what is hysteria

Hysteria, in the colloquial use of the term, means ungovernable emotional excess. Generally, modern medical professionals have abandoned using the term “hysteria” to denote a diagnostic category, replacing it with more precisely defined categories, such as somatization disorder. In 1980, the American Psychiatric Association officially changed the diagnosis of “hysterical neurosis, conversion type” (the most extreme and effective type) to “conversion disorder”.

While the word “hysteria” originates from the Greek word for uterus, hystera, the word itself is not an ancient one, and the term “hysterical suffocation” - meaning a feeling of heat and inability to breathe - was instead used in ancient Greek medicine. This suggests an entirely physical cause for the symptoms but, by linking them to the uterus, suggests that the disorder can only be found in women.

Historically, hysteria was thought to manifest itself in women with a variety of symptoms, including: anxiety, shortness of breath, fainting, insomnia, irritability, nervousness, as well as sexually forward behaviour