In 1974, Juliet Mitchells groundbreaking Psychoanalysis and Feminism
presented the (then largely unpopular) case for a feminist engagement with psychoanalytic theories of sexuality and the unconscious. Nearly three decades later, Mad Men and Medusas: Reclaiming Hysteria and the Effect of Sibling Relationships on the Human Condition
is another key intervention on a topic of hysteria, which has been central to the development of both psychoanalysis and feminism. Arguing against one influential (psychiatric) account of hysteria as the disease that has disappeared in the course of the 20th century, Mitchell re-opens the debate on the meaning of hysteria from a number of different psychoanalytic and cultural perspectives. There is no way in which hysteria cannot exist, she concludes (aware that such a statement risks both universalism and essentialism); it is a particular response to particular aspects of the human condition of life and death. Mitchell is especially concerned to question, and displace, the neglect of sibling relationships in psychoanalysis (the dominance of the Oedipus complex as a site of intergenerational
conflict) at the same time as she brings the topic of lateral relations--with sibling, peers, partners--into contact with the concept of the death drive in psychoanalytic thought. This is an ambitious, and often complex, task, one that Mitchell traces through a range of contemporary debates (on male hysteria, trauma, memory, multiple personality) as well as some of the key texts in the psychoanalytic canon. In Dora: A Fragment of a Case of Hysteria in a Female, for example, Mitchell returns to one of Freud's most controversial cases to re-interpret it in terms of Doras relationship with her brother. Elsewhere, she turns to clinical and literary characters--Don Juan, Iago--to further this important new psychoanalysis of the reach, and significance, of that elusive state of hysteria. --Vicky Lebeau
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.