Silas Mitchell developed the rest cure in the late 1800s for the treatment of hysteria, neurasthenia and other nervous illnesses.




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TitleSilas Mitchell developed the rest cure in the late 1800s for the treatment of hysteria, neurasthenia and other nervous illnesses.
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Influential American neurologist Silas Mitchell developed the rest cure in the late 1800s for the treatment of hysteria, neurasthenia and other nervous illnesses. It became widely used in the US and UK, but was prescribed more often for women than men. Some patients and doctors considered the cure worse than the disease.

  • Influential American neurologist Silas Mitchell developed the rest cure in the late 1800s for the treatment of hysteria, neurasthenia and other nervous illnesses. It became widely used in the US and UK, but was prescribed more often for women than men. Some patients and doctors considered the cure worse than the disease.

  • The rest cure usually lasted six to eight weeks. It involved isolation from friends and family. It also enforced bed rest, and nearly constant feeding on a fatty, milk-based diet. Nurses cleaned and fed them, and turned them over in bed. Doctors used massage and electrotherapy to maintain muscle tone. Patients were sometimes prohibited from talking, reading, writing and even sewing.



The implicit point was the neurologist breaking his (almost always female) patient’s will. Some outspoken and independent women received the rest cure. These included writers Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Gilman. They reacted fiercely against the treatment and doctors practicing it, and wrote about the experience. Later feminist scholars argued the rest cure reinforced an archaic and oppressive notion that women should submit unquestioningly to male authority because it was good for their health.

  • The implicit point was the neurologist breaking his (almost always female) patient’s will. Some outspoken and independent women received the rest cure. These included writers Virginia Woolf and Charlotte Gilman. They reacted fiercely against the treatment and doctors practicing it, and wrote about the experience. Later feminist scholars argued the rest cure reinforced an archaic and oppressive notion that women should submit unquestioningly to male authority because it was good for their health.

  • He was Gilman's doctor and his use of a rest cure on her provided the idea for "The Yellow Wallpaper", a short story in which the narrator is driven insane by her rest cure. His treatment was also used on Virginia Woolf.



“The Yellow Wallpaper” is about a woman and her husband who move to a big, colonial style house over the summer. She has an illness where she gets very nervous and sees people in the wallpaper. Her husband, a physician, prescribes that she not talk to anyone because that will make her illness worse. She just has to be alone. She thinks that the wallpaper in her favorite room smells and then sees a smudge mark on the paper. The “person” she sees in the wallpaper is someone she believes is trying to get out but is trapped by the wallpaper. She goes crazy and starts to peel, bite, and tear away the paper to try and free this trapped woman. The narrator ends up going insane and thinks that she is the one that is trapped inside the wallpaper. Upon finding out his wife’s adventure, John (the husband) faints in the doorway of the room.

  • “The Yellow Wallpaper” is about a woman and her husband who move to a big, colonial style house over the summer. She has an illness where she gets very nervous and sees people in the wallpaper. Her husband, a physician, prescribes that she not talk to anyone because that will make her illness worse. She just has to be alone. She thinks that the wallpaper in her favorite room smells and then sees a smudge mark on the paper. The “person” she sees in the wallpaper is someone she believes is trying to get out but is trapped by the wallpaper. She goes crazy and starts to peel, bite, and tear away the paper to try and free this trapped woman. The narrator ends up going insane and thinks that she is the one that is trapped inside the wallpaper. Upon finding out his wife’s adventure, John (the husband) faints in the doorway of the room.



Freud theorized that the psyche was sectioned into 3 segments; the id, the ego and the super ego. According to his theory, Freud believes that the id wants whatever feels good at the time with no regard for the reality of the situation. The ego begins to develop as we interact with the world and is based on the reality principle where the ego understands that others have needs and that sometimes being impulsive or selfish can hurt us in the long run. It is the ego’s job to meet the needs of the id, while taking into consideration the reality. Finally we develop the superego where the moral part of us progress’ due to moral and ethical restraints placed on us by our caregivers and it dictates our belief of right and wrong.

