Hysteria

(2700 words)

Literary/ Cultural Context Essay

Hysteria was a common neurosis, or neurotic syndrome, in the nineteenth century, particularly of women, commonly characterised by amnesia, paralysis of the limbs or the throat, mutism or other difficulties in speech, nervous coughs (these called conversion hysteria), or paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and phobias (these called anxiety hysteria).

Whilst aspects of this syndrome still cause people to seek medical assistance, the name is no longer current in medical diagnosis and it now seems that the prominence of the syndrome in the nineteenth century was caused by the intense and conflicting ideological and psychological pressures to which women were then subjected: supposed to be intelligent enough to raise well-bred …

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Citation:
Clark, Robert. "Hysteria". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 22 October 2009; last revised 21 February 2010.
[http://www.litencyc.com/php/stopics.php?rec=true&UID=7204, accessed 16 September 2014.]


Related Groups

  1. Psychoanalysis