Lecture by the famous Austrian psychotherapist the Alfred Langley devoted to the problem of hysteria.

The Alfred Langley – student and colleague Victor Frankl, has a doctorate in medicine and psychology. On the basis of logotherapy and existential analysis Frankl developed an original theory of the fundamental existential motivations, which will significantly expand the theoretical and methodological basis of the existential-analytical counseling and psychotherapy. Author of books and numerous articles on the theory and practice of existential analysis. President of the International Society of Existential Analysis and Logotherapy in Vienna (GLE-International). Currently, the national branch of the International Society of Existential Analysis and Logotherapy are in Europe, North and South America (Vienna, Innsbruck, Zurich, Hanover, Prague, Bucharest, Warsaw, Moscow, Vancouver, Toronto, Mexico City, Buenos Aires, Santiago de Chile).


The topic tonight is designated a few old-fashioned concept – hysteria. In today’s presentation of this concept exists only in connection with a personality disorder – and then used the concept of “gistrionny” rather than hysterical. With regard to the definition of “hysteria”, in science there are problems with its use. This is due to the fact that the picture of the disorder is very changeable, and can not cover the classical descriptions. This is just a special property of hysteria. The issue was resolved in such a way that the concept of hysteria as such has been eliminated, and were introduced replacing the concept, for example, dissociation. But existential analysis, we adhere to the concept, although aware of the problems associated with the terminology. Nevertheless it covers the overall image of relevant experience – that’s why this concept is justified, but it must be used with extreme caution.

This concept is included in the daily life. People in everyday life say: “Stop hysterical”, “Do not be hysterical,” – and this is not a compliment. This assumes depreciation. And so it is important to science were not used to depreciate similar concepts. Who wants to be hysterical? We immediately notice that this concept is related something very critical.


If we look at a map of Moscow, we will see that this city is built on the principle of community, and in the center is the heart of the city – the Kremlin. In Vienna, where I live, this center is the Cathedral of St. Stephen. For almost two thousand years in the city center is a temple. Why I turned to the picture of the city? With this way I had a picture of hysteria.

Hysteria can also be described with the help of community. What is the central point of hysteria? Not the Kremlin, not a temple – and emptiness. It is – central to hysteria. It is possible to draw a circle or multiple circles, but there is nothing in the center. Man, if it ever feels, it feels empty. This is an incredible condition associated with great suffering. You might even think that the depressed person is much easier than hysterical. Depressed person feels something, he has the center. The hysterical person suffers, but does not understand why. He can not embrace his suffering and trying to alleviate it by any means. And inside, he finds nothing, he grabs the outside. He needs others, he uses them to others in the mirror to find something of himself.

Hysteria – is suffering due to the emptiness. The man has not himself, he finds himself. He does not know who he is. He does not know what he really wants, feels, can not truly love, and while it looks like a whirlwind: it’s full of life, it is active, it can be fun – no trace of depression. This is the opposite of depression. He is overactive.

Hysteria – is the suffering that occurs in the field between the “be yourself” and “be with others.” A person can be himself only if he develops H. If he can look into another person’s eyes. If other people see it. If they feel it and take seriously. This happens at the time when the mother is breastfeeding. For a child it is important to power the mother’s milk, but just as important mother’s eye. The child sucks not only the mother’s breast, but also catches her eye. To the mother has not forgotten the child, and that he did not forget his mother, nature has created a breastfeeding process.

I’m human development takes place in the following years. We need you, we can meet and who will meet us – so that I could figure out who I am. If this process does not happen, I for myself remain a white spot on the map. Then we learn to deal with the world. We are learning to drive, we are engaged in sports, playing musical instruments, studied mathematics, but in all these sessions there is no one whom we met. We can do different things, but there is no center. For I needed another person.


