How is mental illness represented in "The Yellow Wallpaper"?

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In this story, mental illness is represented as something that is improperly understood, diagnosed, and treated.  To suggest that a woman who suffers from postpartum depression, for which they did not have a name or concept, should be whisked away from family and friends and confined in solitude to a bedroom is more than ridiculous: it seems tantamount to torture.  The narrator is not allowed to do anything under the "rest cure" pioneered by Weir Mitchell, the doctor referenced in the story.  At the time, it was believed that if a woman exercised her brain too much, her blood would rush there, away from her reproductive organs, and this would throw her bodily functions off-balance.  The rest cure, then, called for perfect and complete "rest": no reading, no writing, no working, really, no thinking.  

Further, to call any mental ailment affecting a woman "hysteria" belittles the problem; it makes it seem as though the woman's constitution is simply weak, her will to improve her...

(The entire section contains 2 answers and 679 words.)

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