‘Fin-de-Siècle' Epidemiology of HysteriaLuauté J.-P.
Neuropsychiatrist, Romans, France
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An ‘explanatory epidemiology' of disorders labelled ‘hysteria' towards the end of the 19th century provides precious information - through the numerous statistical works of the period - about the conceptions of practitioners and the various cultural factors which made this era, in France, ‘the golden age' of hysteria. The heyday of hysteria at the end of the century appears to be closely linked to the prestige of Charcot and the promotion of his ideas through the circle of his pupils. The disappearance after his death of hysteria, as he had described it in a defined and systematical manner, is a strong argument for considering it to be a transient mental illness, according to the definition of this concept by Ian Hacking. The regular appearance since then of new nonorganic diseases, avatars of hysteria, with a strong potential for contagiousness and whose causality is exterior to the person, as well as the persistence of the older, more characteristic forms, is evocative of the existence of an ancestral reactional mode taking on various clinical forms according to time and place.
© 2014 S. Karger AG, Basel
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