Love Means Never

Love Means Never
Hysteria and Paranoia
Earl Jackson, Jr.
Spring 1997
University of California, Santa Cruz

The Practice of Conversation

Student Six Reveals his identity in a Response to Jordan’s Response to Eric’s Response to Kate’s Intervention

Date: Friday, April 11, 1997 6:39:33 PM
From: Richard Gropp
Subj: Re: Hot Potato (was: …)
To: Jordan Smith
cc: Group 190

To start off, I just want to mention that I almost deleted your message
after reading the title. I thought it was one of those junk email, WWW,
pay-sex offers us non-ludites get upon occasion. I’m glad I didn’t though,
for, you see, I am Six (nice
to meetcha
)…. Thanks for the energetic response; your comments have been very helpful (at least in clarifying some
of the ideas in my head). I’m just going to respond to the points directed
at my response paper.

Jordan Antony M Smith wrote, at 5:29 PM, on the 11th of 4 in 97:

I agree with your analysis of the manipulations of or, much
better, the restrictions placed on feminine sexuality at the time
(restrictions which still exist, duh), as the implication is one I
hold true at this point- the rigidity of socialization cause(d)/(s)
continual or repeated psychic trauma in the subjects when its dictates
comes into conflict with desires, as it cut off the individual from its
„natural state.“
This is a point that it seemed to me Student Six (M) furthered in his
argument, although there was one part that seemed to disagree. It
seemed that Six acknowledged the role social restriction played in
facilitating the existence/occurence of the trauma through such
phrases as „restricted scope of accepted activity and means of
expression available to women,“ „the few means of expression open to
women of the time,“ and „the impositions placed on conscious action
and communication–limiting women to ‚lady-like‘, non-sexual
behavior in both action and talk.“ Six must be aware of the
implication of socialization here, or else who or what can we hold
culpable, or if you want, responsible, for the restriction,
limitation, lack of accepting, cutting off of evidently potential
„means of expression“ etc., in its stead?

I can’t argue with that.

However (now I suppose
>I’ve turned from Eric to Six), I got a bit confused when it came to
>the part wherein you discussed the changes between now and then
>(fourth paragraph). I’ll put a little quote so everyone has my
>confusion handy:


The sphere of their existence was limited to pleasing their
husbands and snotty kids, by being polite, subservient
housekeepers, while keeping their thoughts and feelings to
themselves. It seems likely that a woman whose intelligence and
creativity has developed sufficiently might be willing to
unconsciously convert her conflict into hysterical symptoms in
order to receive the secondary gain of attention. In this schema,
the patient’s turmoil is not created by her (or his) restricted
role in society — conflicted sexuality is the actual cause– but
it does decide the manner in which this complex is expressed…

(Student Six)

Great, I agree with a lot of it, but… Why do you exclude social or
societal restrictions from the realm of culpability?

Yeah, I see what you mean. But hysteria generally (exceptions are
possible, I guess) comes about at the point where sexuality is conflicted
due to restrictions placed on females by society. To further clarify
this point, I am now going to reprint some ideas I jotted down the other
day, as a response to Eric’s email (I ended up not sending it out):

„In the society that Freud’s case histories are grounded in, the prevalent
belief seems to be that there is no female sexuality …. Due to societal
constraints, females are excluded from seeking out, or even desiring,
sexual objects or sexual release… _They are basically asexual_ (they are
constructed to be that way); they are excluded from being the subject of
the gaze/the subject of desire…. Perhaps the repressed conflict at the
root of these symptoms is the cognitive dissonance created by the competing
thoughts: ‚I desire …‘ and ‚I am a woman / I want to be a good woman /
and women _can’t_ desire.‘ (the second thought having been forced on them
by society).“

You are right. I misspoke/miswrote in my first response. It seems to be
the societal role that both determines the symptom, and acts as its
genesis. But it is no accident that both the symptoms and their causes
are sexual

How many
>other stronger motivations to take care of her snotty kids and
>probably fat, lazy husbands [my addition, just for fun] could
>there be? In the very last part, do you mean the physical
>specifics of the hysterical symptom are mediated or dictated by
>socialization? No, that can’t be it, or else the symptoms would
>have to be in accord with „proper socialization“ which we see
>generally are not (although physical pain cannot be socially
>condemned or condoned, things like running away and climbing trees
>can, I believe).

Freud pointed out that cases of pure hysteria are very rare; they are
usually mixed in with other psychological symptoms (SoH). I saw this part
of Anna O.’s symptoms as not being, strictly speaking, hysterical.
Hysterical symptoms are somatic complaints without a somatic cause; I don’t
think hallucinations fit into this category … (or maybe they do. Who’s
the authority here? Earl?) … This is, however, no answer to your

As an answer, I’d say that the manner in which the repressed conflict of
the patient is expressed (namely, the formation of hysterical symptoms)
is dictated by society (namely, by the exclusion of any other method of
communicating sexual conflicts). Whereas, the specifics of the symptoms
— whether I limp, or cough, or exhibit paralysis — is determined by
associations to the traumatic memories…. Charcot had already popularized
this strange, hystrionic form of hysteria — had, in fact, made it en
. And, at this point in time, it seems preferable to deal with
physical, although perplexing, complaints than being forced to deal with
female sexuality in any open, uncensored form…. The fact that the
symptoms women are forced to adopt are so severe, and that it is preferable
to accept this than the existence of sexual thoughts and desires in women,
would seem to express the societal belief that even the possibility of
female sexuality is terrifying.

One last thing to Six- there is a proverb, unfortunately I can’t
>remember which culture it comes from (although I know it is one
>where the wearing of the fez abounds, as you’ll soon see why),
>that goes something like this: If you want to know what is going
>on, you have to put on your fez and go down to the marketplace. I
>think that the idyllic scene into which you posit the „woman of
>today“ (if a collectivity like this is even fair) might call for a
>visit to that proverbial marketplace, because I just don’t see
>that picture around me.

There is no need to lecture me.

I am hardly claiming that equality exists. I am merely saying that the
number of (preferable) ways to express unconscious symptoms has greatly
increased. Whereas, the desparate need for attention that the downright
stifling norms of Freud’s time occasioned has greatly decreased. That, in
a nutshell, is why hysteria has pretty-much passed on. That form of
conversion defense was a desperate measure for desperate times; and while
there is still a great deal of work that needs to be done (righting stupid
stereotypes, creating equality between male and female roles in society)
hysteria is no longer the most desirable method for expresing repressed
sexual conflict. More means of communication are open to the female
unconscious today than in Freud’s time.

About a half hour before I received your email, I finished my second
response paper. It happens to be on this very subject: an attempt to
figure out what has replaced hysterical symptoms as a means of expressing
repressed unconscious ideas and fantasies. I came to the conclusion that
fashion, smoking, body piercing, dying one’s hair, wearing colored
contacts, and many other, similar modes of expression serve as a

Now, I dare you all to prove me wrong. (Let the fun begin!)
Richard G.

Conversations of the past, continued
Conversations of the present, instigated