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December 1980

Briquet's Treatise on Hysteria: A Synopsis and Commentary

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Psychiatry, University of Western Ontario (Drs Mai and Merskey), and the London Psychiatric Hospital (Dr Merskey), London, Ontario, Canada.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1980;37(12):1401-1405. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1980.01780250087010

• Paul Briquet's Treatise on Hysteria, published in 1859, consists of a clinical and epidemiologic study of 430 patients with hysteria seen over a ten-year period. The etiologic factors were youth, female sex, "affective" and "impressionable" temperament, family history of the disorder, low social class, migration, sexual licentiousness, situational difficulties, and poor physical health. He considered the "affective part of the brain" the final common pathway that mediated these causative agents. In treatment, Briquet emphasized the importance of an improvement in social circumstances and the need to minimize environmental problems. The monograph is not only fascinating to read; the clinical and investigative approach of Briquet has an enduring relevance in the context of modern concepts of hysteria.