By focusing on firsthand accounts of illness by patients rather than the writing of medical authors, this article shows that the emotions assume a much greater role in early modern explanations of the onset of illness than historians have supposed. In addition to spiritual, physical, and environmental causes of ill health, patients commonly attributed everyday disorders to their emotional responses to social stimuli, such as money problems, ruined relationships, or distressing news. The article argues that men and women perceived this physical process in gendered ways, according to patterns linked to prevailing expectations of gendered behavior, written conventions for expressing emotions such as grief and sorrow, as well as medical beliefs about men’s and women’s bodies. The resulting analysis offers rich insights into the words and views of patients and into gendered experiences and self-constructions in early modern England.

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