Sick Religion: Towards a Genealogy of Hysterical Stigmata

Thumbnail Image
Maclennan, Samuel
Research Subject Categories::HUMANITIES and RELIGION , stigmata , hysteria , psychiatry , medicine , Catholicism
In 2016, a case report of an Italian woman presenting with stigmata, the spontaneous manifestation of Jesus Christ’s crucifixion wounds, graced the pages of the international medical journal, Medicine. In the report, the authors, a group of Italian physicians, warned that as the woman had a “hysterical personality,” she could have easily been encouraged by family members to simulate her wounds for profit and attention. This paper offers a genealogy of the association of stigmata with the diagnosis of hysteria, tracing it from its origins in fin de siècle Paris to its appearance in contemporary medical literature with particular attention to how ‘religion’ may be constructed as ‘sick.’
External DOI