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Francis Gavin wrote:
>
> No. They were indeterminately diagnosed symptoms about what he may or may
> not have been undergoing at that time. Which is why things are no longer
> classified that way. I reiterate.
>
> GAVIN
>

Wait a minute. I think I mostly agree with you, but you are going astray
in simply rejecting history out of hand. Mental illnesses, I repeat, are
not like a broken bone. Since our "mind" is an interaction of brain,
body and world we live in, mental illness really does change. Take for
example Bob's example of failing (not being able to) write letters he
had promised to write. (That grinds me too: I've lost contact with a
number of friends and colleagues over the decades through failing to
write -- more accurately, really being _unable_ to write.)

Now in a social order 90% non-literate; in which, if one went to war,
one went with neigbhbors, not strangers from widely different parts of a
large nation; in which on the whole one could live most of one's life
knowing only people who also knew each other: depression and PTSD would
still exist. But the thoughts/feelings of a mentally ill person, like
ALL thought and feeling, can not be separated from their particular
content. So the precise thoughts/emotions/feelings Bob and I speak of
simply could not have existed for the bulk of the human species even as
late as a century ago. (And of course there has to be a sharp difference
between the "place" in a whole life of a failure to  write a comrade
from combat and a failure to write a grad-school friend -- even _if_ the
neural circuits happen to be the same.)

So while I agree that "hysteria" and "neurasthenia" are in important
ways false classifications, in a sense do not exist -- whatever it was
that was _called_ hysteria and neurasthenia in 1920 _did_ exist, and the
very fact that they were _called_ that (rather than what we, more
correctly, call them) meant that in important ways they _differed_ (as
part of a whole personal history) from the "same" neurological condition
today. (I'm basing my understanding of the brain/mind/body mostly on the
writings of Antonio Damasio.)

I think it would be correct for a person to say, "I don't _have_ a
history; I _am_ my history." And an element in that total history is
always the way (at any given place and time) behavior is labelled,
described, and responded to by others. So even _if_ Nancy's
understanding of neuropsychiatry is faulty (and she really hasn't
declared her self on that subject, nor need she have), the history which
she speaks of working on will say something real about Eliot. It can't
just be dismissed because "things are no longer classified that way." No
they aren't, and that is a real gain. (And it will be a greater gain
when we get rid of the last vestiges of Freudian superstition -- but
that is anothe question.) But Pope's examples in _The Rape_ were correct
-- there existed maids who thought they were bottles. If that particular
'delusion' doesn't exist now, then that change is a fact for psychiatry
as well as history and literary understanding.

Carrol