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David, C. (1974). A Discussion of the Paper by René Major on 'The Revolution of Hysteria'. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 55:393-395.

(1974). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 55:393-395

A Discussion of the Paper by René Major on 'The Revolution of Hysteria'

Christian David

With his characteristic elegance and subtlety, René Major (this issue) has drawn his insights from the deepest meanings of hysteria and has found a new and revealing perspective on its history and dynamics. He convincingly evokes for us how Freud began by restoring to the hysteric his own language, while simultaneously giving back to language 'its own internal hysteria'; how he was thus, from the very beginning, accomplishing a revolution which, even before it became the psychoanalytic revolution, appears retrospectively as 'the revolution of hysteria'. And, with only the appearance of paradox, Major makes coincide the birth and the death of hysteria—instantaneous revolution; for, in fact, the observation of hysterics led Freud, he says, 'to produce a theory which abolishes hysteria' and with it the alienating relation which distinguishes it. This abolition, which originated in the break with Charcot's conception of language, was confirmed by the invention of the psychoanalytic method and situation: barring a failure in listening on the part of the therapist, 'there is no longer a hysteric in the analytic situation'. This latter, in uncovering unconscious fantasies, nullifies their effects, namely the hysterical symptoms and their utilization for the ends of domination—thus revolution in a double sense of the term. Just as phantoms and spectres vanish with the day, so the discovery of the unconscious (the affirmation of a sense where before only nonsense had been seen) is dissipated, almost as if by magic, the opaqueness of the convulsion and the cry.

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