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The Yellow Wallpaper: Charlotte Perkins Gilman
  1. Neil Watson1,
  2. Fiona C Moreton2
  1. 1 National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit, Edinburgh, UK
  2. 2 Department of Clinical Neurosciences, Western General Hospital, Edinburgh, UK
  1. Correspondence to Neil Watson, National CJD Research and Surveillance Unit, Chancellor’s Building Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH16 4SA, UK; neil_watson{at}

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The Edinburgh Neurology Book Club met virtually in May to discuss Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s The Yellow Wallpaper, a fevered account of enforced house-rest and bed-rest. It may have been written in 1890, but this short story has many lessons for neurologists, both in lockdowns and beyond.

The Yellow Wallpaper is the fictional diary of a narrator who, suffering from postnatal depression, is under orders to remain in the upstairs nursery. Writing is banned, as are exercise, visitors and even seeing her baby. This remedy, known as the rest cure, is disastrous. Her entries swiftly lose contact with reality, becoming increasingly bizarre. She develops an obsession with the wallpaper, imagining a woman trapped behind it. The claustrophobic and disturbing climax of the novel is ambiguous: is she cured, or has she lost …

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  • Contributors NW wrote the primary manuscript, and FCM cowrote and edited.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement There are no data in this work.