The emergence of postpartum pathology: sixteenth century discourse on postpartum depression

Thumbnail Image
Cronin, Laura
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
University College Cork
Published Version
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Journal Issue
This thesis constitutes the first detailed study of the learned medical engagement with postpartum mood disorders through analysis of the evolution of postpartum pathology in the Western Latin print tradition of the sixteenth century (c.1550 – 1603). Historical overviews of these phenomena have typically omitted the progress which occurred during this period, in favour of a synopsis that passes from the works of Hippocrates (c.460 BCE – c.375 BCE) straight to the scholarly advancements of the nineteenth century. This thesis emends that omission and examines the extent to which postpartum insanity was recognised, discussed, categorised, and treated by early modern learned physicians by engaging with theoretical texts in addition to clinical case studies. It therefore investigates the connection between postpartum women and their experiences of insanity as interpreted by medical professionals of the sixteenth century. This thesis finds that while the interpretation of postpartum insanity was certainly not a uniform concept, or unequivocally recognised as a distinctly puerperal phenomenon, the documenting and collating of examples of mental alienation that had an indisputable connection to the maternal body increased significantly during this period and evolved to reflect contemporary knowledge at different stages of the century.
Controlled Access
Postpartum , Pathology , Sixteenth century , Postpartum depression , Depression , Latin , Early modern Europe
Cronin, L. 2023. The emergence of postpartum pathology: sixteenth century discourse on postpartum depression. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.
Link to publisher’s version