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“Shattered Nerves” – Doctors, Patients, and Depression in Victorian England - Oxford Scholarship Online
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“Shattered Nerves”: Doctors, Patients, and Depression in Victorian England

Janet Oppenheim


This book explores an illness that figures in nearly every volume of Victorian autobiography, memoirs, diaries, letters, and more than a few novels. Variously described as shattered nerves, nervous collapse, neurasthenia, or nervous breakdown, the illness was the focus of extensive medical discussion during the Victorian and Edwardian decades. Few doctors could decide whether the nervous breakdown was a physiological disorder, to be cured by medication, or a moral weakness for which the patient needed psychiatric care. The book uses the letters, diaries, and autobiographies of men and women wh ... More

Keywords: Victorian autobiography, neurasthenia, nervous breakdown, nervous collapse, psychiatric care, fiction, medical archives

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 1991 Print ISBN-13: 9780195057812
Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011 DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195057812.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Janet Oppenheim, author
American University