hysteria on tantric massage blog









A tantric massage client phoned me a few days ago to tell me about the movie ‘Hysteria.’

I must confess that I haven’t seen the film myself yet,  but what interested me in the conversation with our client was that he pointed out how very respectable it was for a woman to go to a doctor in Victorian times, and to receive ‘manual digital relief’ in order to produce a ‘paroxysm of relief.’

The film is about the invention of the vibrator in late-Victorian England. A society doctor administers manual relief to his wealthy female patients as a cure for hysteria. ‘Hysteria’ was a condition ascribed to women and thought to be caused by disturbances of the uterus. It was a catch-all diagnosis for women suffering from anything ranging from a headache to depression to disobedience (the diagnosis was only finally dropped in the 1950’s).

The doctor develops ‘masturbator’s elbow’ or carpal tunnel syndrome, and this leads to the invention of the first electric vibrator.

The film’s director, Tanya Wexler, says:’ They didn’t consider the treatment sexual, because the husband was not involved. They thought the orgasm, or paroxysm as they called it, was purely involuntary….. There is something about that time in the 1880’s, and just how strict the cultural codes were, that makes it funny…… everyone pretended it was a medical thing, not a sexual thing, and they really believed it.’

The practice of stimulation had been going on in doctors’ consulting rooms since at least 1653, with a midwife sometimes called in to help. Early machines were designed to help doctors who felt unable to complete the task manually.

How interesting that the vibrator today has become the most prolific sex toy of all time.

Yet when a man goes to receive a sensual massage or a tantric massage today, in 2012,  he still often feels that he has to go secretly. Unfortunately  there is still  stigma in society about receiving any kind of  ‘sensual’ service, and it is definitely still not considered ‘respectable’ by the majority of society. The ‘therapeutic’ aspect has still not been truly understood or accepted. And naturally there will always be one set of ideas for women and a very different set for men.


4 Responses to “The movie ‘Hysteria’”

  1. jay shenton

    I saw this film the others day although a slight over glamourised account I thought it would be a good way to learn about the history of Vibrators. I do agree with you about the stigma attached to massage as a man myself I would feel uneasy going for a service but its fine for my partner to go buy a dildo!

  2. arun

    Hi eva,

    Very interesting reading about this and how society shapes mores and attitudes towards sex. I agree 100% that it is sad that society still requires us to be furtive when we seek sensual fulfilment. What is even more worrying is that men go for these services but do not respect those providing them. That is why I often say that Tantra starts with respect compassion and empathy for the other……without it the beauty of the sensuality is lost …….only carnality remains……..Tantra teaches that the seeker must worship the sought for that is the channel through which divine blessings of abundance pour down…….anyway your establishment has always been one where an attempt is made to regain this true deeper intent of tantra……will come in surely by the end of this month for another worship of the divine…….
    cheers and thanks for sharing your usual insightful messages

  3. eva

    Hi Arun,

    Thank you for your words and insight. You too are one of our favcurite clients, who understands what Tantra really is, at a deeper level. It has been particularly frustrating for me, over the years, to see the growing number of so called ‘tantric masseuses’ who have no idea about tantra, and are just offering sensual services because they are attractive and dont know how else to make a living. This has repercussions on the reputation of tantric massage and on the types of clients who seek out tantric massage services, and often makes our job much more difficult. As you say, the client needs to respect the masseuse, and tantra is all about oneness and merging with the divine which lies within all of us. It is very difficult sometimes for our masseuses to cope with the ever growing demands of certain clients who have no understanding or sensitivity regarding what we are trying to do. Thank goodness for people like you….

  4. eva

    Hi Jay,

    I still havent seen the film, but Ive read so much about it now, it almost feels like I have.

    Yes this is a case for Men’s Lib….. doesnt seem fair that society is unable to accept that men need sensual services also. Except, that , we all know the topic is more complex than that, and there are so
    many other aspects involved, like the fact that many of our clients are married. Because we offer tantric massage, which has a whole philosophy behind it, is not quite the same as men going to a massage parlour for ‘hand relief.’ We do try to encourage men to come here openly, not hide the fact from their wives or partners, and we do try to encourage couples to work together on resolving whatever issues they may have. However, changing the way society views all this may take some time.


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