A slender young lady of thirty years walked down awkwardly to Dr. Emil Kraepelin’s table. She was exhausted and sunk into the chair. With a pale face, eyes staring down, she nervously played with her handkerchief. She spoke to the doctor in a low and tired voice. When asked, she said that she lost her parents, one after another, sixteen years ago. Her brother was eccentric and her stepbrother had attempted suicide. A few minutes later…. she convulsively shut her eyes and dropped her head forward, as if she had suddenly fallen a sleep.The doctor then tried to check her reactions. He lifted her arm slightly and observed that it just dropped down. When he raised her eyelids, her eyes rotated upwards. Her response to needle pricks was slight. Only after the doctor sprinkled some cold water on her face, she opened her eyes. She sighed and looked surprised. After which she told him that she gets such attacks often, sometimes many in a day, lasting from half-an-hour to one hour. This has been her state for seven years. She went back into her past, and told the doctor that as a young girl, she used to inhale chloroform for toothache.During case taking, Dr. Kraepelin realized that she was a convent educated young lady, who had passed the examination for teachers. She did her work easily at school.Dr. Kraepelin’s diagnoses lead him to believe that she was suffering from *hysteria. To confirm this, he tried to reproduce the sleep attack by putting sufficiently strong pressure on the left ovarian region of the patient. The patient then started screaming in pain, shouting out in French, her eyes were shut tightly, she started swaying to and fro and violently pushed the doctor away, as if trying to escape a sexual assault. The patient begged not to be cursed, and cried and cried aloud. He then sprinkled some cold water on her face, after which, she opened her eyes, continued to look down and was unable to explain what happened.This case study gives us a glimpse of what a histrionic patient behaves likes, there are other behavior patterns too. According to International Statistical Classification of Diseases, hysteria is characterized by –self-dramatization, theatricality, exaggerated expression of emotions;suggestibility, easily influenced by others or by circumstances;shallow and shifting affectivity;continual seeking for excitement and activities in which the patient is the center of attention;inappropriate seductiveness in appearance or behavior;over-concern with physical attractiveness.
Associated features include egocentricity, self-indulgence, continuous longing for appreciation, feelings that are hurt easily, and persistent manipulative behavior to achieve own needs. Some behavior patterns can be exaggerated to such an extent that the person can become an antisocial being. For example, an article in the Times Of India, titled “Delhi tops the list of unsafe Indian metros”, clearly confirms the fact that most rapists exhibit sadistic and hysterical traits. Experts agree that this is a natural outcome of our patriarchal society. And the mind set of suppressing women.This case study was published in a book on fundamentals. Here the patient’s behavior reveals only dramatized, exaggerated expression of emotions. For a more detailed picture, you can read Dr. Kraepelin’s original work on hysteria, in his casebook titled “Lectures on Clinical Psychiatry (1904).”Note:“Hysteria” is a disorder introduced to us by Hippocrates, a Greek physician. “Hystera” or “wandering womb” is a medical condition caused by disturbances of the uterus. Some researchers say that it was not derived from Greek “hystera” but from the Latin word “histrionicus” or pertaining to an actor”.by Rekha R. Chandragiri.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hysteriahttp://www.answers.com/topic/hysteria