Christopher Bollas : Hysteria, last chapter (2000)

  • This reading gives a more in depth to how hysteria manifests itself and why.
  • “The hysteric elects to perpetuate a child’s innocent as the core self” (pg 162)
  • So the basic thought process behind someone who is suffering from hysteria seems to be to keep their innocence in regards to sexual deviance. Keeping the state of self that was formed during childhood.
  • The person has the thought “that he or she is only on loan to the material world,” (pg 163) and believes that through this act of keeping themselves ‘pure’ will assure that they ascend to a higher world for spiritual answers.
  • In relation to sexual acts, this belief then leads to a dissociation from the soul and body, letting the physical form become a vessel. The person will only give in to their carnal urges when they’re unable to carry on with life otherwise. this in turn leads them to become cold during and after the sex.


  • So the person they are having sex with is merely a tool to use for masturbation. (referring to a time where masturbation wasn’t really an option, particularly for women)
  • In the text, Hysterics are compared with that of perverts and it looks at how to tell the difference.
  • “The pervert and hysteric reverse one another, yet they share a common bond: conflict with sexuality.” (pg 170) and its stated that the only way to find the difference between the two is to talk to them about their experiences, this is where psychoanalysis is helpful.
  • The way to tell a pervert is that they will act cold in emotions towards certain affection acts, and then generally if they are not they are experiencing hysteria.
  • Its thought that both seem to develop in childhood with their relationship with their mothers. The hysterics mother will have been affectionate with their child up until their sexual development, and then become disassociated. leading the child to consider their carnal instincts wrong. The perverts mother on the other hand will have been cold and someone violent towards their child, after perhaps experiencing something traumatic like PND. This leads them to develop certain fetishes.


  • I think it’s absurd  to think that people are either normal or they are considered to be hysteric or a pervert. Is there such a thing as a spectrum instead?
  • It seems to be apparent that both experience a disconnect from reality, similar to what is stated in the lefebvre text, its about absorbing themselves into a fantasy and keeping it in accordance to every day life. where the hysteric finds their pleasure in the idea of holding themselves back, the pervert finds solace in the acts themselves and fulfilling their desires.

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