Nonfiction 3

Dangerous Motherhood: Insanity and Childbirth in Victorian by H. Marland

By H. Marland

Harmful Motherhood is the 1st learn of the shut and intricate dating among psychological disease and childbirth. Exploring the connection among girls, their households and their medical professionals finds how causes for the onset of puerperal madness have been drawn from a vast set of ethical, social and environmental frameworks, instead of being certain to principles that girls as a complete have been more likely to be at risk of psychological sickness. The horror of this devastating sickness which upturned the family, became mild moms into disruptive and unsafe mad girls, was once magnified via it taking place at a time whilst it was once expected that girls will be such a lot chuffed within the achievement in their position as moms.

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63 It became something of a catch-all, with practitioners also disagreeing about whether some women were more sensitive and susceptible than others. 72 Conolly broadly agreed with Gooch’s assertion that puerperal insanity was ‘a disease of excitement without power’ and claimed ‘there is no reasonable or manifest physical cause for the occurrence of the malady beyond the mere circumstance of the previous delivery … it proceeds from a peculiar state of the brain following delivery’. It was sometimes associated with irritations resulting from a retained placenta or with uterine discharge.

In the private Bethnal Green Asylum only three patients out of 386 female admissions were linked to puerperal causes, while in a similar institution, Grove House Asylum, 19 out of 467 cases were described as puerperal in origin (less than 1 per cent compared with 4 per cent). 43 A number of asylums Boundaries of Expertise and the Location of Puerperal Insanity 37 claimed around 10 per cent of their female patients as cases of puerperal insanity, but these figures could fluctuate dramatically from year to year.

15 The approach of the disease excited little apprehension and the symptoms were very diverse; the women’s pulse could be quick, their nights restless and temper short – nothing remarkable. Gooch referred to what followed as ‘indescribable hurry’ and ‘peculiarity of manner’. The women’s language became wild and incoherent as they reached a state of mania. When the disease took the melancholic form, which Gooch suggested manifested itself just as often as mania, it usually began some months after delivery and its appearance was much more gradual.

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