Intended for healthcare professionals

Views & Reviews Medical Classics

Studies on Hysteria

BMJ 2009; 338 doi: (Published 11 March 2009) Cite this as: BMJ 2009;338:b989
  1. Viv Lucas, medical director, Garden House Hospice, Letchworth Garden City, Hertfordshire
  1. viv.lucas{at}

    Studies on Hysteria is generally regarded as the starting point for psychoanalysis and for this reason alone can be considered a “medical classic.” Yet with the rise of biological psychiatry and the abandonment of the term “hysteria” as a useful diagnostic label in the second half of the 20th century, its significance is easily overlooked.

    Sigmund Freud’s theories have come to be regarded as unscientific and therefore generally disregarded within biomedicine. However, his background was in neuropathology, and he published papers on cerebral palsy and aphasia. He was also an atheist and a firm believer in the Darwinian theory of evolution. Like Jean-Martin Charcot, who studied hysterical patients at …

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