Chapter 5: The negation of the self

Submitted by Alias Recluse on March 31, 2014



“The two things, therefore, are to be distinctly observed—viz. that being thus perverted and corrupted in all the parts of our nature, we are, merely on account of such corruption, deservedly condemned by God…. For our nature is not only utterly devoid of goodness, but so prolific in all kinds of evil, that it can never be idle.”
John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion (1536)

The social structures of a civilization, whether agricultural-imperial, industrial-mercantile or spectacular-mafiosi, are sometimes experienced, due to the rules of morality and conduct that they impose, as disagreeable restraints on the individual desires of life, when the latter arise or when their immediate, or even deferred, satisfaction is demanded. A painful conflict therefore exists between the individual subject, his emotions, his desires, on the one side, and, on the other, the behavior required by the social organization, behavior that his consciousness validates and whose necessity he internalizes.

Apart from suicide, which allows one to put an end to this shattered life, there are only two choices: reject the moral imperatives or always live with this lacerating conflict, even striving to live with its denial. The rejection of its imperatives can take the form of individual insanity, or of moral and behavioral “perversions”. Both courses often lead to psychiatric or judicial incarceration. It may also adopt the form of active and conscious resistance against this social organization that is so obviously opposed to the requirements of life.

These different forms of rejection and resistance are only engaged in by a minority of people in periods of political and economic stability. The most common response is therefore to accept the social imperatives, submit to society’s moral laws, internalize these laws and deny the existence of the conflict. This internalization is called neurosis. It is defined as an “unconscious internal psychic conflict” between the life drives that are hard to control and an internalized socio-cultural “superego”, a conflict in which the individual “ego” tries to survive and hold itself together as well as it can.

This definition of neurosis implies that, in a solidly constructed social organization, each individual is the victim of a more or less manifest form of neurosis, with the exception of the “insane”, the “criminals” and the “politicals”, who are the raw material for extermination in the concentration camps. Over the last century, numerous studies have contributed to the establishment of certain relations between neurosis and culture. The works of Branislaw Malinowski and Margaret Mead, among others, contributed to the clarification of these relations. Previously, Sigmund Freud and his followers explained the infantile origin of neuroses by the organization of the family, such as it was presented in their own socio-cultural milieu. But the Oedipus Complex upon which psychoanalysis founded its Church is nothing but the fundamental conflict between Desire and the Law, in which the substitutes are often the mother and the father of the child. And this family structure in which the Oedipal conflict is so comfortably organized is also the product of a particular civilization.

In any case, modern psychiatry recently decided not to trespass any further into a territory that was already undermined by anthropology. It renounced the very existence of neuroses, of which it no longer recognized anything but heterogeneous symptoms without any connection with each other (the new international classifications of the CIE-10 and the DSM-IV). But this recent denial has not, of course, abolished the reality of the manifestations and the other forms of expression of neurosis.

Actually, in almost all societies, the neurotic character structure offers major advantages. It allows each person to maintain a certain contact with his contemporaries, in a world that they all consider to be “real”. This entails, however, intense suffering. It is not free of pain or of risks for the living being in controlling his own life, which is why it gives rise to a whole set of problems that simultaneously manifest the suffocation of that life and the effort to find a way out. The crises of life-threatening anxieties can suddenly engulf an impotent consciousness. Amidst these crises a basis of permanent anxiety persists, a vague feeling of danger, a ubiquitous fear. Sometimes they are associated with sleep disorders, a fear of sleeping and a fear of allowing the emergence—even in the form of the nightmare—of this unacceptable life. Sexual activity is also disturbed and oscillates, depending on the moral pressure undergone by the individual, between more or less complete impotence and constant masturbation. This suffocation of the desires leads to chronic, intense, intractable fatigue, a “generalized shortage of energy”.1

This complex of sufferings has been given the name, “anxiety neurosis”. The alterations that characterize it are literally unbearable, but the neurosis is almost always successfully concealed or largely suppressed by way of various magical operations of false consciousness, which transform this anxiety neurosis into “structured neuroses” which have been given the names, “phobic neurosis”, “obsessive neurosis” and “hysterical neurosis”. These structured forms are seldom presented in their pure state. Their symptoms are often combined and associated. In general, however, one of the structures predominates and it is advantageous to describe them separately.

