Saturday, October 18, 2008

New research reveals Edwardian doctors' prescription for the 'disease' of love sickness... sex

By Daily Mail Reporter
Last updated at 4:17 PM on 18th October 2008

In matters of love, the Edwardians were notoriously strait-laced.

But lovesickness, apparently, was another affair altogether.

This, according to recently uncovered documents from the era, was regarded as a serious medical illness.

And the cure for such a malady in those times of buttoned-up desire and repressed longing?


Randy Victorians recognised love sickness as a medical illness and were prescribed sex as a treatment

According to doctors back then, the best thing was an energetic session of lovemaking.

Dozens of previously unseen doctors' reports, diaries and prescriptions show how patients were treated in hospital for the 'disease' of lovesickness.

Symptoms listed included depression, inflammation of the body, excessive erotic desire, irrational thoughts and a loss of self-control, researchers from the University of Bristol found.

Remedies included potions, diets, mental exercises and listening to music.

In drastic cases, doctors performed bloodletting.

But the best remedy for lovesick patients was sex, according to Dr Lesel Dawson from the university, who led the research.

'Lovesickness was often quite a "class crossed" love when a rich person was in love with a servant or a poor girl but they weren't allowed to express that,' Dr Dawson said.

'Lovesickness was particularly prevalent when people were not allowed to express love which caused anger and frustration and then turned into a mental illness.

'When they visited doctors, love was represented as an infectious malady caught through the eyes which triggered an immediate physical reaction.

'Edwardians believed that the liver malfunctioned, the blood became corrupt, and the body deteriorated and a number of different methods were used to fight the effects.'

Anatomists from the time logged cases of burned and damaged hearts in patients who had died complaining of love sickness.

Many sayings such as 'burning with desire' and 'dying of a broken heart' are believed to originate from the period.

Other remedies of the time included examining the patient's astrological chart - and even travelling to 'free the mind'.

Many patients were prescribed music as a way to lift their spirits and 'expel the harmful vapours' which doctors believed intensified the disease.

' Lovesick individuals were encouraged to keep busy, to exercise and to confess their passion to a friend,' Dr Dawson said.

'But the best cure for lovesickness was thought to be sex - and doctors would often recommend this to the patient's family.'

Dr Dawson added: 'According to early modern writers, sex expelled energies which accumulated in the body and putrefied, releasing harmful vapours that could cause

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