Studies on Hysteria

Studies on Hysteria (German: Studien über Hysterie) is an 1895 book by Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis, and the physician Josef Breuer. It consists of a joint introductory paper (reprinted from 1893); followed by five individual studies of "hysterics" – Breuer's famous case of Anna O. (real name: Bertha Pappenheim), seminal for the development of psychoanalysis, and four more by Freud—[1] including his evaluation of Emmy von N[2] and finishing with a theoretical essay by Breuer and a more practice-oriented one on therapy by Freud.[3]

Studies on Hysteria
Studies on Hysteria, German edition
Cover of the German edition
AuthorSigmund Freud
Original titleStudien über Hysterie


Freud sees symptomology as stratified in an almost geological way, with the outermost strata being easily remembered and accepted, while “the deeper one goes the more difficult it is to recognise the recollections that are surfacing”.[4]

Reception and influence

Breuer's work with Bertha Pappenheim provided the founding impetus for psychoanalysis, as Freud himself would acknowledge.[5] In their preliminary (1893) paper, both men agreed that “the hysteric suffers mainly from reminiscences”.[6] Freud however would come to lay more stress on the causative role of sexuality in producing hysteria, as well as gradually repudiating Breuer's use of hypnosis as a means of treatment.[7] Some of the theoretical scaffolding of the Studies – "strangulated affect", hypnoid state[8] – would be abandoned with the crystallisation of psychoanalysis as an independent technique. However, many of Freud’s clinical observations – on mnenmic symbols[9] or deferred action[10] for example – would continue to be confirmed in his later work. At the same time, Breuer’s theoretical essay, with its examination of the principle of constancy, and its differentiation of bound and mobile cathexis,[11] would continue to inform Freud’s thinking as late as the twenties and the writing of Beyond the Pleasure Principle.

At the time of its release, Studies on Hysteria tended to polarise opinion, both within and outside by the medical community.[12] While many were critical, Havelock Ellis offered an appreciative account, while a leading Viennese paper would characterise the work as “the kind of psychology used by poets”.[13] Studies on Hysteria received a positive review from psychiatrist Eugen Bleuler, although Bleuler nevertheless suggested that the results Freud and Breuer reported could have been the result of suggestion. The philosopher Mikkel Borch-Jacobsen and the psychologist Sonu Shamdasani comment that Studies on Hysteria gave Freud, "a certain local and international notoriety". Borch-Jacobsen and Shamdasani write that, contrary to what Freud and Breuer claimed, Freud "always knew that the treatment of Bertha Pappenheim...had not been an unmitigated success".[14]


There are currently three English translations of Studies on Hysteria, the first by A. A. Brill (1937), the second by James Strachey (1955), included in the Standard Edition, and the third by Nicola Luckhurst (2004).

See also


  1. ^ Ernest Jones, The life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 223
  2. ^ Micale, Mark S. (ed.); Dubor, Françoise (translator) (1993). "10. The Story of "Emmy von N.": A Critical Study with New Documents". Beyond the Unconscious: Essays of Henri F. Ellenberger in the History of Psychiatry. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. pp. 273–290. ISBN 978-1-4008-6342-6 – via Project MUSE. (Subscription required (help)).CS1 maint: Extra text: authors list (link)
  3. ^ Ernest Jones, The life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 223
  4. ^ * Freud, Sigmund – Breuer, Joseph: Translated by Nicola Luckhurst trans, Studies in Hysteria. ( London 2004. ISBN 978-0-141-18482-1) p. 290
  5. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 63
  6. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 71
  7. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 66-7 and p. 71
  8. ^ Sigmund Freud: Five Lectures on Psycho-Analaysis (1995) p. 18–23.
  9. ^ Sigmund Freud: On Psychopathology (PFL 10) p. 91
  10. ^ Sigmund Freud: Case Histories II (PFL 9), p. 278.
  11. ^ Sigmund Freud: On Metapsychology (PFL 11), p. 277 and p. 298.
  12. ^ Ernest Jones, The life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 223-4
  13. ^ Ernest Jones, The life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 224
  14. ^ Borch-Jacobsen, Mikkel; Shamdasani, Sonu (2012). The Freud Files: An Inquiry into the History of Psychoanalysis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 56, 107, 166. ISBN 978-0-521-72978-9.