  • Freud theorized that the psyche was sectioned into 3 segments; the id, the ego and the super ego. According to his theory, Freud believes that the id wants whatever feels good at the time with no regard for the reality of the situation. The ego begins to develop as we interact with the world and is based on the reality principle where the ego understands that others have needs and that sometimes being impulsive or selfish can hurt us in the long run. It is the ego’s job to meet the needs of the id, while taking into consideration the reality. Finally we develop the superego where the moral part of us progress’ due to moral and ethical restraints placed on us by our caregivers and it dictates our belief of right and wrong.



The Hero’s Journey, which is also known as the monomyth, has many defining phases or characteristics. To begin the cycle, the character starts off his journey by deciding exactly what his intentions are, and then sets forth on his adventure in the departure phase, which eventually results in him crossing the “Threshold of Adventure,” where he encounters many tests, trials, or experiences. Crossing the opposite side of the threshold, the hero is “renewed,” and has become a better person because of his adventures, and returns to his homeland.

  • The Hero’s Journey, which is also known as the monomyth, has many defining phases or characteristics. To begin the cycle, the character starts off his journey by deciding exactly what his intentions are, and then sets forth on his adventure in the departure phase, which eventually results in him crossing the “Threshold of Adventure,” where he encounters many tests, trials, or experiences. Crossing the opposite side of the threshold, the hero is “renewed,” and has become a better person because of his adventures, and returns to his homeland.

  • .

  • The Yellow Wallpaper” can be seen as a story that symbolically shows a woman overcoming the oppression of her husband. Though he thinks he knows what is good for her, she knows better, and ultimately does so on her own. Seeing herself behind the wallpaper is symbolic of her being freed of her husband’s grasp over her life, and her illness. In the end, the narrator “escapes” from the wallpaper, and escapes the iron hand of her husband.



According to Jung, archetypes are patterns transmitted from one generation to the next as part of our human psychological heritage. They are part of what Jung calls the collective unconscious. That area of the mind that is hidden from conscious thought and is basically the same for all of human kind. Jung defined an archetype of any pattern that reoccurs in course of human thought process, an archetype can be a recurring symbol or image, character type, or story pattern.

  • According to Jung, archetypes are patterns transmitted from one generation to the next as part of our human psychological heritage. They are part of what Jung calls the collective unconscious. That area of the mind that is hidden from conscious thought and is basically the same for all of human kind. Jung defined an archetype of any pattern that reoccurs in course of human thought process, an archetype can be a recurring symbol or image, character type, or story pattern.

  • “The narrator has a fear of engulfment which is intensified by the yellow wallpaper. Fear leads to the desire to escape, as is symbolized by her frequent mention of windows, from which she has an expansive view, but no means to access it.”

  • “The bars represent her husband, or all men, restricting her, or all women. She, like the doppelganger, is kept still at daylight, strangled by the pattern of society. At night when the world and its laws are asleep, both try to escape the monotonous, strangling, confusing pattern of life.”



The first person narrator goes from mild depression to severe psychosis; the fact that the narrator is experiencing mental illness indicates that Lacanian psychoanalysis might apply.

  • The first person narrator goes from mild depression to severe psychosis; the fact that the narrator is experiencing mental illness indicates that Lacanian psychoanalysis might apply.

  • The wallpaper must be symbolic; because the narrator sees it as a chain of pattern running along the wall, it can be seen to symbolize the chain of signifiers.

  • The narrator’s loss of her baby signifies a castration (the resolution of her Oedipus Complex) and thus her entrance into the Symbolic realm of language; the story does not start until after the narrator has lost her baby because before that she can have no language to describe her story.

  •   At first she has trouble describing what she sees on the wallpaper; this is parallel to a child’s difficulty with language when it enters the Symbolic; again it symbolizes the narrator’s entrance into the Symbolic realm.



she gets better and better at describing the yellow wallpaper until she is entirely immersed in the Symbolic and language

  • she gets better and better at describing the yellow wallpaper until she is entirely immersed in the Symbolic and language

  • the narrator gets angry with the wallpaper because she understands it (this shows how one must always think through the limits of language)

  •   when the narrator gets behind the wallpaper she realizes that words don’t refer to things, they can only refer to other words (for example, there is a disjointedness between her definition of hysteria and her husband’s definition)

  •   at the end of the story, the narrator enters the Real because she has left the Symbolic realm – she gets out of the wallpaper (language) that has had her trapped since her entrance into the Symbolic (the wallpaper and, by extension, the room)



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