StoriesPart of Inside Our Collections

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.

By Amelia Soth

  • Image gallery

About the author

Photograph of Amelia Soth

Amelia Soth

@AmeliaSoth

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