  • Breuer, Joseph – Freud, Sigmund: Studies in Hysteria. Authorized Translation with an Introduction by A. A. Brill. (Nervous and Mental Disease Monograph Series No. 61.) Nervous and Mental Disease Publishing, New York 1937.
  • Breuer, Josef – Freud, Sigmund: Studies on Hysteria. Translated from the German and edited by James Strachey. (The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Vol. II.) Hogarth Press, London 1955.
  • Freud, Sigmund – Breuer, Joseph: Studies in Hysteria. Translated by Nicola Luckhurst. Penguin Books, London 2004. ISBN 978-0-141-18482-1

External links


Abreaction (German: Abreagieren) is a psychoanalytical term for reliving an experience to purge it of its emotional excesses—a type of catharsis. Sometimes it is a method of becoming conscious of repressed traumatic events.


In the psychoanalysis of Sigmund Freud, afterwardsness is a "mode of belated understanding or retroactive attribution of sexual or traumatic meaning to earlier events... [from the German word] Nachträglichkeit, translated as deferred action, retroaction, après-coup, afterwardsness". As summarized by another scholar, 'In one sense, Freud's theory of deferred action can be simply stated: memory is reprinted, so to speak, in accordance with later experience'.

Anna O.

This article is concerned with Bertha Pappenheim as the patient Anna O. For her life before and after her treatment, see Bertha Pappenheim.

Anna O. was the pseudonym of a patient of Josef Breuer, who published her case study in his book Studies on Hysteria, written in collaboration with Sigmund Freud. Her real name was Bertha Pappenheim (1859–1936), an Austrian-Jewish feminist and the founder of the Jüdischer Frauenbund (League of Jewish Women).

Anna O. was treated by Breuer for severe cough, paralysis of the extremities on the right side of her body, and disturbances of vision, hearing, and speech, as well as hallucination and loss of consciousness. She was diagnosed with hysteria. Freud implies that her illness was a result of the resentment felt over her father's real and physical illness that later led to his death.Her treatment is regarded as marking the beginning of psychoanalysis. Breuer observed that whilst she experienced 'absences' (a change of personality accompanied by confusion), she would mutter words or phrases to herself. In inducing her to a state of hypnosis, Breuer found that these words were "profoundly melancholy fantasies...sometimes characterized by poetic beauty". Free association came into being after Anna/Bertha decided (with Breuer's input) to end her hypnosis sessions and merely talk to Breuer, saying anything that came into her mind. She called this method of communication "chimney sweeping", and this served as the beginning of free association.

Historical records since showed that when Breuer stopped treating Anna O. she was not becoming better but progressively worse. She was ultimately institutionalized: "Breuer told Freud that she was deranged; he hoped she would die to end her suffering".She later recovered over time and led a productive life. The West German government issued a postage stamp in honour of her contributions to the field of social work.

According to one perspective, "examination of the neurological details suggests that Anna suffered from complex partial seizures exacerbated by drug dependence." In this view, her illness was not, as Freud suggested, psychological, but neurological. Professor of psychology Hans Eysenck and medical historian Elizabeth M. Thornton argued that it was caused by tuberculous meningitis. While some believe that Freud misdiagnosed her, and she in fact suffered from temporal lobe epilepsy, and many of her symptoms, including imagined smells, are common symptoms of types of epilepsy, others meticulously refute these claims.

