The Cult of the Invalid: Industrial Underpinnings

Sneha Mantri // In the first part of this three part essay, I examined the Enlightenment origins of “nervous illness” as a reaction to the development of rationalist scientific development. “Nerves” and neurasthenia challenged medicine’s increasingly mechanistic view of the body, and of illness as the breakdown of the body’s machinery. In this section, I…

The Cult of the Invalid: Early Modern Origins

Sneha Mantri // Between the late seventeenth century and the early nineteenth century, Europe canonized a new scientific order, based on experimentation and logic rather than the empiricism and introspection that characterized traditional analytical thought since Aristotle. This dramatic paradigm shift, now well established as the scientific method, led to astonishing leaps of knowledge. For…

Revaluing Illness: Virginia Woolf’s “On Being Ill”

Travis Chi Wing Lau Recently republished by Paris Press, Virginia Woolf’s meditation from the sickbed first appeared in T.S. Eliot’s The Criterion in January 1926. In this short reflection, I want to consider how Woolf offers us an early model for a patient-centered narrative medicine that challenges reductive assumptions about sickness as a state of…