Amanda Du Preez- Putting on appearances : mimetic representations of hysteria : research (2008)

  • This text looks at Hysteria in association with the female and how it “draw attention to their pitiful state under patriarchal rule.” (pg 47)


  • “The terms female, femininity and hysteria, actually became inter-exchangeable.” (pg 47)
  • It was suggested in the text that women are all ready impressionable creatures and therefore are susceptible to falling to hysteria.
  • This is because in the early days, hysteria was seen as a visual, yet invisible disease, it didn’t really haven’t any symptoms besides mimicry. The patients would mimic other diseases like epilepsy.
  • There’s are theories of the medical practitioner Charcot, Who, upon reflection is actually really just has a god complex. In his exploration of the disease he would have female patients stripped naked and sent into his office and simply observe them silently without letting them speak.
  • I don’t think that this could ever really have worked, because women who were experiencing hysteria were performing what it was that they thought the other wanted them to do.


  • “When hysterical women spoke of their own violation and without invitation, they tended to do so with a lack of modesty,” (pg 49) maybe this is because according to the theory, patients needed this spoken word to actually be able to function, and when they couldn’t it all just blurted out as a form of relief.
  • “Hysteria has been typified as an image of women in the words or representations of men.” (pg 53) it seems that maybe hysteria was more of a creative concept put in place to stop women who actually wanted to have their own freedom vocally and sexually because they were threatened.
  • All the symptoms are in fact simple mimicry because the women didn’t know how else to express themselves. They’re creating a character so someone will actually acknowledge them as a women.
  • Charlot used to display his female patients in a lecture hall of about 600 audience members, and they used to act up what he thought were the symptoms, but what they thought was how they were supposed to behave.
  • He also had a previous background in art, and created many drawings and later photographs of the disease from what he observed. He displayed the pieces around the hospitals. So maybe, in a lot of later cases, the women were simply acting out what they saw in the pieces.
  • What Charlot was doing seemed to be more of a hindrance than a help with a so called disease, that arguably isn’t actually a real thing, its just the female trying to separate them self from the male.

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