Hysterical people in its formation experienced a few meetings. It is too little seen. His wounded, hurt. And it closed. And so it is for myself to strangers. He suffers, but intuitively grasps at what it would be necessary – for others. He grabs the other, but in such a way that it manipulates – and this is what prevents the meeting. And those who are with him, do not take it seriously. They are protected, they go off and repeat the pain, which he is familiar. But the tragedy is that it provokes a hysterical person. His behavior is intolerable. His behavior is somewhat entertaining, it can make some recovery, but it tends to be something superficial. Thus he again provokes the suffering, which wants to get rid of.

This is a complete existential tragedy. Hysterical occurs only in the presence of others. When one hysterics, hysterical traits are not so visible. When he was alone, the hysteria can not develop. Symptoms occur only when it is in communication with other people, when other people are present next. Then he becomes hungry for communication, because it is a very good feeling that he needs other people. But he can not. That is hysteria always happens in the community, among people, where there is a public, in contact with another person. When the hysterical person is alone, his gray face, and it seems boring.

This is the first sketch of this painting. In the center is empty, hysteria does not know himself, he had not. He could not find himself, because he had too few meetings, the people who actually saw who dedicated themselves to him, who paid him a time, feel into it, shared his inner suffering. He was left alone.

Symptoms of hysteria repeats this deficit. Hysterical people committed to others, but inside is empty, it does not know how to approach him to another, to you, and why the other person is very quickly begins to feel used. He or leaves, or play with him. And the drama continues.


A little bit about the concept of hysteria. Hystera – in Greek means “queen”. From the Egyptians to Greece was an old myth that this symptomatology has been described. That is, it is a very ancient myth. The first written record of this myth made by Plato. In the dialogue “Timaeus”, he writes, that the uterus – is a beast. This is the beast that craves young children. And if after puberty the uterus for a long time remained barren, she starts to get angry and goes on a journey, wandering all over the body. It clogs the airways, impedes breathing and thus puts pressure on the body and exposed him to great dangers. It also causes various diseases. Hysteria played an important role in psychotherapy. Charcot and Freud developed psychotherapy based on hysteria. This is a very exciting picture that shows a lot of what is in man.

Even said the myth is already very accurately describes the main human suffering. It begins with the fact that the uterus is empty. The uterus can be considered a metaphor for the human center, middle. If a person is inwardly filled with, is empty, there is anxiety, spasms, asthma, heart problems, headaches, paralysis, fever. All this conversion symptoms, psychosomatic disorders. Therefore it is very important for a person that he has formed the center, the middle, so that he could feel at right at home. Of course, we need other people, but we need and to themselves.


Next, move on to a description of hysteria. What catches the eye in connection with those people who behave hysterically? They often look like a tornado: a lot of force, a whirlwind, but in the middle of peace and quiet. They attract attention and at the same time as it alienates distract myself.

They attract attention to themselves in many different ways: in their own words, in a loud voice, the way they dress, make-up. What do they tell? “Look here, look.” They are looking for exactly what they lack. But at the same time they do not have themselves. They do not know what they see are those who look at them really. They think, “If they actually look at me and see me, they are gone.” This means that in their quest for attention to the fear. They seem to shout: “Look! But do not look at me! “. They are afraid, they are afraid, “If others know who I am in fact, I would not like anyone.”

Therefore, hysterical human behavior is difficult to grasp. This is similar to the fish as soon as you are grasping a fish in the water, she immediately slips. Hysteric here, but if I want to meet him, he immediately goes – because there’s a lot of fear. And he kept playing with this boundary between “have” and “sound”. He has more “sound” than “to be”.

His behavior is permeated with dissociation in many areas. Dissociation means that what should be one, split. It tells something and the feelings he expresses in this case, are not suitable for it. For example, he says that his pet cat hit by a car, but says it with a smile. That is, the content and the feelings are not the same. Or it says a lot, and then you do not know what he said. A lot of words – but the lack of content. Contents split off. Or his peculiar way of thinking in black and white: either everything is super, or nonsense.

He willingly puts pressure on the other, exerts pressure. For example, he says: “You must be sure to study psychology, do it!” He did not even ask if you are interested in this. He does not come really in dialogue. He’s got some idea that, in his opinion, should be a reality. And he thinks that in this way helps others to do something.

