by MC


Hysteria is no longer seen as the provision of the female eccentric. Rather, it implies a surge of emotion strong enough to manifest itself physically in anyone. In a society where emotion is regarded as superfluous, where a cool-headed, neutral approach is held in the highest of regard, can hysteria have a place? The Beat poets, Jocelyn Pook and the poetry of Coleridge may represent the few remaining references our society has for hysteria’s creative effects and whilst tranquillity and balance is sure to be coveted, this seems perverse. We are increasingly a society of robots. Do we wish to relegate even our most passionate of outpourings to fear and to manic obsession? Instead, is it possible to harness this passion is an otherwise tranquil life and create something vivid and ablaze in a world of magnolia?


Hysteria comes in many forms, sometimes indistinguishable from one and other, as Milan Kundera points out in the Unbearable Lightness of Being, “He realized he had no idea whether it was hysteria or love.” If the two merge, they create an emotion so powerful it can only be harnessed through the most creative of outlets. It is down to us to decide whether to accept this and use the power for our good or to the detriment of ourselves and society. When the latter is the outcome, hysteria becomes the negative loss of control we see today. At that point, havens of peace - be it a retreat or a hillside town coated in fog - are the respite we need to step back from a world that swirls like an all-consuming vortex.