By Lilian R Furst
Strains portrayals of psychocomatic problems in clinical and imaginitive literature of the 19th and 20th centuries.
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Additional resources for Idioms of Distress: Psychosomatic Disorders in Medical and Imaginative Literature
30 The questions that Sapira urges doctors to ask patients about their lives as individuals are precisely those that Barbour put to his patients—and that literary works ask and answer. The humanistic vision of literature has the capacity to offer a rich etiology of the psychosomatic illness along biopsychosocial lines by exploring how the patient comes to be driven to speak through the body. ” Doctor: “Yes, that was so in the old days. ” —Molière, Le medecin malgré lui “U ntil the mid-nineteenth century, .
Freud emphasizes both the reciprocity of body and mind and the absolute necessity for “eine psychische Bedeutung, einen Sinn” (“a psychical significance, a meaning”)59 to underpin and sustain the symptom. Throughout his reflections on the interpretation of the materials in this complicated case, Freud has repeated recourse to concepts fundamental to psychosomatic medicine: “Konversion” (conversion), which he defines as “die Ubertragung der rein psychischen Bewegung ins Körperliche” (“the translation of a purely psychical excitation into physical terms”)60 “Verdrängung” (“repression,” “supplanting”) and “Verschiebung” (“displacement).
Another woman, after seeing one of her children scald herself and rescuing her, falls into a catatonic state that still persists three weeks after her admission to hospital (255). An eightyear-old girl, separated from her mother, exhibits delirium, headaches, and an inability to stand, all resistant to every form of treatment, but recovers spontaneously when she is reunited with her mother (259–60). All these cases are patently psychosomatic in character. But when Tuke moves from illustration to tentative explanations, he falls back upon the accepted somatic concepts of medical reasoning.