December 1972

HysteriaA Neurobiological Theory

Author Affiliations

Lexington, Ky
From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Kentucky Medical Center, Lexington, Ky 40506.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1972;27(6):771-777. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1972.01750300043007

Although hysteria is one of the oldest psychiatric disorders, little is known about its underlying mechanisms of action. If the enigma of this disorder is to be unraveled, then what is needed is a biologically based theoretical model which permits theory-related predictions capable of scientific validation.

This theoretical model regards hysteria essentially as a dysfunction of attention and recent memory due to increased corticofugal inhibition of afferent stimulation. Hypochondria, representing the counterpart of hysteria, is presumed to be related to decreased corticofugal inhibition of afferent stimulation.

On the basis of these theoretical speculations and other evidence, a research paradigm is offered which permits scientific investigation into the specific nature of this disorder.