Hysteria: Contested, Popularised, Diagnosed

A series of RE:CREATE Psychiatry events at The Dragon Café this March. In collaboration with PS/Y’s Hysteria programme.

Hysteria is a contested term.

It has been framed as an exaggerated, uncontrollable emotion, and diagnosed as the emanation of a psychological trauma manifesting through physical symptoms.

Rooted in medical history, our relationship with the term “hysteria” has evolved, mediated by notions of gender, race, and politics. It is entwined with our cultural identities, and firmly embedded in popular vocabularies. We have all laughed hysterically, looked away when someone was “being” hysterical, or worried about being branded hysterical ourselves.

This March, and in collaboration with PS/Y’s combined arts programme Hysteria, RE:CREATE Psychiatry will make a study of the term:

  • to understand the social constructs within which it has evolved
  • to understand how these constructs influence perceptions of people with mental health experiences – in services and beyond
  • and to crystallise what mental health services can learn from the complex history of the hysterical.

Join us every Monday in March from 6.30pm to 8.30pm at The Dragon Café for performances, screenings, and openhearted discussion.

Our weekly series of evening events will include an exploration of colonial hysteria and post-colonial experiences in Being BAME, an examination of the politics of language and gender performativity in Unreliable Narrator. We will be asking whether Fake News and the NHS is a modern hysteria, and delving into the shared experiences of the Heterotopias of Mental Health Care.

Grounding our study of hysteria in PS/Y’s research and wider Hysteria programme, we will look to further our understanding of the term – its history, and its present – by considering it within a RE:CREATE Psychiatry contextual framework and bringing the voices of mental health professionals and those with experience together to bear on the conversation.

RE:CREATE Psychiatry events are open to all and are open drop-ins – there is no need to RSVP. All mental health professionals and those with lived experience are welcome and free to arrive later or leave earlier.

The Dragon Café is in the Crypt of St George the Martyr Church, Borough High Street, SE1 1JA.



PS/Y’s Hysteria is a combined arts programme that explores health and illness in contemporary society, focusing on issues of gender, race and cultural identity. Hysteria is curated by Mette Kjærgaard Præst and takes place in partnership with organisations and institutions across London from August 2017 until April 2018.

PS/Y is a research, curating and public engagement group exploring the interface of arts and health sciences. PS/Y develops interdisciplinary projects and dialogue with artists, scientists, arts organisations, academic institutions and communities. PS/Y aims to create new creative insights to engage diverse audiences for an interdisciplinary arts practice that explores the relationship between mind and body in Western culture. PS/Y has previously been involved in delivering Anxiety, London, 2014 and Acting Out, Nottingham, 2015.

To keep up to date and to receive further information about our collaborative work with PS/Y email amneet@mentalfightclub.com or subscribe to our mailing list.


Photo credits

Image 1: Larry Achiampong, Relic 1, 4K Video (2017). Commissioned by PS/Y for Hysteria. Install photos by Sue Parkhill

Image 2: RE:CREATE Psychiatry ShrinkRadio event ‘State of Emergency: is there space for empathy in a time of crisis?’ at Wellcome Collection, November 2016. Photo by Liz Gorman