This article is about the state of mind. It has been suggested that this methods of diagnosis in young children be merged with Female_hysteria.
Hysteria, in the colloquial use of the term, means ungovernable emotional excess. Generally, modern medical professionals have abandoned using the term “hysteria” to denote a diagnostic category, replacing it with more precisely defined categories, such as somatization disorder. While the word “hysteria” originates from the Greek word for uterus, hystera, the word itself is not an ancient one, and the term “hysterical suffocation” —meaning a feeling of heat and inability to breathe — was instead used in ancient Greek medicine. This suggests an entirely physical cause for the symptoms but, by linking them to the uterus, suggests that the disorder can only be found in women. In modern usage the term hysteria connotes mass panic. In ancient Egypt, the womb was thought capable of affecting much of the rest of the body, but “there is no warrant for the fanciful view that the ancient Egyptians believed that a variety of bodily complaints were due to an animate, wandering womb”.
There was also the idea that there was a build up of humours, or fluid in the uterus that needed to be purged in order to cure the female patient of the disease. Self-treatment such as masturbation, was not recommended and also considered taboo. Through the Middle Ages another cause of dramatic symptoms could be found: possession. It was thought that demoniacal forces were attracted to those who were prone to melancholy, particularly single women and the elderly. When a patient could not be diagnosed, or cured of a disease, it was thought that the symptoms, of what we now know as mental illness, were actually those of someone possessed by the devil.
In the 16th and 17th centuries, hysteria was still believed to be due to retention of fluids in the uterus, sexual deprivation, or by the tendency of the uterus to wander around the female body causing irritability and suffocation. Marriage, and regular sexual encounters with her husband, was still the most highly recommended course of treatment for a woman suffering from hysteria. Previously held ideas surrounding hysteria, its manifestation, and its treatment in women persisted through to the 18th and 19th centuries. It is also during this time that hysteria starts to be thought of as less of a physical ailment and more of a psychological one. With the advent of industrialization came the mechanization of massage therapy, the steam powered ‘Manipulator’ table massager created in the late 1860s and other devices similar in nature were becoming more available in the mid 19th century.