Robert Frank was the first to publish scientific studiesabout a condition he called “premenstrual tension” in 1931 (Figert, 2005). Frank recognized excess estrogen as the cause of this “medical” condition, which he described as hormonal in origin. “These patients complain of unrest, irritability, ‘like jumping out of their skin’ and a desire to find relief by foolish and ill considered actions. Their personal suffering is intense and manifest itself in many reckless and sometimes reprehensible actions. Not only do they realize their own suffering, but they feel conscience-stricken toward their husbands and families, knowing well that they are unbearable in their attitude and reactions. Within an hour or two after the onset of the menstrual flow complete relief from both physical and mental tension occurs.”
Premenstrual Tension Cure
Frank’s prescription for severe cases of premenstrual tension was either complete removal of or radiation therapy upon the ovaries in order to decrease estrogen production in the body, which will then restore order in both the home and the workplace (Figert, 2005).
PMS as a medical disorder received little attention until Katharina Dalton, an English doctor, made it her mission to investigate it. In 1953, Dalton co-authored an article in the British Medical Journal introducing the term “Premenstrual Syndrome.” According to Dalton, women do not have to endure the physical and emotional discomfort of PMS every month, and that modern medicine can aid in reducing such discomfort (Firgert, 2005).
According to Dalton, PMS is responsible for “decreased worker productivity, increased divorce rates, and even murder” (Figert, 2005). In 1981, Dalton served as the chief defense medical expert in a murder trial in London. She successfully argued that the defendant was not responsible for murdering her lover because she suffered from severe PMS. This trial caught the attention of different viewers in the United States and brought publicity to PMS (Figert, 2005). PMS or the “disease of the 1980s” became a media event (Heneson, 1984). More importantly, PMS acquired medical legitimacy, “after years of telling women their problems were ‘all in the head,’ the proportion of doctors who accepted PMS as a real disease reached critical mass” (Heneson, 1984).