In the first form of neurosis, known as “phobic”, the neurotic experiences his anxiety of self-destruction as produced by an object outside of himself. This object is sometimes indeterminate and without any discernable content: open spaces where unknown dangers might arise; closed spaces experienced as places of suffocation and death, and also darkness, which can give rise to distressing hallucinatory images. It can even adopt the aspect of threatening animals imagined to be stalking, attacking or attempting to kill the subject. It pertains, finally, to the “other”, the foreigner, the unknown: fear of contact with this other, fear of his glance, panic-stricken fear of engaging in conversation with strangers, who are assumed to be malicious and dangerous, especially “superiors” or those imagined to be “superior”, encounters with whom trigger “fight or flight” reactions.

To escape from this anxiety, some subjects shut themselves into their homes to avoid a fearful encounter. Often, a particular room in the house performs this calming function. The sick person seeks what has been called his “refuge”, a place where he can hide away from the dangerous space where the objects of terror can arise. In the absence of such a refuge, the phobic resorts to various maneuvers evocative of protection. A certain object that means something to him can be enough to pacify his anxieties. Superstitious behaviors are also related to this neurosis: maleficent words or gestures, certain numbers or, on the other hand, objects that bear a protective quality. His perpetual anxiety leads the phobic to explore his surroundings in search of the object that causes his distress. This investigation is carried out with an almost inquisitorial impatience, like a police detective, sometimes suspicious, “almost hallucinatory”, as the psychiatrists point out, to justify his avoidance of the offending object and to obtain peace of mind.

The entire life, all the feelings, and all the tastes of the phobic are marked by his mode of perceiving the world. Sometimes he seems like a detective who is constantly prying into the unknown in search of positive reference points. “The solitude of wide open spaces” scares him. That is where he seeks and where he imagines the existence of places where he can find peace. The same is true of his artistic tastes. He is torn between his need for safety and his fear of being confined in a space from which he cannot escape. Atonal music gives him the creeps but he feels imprisoned by the tonal system. In any case, he always likes medieval music. And he also adores eastern icons, Romanesque chapels, and the old songs of the past. He likes the smell of incense. In short, whether or not he presents himself as a democrat, the phobic is the exact opposite of a real libertarian. He has too much need for feeling protected by a state, by a social or religious organization, by a party. But he never allows himself to be imprisoned in any of these organizations without reluctance. And this resistance might perhaps confer upon him a libertarian air when, in fact, he proceeds from betrayal to betrayal in his flight.

In the second form of structured neurosis, called “obsessive”, the individual’s vital forces that are incompatible with the collective morality, prohibited or constrained, are not projected into the external world. They are recognized, with horror and shock, as having emerged from the deepest recesses of the individual’s being, although in strange and outlandish configurations. Sometimes they arise in consciousness as obscene images, aggressive impulses, insults, vulgarity, desires for violence and death. For the “good” conscience of the neurotic—which always conforms to that of his milieu and his times—these configurations invariably strike him as scandalous, undignified and absolutely alien. In order to dominate them, in order to prevent them from emerging, the obsessive utilizes various magical procedures that are nothing but internal police operations, minute categorizations of his own life. The obsessive strives to detect, in himself and everywhere, filth, disorder, the impure and the unjust. Internal inquisition and self-criticism are second nature to him. He hunts down spelling errors, dust, foul odors. He is obsessed with order, symmetry, cataloging, cleanliness and hygiene. Neglect horrifies him. In short, he strives to stock his thought and his surroundings with objects that he accumulates, classifies and keeps clean and that can take the form of collections, erudition, or of meticulously organized material wealth. He loves money for what it allows him to acquire and accumulate, and adores everything that is “shiny like bars of gold”. This filling up of himself prevents any unexpected emergence of his horrible secret life. His aggressiveness, which he shares with all neurotics, is manifested in the form of irony and witty repartee. He almost always forbids himself from engaging in physical and even verbal violence. His posture is rigid; his hands, sweaty from anxiety; his attitude, inflexible.

