‘Door vrees en tobberijen bevangen’ - Neurasthenie als genderspecifieke beschavingsziekte | Amsterdam University Press Journals Online
Volume 125, Issue 1
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163


In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries the nervous illness neurasthenia received much attention in the medical world and in society at large. This article concerns the meanings which physicians and patients attached to this condition. Without losing sight of the mental and physical realities of neurasthenia, we claim that these meanings were determined largely by social and cultural factors, and also included gender-specific interpretations. Our sources are medical publications about neurasthenia, and patient files from the Sanatorium Rhijngeest near Leiden, dating from 1903 to 1920. First we briefly discuss medical views on the nature, causes, and treatment of neurasthenia at that time. Next we discuss how patients in Rhijngeest experienced their complaints and how physicians reacted to them. In the conclusion we examine the social-cultural and gender-specific meanings of this illness.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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