Women with hysteria under the effects of hypnosis Women with hysteria under the effects of hypnosis

The term "hysteria" is derived from the Greek word "uterus." During the times this spiritual illness was first described, it was thought that only women suffered from hysteria (later on it was found that men also suffered from it).

Hysteria was first mentioned in the ancient past. Hippocrates and Avizenna wrote about it. Later hysteria was studied by famous scholar-psychiatrists such as Jacques Charcot, Pierre Janet and many others. Psychoanalysts especially devoted a lot of attention to hysteria. Still, the approach to studying hysteria was one-sided for a long time. There were practically no spiritual-moral commentaries on this subject.

The spiritual evaluation of this psychopathological state could be portrayed as showing off. Hysterical individuals are easily noted for their emotional imbalance, which is expressed by stormy and bright changes of mood. The speech of these people is full of images, characterized by frequent exaggeration of the facts. Their mimicry is expressive, sometimes melodramatic. They like to pose. The hysteric thirsts for attention to himself and suffers greatly in its absence. The hysteric characteristically wants to seem greater than he is in real life.

According to the well-know Russian professor P.B. Gannushkin, the behavior of hysterical people is filled with unnaturalness and falseness. "Every action, every gesture, every movement is calculated for the observer and for effect. They necessarily have to be original and they do not reject any method of attracting attention."

"The hysteric, extremely subtly and acutely perceiving one thing, remains insensitive to another, — wrote P.B Gannushkin. — Kind, gentle in one situation, they later reveal indifference, egoism — in another."

Professor G. E. Sukhareva noted, that hysterical individuals have behavioral difficulties from childhood. They are very capricious and disobedient, like to play to leading role and express aggression, if they are not able to. Their mood is noticeably very imbalanced.


Once these children go to school, they have trouble dealing with the group, because they cannot match their interests with the interests of others and always strive to be first, they cannot bear to have someone else praised in their presence.

Having a good intellect they can do well in school, but their knowledge is superficial, their interests not constant.

Heightened irritability, a tendency toward lying makes these young people harder to bring up. Still, when one can find an activity, which coincides with their interests, their condition is markedly improved.

Heightened volatility, constant desire to put oneself forward, to be better than he is, the discrepancy between desire and actuality — all of these are the source of conflicting tribulations. Hysterical children often react inadequately to any life failure, and characteristic signs of hysteria are part of the picture.

I will give an example. A child asks for candy (toy and so on), but the mother refuses his request. Then the child throws himself on the floor, screams, twists and continues to demand sweets. The frightened mother frequently gives the screaming child a handful of candy, just to quiet him down. Here, truly, "let the child have anything he wants, as long as he doesn’t cry." And the pleased child eats the candies and completely forgets about his "inconsolable grief." What does all this mean? This is a typical hysterical reaction, still childlike, rather crude, straightforward. And how did the mother act? She fulfilled the desire of the child, guaranteeing similar types of reactions. And there can be no doubt that the dear child will repeat this reaction more than once, because it brought the desired, necessary result.


We, parents, sometimes unconsciously encourage demonstrative traits in our children by praising them too much, permitting them to interfere in adult conversations, to interrupt the talker and so on. The child notices this and soon does everything for show: reading poetry, dancing, singing and playing. As a rule, adults are touched by this, smile, praise, kiss the child and do not at all think about the fact that the child’s behavior is clearly demonstrative. This is aggravated even more because in modern families there are one, at most two, children who, naturally, become the "center of the universe" for their parents. In the past, in the patriarchal Russian family, which had, as a rule, many children, no one at the meal would dare to dip his spoon into the soup kettle before his father. Now the situation is different. Sometimes the entire family fusses with spoons, forks and frying pans before their darling, wanting to feed and indulge him deliciously and abundantly. And then we are surprised by the egoism, the inordinate pride of the "fledgling." Worldly examples, similar to the abovementioned, abound. They are innumerable. Strictly speaking, the entire tenor of the life of the modern person, beginning in pre-school and up to pension, teaches a person hysteria. Of course, everyone absorbs these "lessons" differently. It all depends on the upbringing and worldly outlook of the person.

As mentioned before, the main feature of hysterical personalities is the constant striving for attracting the attention of others. Pointed affectation, unnaturalness, dishonesty are shown in their actions. They would do anything, would stoop to any trick to gain universal attention, sometimes resorting to obvious falsehood and taking advantage of the feelings of others.

