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Haunting portraits of disturbed female patients show true horror of infamous 19th century mental asylum; Little more beyond these images are known about these vulnerable women who were hospitalised for conditions such as female hysteria and modern-day anorexia nervosa.

Byline: Pesala Bandara

Harrowing portraits taken inside a Victorian lunaticasylumhave revealed the true suffering scores of women endured in the 19th century.

The eerie images taken between 1878 and 1910, were captured at the infamous Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, France.

Little more detail than these images remain about these vulnerable women who were hospitalised for conditions such as female hysteria and modern-day anorexia nervosa.

Other pictures reveal women who were perhaps sectioned against their will for illnesses like Parkinson's disease and minor facial spasms.

The haunting images were taken by medical photographer, Albert Londe -- who was hired by neurologist Jean-Marie Charcot in the to capture portraits of 'mad' female patients at Salpetriere hospital.

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When Londe arrived at Salpetriere Hospital in 1878, the infirmary was home to 5,000 women purportedly suffering from mental illnesses. And Jean-Marie Charcot would go on to become pioneering figure in the understanding of hysteria.

For centuries, female hysteria was a common medical diagnosis, reserved exclusively for women.

Women considered to have had it exhibited a wide array of symptoms -- including faintness, nervousness, sexual desire, insomnia, fluid retention, shortness of breath, heaviness in the abdomen, irritability or just 'a tendency to cause trouble'.

Up until the nineteenth century, hysteria was widely believed to be connected to a womb which was out of place or wondering from its proper place.

Whilst the American physician Frederick Hollick deemed that a main cause of hysteria was the licentiousness present in women.

Women diagnosed with the illness were often forced to enter an insane asylum or to undergo a surgical hysterectomy.

However during Jean-Marie Charcot's time at Salpetriere -- which rose to fame under his headship -- he did somewhat reform the treatment of women who were diagnosed with hysteria.

Under Charcot's guidance, Salpetriere's female patients were treated through observation for the first time. Charcot talked to them, checked their reflexes, asked them to perform tasks and everything would be noted, sketched or photographed.

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Although Charcot initially believed that hysteria was a neurological disorder for which patients were pre-disposed by hereditary features of the nervous system but near the end of his life in the 1890s, he concluded that hysteria was a psychological disease which could be caused by trauma.

Charcot argued vehemently against the widespread medical prejudice that hysteria was rarely found in men. He also controversially used hypnotism to observe and even treat patients with the illness.

Marie "Blanche" Wittmann -- known as the Queen of Hysterics -- was Charcot's most famous hysteria patient at Salpetriere. He would hypnotize her at his weekly lectures so she would demonstrate her supposed illness.

Founder of Psychoanalysis, Sigmund Freud came to witness Wittman's hysterics at Charcot's lectures.

CAPTION(S):

Credit: Albert Londe/News Dog Media

A female patient with hysteria-induced narcolepsy at the Salpetriere Hospital in Paris, France

Credit: Albert Londe/News Dog Media

A series of three photos showing a hysterical yawning woman

Credit: Albert Londe/News Dog Media

A hysteria attack seen on a patient in an image taken by medical photographer, Albert Londe

Credit: Albert Londe/News Dog Media

A praying woman, who is suffering with catalepsy caused by hysteria

Credit: Albert Londe/News Dog Media

A woman suffering from facial spasms, labelled as hysteria

Credit: Albert Londe/News Dog Media

A female patient with melancholic catalepsy, a form of hysteria

Credit: Albert Londe/News Dog Media

A woman also suffering from hysteria

Credit: Albert Londe/News Dog Media

Women diagnosed with hysteria were often forced to enter an insane asylum or to undergo a surgical hysterectomy

Credit: Albert Londe/News Dog Media

A female patient with her diagnosis written on her back

Credit: Albert Londe/News Dog Media

Little is known about these vulnerable women pictured who were hospitalized for conditions such as female hysteria and modern-day anorexia nervosa
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Title Annotation:News,UK News
Publication:Daily Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:4EUFR
Date:Mar 16, 2018
Words:655
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