Hysteria And The Cathartic Method

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Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Hysteria versus gender
  3. Research on Cathartic Method
  4. Contemporary application of the cathartic method
  5. Conclusion
  6. References


In any global sphere, research serves an integral role as it aids in the establishment of solutions to issues as well as providing relevant information regarding a defined area of a given field. Healthcare is one of the industries that heavily rely on research. Psychology is a division of the healthcare industry and a field dealing with behavior and thoughts. Hysteria and the Cathartic method are two psychological topics that have been widely researched. Hysteria is an old-fashioned expression that refers to a psychological ailment that is manifested in actuality and adjustment of one's mindfulness in what is known as somatization and amnesia. The cathartic method is an idea in the psychoanalytic hypothesis wherein the feelings related to traumatic mishaps become evident and, thus, mitigated via the application of the cathartic method. This discussion demonstrates my ability to research a topic and present the information in a way that shows a written essay that is a coherent understanding and knowledge of hysteria and cathartic method as well as presenting a good critical knowledge of the differences between psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.

Research on Hysteria

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Today, when an individual is placed in the category of hysterical individuals, society refers to them as furious, chaotic, wild, or out of control people. Numerous studies have been conducted on hysteria, and this can be attested to the official contemplation of the issue as a mental disorder (Trimble and Reynolds, 2016). This is the primary reason that led to the incorporation of hysterical studies on psychology and psychological disorders. The scientific studies on hysteria were consistent in the American healthcare curriculum until 1980, and such data can be found in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Before its grouping as a psychological issue, perspectives on hysteria remained on the physical afflictions of the issue, and such studies were originally depicted restoratively in 1880 by Jean-Martin Charcot (Cramer, 2019). In actuality, hysteria can be traced years before Charcot originally conducted research that could be published as this mental ailment was depicted in antiquated Egyptian and Greek social orders. After such manifestations, the core inquiry remains on the actual meaning of hysteria. Furthermore, hysteria became one of the primary focal points for women activists who aimed at establishing a gender-sensitive society that places equal opportunities for both men and women (North, 2015). In this context, the major question lies in why second-wave women activists focused on hysteria while fighting for women's rights.

Hysteria versus gender

The term hysteria is at any rate 2,000 years of age, and it has been utilized to depict an assortment of circumstances. For a significant part of the term's history, women were closely linked with hysteria, and this can be attested to their social, emotional and mental aspects (Ender, 2019). Primarily, hysteria was believed to come about as an outcome of the problems related to the uterus. The 'wandering' womb is an ancient assumption formulated by Greeks and remains a topic of discussion in the contemporary world. Ancient Greeks had an assumption that hysterical symptoms came about when the womb of a woman was dislocated from its original position.

Regarding the history of the UK, the Victorian period was an era that existed in the years when the nation was under the leadership of Queen Victoria's reign. The Victorian period is believed to have lasted from June 1837 to January 1901, a period that marked the end of Queen Victoria’s rule due to her demise. The Victorian period remains integral as while discussing hysteria and gender as, during this era, hysteria was believed to be the primary contributor to the sexual dysfunction among women (Latham, 2015). Healthcare experts responsible for treating sexual dysfunction among women utilized vibrators, and by the mid-twentieth century, vibrators were being promoted to ladies for home treatment of side effects of agitation (Ender, 2019).

Sigmund Freud accepted that indications were barrier components against sexual conditions, and quite a bit of Freudian psychology studies depends on the researcher’s extensive practical investigations with female volunteers whom he considers to be hysterically affected. Freud accepted that the feminine gender experienced mania since they were not able to accommodate the loss of their figurative sexual part, that is, the penis. Considering this, Freud depicted hysteria to be 'naturally female' which led to his suggestions fundamentally to the efforts incorporated in treating the condition by marrying a man and engaging in sexual intercourse (Trimble and Reynolds, 2016). 1980 is regarded as a milestone for the healthcare industry primarily psychology as in this year, hysteria was formally and authoritatively declassified as a condition related to sexual dysfunction condition, and thus, it was obliterated from the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

Research on Cathartic Method

Concerning the psychoanalytic hypothesis, the cathartic method is an instance in which an individual’s feelings related to horrendous accidents become apparent. The cathartic method is derived from the word catharsis, and its starting point can be traced to the Greek expression for purifying or cleansing (Lawtoo, 2018). Catharsis is closely intertwined with the end of negative feelings, influence, or practices related to an unacknowledged injury. The cathartic is frequently an indispensable segment of treatment that tends to subdued recollections, and the marvel regularly happens while one is mesmerized. In past ages, psychoanalytic healthcare professionals utilized the cathartic methodology to treat side effects related to what Sigmund Freud referred to as hysteria and discussed in the previous topic.

