In the study, “The Girl Who Cried Pain: A Bias Against Women in the Treatment of Pain,” published in the Journal of Law, Medicine, and Ethics, authors noted that, “women report more severe levels of pain, more frequent incidences of pain, and pain of longer duration than men, but are nonetheless treated for pain less aggressively.” While men are given painkillers, women are given sedatives. Think about that for a second: Men get pain relief; women get drugs to make them less agitated, aka hysterical. In an Atlas of Epilepsy, the authors list “female gender” as a risk factor for psychogenic seizures.
The “Hysterical” anthology seeks to rewrite medical histories and make history at the same time. The ultimate goal: strip the medical establishment of sexist labels like “hysterical” so women can get the care they really need. With that goal in mind, “Hysterical” will publish nonfiction on the following themes:
1. We Are Family– Studies have shown that children of emotionally abusive parents or those who have endured trauma as a child have a much higher likelihood of autoimmune disorders that cause severe pain. This chapter is devoted to anyone who has suffered a painful condition connected to their childhood, even if there is no “proof” of this. We aren’t interested in medical documentation unless it plays into your story.
2. Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News– Many women all over the world are told every day that is “all in your head”, and their pain is dismissed by medical professionals. We want to focus on situations where either you were told that your pain is psychosomatic, or any time when the medical field has made you feel like your pain wasn’t real. This could include any time a doctor or trusted professional made your life worse by misdiagnosis or mistreatment.
3. Mind Over Matter– This chapter is dedicated to a time when you were told to use your brain to overcome physical pain. It can also include a time when you tried alternate methods of healing because you were convinced by others that by changing your way of thinking, the pain would go away.
4. 5150– Debilitating pain often leads to depression, and it can also lead to suicidal thoughts.
5. I’d Rather Feel Pain, Than Nothing At All- Prescription pain medication and anti-anxiety medications can lead to feeling numb, being out of touch. Other side effects of prescription medications can make it difficult to operate or function in the way you want. This chapter is dedicated to any time that medication made your life worse than being pain, whether it is due to employment situations or personal relationships.
6. Money- When you have an autoimmune disorder, it is impossible to predict your health from one day to the next, making it difficult to adhere to strict schedules and timelines. This is only made more difficult if your condition affects energy levels, results in constant fatigue, impairs motor skills, or makes activity physically impossible. Being in this position, a traditional job or career is usually an inaccessible reality. This chapter is reserved for those who may have been fired from a job, or lost out on a professional opportunity due to a health condition. Did co-workers or management accuse you of “faking it” or did your job cause a condition to worsen, but no one believed you? Have you been denied for financial benefits, like disability, because you couldn’t prove how much pain you have or how extreme your condition is, regardless of the countless medical records that stated otherwise? This chapter can also apply to the countless other ways your finances are affected when you have a serious medical condition.
** At this time, we are not accepting poetry for the anthology, only personal essays or stories.
“Hysterical” especially seeks the voices of women on the margins: women of color, women with disabilities, non-binary and non-gender conforming women, transgender women, LGBTQA women, poor women, and neurodiverse women. These women are disproportionately affected by the “hysterical” label, and it is imperative that their voices be heard.
While we don’t believe in censorship, we also do not want to read any hate speech. Please keep submissions under 3,000 words, and keep our chapter themes in mind. Submissions can be sent as either a Word attachment, or through Google Docs, to email@example.com. DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS: September 1st – but it will now be a rolling submission date, as we try to gather enough material for a possible series. Please continue to send us your work, because we will be approaching literary agents and publishers in the meantime, and we need representatives of work to present.
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