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Goldberg, S.H. (1989). Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XXII, 1986: A Re-evaluation of Hysterical Relatedness. Mary Lou Lionells. Pp. 570-597.. Psychoanal Q., 58:331-332.
Psychoanalytic Electronic Publishing: Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XXII, 1986: A Re-evaluation of Hysterical Relatedness. Mary Lou Lionells. Pp. 570-597.

(1989). Psychoanalytic Quarterly, 58:331-332

Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XXII, 1986: A Re-evaluation of Hysterical Relatedness. Mary Lou Lionells. Pp. 570-597.

Steven H. Goldberg

Processes of interpersonal relating characteristic of hysterical patients are examined. They are viewed not primarily as conflicts over repressed libidinal wishes, but as the crucial mechanism of hysterical pathology. What characterizes hysteria is its "addiction to approval-seeking as its primary mode of interaction." Conversion symptoms and sex are used by the hysteric to attract, engage, and evoke response. Sex is more often exploited than enjoyed, tends not to be an expression of genital erotic desire, and is employed as part of a desperate attempt to obtain reassurance and love. The development of a clear sense of self and of healthy self-assertion suffers in the hysteric, because of the preoccupation with pleasing others. There is a lack of sufficient sense of volition and responsibility. The origins of the hysterical manner of relating are found in a combination of constitutional and learned factors. The child tends to be treated by the parents as a plaything and decoration rather than as an independent personality. Real and symbolic parental seductions are also viewed as important factors in the backgrounds of hysterics. Parental caretaking is not a right in response to a legitimate need, but a gift conferred in response to a good performance. In order to protect the goodness of the parents, the self incorporates a sense of badness, of not having pleased. In treatment, interpretations tend to be treated as gifts or as expressions of approval or disapproval. Patients are terrified

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of relinquishing the protective shield of the approval of the therapist, because of the resulting feelings of emptiness and anxiety. Interpretations must address first the interpersonal posture of approval-seeking and subsequently the patient's difficulties of experiencing her/himself outside of this interpersonal matrix.

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Article Citation

Goldberg, S.H. (1989). Contemporary Psychoanalysis. XXII, 1986. Psychoanal. Q., 58:331-332

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