Hysteria (2011 film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Hysteria is a British romantic comedy film directed by Tanya Wexler. It stars Felicity Jones, Maggie Gyllenhaal and Hugh Dancy. The film, set in the Victorian era, is about the [probably fictitious[1]] invention of the vibrator. The film's title refers to the once-common medical diagnosis of female hysteria. The film connects the germ theory of disease, Victorian morality and Victorian technology; central being the invention of the vibrator but also various other applications of electricity such as the telephone.



Set at the end of the 19th century, the film depicts the management of “hysteria”, a then popular diagnosis of women displaying an array of symptoms including nervousness, insomnia, exhaustion, depression, cramps, and sexual frustration. Medical practitioners of the day tried to manage hysteria by massaging the genital area, decently covered under a curtain, eliciting "paroxysmal convulsions", far from recognizing that they were inducing orgasms. In the movie, the young physician Dr. Mortimer Granville gets a job to help Dr. Dalrymple who runs a successful practice treating women. He seems to be good at massaging, getting a sizable following. The job is strenuous and his hand musculature is unable to keep up with the task. Fortunately, his friend Lord Edmund St. John-Smythe has developed an electrical fan, and its vibrations give Dr. Granville the idea to modify the gadget. As such, the vibrator enters the stage as a medical device for the treatment of the condition. Parallel to this story Dr. Granville seems to develop a liking for the demure Victorian girl Emily Dalrymple, before falling in love with her older sister Charlotte, a premodern feminist firebrand.

Historical background

Manual genital massage of women had been a medical remedy since antiquity, and hysteria was a recognized malady until the American Psychiatric Association discontinued this term in 1952. Joseph Mortimer Granville filed the first patent for an electromechanical vibrator termed Granville's Hammer in about 1883. Granville, however, did not apply his invention in the treatment of hysteria, rather he used it to treat muscular disorders; other physicians started to apply the vibrator for the treatment of hysteria.


See also

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Hysteria (2011 film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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