• Louise Atkinson Registered Counsellor

Why The Hysteria?

It's fascinating to note that anything to do with 'Mental Health' is regarded with suspicion, skepticism, and downright horror. People would rather be diagnosed with a disease than admit to having a mental health issue. Telling your friends that you have cancer or heart failure will provoke sympathy, invoke offers of help and support. Bosses will often times give you as much time off work as needed, holding your position in readiness of your return. When you tell your friends that you have Anxiety, depression or PTSD their eyes will widen and they may back away, and there will be few, if any, offers of help. Bosses won't be so forgiving with time off, and may even find a way to dispose of your position entirely.

Why is this? Where does this fear and suspicion come from? The following brief history should enlighten you as to why so much hysteria!

Quite simply it is how we have been conditioned for centuries. Back in 400BC Hippocrates suggested many ailments, particularly unbalanced emotions in women was caused by a 'wandering womb' hence the Greek word Hystera meaning uterus, was applied and the condition was known as Hysteria.

In the Middle Ages, anything that could not be explained was seen as the work of the devil. If a person was diagnosed with hysteria it meant they were possessed by the devil. Women were tried as witches, for cursing neighbours to be possessed. Those possessed were executed.

Eventually the powers that be decided that people were not possessed by the devil, but they were simply 'mad'. Asylums began replacing witch trials. Anyone seen to have hysteria were locked up in 'mad-houses'.

It was only in the 1800's that physicians began looking once again at the uterus as the cause of these unbalanced state of minds. Treatments prevailed until they realised that men also had signs of unbalanced minds, and they did not have a uterus! Different explanations followed, with fancy labels and expensive treatments. People much preferred to have a fancy physical condition than to be labelled as 'mad'.

It is only in the last 100 years that major inroads have been made into the study of the brain and thought patterns. Hysteria is now a verb rather than a noun. Mental Health is the better used description.

Unfortunately, after over 400 years of being conditioned that any mental illness is unacceptable, people still find it hard to accept that it is usually a temporary illness of the mind. After all, for centuries you were either possessed by the devil, or a nutter...neither of which you want to admit to.

#hysteria #mentalhealth #psychology #counselling #possessed

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