Cover

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Title Page, Copyright, Dedication, Quote

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Contents

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pp. ix-x

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Preface

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pp. xi-xvi

In the course of its long medical history, hysteria—that infamously resilient somatic illness without organic lesions—has stubbornly remained elusive to any precise definition and has thus proved itself a useful screen on which to project the diagnostic fantasies of doctors faced with their own impotence and helplessness. ...

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Acknowledgments

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pp. xvii-xviii

Dialogue was very much part of writing this book, and I thank first and foremost Birgit Erdle for her untiring comments, criticism, and support. For assistance in many aspects of both writing and putting together the manuscript my thanks go also to Benjamin Marius and Therese Steffen. ...

Part 1: The Hysterical Subject of Theory

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Introduction: Navel Inversions

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pp. 3-52

In the repertory of western imagery, the navel is the firmly privileged representative for the origin of human existence. Literally a skin mark and an index of the primal cut made at the belly of a newborn, and figuratively a culturally codified symbol for the making of an independent human being, the navel refers in retrospect both to the child's bond with the maternal body and its bond with divinity. ...

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1. The Navel of Sigmund Freud's Inaugural Dream

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pp. 53-98

Literary critics who use psychoanalysis justify the enmeshment of these two disciplines by pointing out that both explore the way we tell, write, and interpret the stories we are born into, stories that allow us to remember the past and stories we create so as to make sense of our world (L.R. Williams 1995, E. Wright 1984). ...

Part 2: History's Hysterias

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2. Medicine's Hysteria Romance: Is It History or Legend?

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pp. 101-138

The diagnosis and treatment of hysteria have perplexed physicians throughout its medical history. Self-consciously exposing hysteria as the neurotic symptom par excellence that broadcasts the fallibility of any medical discourse seeking a cure for the vicissitudes and transformations of the body, the seventeenth-century physician Thomas Willis claimed, ...

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3. Gothic Hysterics: Ann Radcliffe's The Romance of the Forest

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pp. 139-173

In her discussion of eighteenth-century English literature and culture, Terry Castle uses the psychoanalytic category of the uncanny to explore an articulation like the one Foucault isolates in describing the bourgeois family as both the keystone of alliance and the germ of all misfortunes connected with sexuality. ...

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4. Jean-Martin Charcot's Vampires

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pp. 174-240

Disease formulations in the medical construction of hysteria, as Roy Porter notes, "go with circumstances: doctors, patients, physical milieux, intellectual and cultural landscapes." He explains that "hysteria could be fashioned as a disorder, precisely because the culture-at-large sustained tense and ambiguous relations between representations of mind and body, ...

Part 3: Hysteria's Case Histories

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5. Turnings of Nostalgia: Sigmund Freud, Karl Jaspers, Pierre Janet

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pp. 243-289

Max Schur (1972) was the first to recount what is perhaps the most controversial episode in Freud's work on hysteria—the near fatal operation that his friend Wilhelm Fliess, the nose and throat specialist from Berlin, had performed on one of his first hysteric patients, Emma Eckstein. ...

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6. Anne Sexton's Business of Writing Suicide

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pp. 290-331

Adrienne Rich began her commemorative address, delivered in memory of Anne Sexton at City College in New York in 1974, with the strong statement "Anne Sexton was a poet and a suicide." She continued by offering her own counterstance: "Many women writers, learning of her death, have been trying to reconcile our feelings about her, her poetry, her suicide at forty-five, with the lives we are trying to stay alive in. ...

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7. "You Freud, Me Jane": Alfred Hitchcock's Marnie, the Case History Revisited

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pp. 332-378

As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles. ...

Part 4: Performing Hysteria

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8. A Womb of One's Own, or the Strange Case of David Cronenberg

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pp. 381-408

My instinct tells me that an enormous amount of sexuality, and everything that springs from that in our society, is a very physical thing. Human beings could swap sexual organs, or do without sexual organs as sexual organs per se, for procreation. We're free to develop different kinds of organs that would give pleasure, and that have nothing to do with sex. ...

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9. Beyond Hysteria: Cindy Sherman's Private Theater of Horror

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pp. 409-432

As Laura Mulvey notes in her appreciation of the work of Mary Kelly, the women's movement inspired "debate and experiment around women's relation to language and images that drew feminist aesthetics into 'alliance' with avant-garde aesthetics during the seventies," and came to offer both "cultural identity and frame-work" (1986, 4) to visual artists, filmmakers, and theorists over the next two decades. ...

Notes

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pp. 433-450

Bibliography

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pp. 451-466

Index

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pp. 467-469

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About the Author

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Elisabeth Bronfen is Professor of English and American Studies at the University of Zurich. ...