Chapter

Manly Nerves

Janet Oppenheim

in “Shattered Nerves”

Published in print July 1991 | ISBN: 9780195057812
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854394 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195057812.003.0006
Manly Nerves

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  • Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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The great problem with nervous breakdown was that it made a mockery of the distinctions on male sexuality, reducing its male victims to passivity, removing them from business activities and public affairs, rendering them utterly indecisive. In short, nervous exhaustion brought men perilously close to the feminine condition. The medical profession in these decades never attempted to deny the widespread incidence of nervous breakdown among men. It is utterly erroneous to assume that Victorian doctors perceived the male half of the human race as paragons of health and vigor, while assigning all forms of weakness to women. They could not have done so, even had they wanted to, for the evidence exposing male nervous vulnerability was too familiar to the Victorian public for pretense. The solution they achieved helped to confine stereotypes of masculinity from which men crippled by severe depression could have only derived cold comfort.

Keywords: manly nerves; masculinity; femininity; sexual stereotypes; Victorian doctors; Edwardian men

Chapter.  22966 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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