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[hi-ster-ee-uh, -steer-] /hɪˈstɛr i ə, -ˈstɪər-/
an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, weeping, etc.
Psychoanalysis. a psychoneurotic disorder characterized by violent emotional outbreaks, disturbances of sensory and motor functions, and various abnormal effects due to autosuggestion.
Psychiatry. conversion disorder.
Compare mass hysteria.
1795-1805; hyster(ic) + -ia
Related forms
subhysteria, noun Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2015.
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British Dictionary definitions for subhysteria


a mental disorder characterized by emotional outbursts, susceptibility to autosuggestion, and, often, symptoms such as paralysis that mimic the effects of physical disorders See also conversion disorder
any frenzied emotional state, esp of laughter or crying
Word Origin
C19: from New Latin, from Latin hystericushysteric
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
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Word Origin and History for subhysteria



1801, coined in medical Latin as an abstract noun from hysteric (see hysterical).

Online Etymology Dictionary, © 2010 Douglas Harper
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subhysteria in Medicine

hysteria hys·ter·i·a (hĭ-stěr'ē-ə, -stēr'-)

  1. A neurosis characterized by the presentation of a physical ailment without an organic cause, such as amnesia.

  2. Excessive or uncontrollable emotion, such as fear.

hys·ter'ic (hĭ-stěr'ĭk) or hys·ter'i·cal (hĭ-stěr'ĭ-kəl) adj.
The American Heritage® Stedman's Medical Dictionary
Copyright © 2002, 2001, 1995 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.
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subhysteria in Culture

hysteria definition

A complex neurosis in which psychological conflict is turned into physical symptoms, such as amnesia, blindness, and paralysis, that have no underlying physical cause. Early in his career, Sigmund Freud worked on hysteria.

The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition
Copyright © 2005 by Houghton Mifflin Company.
Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.
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