Studies on Hysteria

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

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]


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 recognize the recollections that are surfacing”.[4]

Reception and influence[edit]

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 mnemic 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).[citation needed]

See also[edit]


  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. {{cite book}}: |first1= has generic name (help)
  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-Analysis (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[edit]