He often blames others. He himself had nothing to blame. It does not adhere to the boundaries. Small show the situation is good. For example, in a restaurant someone ordered a dish with fried potatoes, and he says: “Oh, what a wonderful potato, you can try?” And before he was allowed to, he was holding a potato on a fork. For him, a violation of boundaries for granted – so that another person can not even resist what happened. The other person in doubt: “Maybe I too petty or too sensitive?”

Expressing opinions, hysterical man always gives the evaluation, he always has an opinion. And it instantly, faster than the others it expresses, passes sentence. And he quickly changes his judgment, if he feels that it does not have to like the other. A few minutes later, he can claim the exact opposite.

He says platitudes: “The best fashion – French fashion.” What can we oppose this? Of course, this is a great fashion, but …

Judgments substitute experience for him. He did not feel, but he always builds judgments as if looking at the one who listens to him, in this aspect: What would impress on that? And then there are these quick judgments.

Hysteric fast, he impatient. He can not be at home: always be something to happen, some action, so it can not wait. It is not held on the borders, he is exaggerating. For example, he says: “Where were you yesterday? I told you a hundred times called. ” Not once or twice but a hundred. All super, mega, over. We are all living in a somewhat hysterical time, it is dictated by society.

In hysterical mood changes frequently, it is capricious. Those impulses that he has, he believes true Ya So he lives pulses. This is a man who has everything happens in real time. He does not give weight to the past itself, about the future, he is not worried, because he is very clever. And, of course, tantrums confuses people: manipulative and he looks like a flag that blows in the wind. If the interlocutor impressive is that he talks about mutual friend, and he says that he listens intently, then he begins to exaggerate. He tells the listener what he wants to hear. The next day, he meets another friend and so does the other. And when they meet all of his friends, they have different information. Thus, the relationship can be destroyed.

Tantrums – also intriguing. However, for hysteria it is only that the most have some sort of significance. He did not want to quarrel people. But so it confuses people in their inner and outer world. There is a picture that shows it well: if you look at the lake, which reflects the sun and by the wind as small waves and there appear and disappear glare. Such is the hysteria: Blink disappears – and nothing remains.


If you look at this in greater depth, revealed two lines, which pass through. They are the basis for the manipulation and dissociation from the hysterical person.

1) The hysteric thirsts for freedom, he does not want to be tied to anything. And so it has no relationship, it is out of the relationship.

2) He does not know borders. He does not follow any boundaries. And then, and another gives him a sense of freedom, a sense of freedom.

Park your car where I want, I eat what I want, not knowing the boundaries, exaggerate – as I would like. There is nothing that I have limits, limits – I do not suppose. “That’s what freedom is, is not it?” And if I do not feel bound by the relationship, then I, too, is free. I should not be true, because the faithful – is also a limitation, loss of freedom.

Hysteric feels that he needs freedom, he does not stand up without freedom. He feels something important, but it makes a mistake: the right is that people inherently do have freedom, everyone is basically free, he may decide. But freedom hysterical concerns only one part of this freedom. In freedom man has two poles: to be free from something, but you can be free and for something. It is important that we be free from the neurotic obsessions – in order that we may live this being free to use it, so that we can ourselves for something to give – but in doing so we will again become attached to something, and hysteria does not want to be tied . The hysteric does not know what it means to be free for something – he wants to be free from something. He did not even know how to live the freedom for something, as he himself has not.

This kind of life is associated with a very unpleasant feeling – the feeling of being lost. Tantrums feel lost in this world. They are not tied, they distanced. They suffer from the fact that something is wrong, that it could be. I often hear this exact wording of hysterical patients: “There is no such as it could be.” Come fragile fantasy, some dreams. This wording indicates that it is difficult to grasp, he himself can not grasp.

