Hysteria part deux

Paul R. McHugh has written a very interesting article on the case of Sybil, a woman diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder in 1973, from which followed a book and a movie. 'Hysteria' is one of those words most often associated with women - most famously amongst the leisured middle-class woman in the Victorian era, yet is held up to be a symptom of patriarchal control and general societal oppression through gender and class conventions. Hysteria was also used in relation to those soldiers suffering trauma in WWI, but which was changed to the more manly 'Shell-Shock'. Now it is normally reserved as the ultimate shut-up clause in arguments between couples when the man says, "Oh shut up, you're hysterical!" which only makes said woman more hysterical, turning his cheap put-down and escape from challenge into a diagnosis and ensuing self-doubt on her part and guilt on his! The history of mind-fucking. Now 'they' are saying that hysteria is not something which the patient has, but which the patient is doing; it is an acted out role. But in response to what? Conflict. Responsibility. Bit simplistic perhaps. Interesting nonetheless.

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