In Physical & Mental Health

Hysteria: History, Symptoms and Treatment

When it comes to social anxiety, there are a few things that everyone should know. Hysteria is a fairly common disorder that strikes more people and more populations than you might imagine. There are a few different symptoms and treatments of this disorder that one might encounter.

What is Hysteria?

It is important that before you delve any deeper into such a disorder, you first understand what it is and how it affects the individual. Hysteria is defined as any exaggerated or uncontrollable excitement or emotion, especially when it occurs within a group of people. This can be mass happiness, mass sadness, and more often than not, mass anger that usually results in drastic consequences. That being said, mob mentality is a great example of hysteria in action. This condition is becoming more and more common, with no direct reasoning behind it. A person can feel perfectly fine one moment then become hysterical the next.

Identifying the Hysterical: Symptoms

The symptoms of hysteria are somewhat simple to identify. In most cases, it starts off suddenly, it can be the result of an experience, either good or bad, that suddenly alters the person. Someone learning of a loved ones passing or maybe winning a large sum of money are both examples of events that can set off hysteria. In most cases, when it hits, there is no real way to slow or calm it down. That is the second symptom. If someone is just very happy, odds are they are not hysterical. If they are uncontrollably happy however, they may be showing symptoms of hysteria.

A Brief History

Hysteria has a somewhat titular and difficult-to-pin-down history. The first reported case of hysteria was in 1901 and was completed by Doctor Sigmund Freud. The case was a woman named Dora who had frequent hysterical bouts. Dora, a pseudonym of the name of the real patient, was the child of a loveless marriage. Dora experienced the sexual approach of an older man, her father displacing affection on another man, and a series of other instances. Freud diagnosed Dora with hysteria due to frequent dreams and outbursts that the young girl would often have. This was only the first documented and widely published work on hysteria as well as formal diagnosis and attempts to treat the disorder.

In earlier as well as later years however, men would attribute the mood swings of women to hysteria. They would claim that it was their female nature to experience uncontrollable bouts of happiness and sadness. The term hysterectomy, which refers to the removal of the ovaries and often the uterus in women, is derived specifically from the word hysteria. Men have long claimed that being hysterical is a female illness and that men cannot experience it. It was until widespread mass hysteria became a diagnosed disorder that doctors and psychologist recognized that both men and women can experience this feeling. In these days, the most common treatment was masturbation or manual manipulation performed by the doctor. This practice has since been discredited and discontinued due to its horrifyingly sexist nature.

One notable case of mass hysteria occurred in 1938 in America when science fiction author H.G. Wells took to the air to read his newest work, War of the Worlds. Wells took to the airwaves and addressed the people of Earth with claims that a powerful and terrifying race of aliens had landed and were attacking all over the country. As mass communication was still somewhat spotty, there was no real way for the fictitious reports to be corroborated or denied. The public went into panic mode with people evacuating cities, hiding in bunkers, and getting weapons ready to defend themselves. It was only when panic began to grip the nation that Wells fessed up to the hoax and let everyone know that there were no aliens afoot.

Types of Hysteria

There are three basic types of hysteria that you may run into. The first is of course mass hysteria. This is the most common and most widely documented type. This can result from a widespread natural disaster like Hurricane Katrina in which people began to loot stores, steal from abandoned homes, and even kill one another for much needed supplies. It may also be brought on by perceived social injustice as it did during the Holocaust in Nazi Germany.

The next type of hysteria is considered female hysteria. This goes back to the good old idea that women are meant to be hysterical because of their female anatomy, namely their ovaries. This idea stems from the archaic idea that women are the only ones with the proper level of hormones to create hysteria and that men are so much more balanced and able to control their feelings. Female hysteria is has been scientifically abandoned.

This leads us to the last and most widely spread type: general hysteria. This is any out pouring of uncontrollable emotion. In most cases, the condition is temporary and can be taken care of with nothing more than time and a good talk. In other cases, it may be directly linked to hormone imbalances, brain issues such as tumors or chemical imbalances that spark the hysteria.


For temporary hysterical bouts, just make sure that the person experiencing it cannot hurt themselves or others. Take the time to keep them centered and focused; just talk them through it. For more intense cases, you will likely need to see a therapist or psychiatrist that can prescribe medication and therapy sessions to handle the disorder and get it under control. You may also have to change your lifestyle, the people you socialize with, and even things that cause you undue stress.

Dealing With It

In instances of mass hysteria, it is generally the duty of the police or governing agency to get the people under control and begin to deal with the damage they have caused. This takes time and concentrated effort on the part of the governing body to regain balance and calm the fears and emotions of the people. In individual cases, therapy and medication can often help balance out hormones and other issue that may be causing the hysteria.

In cases where hysteria has been formally diagnosed, you may need therapy sessions, medication and even lifestyle changes to get to a place where the bouts do not plague you anymore. Hysteria is quite common, and despite the diagnosis of antiquity, there are ways to deal with it, both in men and women without surgical intervention. In conclusion, with the proper attention, this disorder can be taken care of and people do not have to suffer from it. In most cases it is temporary, but even in more serious cases it is treatable and easy to deal with.

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