Quotes About Conversion Disorder

Quotes tagged as "conversion-disorder" (showing 1-4 of 4)
“Pierre Janet, a French professor of psychology who became prominent in the early twentieth century, attempted to fully chronicle late- Victorian hysteria in his landmark work The Major Symptoms of Hysteria. His catalogue of symptoms was staggering, and included somnambulism (not sleepwalking as we think of it today, but a sort of amnesiac condition in which the patient functioned in a trance state, or "second state," and later remembered nothing); trances or fits of sleep that could last for days, and in which the patient sometimes appeared to be dead; contractures or other disturbances in the motor functions of the limbs; paralysis of various parts of the body; unexplained loss of the use of a sense such as sight or hearing; loss of speech; and disruptions in eating that could entail eventual refusal of food altogether. Janet's profile was sufficiently descriptive of Mollie Fancher that he mentioned her by name as someone who "seems to have had all possible hysterical accidents and attacks." In the face of such strange and often intractable "attacks," many doctors who treated cases of hysteria in the 1800s developed an ill-concealed exasperation.”
Michelle Stacey, The Fasting Girl: A True Victorian Medical Mystery

“As Mollie said to Dailey in the 1890s: "I am told that there are five other Mollie Fanchers, who together, make the whole of the one Mollie Fancher, known to the world; who they are and what they are I cannot tell or explain, I can only conjecture." Dailey described five distinct Mollies, each with a different name, each of whom he met (as did Aunt Susan and a family friend, George Sargent). According to Susan Crosby, the first additional personality appeared some three years after the after the nine-year trance, or around 1878. The dominant Mollie, the one who functioned most of the time and was known to everyone as Mollie Fancher, was designated Sunbeam (the names were devised by Sargent, as he met each of the personalities). The four other personalities came out only at night, after eleven, when Mollie would have her usual spasm and trance. The first to appear was always Idol, who shared Sunbeam's memories of childhood and adolescence but had no memory of the horsecar accident. Idol was very jealous of Sunbeam's accomplishments, and would sometimes unravel her embroidery or hide her work. Idol and Sunbeam wrote with different handwriting, and at times penned letters to each other.

The next personality Sargent named Rosebud: "It was the sweetest little child's face," he described, "the voice and accent that of a little child." Rosebud said she was seven years old, and had Mollie's memories of early childhood: her first teacher's name, the streets on which she had lived, children's songs. She wrote with a child's handwriting, upper- and lowercase letters mixed. When Dailey questioned Rosebud about her mother, she answered that she was sick and had gone away, and that she did not know when she would be coming back. As to where she lived, she answered "Fulton Street," where the Fanchers had lived before moving to Gates Avenue.
Pearl, the fourth personality, was evidently in her late teens. Sargent described her as very spiritual, sweet in expression, cultured and agreeable: "She remembers Professor West [principal of Brooklyn Heights Seminary], and her school days and friends up to about the sixteenth year in the life of Mollie Fancher. She pronounces her words with an accent peculiar to young ladies of about 1865." Ruby, the last Mollie, was vivacious, humorous, bright, witty. "She does everything with a dash," said Sargent. "What mystifies me about 'Ruby,' and distinguishes her from the others, is that she does not, in her conversations with me, go much into the life of Mollie Fancher. She has the air of knowing a good deal more than she tells.”
Michelle Stacey, The Fasting Girl: A True Victorian Medical Mystery

“The physical shape of Mollies paralyses and contortions fit the pattern of late-nineteenth-century hysteria as well — in particular the phases of "grand hysteria" described by Jean-Martin Charcot, a French physician who became world-famous in the 1870s and 1880s for his studies of hysterics..."

"The hooplike spasm Mollie experienced sounds uncannily like what Charcot considered the ultimate grand movement, the arc de de cercle (also called arc-en-ciel), in which the patient arched her back, balancing on her heels and the top of her head..."

"One of his star patients, known to her audiences only as Louise, was a specialist in the arc de cercle — and had a background and hysterical manifestations quite similar to Mollie's. A small-town girl who made her way to Paris in her teens, Louise had had a disrupted childhood, replete with abandonment and sexual abuse.
She entered Salpetriere in 1875, where while under Charcot's care she experienced partial paralysis and complete loss of sensation over the right side of her body, as well as a decrease in hearing, smell, taste, and vision. She had frequent violent, dramatic hysterical fits, alternating with hallucinations and trancelike phases during which she would "see" her mother and other people she knew standing before her (this symptom would manifest itself in Mollie). Although critics, at the time and since, have decried the sometime circus atmosphere of Charcot's lectures, and claimed that he, inadvertently or not, trained his patients how to be hysterical, he remains a key figure in understanding nineteenth-century hysteria.”
Michelle Stacey, The Fasting Girl: A True Victorian Medical Mystery

Les Murray
“When preparing for Book One, I talked to a couple of psychiatrists about psychosomatic phenomena, neuroses and dissociative conditions, for example the so—called hysterical blindness suffered by many who saw the Killing Fields in Pol Pot’s Cambodia: their eyes objectively see, but they are not aware of it and are blind because they believe they can’t see. One specialist told me that among modern Western people, ’metaphorical’ symptoms such as Fredy or those Cambodians evince are much rarer now than earlier in the twentieth century or before. Nowadays most people are better equipped by education to verbalise their neuroses, and have lots of jargon in which to do so. For most of the dissociative dimension, I could draw on things I knew from within myself.”
Les Murray, Fredy Neptune

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