Clear expressions of the attributes of hysterical individuals are mental immaturity and infantilism, which are expressed in unbalanced interests and attractions, easily changed moods. They are quickly disappointed in friends and change them easily, even though at first their friendship seemed eternal. For hysterics it is only a step from love to hate.

Classical literature contains clear examples of hysterical individuals. Gogol’s Hlestakov can be considered a classic hysteric.

We often see the variation of so-called pseudologist among hysterical people. Along with demonstrativeness, there exists in their behavior a stormy game of imagination, a tendency to fantasize. And the subject himself is usually the hero in those fantasies.

In some psychiatric classifications is mentioned the group called "narcissistic (conceited) individuals". The main symptom of a narcissistic individual, as Professor U.A Alexandrovsky points out, is the belief, arising in one’s youth, in one’s particular significance, in his talents, his unusually appealing appearance, which should arouse universal delight. "The need for delight, the desire to see oneself surrounded by admirers and worshipers, undoubtedly draws this type nearer to hysteria, just like the inability of these subjects to be compassionate, to show concern for others."

These individuals tend to fantasize, and the themes of their fantasies involve their successes, achievement of unlimited power, might and wealth. They love to talk a lot bout their famous friends — actors, politicians and the powerful of this world, of their ties with secret societies or very important organizations. And their stories are either based on superficial, "nodding" acquaintance, or (more often) appear as the product of an overactive imagination. In relating their information, the narcissistic individuals not only expect special delight in those surrounding them, but demand respectful attitudes for no reason, submission, as to a person standing above those around them," writes the same author.

Hysterics are sometimes sly, elusive. There are many swindlers among them. They often possess great intuition.

Many sects’ founders, such as for example, Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science), undoubtedly had a hysterical character. The same can be said of many other "charismatic" individuals. For example, it is known that the founder of theosophy Yelena Blavatskaya in her youth was noted for amazing falsehoods and stormy fantasies, about which wrote her close relatives.

The "conditional enjoyments or desires" mechanism of the sickly symptoms is specific to hysteria. It is like a criterion for separating hysteria from various other non-hysterical manifestations. Different sickly manifestations can be pleasant and desired by the hysteric, promising some sort of gain or freeing one from some kind of responsibilities.

The hysteric needs an audience. For example, if Robinson Crusoe had hysterical tendencies, they would never have developed, because there was no one to see them.

They are easily suggestible. But their suggestibility is very particular. The hysteric, as a rule, picks up on ideas if they are in his favor.

Clinical manifestations of hysteria are tremendously varied. There can be hysterical fits, paralysis. One sees hysterical hyperkinetics, expressed in shaking body or separate parts. I have observed hysterical deaf-mutes, blindness. In the past, one saw the so-called "hysterical arc." At present, many psychiatrists point out that hysterical reactions are now found in more subtle forms.

Jacques Charcot called hysteria "the great imitator," even though one cannot say that hysteria and imitation are identical concepts. The hysteric actually suffers; but his suffering is caused by conditional desire. The imitator simply makes believe he is ill.


The range of hysterical behaviors is very wide and many-faceted. They can be young people with earrings, for example, in their nose, and green-red-blue hair or a politician for whom conceit is dearer than anything else.

Hysterical behavior can be found, unfortunately, in Orthodox circles. I have seen such religious women ("matushkas" as they call themselves) who with their delights in a moment transformed a young priest into a "miracle-worker" or "seer." The hysterical person immediately makes a "diagnosis," divides churches and hierarchs into those who "have grace" and "do not have grace." The criterion in such cases is, of course, one’s "instinct." Sometimes one gets the feeling that such person actually thirsts for some kind of "hot" facts, sensational information or simply gossip. And then he finds himself in his element. In addition, the hysteric does not consider the very facts as important as their personal interpretation of them.

The hysteric can stand out not only with their extravagant appearance, theatrical mimicry or unique speech. They could be imperceptible in appearance, but their speech will be filled with quotes, appearing scientifically educated. If worse comes to worse, he could simply break into a mysterious silence. But this is all posing. One can sense the falsity and unnaturalness in his behavior.

The feelings of a hysterical person, while appearing warm and gentle, are always mixed with a sense of coldness. The person himself is the most important thing to that person.

