Tag Archives: Hysteria

Scene from Hysteriia with Charlotte Dalrymple (Maggie Gyllenhaal) showing the sink

Handwashing in the age of Hysteria

In the second scene of the 2011 movie Hysteria, set in 1880, an old school doctor confronting a young one over the existence of germs: tiny, invisible things that can make you sick. I heard that there is a TV personality who didn’t wash his hands in 10 years, because he doesn’t believe in invisible things. Amazing, 130 years later some people will opt for willful ignorance even in the smallest matters. I wonder whether he still keeps it up today, when good hygiene could save his life.

Here is a conversation later from the film, verbatim.

Charlotte Dalrymple: Occasionally we sneak in something slightly progressive. Oh…you might like this. Actually look. For example, this is where the children wash their hand. We use soap and boiled water. We do our best to keep the settlement sanitary, but you can’t imagine the filth and the germs.
Mortimer Granville: You know about germs?
Dalrymple: I do read, Doctor.
Granville: I spend years trying to convinced the medical establishment that the hand washing prevent disease and unsuccessfully. And then here you are teaching it to the children. And with great success.
Dalrymple: I know. With the parents is another story. But, eventually the children will teach them themselves.

This month most of us learned the proper way to wash our hands. What else should be teaching to our children with the hope they their children will always know it?

Buy the film on DVD or on BluRay on Amazon or watch it streaming.

IMDB: The truth of how Mortimer Granville devised the invention of the first vibrator in the name of medical science.

Trailer: