Hysteria: the reverse of anosognosia

Frédérique de Vignemont
Institut Jean Nicod
Hysteria has been the subject of controversy for many years, with theorists arguing about whether it is best explained by a hidden organic cause or by malingering and deception. However, it has been shown that hysterical paralysis cannot be explained in any of these terms. With the recent development of cognitive psychiatry, one may understand psychiatric and organic delusions within the same conceptual framework. Here I contrast hysterical conversion with anosognosia. They are indeed remarkably similar, though the content of their respective delusions is the opposite. In hysterical paralysis, patients are not aware of their preserved ability, whereas in anosognosia for hemiplegia, patients are not aware of their disability. Four main explanations have been provided to account for anosognosia: metacognitive, attentional, motor, and motivational views. I will apply each of these accounts to hysterical paralysis and show that, at each level, hysterical conversion is the reverse of anosognosia. I will suggest that hysterical paralysis results from the interaction between attentional somatosensory amplification and affective inhibition of action.
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References found in this work BETA

Monothematic Delusions: Towards a Two-Factor Account.Martin Davies, Max Coltheart, Robyn Langdon & N. Breen - 2001 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 8 (2-3):133-58.
Intentionality.J. R. Searle - 1983 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 49 (3):530-531.
Monothematic Delusions: Towards a Two-Factor Account.Martin Davies, Max Coltheart, Robyn Langdon & Nora Breen - 2001 - Philosophy, Psychiatry, and Psychology 8 (2):133-158.

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