Issue 2/2022


Hysterical phenomena repeatedly surprise us, also because we can observe them in ourselves. Yet how can the hysterical be conceived as a category for analyzing contemporary society and its individuals? How can we go about redefining the term? Which styles of play and modes of expression have begun to emerge in art around agitation and hysteria in recent years? The thematic issue “Hysterias”, produced in cooperation with the Offenbach University of Art and Design (Department of Sociology and Media Theory), explores these questions and attempts to look behind the diverse phenomena of the indignant and outraged, the irascible and agitated. This calls not only for a historical clarification of the origins and evolution of phenomena involving resistance and attributions, but also for an empirical symptom-oriented analysis of modern and post-modern disorders – now categorized by psychiatry and psychoanalysis with expanded (and illuminating?) terms such as conversion disorder, dissociation disorder or histrionic personality disorder. On the other hand, looking at society generally, we find synonyms such as “the agitated society”, “moral and ethical panic”, “tyranny of intimacy” or myriad neologisms prefixed with “hyper”. How can individual and/or subjective symptomatology and the field of social disorders be linked in a way that sheds light on both? Is it possible to envisage figures of such linkages that respond analytically to the increasingly rapid pace of contemporary media hysteria? Are there tracks that lead from Charcot’s “photographic clinic” to contemporary “media clinics”? Can artistic primal scenes and ways of addressing hysteria offer productive remedies in this context? This collaborative edition seeks to address all these questions through in-depth analysis of theoretical and creative approaches.

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Ines Doujak