In this quest for freedom hysterical person is trying to pass the border. If others put him abroad, he is trying to overcome them. Sometimes it can be a very nice, pleasant, and then – a very cruel, unfeeling, “move” another. Suppose my mother in front of the guests can tell his daughter loudly: “Do not look so stupid.” And my daughter is frightened, and my mother did not even notice it. It exerts pressure, it hurts, it scares people. I daughters can not be formed, it is not requested even in such conditions. But my mother is not his own – she only impulses to ensure that it saw that it drew attention. To do this, use all possible tools.


We are told a lot about the negative hysteria. And maybe some of us something of himself from that found. Now I want to bring to us a picture of hysteria and how to connect with us a little bit.

Some elements are likely to be familiar to everyone. There are some symptoms that are not yet hysteria, but already point in that direction. For example, it is considered healthy and normal if for a person watches, has attention. We are to a certain extent necessary. We need a neat clothes, clean hair, so that in the society we have appreciated and accepted. But if fashion becomes something very important, if someone first looks at himself or takes the first slice from the plate, then a healthy self-care becomes selfish and becomes hysterical features.

Tantrums are always selfish. However, he can hide. For example, we are now at the Russian Orthodox University, where there may be a request for altruism. Then tantrums can put on a mask and the altruist to behave in such a way – as long as it is appreciated. But, in principle, for it is still selfishness disappears. Selfishness is not a weakness of character, but as a mental misfortune. He does not himself, but he himself is needed, and everything should revolve around him. Thus, he hopes to find a pair of straw, for which he can grasp.

What other symptoms can be considered healthy and unhealthy? Many people are extroverts, well they go on contact. But if it begins to dominate, if a person is only an extrovert, he begins to be hysterical. It is good if we can be spontaneous – is enlivens communication. But if the pulses of permanent residence if the person lives only spontaneously, if it does not recognize the order or structures, then this human trait is becoming hysterical pathology. It is a gift, if a person is fast, can quickly react if all the time he is in the presence of the spirit, but if this speed is converted into impatience, if he presses on the other, it is a sign of hysterical. Thus, there are a number of features that are inherent in each of us, and we appreciate them, but if they live unilaterally if they are exaggerated, then it is a movement towards hysteria.

When the hysteria becomes painful in nature, if it already has a character neurosis, if it affects the mind, tantrums he seems to be present, but not quite – Freud described it as a “beautiful indifference.” In severe hysterical disorders can occur twilight state.

Another large group of disorders – this bodily disorders. Hysteria can simulate virtually all diseases. It shows the incredible power of the soul: it is and sensory disturbances, motor disorders, paralysis, various internal diseases, of course, emotional lability.

In hysterical neurosis man always oscillates between black and white, between “too much” and “too little”. For example, feelings of hysteria can be absolutely cold as ice. Incredible as it may be cruel. But the next moment his feelings may be excessive: “My dear friend, how long I have not seen you” And everyone says that it does not fit the situation: only that was not enough, and it was a lot. This is reflected in many patterns of behavior. Hysterical people have too little to do, too little affection, but they constantly need a relationship.

This disorder is very unstable: due to the lack of mid-life hysterical splits in two. There are two poles, and there is always an element of dissociative. Mid can connect these two extremes, but if there is no middle, left alone extremes: “Either you love me or hate me”, “You’re either for me or you’re against me.” Thinking in black and white colors or idealization – is also split.

An example of dissociative thinking in hysterics . One of my patients said at our first meeting about his grandmother: “She was an amazing person, an incredibly beautiful.” After a couple of meetings, it became clear that the grandmother was mentally very ill and suffered from severe phobias. He suffered her grandson and the whole family. That is a picture filled with suffering. It’s hysterical. Of course, such a sick person in some way and interesting. But grandson did not quite understand what was going on with his grandmother since he split off negative. And when he came to therapy, and for him it was important to make a good impression, it is wrapped in a wrapper, it was an incredible person.

