"The vibrating red muscle of my mouth": What Has Happened to the Diagnosis of Hysteria?
Woods, Jenny M
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Throughout written history, in both medical and literary texts, we find described a pattern of suffering, particular to speaking beings whose encounter with jouissance, with suffering and with the Other can be considered feminine in structure. The dominant discourses in psychotherapy at this time have largely, outside of psychoanalysis in the Lacanian field, discarded or diluted this diagnosis. Explicitly, within the Lacanian orientation, following Lacan who follows Freud, I intend to explore the phenomena of hysteria, hysteric experience, and the treatment of hysteria. I begin with a brief overview of the history of the diagnosis, and continue with a focus on the clinic of hysteria in the latter part of the 19th century, including Freud’s initial encounter with hysteria and Lacan’s proposal of the hysteric’s discourse. Reading both events in the history of this diagnosis opens a new way of thinking about and working with these speaking beings. Finally, I will consider the implications of my research in the fields of psychotherapeutic theory and clinical praxis.