Readings — From the December 2013 issue

I Wept for Four Years and When I Stopped I Was Blind

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By Siri Hustvedt, from a keynote lecture delivered in Paris at this year’s winter meeting of the Société de Neurophysiologie, to be published in a special issue of Clinical Neurophysiology, “Conversion Syndrome and Its Boundaries.” Hustvedt is the author of several works of fiction and non-fiction. The Blazing World, a novel, will be published in March by Simon & Schuster.

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  • Dennis Daniel

    Fascinating discussion. I especially appreciated the link between hysterical blindness and shell shock. The idea that the human mind responds to unbearable trauma by creating a physical malfunction suggests to me that the same mechanism may be at work in schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. When the reality in which one lives becomes unbearable, one creates a more comfortable reality.

    • Hendrik Jeremy Mentz

      Didn’t the significance lie in Myers’ observation that it was the ordinary soldiers, the men in the trenches deprived of agency who developed symptoms of hysteria and not their offices, coupled with Hustvedt’s suggestion as to why it is often women who ‘have traditionally had far less to say about their fates than have men’ who likewise develop symptoms of hysteria?

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