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Pic : from ‘Hysterica & The Wandering Womb’ , York Univ. Canada Cine Festival 2004

Hysteria : The word itself seems murky, more than a little misogynistic and all too indebted to the theorizing of the now-unfashionable Freud. More than one doctor has called it “the diagnosis that dare not speak its name.”

Nor has brain science paid the diagnosis much attention. For much of the 20th century, the search for a neurological basis for hysteria was ignored. The growth of the ability to capture images of the brain in action has begun to change that situation.

Hysteria actually predates Freud. The word itself derives from “hystera,” Greek for uterus, and ancient doctors attributed a number of female maladies to a starved or misplaced womb. Hippocrates built on the uterine theory; marriage was among his recommended treatments.

Then came the saints, the shamans and the demon-possessed. In the 17th century, hysteria was said to be the second most common disease, after fever. In the 19th century, the French neurologists Jean-Martin Charcot and Pierre Janet laid the groundwork for contemporary approaches to the disease. Then Charcot’s student, a young neurologist named Sigmund Freud, radically changed the landscape and, some argue, popularized hysteria.

Please read the complete article at this New York Times link. No one has so far been able to explain why women are more prone to this malady.

ps: now don’t ask me why I posted this on my blog !


I have started running at the Marina beach in the mornings. I jog from Anna Square to Light House and back. I complete it in about 38-40 mins. My pre and post jog walks are about 20-30 mins. I feel refreshed.

However, a word of caution – unlike this picture, don’t go near the water in the mornings. Men, and I repeat men, are seen relieving themselves at the shore. My guess is they are fisher folk and vendors who sell their wares in the evenings at the beach and sleep overnight.

Marina does have a beach patrol, but sadly they turn a blind eye to this spectacle. Thankfully there is no stench in the mornings. I usually reach the beach a little before 6am. There are lots of people walking, jogging, playing, doing yoga, karate, boxing, laughing (humour club) etc.,

The corporation swimming pool near Anna Square charges Rs. 15/- per session, though I have not tried it yet.

The who’s who of Chennai are supposed to be at the beach at that hour, though I am yet to bump into a celebrity. Were it not for the beach, Chennai would be unlivable.


The Govt. of India has recently announced Palna – the cradle baby scheme for girl child. Under the proposed scheme, the Government plans to open a centre in each district where parents can leave their girl children if they do not want to bring them up themselves. The state will then raise the child.

Jayalalitha the former chief minister had already introduced this in Tamil Nadu years ago, but its nice to see entire India covered now. The government is stressing on the girl child as they find statistics to show that female infants are the one’s abandoned the most.

It is pure ignorance, selfishness and to a lesser extent illiteracy causing this. China too has a similar problem and I suspect because of their censored media, not much is heard of female infanticide/foeticide and abandonment. Girls in Tamil Nadu, compared to most other states of India, are better educated and score more marks than boys in high school and college exams. Go to any industrial town in the state, Tirupur, Coimbatore, Chennai etc., and you will find women workers far outnumbering the men. There are more women engineers and graduates in the state and the IT and Call Centre industry reflects that.

Female emancipation has brought in its own set of problems, especially for men, but I would rather have my daughter emancipated than lead a life subservient to men in her life. I propose laws should be made stricter so that any man or woman found guilty of abandoning their infant girl should be forcibly castrated or sterilized so that they are no longer capable to repeat such callous behaviour.

More details of the Palna scheme can be found at this official press release.

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