to perform pelvic massage, so vibrators got introduced. Water therapy is the precursor of current vibrators. It involves a powerful water jet, which is aimed at her genitals and inner thighs. She experiences a hysterical paroxysm in less than 5 minutes. With this douche treatment, women felt incredibly relieved.

During the Victorian era, women’s literacy rates increased along with hysteria cases. Samuel Monell, a 20th-century physician, explained that gynecological pelvic massage is an effective treatment for Hysteria. Historians agree that vibrators efficiently treated Hysteria and gave relief from arthritis, muscle fatigue, and constipation.

Mortimer Granville was the first to invent the first battery-powered, portable vibrator in 1880. They were designed to treat male muscle fatigue and not female Hysteria. However, masturbation or stimulation of genitals with any device was not socially acceptable.

Social acceptance to a great extent

In 1920, medical vibrators used in porn films, and physicians began considering them as sex toys. They observed its use as a sexual context instead of therapeutic. Today, medical professionals never use the word hysterical paroxysm but refer to tension relief through masturbation or vaginal manipulation as the female orgasm.


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