These magical operations are really effective and most obsessives never experience the emergence of the fearful life that they have successfully repressed. It is instead their own obsessions for order, classification, cleanliness, suspicious investigation, and maniacal introspection that strike them as incomprehensible, desperate and painful impulses. If they go to a doctor, it is because of these impulses. On certain occasions, however, the obsessive “lets go” and explodes in violence and coarse behavior (alcohol can help him do this), or shares his possessions in an unwonted fit of prodigality, or even smears the walls of his home with excrement, or obscene and indecent inscriptions. But then we find him on the terrain of psychiatry, that is, insanity recognized as such.

These two structured neuroses, the phobic and the obsessive, are strictly opposed. In one, prohibited life is projected into the outside world and experienced as dangerous aggressiveness. In the other, it is suffered as intimate and foul. The first arouses fear and the second, repulsion. There is a third form of neurosis, in which life has not only been expelled from the individual or kept under the steel lid of a police consciousness, but where it has been simply annihilated, ignored by a mutilated consciousness, like a forgotten memory of childhood that is never manifested in the conscious mind, but which is expressed exclusively in the body. This form of neurosis is called “hysterical” neurosis. In this form of neurosis, the neurotic has really obliterated his own life. He has not rejected it and expelled it into the outside world in order to confront it under the aspect of imaginary monsters as in the case of the phobic; nor has he buried it within himself, sealing it off in magical chains as in the case of the obsessive. He simply denies it and forgets it.

Entire dimensions of his existence have been enshrouded by self-forgetting and, obviously, this includes his authenticity and his personal identity. This fundamental emptiness appears in the inconsistency of his persona, in his propensity to gullibility and in his ability to deceive himself. He is constantly seeking a replacement personality. He is an “actor in search of an author”. The hysteric replaces his true being with a fictitious personality, with which he is not well acquainted, whose traits he must constantly perfect or correct. He has false memories; he is a mythomaniac and a teller of tall tales. He permanently fakes a sexual pleasure that he does not really experience, and does so in a theatrical and excessive manner. He is tenaciously devoted to his artificial personality in the form of a spectacle. His entire existence is essentially falsified.

Of course, his own source of life is not really annihilated; it is only destroyed in his consciousness. It is occasionally manifested and, sometimes, volcanically under the aspect of a “hysterical crisis”. The “great crisis”, described by Jean-Martin Charcot, is no longer seen, with its loss of consciousness, its contortions, its trances, and its breathless declamations that express “a struggle against an imaginary being” (Richer, 1885), in violent and erotic scenes. Today, it assumes a latent, degraded, less explicit form, as aborted “nervous breakdowns”, simple fainting fits, or “spasmophilia”. What we see, with greater frequency, is the onset of prolonged nervous disturbances, accompanied by painful spasms that can cause real organic disorders.

This hysterical neurosis generally tends to stabilize and crystallize in socially acceptable forms. It can, however, happen that hysteria “goes wrong”; it can disintegrate and give way to a “schizophrenic” psychosis—(delusions of grandeur, a feeling of depersonalization)—in which the sick person feels in all its crudeness the real experience of annihilation and possession.

All the forms of neurosis we have just briefly described are the result of tyrannical social pressures exercised by the neurotic himself against his own life drives. Often, these pressures are transmitted at first by the family, which is the elementary form of social organization, in general and depending on each epoch. And they can only be internalized by the neurotic who would otherwise lose all his intellectual, emotional and social refuges.

As for the particular form of neurosis—phobic, obsessive, or hysterical—it appears that it is also very much influenced by the structure of the societies in which it is most often manifested. It is not going too far to call them “socio-neuroses”.

Among the nomadic hunter-gatherer peoples, neurotic manifestations seem to be abundant and some ethnologists and psychiatrists have not refrained from making an inventory of them, just as the Christian missionaries of the past catalogued lists of all the signs of satanic possession. Thus, the belief of these peoples in hideous evil spirits, sometimes embodied in wild animals, spirits that are invoked or exorcised by means of magical or superstitious ceremonies, testifies to the presence of a collective phobic neurosis; not to mention the religious taboos and the tribal totems about which we have already spoken in this essay. Furthermore, their belief that the individual can be “possessed” by an evil spirit, and the practices devoted to preventing this spirit from harming him, can easily be interpreted as symptoms of an obsessive neurosis. As for the ceremonies of the dance, trances, ecstatic states, and rhythmic shouts and chants, they undoubtedly evoke, in the eyes of modern observers, manifestations of collective hysteria. As a result, it might seem that primitive peoples are the victims of polymorphous neuroses that totally dominate their individual and social life.

