Charlotte Perkins Gilm A Feminist Writer

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In the late 19th century, women who suffered from depression, insomnia, fatigue, anxiety, or headaches were thought of as having a nervous disorder or hysteria (Stiles 3). Hysteria was a popular diagnosis at the time for many women, especially head-strong and intellectually active women who sought treatment for these ailments. Silas Wier Mitchell, a physician in the late 19th century, created the Rest Cure in 1873. It was originally prescribed to injured veterans of the Civil War (Stiles 3) but was later used for patients who suffered from depression and hysteria. Most of Mitchell’s patients happened to be women. While Mitchell and other male physicians advocated the rest cure as successful, many women were against it because it made them …show more content…

Theodore Roosevelt sought the west cure to help him with depression after losing his wife and mother. There was clearly a double standard for male patients who had the same symptoms. Men were given active programs (the west cure) to strengthen them mentally and physically while women were given sedentary programs (the rest cure) that made them dependent on the husband or nurse and discouraged self-expression.
Patients of the rest cure were prescribed a life of quiet bed rest, often secluded from social activities, writing, knitting, or reading. The under-stimulated patients were not allowed to express themselves or engage in intellectual activities because it was believed it would cause more nervousness and hysteria. Women and some men who advocated for women argued that the rest cure was widely used to subdue intellectual women. The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman tells the story about a woman prescribed the rest cure and how it pushed her deeper into depression and later led to manic hysteria and hallucination.
In The Yellow Wallpaper, the narrator is a woman suffering from a nervous disorder, possibly post-partum depression, and is prescribed the rest cure. Her role as a subordinate wife was clear from the start of the story: “John laughs at me, of course, but one expects that in marriage” (Norton Introduction line 5). “Then he took me in his arms and called me a blessed little goose…”

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