- Do you frequently question your own identity or purpose?
- Do your feelings or emotions tend to be extreme or intense?
- Do you often feel an intense desire for something more or something else, without knowingwhat that might be?
- Do you feel misunderstood by others, even when they are trying to understand you?
- Do you often question the authenticity of love or attention directed towards you?
- Are you often driven by a need for validation or confirmation from others?
- Do you often oscillate between feelings of confidence and inadequacy?
- Do you often overthink or overanalyze situations?
- Are you often preoccupied with how others perceive you?
- Do you frequently feel like you’re on the outside looking in?
- Do you often express dissatisfaction with societal norms or expectations?
The concept of hysteria, though historically stigmatized and misunderstood perhaps still provides a pungent way of examining the by-products of wanting.
According to Lacanian theory, the hysteric is perpetually unsatisfied, constantly questioning their identity and purpose, always expressing an insatiable desire for something more. Their experience, frustrating both for the one experiencing it, as well as those who are witnesses to the lack, is that of an existential void that is difficult to fill. Physical symptoms often surface as cryptic expressions of inner turmoil. Suffering is oblique, erratic, and unavailing.
Doesn’t this sound oddly familiar, reflecting our collective state of mind as a global community?
Our current era, characterized by rapid technological advancements, global pandemics, environmental crises, and social unrest, leaves us in a state of constant questioning and uncertainty. As a society, we are persistently seeking more, wrestling with a relentless desire for progress, yet unsure of what it is we are truly seeking.
The existential questions posed by the hysteric are becoming universal as we grapple with our individual and collective identities amidst shifting societal norms. Who are we as individuals in the digital age? What is our purpose as a species facing monumental challenges like climate change and social inequality?
We’re manifesting physical symptoms on a global scale, too. The environmental crisis is akin to the hysteric’s conversion symptoms – a physical manifestation of our collective neglect and abuse of our shared home. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed our societal and health vulnerabilities, reflecting our internal chaos on a biological scale.
Moreover, the omnipresence of social media and the digital world often exacerbates feelings of lack and dissatisfaction. The constant comparison with carefully curated online lives fuels our collective sense of inadequacy and longing for more.
The theatricality of the hysteric’s discourse is mirrored in our social interactions as well. The modern world is brimming with drama, not just on an individual scale but collectively. Protests, conflicts, and global tensions fill our screens, maintaining a constant state of external and internal unrest.
However, to view our societal condition as pathological would be an oversimplification. Just like the hysteric in Lacan’s framework, our collective hysteria is not a condition to be cured but a form of discourse, an expression of our shared struggles and desires.
Understanding this “collective hysteric” state can guide us towards introspection and change. It can help us understand our desires and fears better, providing insight into how we can address our individual and shared challenges.
Recognizing our collective hysteria does not serve to label us as a species in pathological crisis. Instead, it offers a unique perspective on our shared existential plight, encouraging a deeper understanding of our collective psyche and promoting a dialogue on how we can navigate this complex, ever-evolving global landscape.
In the face of a shared crisis, it has become more and more necessary to leverage our collective awareness and desire for more to foster positive change, acknowledging our shared hysterical discourse as a catalyst for meaningful societal transformation. Only then can we move beyond the questioning and start finding answers.