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Huopainen, H. (2002). Freud's view of hysteria in light of modern trauma research. Scand. Psychoanal. Rev., 25(2):92-107.

(2002). Scandinavian Psychoanalytic Review, 25(2):92-107

Freud's view of hysteria in light of modern trauma research

Hilkka Huopainen, M.A., (Psych.)

Freud's earliest notion of the aetiology of hysterical symptoms was based on his hypothesis on the importance of trauma dissociation, upon which he began to construct his first theory of neurosis. Soon, his conception of trauma narrowed to apply only to sexual trauma, and later only to childhood experiences of sexual abuse by the father. He substituted these earliest variations on a theory of neurosis with the libido theory due to his discovery of infantile sexuality, the poor treatment results he had with hysteric patients, the frequency of hysteria symptoms, the difficulties he had in distinguishing between his patients' internal and external realities and the ambiguous nature of the reasons behind the patients' problems, presumably due to repression. Recent trauma research, however, has rediscovered trauma dissociation, which is separate from repression. This has led to a new theoretical understanding of trauma-originated dynamics and the development of corresponding treatment interventions. In this paper, the author analyzes the development of Freud's conceptions of hysteria in the social-clinical cultural context of his period, as well as the reasons which led Freud to abandon the notion that trauma dissociation was an underlying cause of hysteria symptoms.

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