From New Latin hysteria, a back-formation from Latin hystericus, from Ancient Greek ὑστερικός (husterikós, “suffering in the uterus, hysterical”), from ὑστέρα (hustéra, “womb”). Compare French hystérie.
- Behavior exhibiting excessive or uncontrollable emotions, in a wide range from joy to panic but usually including anxiety or fear.
- 1968, Robert Conquest, “Old Bolsheviks Confess”, in The Great Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties, Macmillan Company, →LCCN, →OCLC, →OL, page 117:
- Zinoviev was unwell and feverish. He was told he was to be transferred to another cell. But when he saw the guards he at once understood. All accounts agree that he collapsed, yelling in a high-pitched voice a desperate appeal to Stalin to keep his word. He gave the impression of hysteria, but this is probably not fair, as his voice was always very piercing when he was excited, and he was perhaps trying to make a last speech. He was, in addition, still suffering from heart and liver trouble, so that some sort of collapse is understandable.
- (medicine, nosologically dated) A mental disorder characterized by emotional excitability etc. without an organic cause.
- 1974, Thomas S. Szasz, M.D., chapter 13, in The Myth of Mental Illness, →ISBN, page 218:
- The typical cases of hysteria cited by Freud thus involved a moral conflict—a conflict about what the young women in question wanted to do with themselves. Did they want to prove that they were good daughters by taking care of their sick fathers? Or did they want to become independent of their parents, by having a family of their own, or in some other way? I believe it was the tension between these conflicting aspirations that was the crucial issue in these cases. The sexual problem—say, of the daughter's incestuous cravings for her father—was secondary (if that important); it was stimulated, perhaps, by the interpersonal situation in which the one had to attend to the other's body. Moreover, it was probably easier to admit the sexual problem to consciousness and to worry about it than to raise the ethical problem indicated. In the final analysis, the latter is a vastly difficult problem in living. It cannot be "solved" by any particular maneuver but requires rather decision making about basic goals, and, having made the decisions, dedicated efforts to attain them.
- (informal, psychopathology) Synonym of
- (psychiatry, until early 20th century, now historical) Any disorder of women with some psychiatric symptoms without other diagnosis, ascribed to uterine influences on the female body, lack of pregnancy, or lack of sex.
Usage notes edit
Some usage advisers recommend caution with the terms hysteria and hysterical, because the medical and psychiatric senses of the terms over the centuries have been inextricably bound up with bias via stereotypes about gender; in medicine, the words are no longer nosologically current. Some advisers recommend avoiding these words even in the broadest sense that is arguably gender-neutral (i.e., denoting excessive or uncontrollable emotions, from joy to panic, as in hysterical crowds of sports fans). The usage and its cultural underpinnings are discussed at Wikipedia > Hysteria.
- (obsolete female disorder): uterine melancholy
Derived terms edit
Related terms edit
- The translations below need to be checked and inserted above into the appropriate translation tables. See instructions at Wiktionary:Entry layout § Translations.
Further reading edit
- “hysteria”, in Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, Springfield, Mass.: G. & C. Merriam, 1913, →OCLC.
- “hysteria”, in The Century Dictionary […], New York, N.Y.: The Century Co., 1911, →OCLC.
- “hysteria”, in OneLook Dictionary Search.
|Inflection of hysteria (Kotus type 12/kulkija, no gradation)|
|comitative||See the possessive forms below.|