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Ann Med Psychol (Paris). 1992 Dec;150(10):705-19.

[Hippocratic concept of hysteria].

[Article in French]

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Université de Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne.


The Greek physicians of the fourth century B.C. painstakingly described a number of symptoms that they thought were caused by migrations of a restless uterus, said "wandering womb". According to this concept, we can use the term "hysteria", despite the fact that the noun itself never appears in any of the Hippocratic texts. We can determine its origin as being in ancient Egypt from the medical writings of the Egyptian papyri. In the same way, the therapy is mainly of Egyptian origin, using a combination of recipes to make the moving womb return to its proper place in the body cavity. However, we can also identify the rationality of the Greeks, in particular as regards mechanical physiopathology. Hippocratic authors are closely connected with presocratical physics, and manifest a distinct break with magic and religion. Furthermore, they claim that hysteria may result from prolonged sexual continence, an opinion which was to influence medical history for over two thousand years.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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