Traces portrayals of psychosomatic disorders in medical and imaginative literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.
This interdisciplinary study examines the enigmatic category of psychosomatic disorders as articulated in medical writings and represented in literary works of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Six key works are analyzed: Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, Émile Zola's Thérèse Raquin, Thomas Mann's Buddenbrooks, Arthur Miller's Broken Glass, Brian O'Doherty's The Strange Case of Mademoiselle P., and Pat Barker's Regeneration. Each is a case study in detection as the hidden sources of bodily ills are uncovered in intra- or interpersonal conflicts such as guilt, family tensions, and marital discord. The book fosters a better understanding of these puzzling disorders by revealing how they function simultaneously as masks and as manifestations of inner suffering.
Lilian R. Furst is Marcel Bataillon Professor of Comparative Literature at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her previous books include Medical Progress and Social Reality: A Reader in Nineteenth-Century Medicine and Literature, published by SUNY Press; Just Talk: Narratives of Psychotherapy; and Between Doctors and Patients: The Changing Balance of Power.