Electra complex

In Neo-Freudian psychology, the Electra complex, as proposed by Carl Jung in his Theory of Psychoanalysis, is a girl's psychosexual competition with her mother for possession of her father. In the course of her psychosexual development, the complex is the girl's phallic stage; a boy's analogous experience is the Oedipus complex. The Electra complex occurs in the third—phallic stage (ages 3–6)—of five psychosexual development stages: (i) the Oral, (ii) the Anal, (iii) the Phallic, (iv) the Latent, and (v) the Genital—in which the source of libido pleasure is in a different erogenous zone of the infant's body.In classical psychoanalytic theory, the child's identification with the same-sex parent is the successful resolution of the Electra complex and of the Oedipus complex; his and her key psychological experience to developing a mature sexual role and identity. Sigmund Freud instead proposed that girls and boys resolved their complexes differently—she via penis envy, he via castration anxiety; and that unsuccessful resolutions might lead to neurosis.

Hence, women and men who are fixated in the Electra and Oedipal stages of their psychosexual development might be considered "father-fixated" and "mother-fixated".

Fanny Moser (baroness)

Fanny Moser (29 July 1848 in Winterthur, Switzerland – 2 April 1925 in Zurich, born Baroness Fanny Louise von Sulzer-Wart and known as Emmy von N. in Freud's study) was a Swiss noblewoman who at one point was known as the richest woman in Eastern Europe. She was one of the five women evaluated in Freud's Studies on Hysteria, which led to his psychoanalytic theories. Her father, Baron Heinrich von Sulzer-Wart had inherited his title from her grandfather, Johann Heinrich von Sulzer-Wart, who had been awarded a peerage for service to Maximilian I Joseph of Bavaria. On 28 December 1870, she married Swiss watchmaker and industrialist Heinrich Moser, who had made a fortune by developing high-quality watches to sell on the Russian market. H. Moser & Co. then expanded to include a factory in Switzerland and Heinrich founded a railway company in Schaffhausen, furthering his wealth.The marriage caused scandal because Fanny was 23 and Heinrich 65, though both were from the upper echelons of society. The five older children from her husband's first marriage were fully grown, as their father had waited twenty years before his remarriage, but they rejected Moser. She had two children with Heinrich: Fanny, born 27 May 1872 and the author Mentona, born 19 October 1874, just four days before her father's death. The older children accused Moser of killing her husband and despite no evidence of foul play determined by two autopsies, suspicion continued. Moser had a mental breakdown and began seeing therapists in 1889. She acquired a castle, Schloss Au where she entertained lavishly, but was known for her eccentricities, continuing treatment for almost a decade. Late in life, she became infatuated with a much younger man, lost part of her fortune and cut off relationships with her daughters. When she died, she left millions to her daughters, though she had been convinced she was living in poverty. Moser was buried at the cemetery of Kilchberg, Zürich.

Freud Museum

The Freud Museum in London is a museum dedicated to Sigmund Freud, located in the house where Freud lived with his family during the last year of his life. In 1938, after escaping Nazi annexation of Austria he came to London via Paris and stayed for a short while at 39 Elsworthy Road before moving to 20 Maresfield Gardens, where the museum is situated. Although he died a year later in the same house, his daughter Anna Freud continued to stay there until her death in 1982. It was her wish that after her death it be converted into a museum. It was opened to the public in July 1986.

Freud continued to work in London and it was here that he completed his book Moses and Monotheism. He also maintained his practice in this home and saw a number of his patients for analysis. The centrepiece of the museum is the couch brought from Berggasse 19, Vienna on which his patients were asked to say whatever came to their mind without consciously selecting information, named the free association technique by him.

There are two other Freud Museums, one in Vienna, and another in Příbor, the Czech Republic, in the house where Sigmund Freud was born. The latter was opened by president Václav Klaus and four of Freud's great-grandsons.

Freudian slip

A Freudian slip, also called parapraxis, is an error in speech, memory, or physical action that occurs due to the interference of an unconscious subdued wish or internal train of thought. The concept is part of classical psychoanalysis. Classical examples involve slips of the tongue, but psychoanalytic theory also embraces misreadings, mishearings, temporary forgettings, and the mislaying and losing of objects.

