The Autobiography of a Neurasthene (1910): The Medical Counternarratives of Margaret Abigail Cleaves, MD


GENDER AND HISTORY, vol.34, no.1, pp.98-115, 2022 (AHCI) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 34 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2022
  • Doi Number: 10.1111/1468-0424.12536
  • Journal Name: GENDER AND HISTORY
  • Journal Indexes: Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI), Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, International Bibliography of Social Sciences, Periodicals Index Online, American History and Life, Educational research abstracts (ERA), Gender Studies Database, Geobase, Historical Abstracts, Humanities Abstracts, MLA - Modern Language Association Database, Political Science Complete, Social services abstracts, Sociological abstracts, Worldwide Political Science Abstracts, DIALNET
  • Page Numbers: pp.98-115
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


This article argues that Margaret Abigail Cleaves's The Autobiography of a Neurasthene was part of a body of nineteenth-century writing that attempted to reclaim and recover the voices of American women by chronicling their struggles with illnesses and cures and documenting their interactions with the medical profession. Cleaves's gynocentric counternarrative was a searing criticism of the prevalent medical model of her era that questioned its treatment of neurasthenic women and offered therapeutic alternatives such as electric, light and music therapy. By doing so, it positioned Cleaves as a significant force of change in understandings of women and their bodies.