What is Hysteria?

   Hysteria is one of the less severe mental illnesses called neuroses. In hysteria, a person feels physically ill, but he is really mentally ill. Conflicts between thoughts and emotions that the person is not aware of cause his distress rather than any physical disease. Psychiatrists call these struggles unconscious conflicts.
   A person with hysteria may have any sort of physical complaint. He may complain of heart disease, of stomach pains, of vomiting, or of weakness of his arms or legs. In this way, hysteria may imitate any one of many physical illnesses. A hysterical person's muscles, nerves, and organs do not function properly, even though they are otherwise healthy. For this reason, doctors often call hysteria afunctional neurosis.
   People are often called hysterical when they are upset, excited, and unable to control their feelings. We often hear of "hysterical weeping" or "hysterical rage." Such outbursts of feeling may have nothing to do with the neurosis psychiatrists call hysteria. These outbursts may occur in normal persons. They may also occur in persons with mental illnesses other than hysteria, as well as in those with hysteria.
   Psychiatrists usually treat hysteria by using some type of psychotherapy designed to help the patient understand his unconscious conflicts. Treatment with drugs and hypnosis may also be used along with the