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Fine, R. (1971-72). Hysteria Revisited. Psychoanal. Rev., 58(4):595-615.

(1971-72). Psychoanalytic Review, 58(4):595-615

Hysteria Revisited

Reuben Fine, Ph.D.

I. Life History

The patient, a married woman in her late forties, was the fifth of six children. Of the siblings five were girls, one a boy. The family lived on New York's East Side in the Yorkville sector all of the patient's life. Father was a small businessman, a dealer in surgical supplies. His business was located in this general area, and he preferred to have his home nearby. Most of the time he made a modest but adequate living; however, there were periods when the family was in bad straits. At such times the children were expected to work and contribute to the household.

In the patient's family, father was the dominant figure. He was born in Germany, and came here when he was grown; German was always easier for him than English. Patient remembered him as a handsome, aggressive man, with a big moustache. He had a violent temper and would frequently get drunk. At such times he would sit in the living room throwing knives on the table and cursing loudly. This would scare all the children out of their wits. He was always threatening to leave home, though he never actually carried out the threat.

Somehow everybody knew that father had lots of women. It was even rumored that he had had incest with his own daughters. Patient remembered once overhearing a conversation in which mention was made of sex between father and Mary, the oldest child. Mary was later said to have become a prostitute for a while. Father died when the patient was nineteen.

Mother suffered passively through all of father's antics. She devoted herself to the traditional Kinder, Kirche and Küche (children, church and kitchen) and was the main stabilizing influence in the childrens' lives, though it was father who provided all the libido. Mother was Hungarian technically, but German was also her mother tongue.

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