I was amused overall by this timeline of hysteria and sex toys, but I have to say that the 17th century entries were my favorite. So informative!
Nathaniel Highmore, an English surgeon who was one of the few doctors to publicly acknowledge that the end result of pelvic massage—the “hysterical paroxysm”—could also be described as an “orgasm,” noted that it was no easy task. He likened it to “that game of boys in which they try to rub their stomachs with one hand and pat their heads with the other.”
I’m going to have to play that game more. For practice. I’m confused though — I’m supposed to give her an orgasm by rubbing my stomach and patting my head, or hers? Or some other combination of the two motions? I suppose that trying all the permutations could be fun.
English physician Thomas Sydenham estimated that hysteria was the most common disease after fever, accounting for a sixth of all human maladies. Among women, he wrote, “there is rarely one who is wholly free from them.”
Oh, my. The poor dears. We must do whatever we can to save them!