Books I’ve Known And Loved

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What a wild mix of science and spiritualism this book is! If you’re ever looking for ways to avoid growing up or getting married Mollie Fancher’s story will give you age-old ideas that work! Here’s what you do: Trip over something and begin to develop odd symptoms.

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Weird muscle spasms, paralysis, loss of appetite and clairvoyance. Live on air, not food and go blind–but read through your finger tips.

This book is a serious look into Victorian medicine and the fasting girls of the 19th century. Once you get past feeling mildly superior to the cast of doctors and the patient Mollie it hits you that this is a very sad and strangely modern story. A girl with perfectionist tendencies makes herself sick and gets attention (her childhood was a horrible series of tragic events). Society at the time put a premium on eating etiquette (a lady with an appetite was considered crass). A life in bed begins to seem a great escape from the mind-boggling responsibilities and changing roles women were coming up against.

Was her illness fake? Was her fast anorexic? Was she delusional? Michelle Stacey shows how medicine has come strangely full circle. The doctors originally thought the epidemic of fasting girls had something to do with body chemistry. Freud and others were just beginning to steer towards environmental factors being the culprits in issues of the mind and here we are today with many doctors not so sure that multiple personality disorders aren’t just suggestible ailments with an undercurrent of chemical deficiencies.

All I know is there is a character in book five who’s feeling much like Mollie. I can’t wait to see how far she’ll take it.

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The New York Sun November 26, 1878

Interesting link about Freud and Hysteria:

http://www.loc.gov/exhibits/freud/freud01.html

4 thoughts on “Books I’ve Known And Loved

    • I totally related–kinda scary! Looking back on my teen years I would have been a Mollie no doubt ( the fasting part). The fascinating twists and turns of science now and then got me too. Anorexia haunts a life for a long time–poor Mollie. I remember counseling a beautiful young girl who had just gotten out of the hospital for anorexia. Her fingers shook as we laughed and swapped stories, but there was so much inner pain–I’d been there but thank God got scared at how far I could take it and slowly worked my way out. Its a very bizarre experience.

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      • It is a bizarre experience, and one that I am still all too close to. Anyway, it is an interesting book and, although my experience was and is quite different, I found it enjoyably illuminating.

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      • Yes, my version played out in a much more private way. It had nothing to do with getting other people involved. I would have been humiliated to have all of NYC talking about me. Perfectionists have weird tendencies–that never fully go away, but it gives us character, right?

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