When Katerina Bryant suddenly began experiencing chronic seizures, she was plunged into a foreign world of doctors and psychiatrists, who understood her condition as little as she did. Reacting the only way she knew how, she immersed herself in books, reading her way through her own complicated diagnosis and finding a community of women who shared similar experiences.
In the tradition of Siri Hustvedt’s The Shaking Woman, Bryant blends memoir with literary and historical analysis to explore women’s medical treatment. Hysteria retells the stories of silenced women, from the ‘Queen of Hysterics’ Blanche Wittmann to Mary Glover’s illness termed ‘hysterica passio’ a panic attack caused by the movement of the uterus - in London in 1602 and more. By centring these stories of women who had no voice in their own diagnosis and treatment, Bryant finds her own voice: powerful, brave and resonant.