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A Search on the Word Hysterical - Essay Example

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Name Subject Tutor Date A Search on the Word Hysterical The most interesting thing I discovered about the word “hysterical” is its source. According to Thomas1, hysterical, which means experiencing uncontrollable emotion is derived from the Greek word “hyster”…
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A Search on the Word Hysterical
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Download file to see previous pages One of the sources for the word hysterical took up the psychoanalytic perspective of the word, explaining why a person would be hysterical through relating it with development especially during childhood.2 Here, the same symptoms of hysteria- lack of control of emotions- are seen as defining the personality. Hence, the concept of a hysterical personality arises, where the individual experiences the symptoms of hysteria continually rather than isolated. The hysterical person has a neurotic condition underlying the neurotic symptoms observed. The origin of the hysterical personality is traced from fixation at one point during the individual’s development. Here, the individual is seen to be fixated at the infantile stage from where they cannot achieve actuality as adult human beings. This source also argues that hysterical personality, just as compulsive personality, manifests in multiple ways and cannot be entirely described as a homogenous occurrence among the individuals. The very origin of the word in this case is the Greek word hyster which translates to uterus. A closer look at the role of language in culture explains the observation of the disconnect between the uterine Greek source of the word and the contemporary meaning. It is noted that, in the male dominated culture, language treats things of greater significance or value as being masculine and those of lesser significance as feminine.3 This is clearly manifested in the word hysterical; a lack of control of emotions is perceived as negative, and associated with femininity as indicated by the source of the word-uterus. In contrast, a positive aspect such as moral worth is described by virtuous whose origin is “vir” the Greek word for “man”. Here, it is clear that language helps mirror dominant social perceptions and even aids in their perpetuation as in the case of the word hysterical. Another perspective of the hysteria can be obtained through establishing the person using the language. For an individual not well versed in medicine or semantic development of language, hysteria bears a totally different and independent meaning4. To this population, arguably the majority, the original basic meaning of the word hysteria is lost. Whereas psychoanalysts and doctors historically viewed the word as conveying symptoms of psychiatric disorder, to the contemporary world the word means string emotional reactions. The original word loses its description of a personality status in a patient and describes a state of emotions even in a normal person. In daily use, hysteria even takes light meanings of “very funny” such as when used to describe a joke. Here, it is clear that the original meaning of the words is lost or difficult to trace for the majority of people, and the debate on the word remains constrained to sociological standpoint perspectives. The various views on the lexicology of the word hysteria bring forth the question of when persons who hold different meanings of the word interact. It is noted that although the word may have lost its Greek uterine original meaning, the Greek element still persists in English medical terms such as hysteroscopy and hysterectomy.5 However, the dominant meaning for the word hysterical is uncontrolled emotions by both men and women, without any reference to the uterus. Haliday and Teubert cite an example of a clash of meanings on the word; a witness had described a man as being hysterical to which the lawyer had brought forth the uterine source of the wor ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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