January 1972

Behavioral Group Treatment of Hysteria

Author Affiliations

Madison, Wis
From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;26(1):42-50. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750190044009

The pilot phase of a group learning approach to treating hysterical Personality disorder in the hospital is described. Five young women, admitted for suicidal intent, were charged with specifying each other's hysterical behaviors and providing the rewards and penalties requisite to behavioral change. The evocation of pathological behaviors, along with the systematic approach to modifying them, was greatly facilitated by requiring that each Patient adhere to a tight daily schedule. Included in the schedule were a broad range of therapeutic exercises designed to promote effective selfassertion. Four of the five patients showed symptomatic improvement and enhanced behavioral repertoires at discharge and during the 18month follow-up period. The typical power struggles inherent in treating hysterics in the hospital were largely averted.