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Studies on Hysteria

Studies on Hysteria
File:Studies on Hysteria, German edition.jpg
The German edition
Author Sigmund Freud
Original title Studien über Hysterie
Language German

Studies on Hysteria (German: Studien über Hysterie) is a book by Sigmund Freud and Josef Breuer, first published in 1895.

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; and finishing with a theoretical essay by Breuer and a more practice-oriented one on therapy by Freud.[1]


At the time of its release, Studies on Hysteria tended to polarise opinion, both within and outside by the medical community.[2] 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”.[3]

Respective contributions

Breuer's work with Bertha Pappenheim provided the founding impetus for psychoanalysis, as Freud himself would acknowledge.[4] In their preliminary (1893) paper, both men agreed that “the hysteric suffers mainly from reminiscences”.[5] 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.[6]


Freud saw 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”.[7]

Change and continuity

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.

See also


  1. ^ Ernest Jones, The life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 223
  2. ^ Ernest Jones, The life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 223-4
  3. ^ Ernest Jones, The life and Work of Sigmund Freud (1964) p. 224
  4. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 63
  5. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 71
  6. ^ Peter Gay, Freud (1989) p. 66-7 and p. 71
  7. ^ * Freud, Sigmund – Breuer, Joseph: Translated by Nicola Luckhurst trans, Studies in Hysteria. ( London 2004. ISBN 978-0-141-18482-1) p. 290
  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.


  • 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

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