DIDI-HUBERMAN INVENTION OF HYSTERIA PDF

The first English-language publication of a classic French book on the relationship between the development of photography and of the medical category of hysteria. In this classic of French cultural studies, Georges Didi-Huberman traces the intimate and reciprocal relationship between the disciplines of psychiatry and photography in the late nineteenth century. Focusing on the immense photographic output of the Salpetriere hospital, the notorious Parisian asylum for insane and incurable women, Didi-Huberman shows the crucial role played by photography in the invention of the category of hysteria. Under the direction of the medical teacher and clinician Jean-Martin Charcot, the inmates of Salpetriere identified as hysterics were methodically photographed, providing skeptical colleagues with visual proof of hysteria's specific form. These images, many of which appear in this book, provided the materials for the multivolume album Iconographie photographique de la Salpetriere. As Didi-Huberman shows, these photographs were far from simply objective documentation.

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It is also an important study, given how the phenomenon of hysteria has been the central construct of psychoanalysis and how it has been the basic idea upon which puzzling physiological functioning is often explained in medicine and psychiatry. The author of Invention of Hysteria traces how hysteria was constructed by the great neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot in a particular socio-historical context and how the meaning of the concept is tied to those origins. The story is not entirely a happy one as we are given insights into institutional and social processes wherein the events unfolded in a manner that was less than scientific and far less honorable than we would hope they might have been.

When Freud returned to Vienna he did so in a mood of great inspiration about hysterical phenomenon, which became the major tenet of psychoanalytic theory.

The spectacle and its pain were necessary; first he had to get an eyeful. This is where Charcot rediscovered hysteria. I attempt to retrace how he did so, amidst all the various clinical and experimental procedures, through hypnosis and the spectacular presentations of patients having hysterical attacks in the amphitheater where he held his famous Tuesday Lectures.

Whose imagination? Whose hopes? This relationship is interrogated here. His disorientation was not without bearing on the beginnings of psychoanalysis. This work is a cultural study that depicts how, during the latter part of the 19th century, the concept of hysteria was created by Charcot. The author contends that hysteria came to be amidst the concomitant development of photography, which made possible the realization of hysteria as a valid medical concept.

Thus, the work is a study of the development of both hysteria and of photography. This work is a fascinating addition to the genre of social construction of knowledge.

It is a compelling account which subsumes gender studies, the philosophy of science, and the history of clinical medicine, psychiatry and sociology. Charcot was known for the exploration of many domains of medicine and he had an international following. He was known as the founder of neurology, which led him to become the expert in hysteria. Charcot distinguished hysteria from epilepsy and identified it as a pure nosological form.

Freud wrote an obituary for Charoct upon his death in He compared Charcot to Adam for the discovery of the idea of hysteria. Charcot characterized hysteria as being distinct from epilepsy and also from all other mental disorders.

At the same time in which Charcot was making his observations about the phenomenon of hysteria, photography was invented and in wider use. This enabled Charcot to use photography as a tool in his study of hysteria.

During the 19th century, many treatments were directed at the clinical problem of hysterical madness. These treatments included stimulants, antiphologistics 4 , narcotics, and revulsives 5. The question was raised as to whether hysteria was incurable.

They were given special status among the other patients for their hysterical performances and threatened with loss of this status if they did not pose for the photographs during episodes of hysteria. Many of the photographs included in the book from this album are of Augustine during her hysterical attacks e.

The hysterical attacks of Augustine and the other women were witnessed, studied, photographed and reinforced. They became ritualized madness. Invention of Hysteria considers all of these elements and more. The many photographs of the hysterical women during their attacks are fascinating. The story is told in a poetic and literary style. It also seems that the work lacks historical relativity to the context of late 19th century Europe.

Clearly, there was a patriarchal social structure where women lacked power and influence and where society did not place a high value on social welfare.

Issues of power and dominance were not widely considered to be egalitarian rights. Also, the concept of hysteria, although decidedly flawed, has contained heuristic value in the development of psychoanalytic thinking and has increased our understanding about the unconscious and the primacy of emotional life. We can judge Charcot and the physicians of the time for their power motivations, gender biased view of science and their lack of a valid method.

Nonetheless, the work in this area stimulated a new way of thinking about psychic function. Invention of Hysteria is an important work which also provides insight into the process of social construction of psychological knowledge which all psychoanalysts would benefit from thinking about in relation to historical context and the work which is done within it.

Freud: A life for our time. New York: W. Deconstructionist formulations abound in this book which flow with relative fluidity in French but read peculiarly in English. English … is less simply less suited to French to that kind of play. All rights reserved. Readers therefore must apply the same principles of fair use to the works in this electronic archive that they would to a published, printed archive.

These works may be read online, downloaded for personal or educational use, or the URL of a document from this server included in another electronic document. No other distribution or mirroring of the texts is allowed. The texts themselves may not be published commercially in print or electronic form , edited, or otherwise altered without the permission of the Division of Psychoanalysis. All other interest and rights in the works, including but not limited to the right to grant or deny permission for further reproduction of the works, the right to use material from the works in subsequent works, and the right to redistribute the works by electronic means, are retained by the Division of Psychoanalysis.

Direct inquiries to the chair of the Publications Committee. Footnotes 1 Gay, P. Jones, E. The life and work of Sigmund Freud. New York: Basic Books. Which Side Are You On? Other Publications Journals Newsletters.

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Invention of Hysteria

It is also an important study, given how the phenomenon of hysteria has been the central construct of psychoanalysis and how it has been the basic idea upon which puzzling physiological functioning is often explained in medicine and psychiatry. The author of Invention of Hysteria traces how hysteria was constructed by the great neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot in a particular socio-historical context and how the meaning of the concept is tied to those origins. The story is not entirely a happy one as we are given insights into institutional and social processes wherein the events unfolded in a manner that was less than scientific and far less honorable than we would hope they might have been. When Freud returned to Vienna he did so in a mood of great inspiration about hysterical phenomenon, which became the major tenet of psychoanalytic theory.

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Invention Of Hysteria: Charcot and the Photographic Iconography of the Salpêtrière (Book Review)

In this classic of French cultural studies, Georges Didi-Huberman traces the intimate and reciprocal relationship between the disciplines of psychiatry and photography in the late nineteenth century. Focusing on the immense photographic output of the Salpetriere hospital, the notorious Parisian asylum for insane and incurable women, Didi-Huberman shows the crucial role played by photography in the invention of the category of hysteria. Under the direction of the medical teacher and clinician Jean-Martin Charcot, the inmates of Salpetriere identified as hysterics were methodically photographed, providing skeptical colleagues with visual proof of hysteria's specific form. These images, many of which appear in this book, provided the materials for the multivolume album Iconographie photographique de la Salpetriere.

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