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Yarom, N. (1997). A Matrix Of Hysteria. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 78:1119-1134.

(1997). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 78:1119-1134

A Matrix Of Hysteria

Nitza Yarom

The psychoanalytic literature of the last decades on hysteria is reviewed and its overemphasis on pre-oedipal concepts is demonstrated. A matrix of hysteria, which is a contemporary re-reading of Freud's basic conceptualisation, is presented. It integrates oedipal concepts with others borrowed from object-relations theories, self-psychology and the intersubjective approach. In this way the focus on the issues of gender and sexuality in hysteria is continued, without the original roots being lost. The focus is on the content, and the structure may vary. Within the first axis of the matrix, the author proposes to identify the conflict of gender and sexual identity as the unconscious and conscious solutions that a hysteric adopts to the question ‘am I a man or a woman?’ In an attempt to identify hysteria's particular psychic dynamics, a range of concepts is suggested. Repression and conversion are incorporated to constitute the second and third axes of the matrix. Repression, denial, dissociation and fantasy are shown to be employed in the context of gender and sexuality and along a continuum of personality structures. In this context, the turning to the body, the conversion, still acts as an effective language, to which we have to listen.

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