S.L.Wisenberg 1. hysterikos. If women are troubled in mind or body, the Kahun papyrus advises its readers, look to the wandering womb. In the fourth century bce, Hippocratic physicians wrote that women who were ill might be plagued by a wanderlustful womb, which had loosened itself from its mysterious moorings to cause trouble in the parts of the body where it had set up shop. If the womb strayed into the head, it would cause headaches; if it sat in a woman's chest, it could cause near-suffocation. A misplaced womb could steal breath. Bind up a throat. Make everything difficult. Giveitachildandit willbehappy. Sometimes treatment was performed via the orifices. Affected women would be given something foul-smelling to breathe, so that the womb would be repulsed, would hightail it back down where it belonged. Another treatment was to expose the vulva to something pleasant-smelling, to lure the womb down to its rightful place, the way a woman incites a lover with sweet perfumes. Intercourse was proposed as a cure. After all, the womb longed to be of use. It wanted to be a nest. In the age before dissection men could not divide its mysteries. The womb, said Plato,
River Teeth: A Journal of Nonfiction Narrative – Ashland University
Published: Sep 6, 2007
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