"Hysteria Complicated by Ecstasy" offers a rare window into the inner life of a person ordinarily inaccessible to historians: a semiliterate peasant girl who lived almost two centuries ago, in the aftermath of the French Revolution. Eighteen-year-old Nanette Leroux fell ill in 1822 with a variety of incapacitating nervous symptoms. Living near the spa at Aix-les-Bains, she became the charity patient of its medical director, Antoine Despine, who treated her with hydrotherapy and animal magnetism, as hypnosis was then called. Jan Goldstein translates, and provides a substantial introduction to, the previously unpublished manuscript recounting Nanette's strange illness - a manuscript coauthored by Despine and Alexandre Bertrand, the Paris physician who memorably diagnosed Nanette as suffering from "hysteria complicated by ecstasy". While hysteria would become a fashionable disease among urban women by the end of the nineteenth century, the case of Nanette Leroux differs sharply from this pattern in its early date and rural setting.
Filled with intimate details about Nanette's behavior and extensive quotations of her utterances, the case is noteworthy for the sexual references that contemporaries did not recognize as such; for its focus on the difference between biological and social time; and, for Nanette's fascination with the commodities available in the region's nascent marketplace. Goldstein's introduction brilliantly situates the text in its multiple contexts, examines it from the standpoint of early nineteenth-century medicine, and uses the insights of Foucault and Freud to craft a twenty-first-century interpretation. A compelling, multilayered account of one young woman's mental afflictions, "Hysteria Complicated by Ecstasy" is an extraordinary addition to the cultural and social history of psychiatry and medicine.
List of Illustrations vii Preface ix Part One: HYSTERIA COMPLICATED BY ECSTASY Sexuality, Time, and Commodities in the Malady of Nanette Leroux Chapter 1: PRELIMINARIES 3 The Authors of the Case: An Inbuilt Polyphony 6 The Plot Summary 11 Chapter 2: CONTEXTS 18 Contexts: What They Do for the Reader, and How Many Are Enough 18 Savoy: Old Regime, Revolution, and Piedmontese Restoration 20 The Spa: A Characteristically Nineteenth-Century Setting 35 Commodities and Consumer Culture 42 Diagnostics: Catalepsy and Hysteria circa 1820 46 Medicine and Science as Public Spectacle 56 The Local Scientifi c Public Sphere 64 Scientifi c Networks, or How Despine Found Bertrand 65 Religion in Savoy and in the Leroux Case 69 Defi ant Women: Despine's Chagrins Domestiques 73 Chapter 3: MAKING SENSE OF THE CASE 83 The Authors? Understanding of the Case 83 A Twenty-First-Century Interpretation of the Case 94 Chapter 4: TEXTUAL MATTERS 128 Nanette Leroux or "Nanette Leroux": The Issue of Pseudonyms 128 Palimpsest and Polyphony: The State of the Manuscript 129 Choosing a Text for Translation 133 Part Two: THE TEXT OF THE CASE HISTORY OBSERVATIONS OF NANETTE LEROUX Hysteria Complicated by Ecstasy 137 Appendix On the Compatibility of Foucauldian and Freudian Approaches 201 Notes 205 Index 239