Relationships with other people are hysteric value ersatz, replacing own self He is not a private, but when he sees other people, he sees them as private. He needs personal. Thus, he seems to be holding on to another Person, to feel it a little bit personal. It acts on such algorithm: and if I tell you now something will tell you something to feel, and I see it in your face, and then I go through the same emotions. That is, they need the experience of another person in order to be able to replace the lack of their own experiences.

Hysteric says without you everything is dead in me. Next to you I myself feel something – namely, if I see any impression that I’m talking to you. If I have this one, I do not feel. If you feel it, you feel it and I did. With hysterical people is it that they can say: my middle – it’s you.

This is not a meeting , it should not be confused with the meeting. Another can never be my middle. It initially brings suffering and does not lead to liberation. Thus, the relationship becomes a tool, a relationship has great expectations. And tantrums to a certain extent makes another victim.

Thus hysterics lives in the outside. And so he is doing everything to impress. For him, no matter the content, it is important experience for him, which he makes on others. Most of all he likes, when there is not one person, because then it may be too much intimacy – and he is afraid of real intimacy. This is not about sexuality but about real intimacy: if to tell him “I love you” and look into his eyes, he is helpless. He’s trying to impress and influence many people. He wanted the audience. And their behavior of their partner or their family, he, too, turns to the audience. And before the public he has a distance. The public should applaud, look but do not approach too close, do not go up on stage.

That is the impact of the outside becomes the content of hysterics life. And this makes it a very superficial behavior. Hysteria – is life outside, that’s life, like the life of a chameleon. It constantly adapts to the environment in which it is located. He is influenced by temporary changes. At the end of the XIX century it aroused widespread recognition if a fragile lady fainted. Then it was made, it is often found that the ladies at the ball an hour later fainted. Of course, this was facilitated by the presence of a corset. In that case, every man with a bottle in his pocket was laid up with smelling salts to bring a lady in a sense. The gallant man would pick up the falling woman and helped her to come to his senses. She opened her eyes and saw him on his face. It was a form of the game and good manners.

Today, no one is such a situation. Today, not a single woman does not do that, because if today someone was going to faint, it will cause an ambulance and taken away to the hospital. In a sober time we live in!

The basic sense of hysteria is deep inside I am wrong, I am false. That is who I am, so I should not be.


I would like to go to the deepest point of origin of hysteria. And then we look at the main ways of dealing with a hysterical person.

Hysteria arises psychodynamically through three areas of expertise, which together lead to the main disorder. The main frustration – is that a hysterical man carries a very great deal of pain. We said that in the inner circle of hysterical person does not have neither the Kremlin nor the cathedral, there’s nothing there. And it’s nothing – it’s a pain anesthesia. But in reality, under cover of nothing is the unbearable pain that has been dissociated. And so it is not felt. And since you do not feel pain, I no longer feel anything. Because feelings, feeling paralyzed. And this pain occurs on one side, through the experience of constraint and pressure: if you are an outsider, if you make fun if you’re in jail, if you grow up in a small village, where all the successive monitor may be a feeling that I I can not grow, can not be revealed. But also I can become close under the influence of my own ambition, query, my idea of how I should be.

The second – that the pain occurs under the influence violations of its borders. If a person passes their own – through seduction, through violence, such moments often occur as part of sexual abuse. If intimacy is used functionally, it is also hurt, breaks. A sexy, there is something intimate. Therefore, hysterical people have a huge fear of pain. They are generally very poorly tolerate the pain.

And the third reason, which leads to this pain – it is a great experience loneliness. And the most painful loneliness – the loneliness is due to abandonment. When we cast, we are experiencing: there was someone, and he was gone. And the children relate it to themselves. Because I left my mother or father. This is a very painful feeling of loneliness or abandonment. This is one of the main causes of this pain. Therefore, they are always afraid of being rejected. That is, in the middle of this deep pain. This pain leads to the fact that I can not be kept at home, to be with him. When you say a tantrum “I love you”, it becomes crowded, it begins to feel pain. And he starts to act coping defensive reaction, because this big pain it completely absorbs, covers, and he can not keep. This could destroy it. He does not have the prerequisites in the form of structures I, that he could do with it.

