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Wilson, E., Jr. (1992). Revue Fran├žaise De Psychanalyse. XLIX, 1985: Hysteria. Unity and Diversity. Augustin Jeanneau. Pp. 107-326.. Psychoanal Q., 61:148.

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Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIX, 1985: Hysteria. Unity and Diversity. Augustin Jeanneau. Pp. 107-326.

(1992). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 61:148

Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIX, 1985: Hysteria. Unity and Diversity. Augustin Jeanneau. Pp. 107-326.

Emmett Wilson, Jr.

The attempt to explain hysteria led to the birth of psychoanalysis, but it is not clear even yet what we mean by hysteria. It is still reasonable to question its true nature and specific manifestations. To revitalize the meaning and the existence of the hysterical symptomatology of the end of the last century, one must go back over the path to Freud's first assumptions in order to discern elements and aspects which were sometimes scattered and lost. The author attempts, first, to locate hysteria with respect to traumatization, narcissism, anxiety, and depression; second, to explore the origins and roots of hysteria, its instinctual expression, the nature of the conflict and the forms of defenses; and, finally, to consider the manifestations of hysteria. Jeanneau emphasizes the multiplicity of meanings of hysteria, and the difficulties in formulating a more exact definition that would cover the many uses of the term in psychoanalytic and ordinary discourse. The multiplicity of meanings was noted as early as Galen. Yet Jeanneau insists upon the "red thread" that runs through our work on hysteria: to rely on convictions derived from daily psychoanalytic practice. This focus will prevent loss of perspective in spite of the many clinical manifestations that go under the term hysteria. The effort to arrive at a psychoanalytic understanding of hysteria, with dynamic, structural, and economic unity, must still be made. Jeanneau separates hysteria from phobia, distinguishing the two on the pivotal issue of action. Both hysteria and phobia urgently aim to contain action, but in phobia the action attaches to an image. Whether the danger is action or whether it lies in the incapacity to act, there is usually a projection involved. This projection is of action rather than intention, hence the projections consist mostly of things. Hysteria on the other hand is ready for immediate action on the body without recourse to objects. The hysteric wants to unite and maintain the intimate experience of the act while at the same time retaining the pleasure of viewing. Jeanneau introduces the concept of the hallucinatory position to characterize the stage in early infancy in which the visual and the muscular conflict is the demand for an impossible simultaneous motoric discharge and permanence of hallucination.


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Article Citation

Wilson, E., Jr. (1992). Revue Française De Psychanalyse. XLIX, 1985. Psychoanal. Q., 61:148

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WARNING! This text is printed for the personal use of the subscriber to PEP Web and is copyright to the Journal in which it originally appeared. It is illegal to copy, distribute or circulate it in any form whatsoever.