Hypnoid state

The hypnoid state is a theory of the origins of hysteria published jointly by Josef Breuer and Sigmund Freud in their Preliminary communication of 1893, subsequently reprinted as the first chapter of Studies on Hysteria (1895).For Breuer and Freud, who characterised the hypnoid state as a state of absence of mind/consciousness produced by intense daydreams of a mournful or sexual nature, "the existence of hypnoid states forms the foundation and condition of hysteria".

Jacob Freud

Jacob Koloman Freud (1815–1896) was the father of Sigmund Freud, the founder of psychoanalysis.

Born in town of Tysmenytsia in Austrian Galicia, and from a Hasidic background though himself an enlightened Jew of the Haskalah, he mainly earned his living as a wool merchant.

Literary modernism

Literary modernism, or modernist literature, has its origins in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, mainly in Europe and North America, and is characterized by a very self-conscious break with traditional ways of writing, in both poetry and prose fiction. Modernists experimented with literary form and expression, as exemplified by Ezra Pound's maxim to "Make it new." This literary movement was driven by a conscious desire to overturn traditional modes of representation and express the new sensibilities of their time. The horrors of the First World War saw the prevailing assumptions about society reassessed.

Martha Bernays

Martha Bernays (; German: [bɛɐ̯ˈnaɪs]; 26 July 1861 – 2 November 1951) was the wife of Austrian psychoanalyst Sigmund Freud.

Bernays was the second daughter of Emmeline and Berman Bernays. Her paternal grandfather Isaac Bernays was a Chief Rabbi of Hamburg.

Memory and trauma

Memory is described by psychology as the ability of an organism to store, retain, and subsequently retrieve information. When an individual experiences a traumatic event, whether physical or psychological, their memory can be affected in many ways. For example, trauma might affect their memory for that event, memory of previous or subsequent events, or thoughts in general.

Primal scene

In psychoanalysis, the primal scene (German: Urszene) is the initial witnessing by a child of a sex act, usually between the parents, that traumatizes the psychosexual development of that child. The scene witnessed may also occur between animals, and be displaced onto humans.

The expression "primal scene" refers to the sight of sexual relations between the parents, as observed, constructed, or fantasized by the child and interpreted by the child as a scene of violence. The scene is not understood by the child, remaining enigmatic but at the same time provoking sexual excitement.

Repression (psychology)

Repression is the psychological attempt to direct one's own desires and impulses toward pleasurable instincts by excluding them from one's consciousness and holding or subduing them in the unconscious. According to psychoanalytic theory, repression plays a major role in many mental illnesses, and in the psyche of the average person.Repression is a key concept of psychoanalysis, where it is understood as a defence mechanism that "ensures that what is unacceptable to the conscious mind, and would if recalled arouse anxiety, is prevented from entering into it."There has been debate as to whether (or how often) memory repression really occurs and mainstream psychology holds that true memory repression occurs only very rarely. American psychologists began to attempt to study repression in the experimental laboratory around 1930. However, psychoanalysts were at first disinterested in attempts to study repression in laboratory settings, and later came to reject them. Most psychoanalysts concluded that such attempts misrepresented the psychoanalytic concept of repression.

Sigmund Freud bibliography

This is a list of writings published by Sigmund Freud. Books are either linked or in italics.

Symbolic equation

Symbolic equation is the term used in Kleinian psychoanalysis for states of thinking which equate current objects with those of the past, rather than finding a resemblance between the two sets.

Talking cure

The Talking Cure and chimney sweeping were terms Bertha Pappenheim, known in case studies by the alias Anna O., used for the verbal therapy given to her by Josef Breuer. They were first published in Studies on Hysteria (1895).

As Ernest Jones put it, "On one occasion she related the details of the first appearance of a particular symptom and, to Breuer's great astonishment, this resulted in its complete disappearance," or in Lacan's words, "the more Anna provided signifiers, the more she chattered on, the better it went".

Case studies
Cultural depictions

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