Hysterical person needs help from outside. He needs someone who will go along with him, someone who will not seduce yourself and stay at home. And try to take seriously hysterical.


We have come to the last point of the evening. How can you best deal with a hysterical person? It is also the same principles of treatment and work with the patient.

The main thing – to be taken seriously. Meet him. But it is very easy to say, but in fact it is difficult. And why? Because really it is invisible. I can not take seriously that’s it “appear”. So I can not even rely on the hysterical person, go for it. If I do, it with incredible agility to abuse me. Or it will be very crowded, and it will go away. But how can I take it seriously? He arranges the theater, it is not real, he is exaggerating, it is excessive. If I tell him: “Do not be so hysterical,” it hurts him. It does not help if I’m going to play up to him.

I need to work out the installation: “You have the right to be who you are, you do not have to be different, and I take you seriously, while I take seriously myself.” Only if I take myself seriously, I can somehow understand where hysterical sitting.

As a therapist, I ask myself what we are now speaking to me? Tantrums – as a check, it will be guided by me. What is important now for me? What do I mean? That for me is the right one? See for yourself. You might think that this is selfish, but it is not. His middle – it’s me. If I do well to look at myself if I’m authentic, and if I meet him, then I will offer him something that he needs. This is what he seeks. But if I start talking about himself, he begins to play in the theater. He did not take me seriously. Maybe he hurt me. And it will have to endure. Perhaps it’s too hard to sustain in private life. The therapeutic relationship is necessary – to withstand, without any gaps. And it is very high demands on the therapist. In private life it may happen that I will also react very rapidly. But when I noticed that I reacted violently, then I can again restore authenticity, telling him: “I’m sorry, last night I told you uncomfortable … I did not mean what I said.” That is, I apologize and I will show myself as I am actually is. The hysteric is well understand, they can do it well.

It is important to find hysterical, being the most durable, stable, showing consistency and reliability. It is important to agree on some kind of structure. It is important to bear with him unpleasant. Do not become impatient, not to hide unpleasant under the rug, and start talking about problems or dissatisfaction, trying to remain calm. In therapy, we are building this very seriously.

The hysteric, of course, constantly unhappy because he does not have himself. He does not know what the fullness of execution. In therapy, we will explore what it can do today to, say, the evening to feel happy.

If I live with hysteric as a family member, I will be all his discontent also feel with him. I will help him, if I say: “You know what, if we do say so, I will be unpleasant. I would like to talk to you about it here. ” And then the great art will be held in this topic. Again and again he will be distracted, go away. He changes the subject – this is his “freedom from”. They do it so deftly that at first you do not even notice. And while I understand every word they say, I do not understand anything. And after a minute, maybe I note that my focus somewhere floating away, and I’m already thinking about something else. And then he won tantrums. “Look, but do not look at me.” And maybe you can even start to feel tired, when you listen to it. Whenever we get tired, we know that we have been too inactive, I was not leading, I did too small degree attended. He needs me I am to a certain extent you create.

When dealing with a hysteric should go to great depths to work with the biography. We need to ask what he thinks about himself. It is about self-worth and that deprived him of his self-worth. And the pain. The fact that he was thrown, abandoned. No injuries, insults, pressure. Here, he needs the other, which is slowly, slowly, slowly moving along the helix nearer to him, to this center, which is located Ya But I can not feel, feel, because there is present-threatening pain.

Meeting with a hysterical person can help us to better develop our own middle, we can because of this it is better to live, it is better to show. We can share it with others. Suffering hysteria – it’s a big challenge to us. And we can grow, both in connection with this suffering.

Now, after this report, I wish you and all of us, so we did not reject the hysterical, and that we have a greater understanding of the hysteria that we are also better learned and our own characteristics, they are better able to see and accept. Because behind this pain. And this pain wants to be heard, she’s looking for redemption. And even a little it can do each with himself and with others. Together, we can move forward on this. I wish you that you did it.