Clinical psychiatry distinguishes between hysterical neurosis and hysterical psychopathy. These states are separated by the depth, expression and origin of the hysterical expressions. Hysterical neurosis is generally characterized by personalization of conflict, that is, the manifestation of hysteria in the form of different physical ailments and sensations. Very often, for example, a hysterical "knot" appears in the throat. Remember examples in classical literature, when young ladies fainted from worry.

Psychopathy — is an individualized anomaly, which is characterized by the disharmony of an individual’s mental structure. The criteria for psychopathy are: 1) the expression of mental disorders, leading a person to social disadaptation; 2) total alteration of the entire mental image of the person; 3) the relative stability of mental particulars (P.B. Gannushkin).

Psychopaths are divided into constitutional, which can arise as the result of different illnesses, head traumas, infections etc., and acquired. The second group of psychopaths is the result of upbringing, environmental and situational conditions.

Unfortunately, our reality is often the "supplier" of psychopaths.

Psychopathy occupies the middle ground between psychoses and neuroses. In some ways it does not "make it" as a psychosis (as a rule, ranting, hallucinations and other expressions are missing from the clinical picture), but it essentially differs from neurotic disorders. Also, neuroses are usually connected with some sort of emotionally significant experiences, distressing a person with events and life conditions. But the psychopath, well, is always a psychopath. Of course, in isolated moments his behavior may be worse, while in other periods of life — one can observe relative compensations, but the general anomalous psychopathic background remains.

If a person suffering from neurosis, speaking conditionally, hurts himself, then the psychopath through his behavior hurts others around him as well. Certainly the levels of expression of psychopathic traits in persons, which have them, vary individually. There is also a difference in the way various types of psychopathic disorders are treated. For instance, as an example, the following types of psychopaths are differentiated: excited, hysterical, reactive-volatile, constraining, and others. In earlier classifications, we could see, for example, the following variations: queers, fantacizers, liars, emotionally dull, irritable, neurotic, depressives.

The treatment of psychopaths is a long, difficult and often ineffective process. The same can be said of the spiritual rehabilitations of psychopathic personalities! But what is impossible for man is possible for God.

A serious illness can be a powerful psycho-traumatic factor. Unfortunately, not many are capable of bearing illnesses like Christians. Adequate, courageous reactions to illnesses are met rarely; much oftener in such situations there is a neurotic reaction. Thus, Professor V.P. Zaitsev delineates five types of similar reactions to heart attacks, among which a hysterical reaction is described. Egocentricism, demonstrativeness, the desire to attract attention for sympathy, are characteristic.

Again I repeat, two conditions must be present for hysteria to reveal itself fully: benefit, and an audience; nothing hurts hysterics more than the lack of attention to their person. In that case, life becomes duller and loses its attraction.

Bishop Varnava (Beliaev) uses the following expression — "living a lie." Hysterics, in their extreme displays, live a lie.

Many hysterical personages are habitués of different manifestations, demonstrations. To them it is not even important who or what they are defending, which rights they fight for. They are attracted by the ability to be in the public eye. With the onset of democracy in the last decade, on the waves of the crisis of moral values resulting from the lack of spirituality that had ruled the [soviet] society for 90 years, a large army is attacking the souls of people, containing different types of sorcerers, mediums, and magicians, bringing so many ills to the people who come to them. Though I will not enter into the details of describing this occult destruction, I will say only that in their individual tenor the great majority of these "healers" — are hysterics, desiring glory and recognition. Of course, there are conscious servants of evil among them, having different levels of initiations. But many of them are simply swindlers, who have no knowledge of any occultism, but simply take spiritual advantage of their compatriots, pumping no small amount of money out of their pockets. Without a doubt, this circumstance does not remove the responsibility from the person coming for such "help," even to a swindler. It is a grave sin.

The desire to be seen, to be the center of attention is often connected with vice. Hysterics, especially in their youth, are always in love, are in an "ocean" of erotic fantasies. Hysterical women cannot resist flirting, coquetry even for a short time. Often, hysterical people, particularly psychopaths, are fully possessed by vice and lead a corresponding way of life.


