A somatoform (psychoneurotic or psychosomatic) disorder in which there is an alteration or loss of physical functioning that suggests a physical disorder such as paralysis of an arm or disturbance of vision, but that is instead apparently an expression of a psychological conflict or need; a diagnostic term, referable to a wide variety of psychogenic symptoms involving disorder of function, which may be mental, sensory, motor, or visceral. See somatoform disorder. [G. hystera, womb, from the original notion of womb-related disturbances in women]
- anxiety h. h. characterized by manifest anxiety.
- conversion h. h. characterized by the substitution, through psychic transformation, of physical signs or symptoms for anxiety; generally restricted to such major symptoms as blindness, deafness, and paralysis, or lesser ones such as blurred vision and numbness. SYN: conversion h. neurosis, conversion neurosis, conversion reaction.
- dissociative h. an unconscious process sometimes seen in patients with multiple personalities, or in h., in which a group of mental processes is separated from the rest of the thinking processes, resulting in an independent functioning of these processes and a loss of the usual relationships among them.
- epidemic h. SYN: mass h..
- mass h. 1. spontaneous, en masse development of identical physical and/or emotional symptoms among a group of individuals, as seen in a classroom of schoolchildren; 2. a socially contagious frenzy of irrational behavior in a group of people as a reaction to an event. SYN: epidemic h., mass sociogenic illness.

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hys·te·ria his-'ter-ē-ə, -'tir- n
1 a) a psychoneurosis marked by emotional excitability and disturbances of the psychic, sensory, vasomotor, and visceral functions without an organic basis
b) a similar condition in domestic animals
2) behavior exhibiting overwhelming or unmanageable fear or emotional excess

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1. formerly, a neurosis characterized by emotional instability, repression, dissociation, some physical symptoms (see hysterical), and vulnerability to suggestion. Two types were recognized: conversion hysteria, now known as conversion disorder; and dissociative hysteria, comprising a group of conditions now generally regarded as dissociative disorder. See also neurosis.
2. a state of great emotional excitement.

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hys·ter·ia (his-terґe-ə) [Gr. hystera womb, from the antiquated belief that wandering of the uterus caused mental disturbances] a now somewhat nebulous term formerly used widely in psychiatry. Its meanings have included (1) classic hysteria (now somatization disorder); (2) hysterical neurosis (now divided into conversion disorder and dissociative disorders); (3) anxiety hysteria; and (4) hysterical personality (now histrionic personality disorder).

Medical dictionary. 2011.

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