chapter  9
14 Pages

Barbara, Julia, Carol, Myra, and Nell: diagnosing female madness in British horror cinema

WithSteven Jay Schneider

At the level of proverb and popular culture, if not in medical science, the connection between madness and England has persisted with remarkable tenacity . . . Most significantly, in England the differences in the perception of madness as it appeared in men and women stand out with particular clarity . . . Even when both men and women had similar symptoms of mental disorder, psychiatry differentiated between an English malady, associated with the intellectual and economic pressures on highly civilized men, and a female malady, associated with the sexuality and essential nature of women. Women were believed to be more vulnerable to insanity than men, to experience it in specifically feminine ways, and to be differently affected by it in the conduct of their lives.