The present contribution tackles the timeless reflection on the hysterical condition and the perceptions that have been formulated for it. A field of controversy between physicians and researchers over the centuries, it has turned into a subject whose study addresses various disciplines such as medicine, psychology, psychiatry and history. The latter focuses its interest mainly on its social implications, but also on its gender dimension. By examining the definitions and symptoms of hysteria in modern Western Europe, this contribution seeks to integrate it into a historical-cultural context, taking into account the social and economic factors that shaped its treatment. The interpretation of its moral and gendered terms is presented as constantly changing, with the aim of finding a golden incision, following regulatory imperatives, as they are shaped by the social context of each period.
The starting point of this research is the end of the classical era for medical science, that is, the 17th century, reaching the time of the collapse of 19th-century medical data, with the advent of psychoanalysis and the development of physiology. The analysis follows a particular classification. Initially, the focus is on the historical context of the theory of hysteria from birth to the elimination of the term from psychiatry in the 20th century. Then follow the examination of the opinions of eminent scientists and physicians about the symptomatology and its causes. Through these, it is attempted to investigate the physician's relationship with the patient in order to clarify the objectivity of the criteria and their social and gender implications.
An abundance of sources was used, consisting mainly of interpretative analyses of the works of scientists dealing with it, such as the French physician Charcot and the Austrian physician and rapporteur of the psychoanalytic method, Sigmund Freud. Among these are the studies by Mark Micale and Andrew Scull, which present the multifaceted and complex perspectives developed around the issue of hysteria, taking into account modern theories and perceptions. In addition, the contribution of Pierre Janet's work was valuable, while at the same time an important number of scientific articles and statistical studies and monographs were used, in support of the drawn conclusions.