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When civilisation made people sick

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, doctors believed that modern civilisation itself was making people sick. What with steam-powered trains, telegraphs and daily newspapers, modern life was just too fast-paced for people’s health to bear. The result? Neurasthenia, a disease of overtaxed nerves that was believed to afflict the high-status ‘brain-workers’ of society’s upper crust.

Words by Amelia Soth

  • In pictures

About the author

Amelia Soth

Amelia lives in Chicago and writes the column ‘Cabinet of Curiosities’ for JSTOR Daily.