Skip navigation. During the late s through the early s, physicians administered pelvic massages involving clitoral stimulation by early electronic vibrators as treatments for what was called female hysteria. Until the early s, physicians used female hysteria as a diagnosis for women who reported a wide range of complaints and symptoms unexplainable by any other diagnosis at the time. According to historian Rachel Maines, physicians provided pelvic massages for thousands of years to female patients without it being considered erotic or sexually stimulating. After the Western Industrial Revolution, physicians began using electric machines in medicine, including the medical vibrator, which researchers theorize was used to more efficiently bring women to a hysterical paroxysm, the former medical term for a female orgasm. Until the s, physicians used vibrating massagers as medical devices for treating hysteria at a time when doctors diagnosed women with hysteria as a sweeping diagnosis.
Female Hysteria: 7 Crazy Things People Used To Believe About The Ladies' Disease | HuffPost
And in the past few years, it has careened around popular culture. Samantha Bee did a skit about it in March. A seemingly endless march of quirky news stories has instructed readers in its surprising but true quality, including in Vice , Mother Jones , and Psychology Today. In short, the tale has become a commonplace one in how people think about Victorian sex. And according to a contentious new paper , it may also be almost totally false.
Medical Vibrators for Treatment of Female Hysteria
Rachel P. Maines does not work for, consult, own shares in or receive funding from any company or organisation that would benefit from this article, and has disclosed no relevant affiliations beyond their academic appointment. As the daughter of novelist Natalie L.
The new film Hysteria tells a fictionalized account of the invention of the vibrator in Victorian-era England. But just how historically accurate is it? Surprisingly close.