16 Pages

ysteria is sociat io n

JL JL diagnostic description of hysteria I liked better, except perhaps, "an hysteric is like a glass of water without the glass." Each of these aphorisms, in its own imagery, points a finger directly at the hysteric's most pronounced interpersonal handicaps: his readiness to dramatize his feelings lest they not be taken as "real" by others and his burden of chronic anxiety engendered by the mistrust that is indeed felt by others as to where they stand with him at any given moment. Whether male or female, the hysteric, in other words, suffers not only from reminiscences (Breuer and Freud, 1893-1895, p. 7), but from a

1. An earlier draft of this essay, titled "On Treating Patients with Symptoms, and Symptoms with Patience," was presented in May 1995 at "The Psychoanalytic Century: An International Interdisciplinary Conference Celebrating the Centennial of Breuer and Freud's Studies on Hysteria," sponsored by the New York University Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis.