Clinical Manifestations of Hysteria: An Epistemological Perspective or How Historical Dynamics Illuminate Current PracticeMedeiros De Bustos E.a, c · Galli S.a · Haffen E.b, c · Moulin T.a, c
Departments of aNeurology and bPsychiatry, Besançon University Hospital, and cCIC-IT 808, CHU Besançon - EA 481 ‘Laboratoire de Neurosciences', University of Franche-Comte, Besançon, France
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Hysteria has generated the most heated debates among physicians, from antiquity to the present day. It has been long confused with neuroses and neurological pathologies such as Parkinson's disease and epilepsy, principally associated with women and sexual disorders. The clinical manifestations must first be seen in their historical context, as interpretation varies according to the time period. Recently, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders by the American Psychiatric Association marked a break in the consensus that previously seemed to apply to the concept of hysteria and approach to the clinical manifestations. The clinical manifestations of hysteria are numerous and multifaceted, comprising 3 main classifications: paroxysms, attacks, and acute manifestations; long-lasting functional syndromes, and visceral events. Each main classification can be subdivided into several subgroups. The first main group of paroxysms, attacks, and acute manifestations includes major hysterical attacks, such as prodrome, trance and epileptic states, minor hysterical attacks such as syncope and tetany, twilight states, paroxysmal amnesia, and cataleptic attacks. The second group includes focal hysterical symptoms, paralyses, contractures and spasms, anesthesia, and sensory disorders. Visceral manifestations can be subdivided into spasms, pain, and general and trophic disorders. The diversity of the symptoms of hysteria and its changing clinical presentation calls into question the same hysterical attacks and the same symptoms, which have had only a few differences for over 2,000 years. A new definition of hysteria should be proposed, in that it is a phenomenon that is not pathological, but physiological and expressional.
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