The strange case of Dr. Charcot and the science of hysteria.
Near the end of the 19th century, public lectures by neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot drew crowds of the curious to Salpêtrière Hospital in Paris. When the subject was hysteria, the lecture became a performance. Charcot would hypnotize or cajole his female patients into reenacting the eerie symptoms of their disease: fainting, hallucinating, paralysis, contorting. In this photograph, taken by one of his colleagues, a woman is bent into a rigid posture during a cataleptic fit.
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