Monthly Archives: September 2012

An in-depth look into the history of the “rest cure”

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A comic strip connecting the rest cure and “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

       In the late 19th century, Charlotte Perkins Gilman wrote her short story “The Yellow Wallpaper.” This short story would expose the semi comical yet saddening effects of the rest cure. After Gilman gave birth to her first daughter, she quickly became depressed and was diagnosed with neurasthenia. Neurasthenia is now commonly known as post-partum depression and is most common in women.

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Women while being treated by rest cure.

The rest cure was a treatment plan that was designed to keep women calm while encouraging them to obtain their duties to the family and home. The cure had three core fundamentals: rest, isolation’s, feeding, and occasionally electro massage -therapy. With this treatment, the patient was instructed to rest for twenty-four solid hours a day. A nurse would be required sit in to care for the patient. This care would include feeding, encouraging good thoughts, and sponge baths. For many prescribed this cure, milk was the only substance one could have for the first week. If the patient was lactose intolerant, they would be given up to eighteen raw eggs a day. Eventually, the patient would fall into a state of ease, meaning, the brain had stopped working in an intellectual manor.  The patient would then be kept in a constant state of calm. His would reduce “emotions and [allow] an easy drifting thought”. Over the course of this treatment, restlessness would begin to occur and light non-strenuous exercise would be added to the regimen.  After the rest cure had been completed, the patient would then begin to return to her normal life. She would begin to communicate with family and friends and resume daily chores.

The creator of the rest cure, S. Weir Mitchell, felt that this cure was a sure way to reduce the stress of constant anxiety and allow the woman to focus on her “womanly duties”. Though the rest cure had some successful cases, it was proven that the cure would not be a successful treatment for everyone. Physician Charles Dana reported that women who were strong witted and had higher IQ’s had an extremely low success rate with the rest cure.

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This is probably an exact drawing of Gilman while undergoing rest cure during “The Yellow Wallpaper”.

For Charlotte Gilman the rest cure was the worst possible treatment plan. Gilman was a clever woman who enjoyed reading, writing, and painting.  After she spent a little over three months attempting to follow Dr. Mitchell’s orders, she gave up.  According to Gilman, she was “near the borderline of utter mental ruin” due to the total lack of intellectual stimulation.

In Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper”, she highlights the problems of the rest cure that drove her senseless.

  http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/article.aspx?articleid=98340

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Questioning Emily Dickinson’s refusal to publish

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Why was Emily Dickinson so adamant about keeping her work unpublished?

Emily Dickinson is what you would consider today as an American Classic Poet. She only allowed her work to circulate between close friends and family. She shared majority of her work with her sister in law Susan Dickinson, Thomas Higginson (a publisher and dear friend), and her cousins Frances and Louisa Norcross. Dickinson was often criticized because she did not want her works published. Instead, Dickinson preferred to privately share her works. In many cases she sent the same work to several different individuals. February of 1850 Dickinson was unknowingly forced into the public eye through a valentine letter she had written. The letter, “Magnum bonum, harem scarum”, was published in the Amherst College Indicator under an anonymous writer. Throughout her life ten of Dickinson’s poems were published in various books, newspapers, and magazines.

[http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/emily_manuscripts]

[http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/ed/node/241]

[http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/publication_question]

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Above is a photo of Dickinson’s poem “Flowers” that had been published in the Drum Beat newspaper on March 12, 1864.

[http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/ed/node/241]

Later on in life Dickinson was again confronted with the idea of publishing a collection of her works, but instead of providing an answer Dickinson never returned with a response. In 1880 Dickinson was offered the chance to assist needy children by an Amherst charity through her poetry. Dickinson did not say no to the opportunity and chose many poems she had written to aid the charity.

[http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/publication_question]

In her thirties Dickinson willingly sent her poems to her dear friend and a publisher, Thomas Higginson, who published several works. Though Dickinson got an amazing response to her poems she still highly disliked the idea of having her works readily available to the public.

[http://swc2.hccs.cc.tx.us/rowhtml/dickinson/emily01.htm]

It was not until Dickinson’s death that the bulk of her poems and letters were discovered.  Scholar R. W. Franklin discovered “fifteen unbound gatherings of poems” and that she had kept even more of her works hidden from the entire world. Amongst Dickinson’s belongings “forty handmade booklets” were found that withheld more than 800 unread poems. These booklets, now known as “fascicles” have become famous as they are viewed as Dickinson’s books of poetry.

[http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/emily_manuscripts]

[http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/poet_at_work]

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Above is a page from one of Dickinson’s booklets or “fascicles” featuring “I heard a Fly buzz when I died”.

Personally, I believe Dickinson did not want to publish her poems because she was a private person and wrote to express her feelings and emotions. Publishing, for Dickinson, was similar to sharing her private feelings with the entire community. I feel as if writing poetry for Dickinson is comparable to a thirteen year old girl’s journal: private and only to be shared with her closest peers. Her poems were a representation of her feelings and I believe that is the reason Dickinson chose to avoid publication.

[http://www.emilydickinsonmuseum.org/emily_manuscripts]

 

 

 

Intro

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 My name is Heather Gentle. I am a Junior at JSU. I am currently and active member of the Epsilon Pi chapter of Alpha Xi Delta.

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My boyfriend Travis and I.

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Babysitting my wonderful puppy, Spook!

This past week I rejoined my sorority after formal recruitment (rush) to come home to twenty-three brand new baby bears!

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