The cathartic method initially came into the limelight when it was used in a psychological context by Josef Breuer and later, developed by his proficient student Sigmund Freud used the method to after his realization that individuals could unreservedly and overtly articulate their emotional aspects linked to traumatic life encounters (Ellman, 2018). According to Lacan, when the affected people had the option to uninhibitedly express the feelings related to quelled awful mishaps, they had a catharsis (Lawtoo, 2018). As indicated by tales, catharsis typically brought about a conclusion to manifestations of psychological maladjustment and especially delirium.

Contemporary application of the cathartic method

In the present day world, a few specialists may allude to cathartic methods in treatment. However, a majority of these psychological experts are probably not going to attempt to draw out stifled recollections that are spellbinding to diverse ailments. The idea of curbed recollections has been tested now and again, and there have been a few embarrassments wherein specialists accidentally made subdued recollections in their patients concerning occasions that never occurred (Ellman, 2018). The diagnosis of the old fashioned term ‘hysteria’ has been supplanted by contemporary research studies which have established terms such as dissociation and somatization. Psychological professionals no more diagnose patients with hysteria, and thus, the cathartic method has been rendered ineffective.


In a nutshell, research serves an integral role as it aids in the provision of the establishment of solutions to issues as well as providing relevant information regarding a defined area of a given field. Hysteria and the Cathartic method are two psychological topics which have been widely researched on. Historically, hysteria became one of the primary focal points for women activists who aimed at establishing a gender-sensitive society that places equal opportunities for both men and women whereas. Josef Breuer founded the cathartic method and later developed by his proficient student Sigmund Freud after his realization that individuals could unreservedly and overtly articulate their emotional aspects linked to traumatic life encounters. The study has established that both hysteria and cathartic method are inexistent and inapplicable to contemporary psychology after hysteria was declassified as sexual dysfunction. Also, the development of an understanding of both hysteria and cathartic method can be attested to the contributions by Freud and Breuer. Lastly, psychoanalysis can be classified as a treatment model based on the understanding of both the conscious and unconscious human states, and in summary, psychoanalysts must first qualify as psychotherapists and further their studies to be the former.


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  2. Cramer, P. (2019). What Has Happened to Hysteria? The Journal of nervous and mental disease, 207(9), 705-706.
  3. Ellman, S. J. (2018). Freud's technique papers: A contemporary perspective. Routledge.
  4. Ender, E. (2019). Sexing the Mind: Nineteenth-century fictions of hysteria. Cornell University Press.
  5. Latham, C. H. (2015). Rethinking the Intimacy of Voice and Ear: Psychoanalysis and Genital Massage as Treatments for Hysteria. Women and Music: A Journal of Gender and Culture, 19(1), 125-132.
  6. Lawtoo, N. (2018). Violence and the Mimetic Unconscious (Part One): The Cathartic Hypothesis: Aristotle, Freud, Girard. Contagion, 25, 159-192.
  7. North, C. (2015). The classification of hysteria and related disorders: Historical and phenomenological considerations. Behavioral Sciences, 5(4), 496-517.
  8. Oremland, J. D., & Gill, M. M. (2013). Interpretation and interaction: Psychoanalysis or psychotherapy? Routledge.
  9. Perez-Sanchez, A. (2018). Interview and indicators in psychoanalysis and psychotherapy. Routledge.
  10. Trimble, M., & Reynolds, E. H. (2016). A brief history of hysteria: from the ancient to the modern. In Handbook of clinical neurology (Vol. 139, pp. 3-10). Elsevier.
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