TYPES OF PAIN: HYSTERICAL PAIN
Hysteria is a condition in which some symptom develops which acts to solve some conflict for the patient. The conflict may be conscious or unconscious, and the symptoms may solve the conflict in some realistic way or may solve it only in some symbolic fashion, but in either case it usually does the patient harm in some other way. Very often the symptom takes the form of paralysis of a limb. For instance, a soldier may be approaching the enemy position. Naturally, he is afraid. He stumbles and falls; and suddenly finds that his leg is paralyzed. He is unable to go on. The hysterical symptom has served as a means of solving the conflict between his desire to do his duty and his desire to save himself. In a similar way pain may be a hysterical symptom.
The boy who has not done his homework suddenly develops a pain in the stomach when he is about to leave for school. It is real pain. He feels it and it hurts him. He cries with it. In fact this is a feature of hysterical pain; the sufferer has to let others know about it. These examples may seem very simple, but they are real; and we must remember that the soldier in fact cannot move his leg, and the child does in fact suffer pain. It is not altogether uncommon for adults to develop a severe headache when the time comes for some task which they do not relish. The circumstances may be such that the headache excuses them from the task; or on the other hand it may provide a ready excuse to themselves or to others for not doing it well.
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