Home remedies and hydrotherapy: stressed scientists and medical consumerism in nineteenth-century Europe

Goodman, H (2016) Home remedies and hydrotherapy: stressed scientists and medical consumerism in nineteenth-century Europe. In: British Association for Victorian Studies (BAVS) Annual Conference 2016: Consuming (the) Victorians, 31 August - 2 September 2016, Cardiff University, UK.

Abstract

A number of Victorian intellectuals who suffered from symptoms of nervous strain and anxiety made attempts at self-diagnosis and home remedies by way of self-medication. Extending even beyond the use of opiates, diets, exercise regimen, hot or cold baths and steam rooms, these methods could be highly developed. This paper explores some of the approaches to self-diagnosis and self-medication of prominent scientists specialising in non-medical disciplines, who suffered from severe stress and nervous breakdown, including Charles Darwin, Francis Galton and Marie Curie. It brings to light a range of literature including archived medical records, letters, diaries and medical treatises. Attempting to alleviate a plethora of alarming ailments including nervous shaking, palpitations, painful boils and acute abdominal pain (believed to be caused or exacerbated by stress), Darwin educated himself about various new treatments. Whilst expending great physical and mental energy during periods of intense writing he went to considerable, perhaps obsessive, lengths to engineer structures for hydrotherapy. Darwin and other eminent Victorians including Dickens paid visits to Dr Gully’s famous spa in Malvern, describing their impressions in letters, journalism and fiction. The paper will also highlight examples of advertisements for equipment for medical and alternative home remedies for stress and neurasthenia. This paper is based on the early stages of my postdoctoral research project, which examines the interconnected histories of stress and ‘genius’ in the long nineteenth century. It investigates previously unexamined records from institutions such as hospitals, asylums, retreats and spas.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Keywords: Malvern, Ben Rhydding, Harrogate, spas, mineral water, hydrotherapy, hydropathy, James Gully, Charles Darwin, J. D. Hooker, Herbert Spencer, Vichy, Vichy Bath, douche, Turkish bath, James Johnson, John Bright, Augustus Bozzi, Granville
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D204 Modern History
D History General and Old World > D History (General) > D901 Europe (General)
D History General and Old World > DC France
D History General and Old World > DD Germany
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GT Manners and customs
P Language and Literature > PR English literature
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine
R Medicine > RC Internal medicine > RC0321 Neuroscience. Biological psychiatry. Neuropsychiatry
R Medicine > RM Therapeutics. Pharmacology
R Medicine > RT Nursing
R Medicine > RV Botanic, Thomsonian, and eclectic medicine
R Medicine > RX Homeopathy
R Medicine > RZ Other systems of medicine
Divisions: College of Liberal Arts
Date Deposited: 26 Nov 2018 15:05
Last Modified: 26 Nov 2018 15:05
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