The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

SE professor analyzes 19th century narrative

By Alexis Poe/ reporter

Confined to her room, a woman slips into madness as she obsesses over illusions she sees in wallpaper.

SE psychology associate professor Melissa Johnson shared one perspective of what could have caused the woman to go mad in The Psychology of The Yellow Wall-Paper Nov. 15.

Originally published in 1892, “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman is a short story that describes one woman’s descent into psychosis.

Johnson analyzed the symptoms this woman exhibited and the possibility she was experiencing postpartum psychosis.

According to the Mayo Clinic, postpartum psychosis is rare, can lead to life-threatening thoughts or behaviors, requires immediate treatment and usually develops within a week of childbirth.

Symptoms include confusion, disorientation, hallucinations, delusions, sleep disturbances and paranoia. The woman in “The Yellow Wall-Paper” exhibits each one.

Her condition, described by her husband as a slight nervous disorder, was treated with the rest cure, which Gilman herself received prior to writing the short story.

The rest cure for women ordered withdrawal from domestic and social duties and sometimes isolation.

Johnson explored the possibilities of whether the husband’s diagnosis was made through malice or simple ignorance.

“I think her husband wanted to help but just didn’t know how to, and the confinement definitely didn’t help,” student David Clemons said.

In the late 19th century, psychoactive drugs had not been developed. The most common treatments were surgery, rest or confinement.

“If a neurological problem is severe enough, all the behavioral intervention in the world won’t fix it,” Johnson said.

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