In the 19th century, when gender roles were more confining, the dominant forms of psychosomatic illness were paralysis and hysteria. Today, when people experience confusion about the abundant possibilities available to them, when all is permitted, the dominant complaint is fatigue. Edward Shorter's history shows how patients throughout the centuries have produced symptoms in tandem with the cultural shifts of larger society. He argues that newly popularized diseases such as chronic fatigue syndrome are only the most recent examples of patients' ailments that express the deepest truths about the culture in which we live.
From Paralysis to Fatigue
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