Hysteria: A Memoir of Illness, Strength and Women’s Stories Throughout History

Research output: Book/ReportBook


When Katerina Bryant suddenly began experiencing chronic seizures, she was plunged into a foreign world of doctors and psychiatrists, who understood her condition as little as she did. Reacting the only way she knew how, she immersed herself in books, reading her way through her own complicated diagnosis and finding a community of women who shared similar experiences.

In the tradition of Siri Hustvedt's The Shaking Woman, Bryant blends memoir with literary and historical analysis to explore women's medical treatment. Hysteria retells the stories of silenced women, from the'Queen of Hysterics'Blanche Wittmann to Mary Glover's illness termed'hysterica passio'a panic attack caused by the movement of the uterus — in London in 1602 and more. By centring these stories of women who had no voice in their own diagnosis and treatment, Bryant finds her own voice: powerful, brave and resonant.

'Hysteria is a timely and exciting work, keenly interested in the long history of women being treated — and mistreated — by the medical system, and the ways in which their complicated legacy is still being felt today. At once deeply personal and broadly political, it is a touching and tender examination of what it means to live in a body and with a brain that is aberrant or unwell, and how we might find a shape for our selves and our experiences in these circumstances. Bryant is a careful and intelligent writer, and this is a book that will have a great impact on many people.'— Fiona Wright

'At once devastating, hopeful, comforting and bold. Bryant captures precisely, beautifully what it is to be made uncertain by illness.'— Anna Spargo-Ryan'Katerina Bryant explores the disorienting and distressing phenomenon previously known — and denigrated — as'hysteria'with compassion and insight.'— Meera Atkinson
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationSydney, N.S.W.
PublisherNewSouth Publishing
Number of pages208
ISBN (Electronic)9781742244808, 9781742249308
ISBN (Print)9781742236773
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • women's history
  • illness
  • memoir
  • biography


Dive into the research topics of 'Hysteria: A Memoir of Illness, Strength and Women’s Stories Throughout History'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this