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She was married to a publican and had several children.Mary, Dr Tilt recorded in his notes, was 'a tall athletic woman, with a pale face, iron-grey hair, a whimpering voice and apparently always ready to cry'. She was depressed with suicidal tendencies, he concluded, caused by ' cessation' - the menopause.The surgical removal of the ovaries, or ovariotomy, was a simple operation, so it was used excessively in attempts to cure mental disorder, especially nymphomania and hysteria.The term 'hysteria' comes from the Greek, hysterus, meaning womb, and in the 1850s Tilt had called it 'the keystone of mental pathology'.Even women who were not mentally ill were likely to offer 'insane interpretations' of their menopausal symptoms, according to George Savage, writing in The Lancet in 1903.The Victorians reasoned that a woman's ovaries were the seat of feminine essence and all that was virtuous in women sprang from them.They thought there was a direct link between the womb and the brain which predisposed women to insanity, particularly during menopause.The remedy, they concluded, was straightforward: such women should be locked up.
It was believed that the very nature of a woman's physical make-up predisposed her to insanity.
Baker Brown begged to differ and, almost wilfully ignoring the hot flushes, recorded merely that 'at times she perspires freely'.
On Boxing Day, her husband and nurse considered her much better, but the patient persisted in being, in her doctor's opinion, 'sulky, saying she is bad, and shall soon die'.
Tilt wrote, tellingly, a few months later: 'She has continued in good health, although she has left off the medicines.' But while the potions Tilt's patients had to endure may seem bizarre, they were nothing compared with what some women went through.
Since the time of the Ancient Greeks, the menopause has been considered shaming.