Domain of Hysteria: A Masterpiece from Guernsey’s Genius

Dr Jaimin R Chotaliya

Medical Science has dominated human lives since its conception in Humanity. Evolution of medical science carries extensive data which are not yet explore among Medical Man to its full extent. Among these data, some terminology used in medical field seems an incomprehensible task to physicians due to their ambiguous nature. Hysteria is among these terminologies which is not correctly interpreted by every physician and especially for neophytes in Medical Science. Dr. Guernsey with his genius explained about Origin of Hysteria and its multi-faceted nature which seems to be useful for every Physicians who find difficulties in case Management where hysteria present itself as predominant Manifestation.

KEYWORDS – Dr. Guernsey, Hysteria, Homoeopathy

In medical field, advancement in Research brings new methods/techniques to deals with various disease in replacement of older ones. Similarly, New terminologies and theories grab attention of Physicians in cost of ignoring old terminologies and its meanings. Some terminologies like Hysteria, Chlorosis, Plethora, Scrofula lose their original meanings and haphazardly used with incorrect interpretations. Correct Understanding about its origin and manifestations helps us to use them judiciously in our medical field.

Most of the Physicians know about Hysteria as Nervous affection seen in females and as name suggested its relationship with Hyster (Uterus) confined its role in female gender. So, elaboration of these details is one of the necessities to find its relevancy in clinical settings.

As mentioned above, Hysteria finds its Nomenclature from Organ Uterus (Hyster) which could be seat for number of disease conditions in females. In order to understand origin of Hysteria, one must differentiate it from Irritable Uterus and Hysteralgia.

Features Hysteria Irritable Uterus Hysteralgia
Location (Seat of Disease) Head center – Ovaries Uterus Uterus
Cause Pressure or some insults(irritability) of ovaries Mere Slight Displacement without Structural Disturbance Presence of functional or Structural changes at site (Uterus)
Extension Extends over entire sexual apparatus and its connection through sympathetic nervous system to central nervous system and ultimately up to voluntary and involuntary muscles Restricted up to uterus and peripheral area around uterus Restricted up to uterus and peripheral area around uterus
Nervous tissue involvement (Primarily) Motor filaments of nerves -characterized by convulsions/ spasmodic contractions Sensory filaments -intense pain
  • Hysteria and Hereditary Predisposition – Apart from Sexual apparatus, hereditary predisposition also responsible for development of Hysteria. Here, it may exist in form of latent psora which get arouse by external environmental factors.
    • Data related to Past & family history are important to understand this hereditary predisposition as in those cases you may find some evidence of psoric taint in form of eruptions or other psoric manifestations.
  • Manifestations of Hysteria
    • Mental /moral Sphere – Here hysteria presented as following symptoms – Great depression of spirit with involuntary tears and/or exaltation of spirit with meaningless laughter without apparent cause. Alterations of mood and abnormal behavioral patterns are prominent manifestations in the Mental sphere. In aggravated and severe forms of symptoms at mental level, it may be confused with true insanity which is difficult to distinguished from the latter. Some significant symptoms of insanity may help here to differentiate as in hysteria self-consciousness is never lost and persistent presence of Self Love which is not seen in case of Insanity where forgetfulness of self is seen frequently.
    • Physical sphere – Manifestations of hysteria have large array of symptoms from imaginations and sympathy to convulsions. 2 distinct types of hysteria are known up till now and i.e. neuralgic and convulsive. These are not exclusively distinct, but distinction is kind of at degree level. Neuralgic manifestations are merely nervous susceptibility and could be labeled as initial/milder form of Convulsive Hysteria.
Neuralgic form Convulsive form
Milder and Initial stage Severe and full developmental stage
Hereditary origin and primarily concerned with ganglionic or sympathetic nervous system Due to provoking causes predisposing phase extending to full development with involvement of cerebro-spinal nervous centers. (Spasmodic symptoms appear first in muscular tissues which are having nearer connection with abdominal, coeliac and thoracic ganglia.
  • In Symptomatologic terms, the physical symptoms divide into two types of symptoms. Sensational and Convulsive.
    • Sensational – Variable or fixed with unpredictable periodicity having tendency to excited by slightest influence even by least touch (increase reflex excitability)
    • Convulsive – These type of symptoms follows a series of events as follows-

The first patient felt some strange sensation in hypogastric or ovarian region followed by suffocative feeling in pit of stomach and finally complete hysterical passion. i.e. Globus Hystericus. Initially it appears in milder semi-spasmodic contractions and develops its severity within minutes or hours to manifest symptoms like trismus or lock jaw like aggravated form of Severe Spasms. Ganglionic involvement manifests corresponding organ related symptoms i.e. globus hystericus-from the larynx, from pharynx- dysphagia, from the bronchia, dyspnea and cough, from the heart, attacks of palpitation, irregular beating, and sense of anxiety, from the stomach, hiccough, retching and vomiting, from the bladder, ischuria or dysuria. And finally, as the paroxysms extend through the voluntary and involuntary muscles, there are developed tonic and clonic spasms of every kind and degree of violence, from mere tremor or nervous quivering to the most convulsive movements and contortions. After a duration varying from ten minutes to several hours, the paroxysm often terminates suddenly with a flow of tears or a copious discharge of urine.

Globus Hystericus – Full fledge expression.

Cause – Irritation or insults at mental/physical level.

Globus Hystericus is seen in both the gender and not exclusively confined to females where person with delicate and sensitive temperament are prone to develop if agitated in particular manner. Apart from temperament, puberty is also one of the precipitating factors to get victimized by this condition.

Manifestation – It consists in an obscure sensation, as of a globular body, which gradually ascends from the pelvic cavity, or at least from the hypogastrium to the throat, where it seems to be arrested, and to produce a most painful sense of constriction and suffocation. This causes a peculiar choking sensation, which may be attended with sobbing.

Terms like Hysteria and Globus Hystericus are frequently spotted in Medical Literature and the majority of the neophytes misinterpret these terms which ultimately ends in practical difficulty in handling cases of Hysteria. In order to understand Various remedies those are having special capability to produce Hysteria; one must know about these manifestations at deeper extent to establish practical utility of Hysterical Medicines.


  1. Guernsey H.N., Application of Principles of Homoeopathy to Obstetrics. Retrieved from Encyclopedia Homoeopathica. RADAR. Version no. 2.2.1

Dr. Jaimin R. Chotaliya, M.D (Hom.)
Assistant professor (CL-2), Dept. of Repertory,
Govt. Homoeopathic medical college & Hospital,
Dethali, TA.: Siddhpur, Dist.: Patan, Gujarat.

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