The Orthodox psychologist V. Rev. Boris Nichiporov justly wrote: "The ideals, which the social consciousness is cultivating today, are the following: The first daily ideal is a girl as a photo-model. Beauty and a figure are demanded, white teeth, external attraction and so on. In general, the starting point of everything is not the heart or mind, but the hip. Everything must come from the hip and no higher than the hip — thoughts, desires, and feelings."


Doctor V.K. Neviarovich truly points out that "starting with the end of the nineteenth century, atheistically oriented scholars tried to prove that neither possession nor obsession exist, but all of these were simply manifestations of hysteria. V.M. Bekhterev (1857-1927), a major Russian scholar, studying psychiatry, neurology and psychology, unfortunately shared this opinion. But his experiments stemmed from strictly materialistic positions, which could not avoid influencing his scientific research. Thus, in one of his works he even attempted (oh, horrors!) to assert that all the Gospel miracles of the Savior — the healings and the resurrections from the dead — could be explained by the hysterical sufferings of those people who believed in Christ.

Unfortunately, even now, official medicine, to the joy of the entire demonic world, does not discriminate between emotional illnesses and spiritual, and tries to heal many possessed people with insulin, or hypnosis, or chemical compounds, and lately even occult methods (meditation, the method of Stanislav Groth and so on)."

The same author wrote, "hysteria and possession are not one and the same, but there is no better preparation for possession than hysteria, because the devil is the "father of lies," and all hysterics lie; the devil, according to the words of the holy fathers, is an "artist" and "monkey," and the characteristics of hysteria are imitation, acting and a sickly artistic imagination. The fall of the devil occurred because of vanity and pride — and the similarity is obvious…"

Father Alexander Elchaninov Father Alexander Elchaninov
Father Alexander Elchaninov wrote the following about this emotional illness: "Hysteria is the decay of the personality, and it frees a tremendous, ruinous (in its destructive power) amount of energy, like in a splitting atom."

Pride and vanity, lying and posing — these are the spiritual essence of hysteria.

So what is, in fact, hysteria: sin or illness? I think that hysteria — is a sinful composition of the soul, which often results in sickly sufferings.

What do I mean to achieve by writing this? In order to "look the enemy in the eye," as we say, and to battle with him, rooting out the weeds of hysteria in our own souls. And, also, to better see this sinful illness in the reality surrounding us.

How should one react to hysterical behavior? First of all, it is not worth following the hysteric’s lead. Keep your dignity and composure, and if necessary, reasonable strictness. I will remind you once again, that hysteria stops when there is no witness. Therefore, the mother, which I mentioned earlier, should have ignored the "convulsions" of the raving child and should have calmly continued doing her own work.

M.C.7/1/2017 9:46 pm
Isidora: I wouldn't say that the emphasis in the article was so much on the supposed sinfulness and vileness of an hysterical person as it is a precautionary article on how to avoid raising one or encouraging one to continue manipulating others.
Isidora7/1/2017 4:10 pm
Many of Pravoslavie's articles on mental issues, like this one, focus on wordy analysis of the syndromes along with commentary about how sinful and vile these people are. But they offer very little help. Mostly the "help" consists of saying something like, "just stop being that way!" I generally come away from these articles feeling like those suffering from these difficult to treat issues cannot be "real" Christians. I wonder if the authors of these these articles should end by saying the prayer of the publican,"I thank you, O Lord, that you did not make me like this sinner. I am well-adjusted, easygoing, and maintain a multitude of friends and beloved family."
Dr. Ward3/7/2017 2:06 am
Dr.Dmitry Avdeev, M.D.,Ph.D:

In your writings you seem to be saying that the Historic Christian Church is against hypnosis as a therapeutic tool in medicine and psychology. In addition you seem to infer that the professional use of hypnosis is sinful.

I am only aware of two churches that make those claims and that is Christian Science Church and the Jehovah Witness Church. Those claims are not made by either The Orthodox Catholic Church (Eastern Orthodox) or The Roman Catholic Church. So I would like to know where it is coming from and of course if it is just your personal opinion you have a right to it. Perhaps you would like to know more about the professional uses of hypnosis.

God Bless.
Chap. Dr. Richard Ward, American Academy of Medical Hypnoanalysts.
sebastian5/28/2014 11:53 pm
That's very inaccurate article, there is no more hysteria, it got chopped into many, many disorders. Besides, today people use 'hysteria' for anxiety, which is completely opposite to what's described in article.
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