Event date and location: 31 March 2022, Online (Zoom)

This Lacan in Scotland seminar ‘Listening to Hysteria’ took place on Zoom on Thursday 31 March 2022. Dr Jamieson Webster explores the concept of hysteria in the clinic and 21st century from a Freudian and Lacanian psychoanalytic perspective. It is chaired by Dr Calum Neill, Director of Lacan in Scotland, and the presentation is followed by a discussion with the audience.

Video timestamps:

0:00 – Intro
01:32 – Presentation
49:16 – Discussion
1:26:03 – Closing Remarks

Description of the event:

There is something annoying about the celebrated (or denigrated) muteness, disappearing acts, or unspoken bodily protest attributed to hysterical women at this point in psychoanalytic history. Any analyst who has worked with a hysteric knows the intense intricacy of what comes to be said, the incredible work of analysis that she performs, no less the process of encountering again and again some kernel of trauma, the very limits of understanding, that tends to bring the analysis towards its final moments. Why emphasize what is merely the symptomatic starting point? Why not describe the ferocious intelligence of some hysterical patients when it comes to analytic work, no less their intelligence in relation to their analysts, something that has often been called clairvoyant, even if defensive—let’s talk about you?

What other treatments are as maddening, mystifying, and magical? And what about the hysteric’s politics, so variably celebrated as radical, feminist, or disparaged as submissive, conservative? This also seems to miss the mark of what takes place in analytic work; though the question, no less how it is conceptualized, is not impertinent for the future of the institution of psychoanalysis. What could a more hysterical psychoanalysis look like, and is that even something we want in the 21st century?

DR JAMIESON WEBSTER is a psychoanalyst in private practice in New York City. She is the author of ‘The Life and Death of Psychoanalysis’ (2011) and ‘Conversion Disorder: Listening to the Body in Psychoanalysis’ (2018); she also co-wrote, with Simon Critchley, ‘Stay, Illusion! The Hamlet Doctrine (2013)’. She teaches at the New School and supervises doctoral students in clinical psychology at the City University of New York.

References Mentioned

Appiganesi, L. and Forrester, J. (1992) Freud’s Women New York: Other Books

Dachy, V. (2016) Necessity and Seduction: A Section of Hysteria in Hysteria Today (ed. A. Grose) London: Karnac

Hunter, V. (1994) “Frances Tustin Interview” in Psychoanalysts Talk. New York: Guilford Press.

Kernberg, O. (1996) Thirty methods to destroy the creativity of psychoanalytic candidates. International Journal of Psychoanalysis, 77, 1031-1040

Kristeva, J. (1995) New Maladies of the Soul (trans. R. Guberman) New York: Columbia University Press

Leader, D. (2016) “Hysteria Today” in Hysteria Today (ed. A. Grose) London: Karnac

Montrelay, M. (1978) “Inquiry into Femininity,” m/f, no. 1, pp. 91-95.

Montrelay, M. (1984) “On folding and unfolding: An example of dream interpretation in analysis,” Psychoanalytic Inquiry, 4:2, 193-219.

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