The [dis]appearance of hysteria

Research output: Contributions to conferencesPaperpeer-review



Hysteria is a condition that has been diagnosed, mainly in women, since Hippocrates’ time. From the inception of disease classification manuals, however, it had begun to disappear from the medical vocabulary, the consulting rooms and the psychiatric papers, to be finally eliminated from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in the 1990s. While the disappearance of a disease is not unique what makes hysteria different is the fact that it is still present in the body, and some doctors work with it as a category. It is perhaps hysteria’s manifestation as a physical symptom of psychological origin without an underlying physiological condition that creates this insistence and makes it return. In hysteria, the body takes over and this makes it the domain of performance research. Hysteria itself—which has often been termed as a theatrical condition—can be understood as a disappearing act, as it scrambles its own code for decipherment, through mimesis. In the 19th Century, for example, hysterics at the Salpêtrière in Paris, developed the symptoms of epileptics with whom they shared the ward. I will create a performative, ficto-critical text, using poetic and mimetic strategies to stage theoretical questions, through merging the voices of classic female patients—Dora, Anna O. Emmy von N., Augustine—with the writing of psychoanalysis. Ficto-criticism is a form of resistance, as well as a way to make and to critique. This work will raise questions about the historical and contemporary medicalisation of hysteria.


Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished or Performed - 12 Jun 2020
EventRepresenting Women’s Health - University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom
Duration: 12 Jun 202012 Jun 2020


ConferenceRepresenting Women’s Health
Abbreviated titleRWH2020
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom

Author keywords

  • Hyateria, health, creative, performance