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Hysteria colloquially means ungovernable emotional excess. Generally, modern medical professionals have abandoned using the term "hysteria" to denote a diagnostic category, replacing it with more precisely defined categories, such as somatization disorder. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association officially changed the diagnosis of "hysterical neurosis, conversion type" to "conversion disorder".

While the word hysteria originates from the Greek word for uterus, hystera (ὑστέρα), the word itself is not an ancient one, and the term "hysterical suffocation" – meaning a feeling of heat and inability to breathe, was instead used in ancient Greek medicine. This suggests an entirely physical cause for the symptoms but, by linking them to the uterus, suggests that the disorder can only be found in women.[1]

Historically, hysteria was thought to manifest itself in women (female hysteria) with a variety of symptoms, including: anxiety, shortness of breath, fainting, insomnia, irritability, nervousness, as well as sexually forward behaviour.[2] These symptoms mimic symptoms of other more definable diseases and create a case for arguing against the validity of hysteria as an actual disease, and it is often implied that it is an umbrella term for an indefinable illness.[1] Through to the 20th century, however, the label hysteria was applied to a mental, rather than uterine or physical, affliction. Hysteria is no longer thought of as a real ailment.[3]

In modern usage, the term hysteria connotes mass panic (mass hysteria). Hysteria was often associated with events such as the Salem witch trials, or slave revolt.[citation needed]

The term hysterical, applied to an individual, can mean that he or she is emotional or irrationally upset; applied to a situation that does not involve panic, it means that situation is uncontrollably amusing (the connotation being that it invokes hysterical laughter).

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ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Gilman, Sander L.; King, Helen; Porter, Roy; Rousseau, G.S.; Showalter, Elaine (1993). Hysteria Beyond Freud. Los Angeles: University of California Press.
  2. ^ Maines, Rachel (1999). The technology of Orgasm: ‘Hysteria’, the Vibrator, and Women’s Sexual Satisfaction. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
  3. ^ Carta, Mauro Giovanni; Fadda, Bianca; Rappeti, Mariangela; Tasca, Cecilia (October 19, 2012). "Women and Hysteria In Mental Health". Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 8: 110–19. doi:10.2174/1745017901208010110. PMC 3480686. PMID 23115576.
  • Gilman, Sander L., Helen King, Roy Porter, G.S. Rousseau and Elaine Showalter. Hysteria Beyond Freud. Los Angeles University of California Press, 1993.[ISBN missing]
  • Devereux, Cecily. "Hysteria, Feminism, and Gender Revisited: The Case of the Second Wave". University of Alberta [1]
  • Carta, Mauro Giovanni, Bianca Fadda, Mariangela Rappeti and Cecilia Tasca. "Women and Hysteria In Mental Health". Clin Pract Epidemiol Ment Health. 2012; 8: 110–19. [2]

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