Nonetheless, these pictures that are so rich in detail lack the very basis that would allow us to consider them as psychopathological: the neurotic personality and the behaviors that derive from that personality. None of the numerous testimonies of ethnologists concerning the nomadic Amerindians, the Pygmies of Central Africa or the Eskimos provide any evidence of such neurotic disturbances. The apparent phobias of these peoples never lead them to seek specific places of refuge. To the contrary, their entire nomadic civilization is based on the absence and rejection of such protective places. Likewise, the collective expressions that might be interpreted as signs of obsessive neurosis are not accompanied by any mania for order, classification or the accumulation of objects, or the creation of collections or accumulation of wealth. As for the hysterical personality, or more correctly, the tragic absence of real personality in the hysteric, no sign of it is observed among these peoples: the nomad does not need to look for a fictitious personality, he is “attached” to his own authenticity.

This surprising discrepancy between the apparent excess of symptoms and the absence of the ordinarily underlying neurotic disturbances is significant. Everything takes place here as if the neurotic symptoms—which are common to all organized societies, insofar as the individual confronts a set of collective rules—are neutralized by truly therapeutic cultural mechanisms. Thus, the phobias, connected to the perception of one’s own asocial and predatory life as external to oneself, in the form of a wild animal, for example, are spontaneously extinguished in the identification with the object of the phobia. In the same way, obsessions, which are the expressions of the rise of these same impulses from within oneself, are consumed in the identification with a universal life force. As for the manifestations of “collective hysteria”, they are what allow the living subject who is fenced in by social restrictions to freely express himself: the risk of hysteria, of self-forgetting, is periodically exorcised by means of organized sessions of orgiastic expression.

By means of a whole range of socio-cultural mechanisms, the nomadic civilizations successfully prevented the emergence of individual and collective neuroses, unlike what took place later in other forms of civilization. Nor should we be surprised. The nomad recognized himself as an element of a group with which he totally identified. His participation in the rules of the community never stands opposed, with regard to its fundamental aspects, to the expression of his individual impulses, and cannot lead to the emergence of real neuroses. Here, the social rules are not, in any respect, tyrannical, or imposed by an external power, but are permanently dictated by the group as a whole. In the identification of the individual subject and the social subject, the internalization of the collective rules does not lead to the formation of a “superego” that would impose laws and standards of conduct that are radically opposed to those of the individual subject, and the potential for a neurotic conflict is considerably diminished. In addition, the identification of the nomad with universal life also prevents the formation of a real neurosis. For in this kind of consciousness, no reality of the outside world is separate from the person who conceives it. The phobic object is also internal; the obsessive theme is also external, and the affirmation of the individual subject is confirmed and guaranteed by way of the affirmation of the subject of the world. No neurosis has any chance of being constituted and crystallizing in this kind of civilization.

It is altogether otherwise in the social groups that permanently occupied a particular geographic space to cultivate the land from generation to generation, with or without slaves. The confinement of human collectivities in enclosed territories—and fortified against possible external aggressors—as well as the social organization into specialized castes that resulted from these new ways of life, led to singular mental disturbances.

Universal consciousness and social consciousness, usurped by the religious and military castes, were separated from individual consciousness from that point on; and the unitary consciousness was lost for everyone. The collective moral imperatives, internalized by each member of the group, no longer recognized the legitimacy of individual impulses, which had become unacceptable with respect to the social rules. These individual impulses, which were dangerous for the survival of the settled group and rejected by the consciousness of each person, did not have free rein except outside of the fortified frontiers. They took the form of predatory hordes, and the wild beasts that prowled around the vicinity of the settlements. Individual aggressiveness, which originated in these impulses and which consciousness could not admit as proper, was then projected into that threatening outside world from which the group had isolated itself. Here were the grounds of the phobic neurosis, which developed in all the settled agricultural societies.

Each member of these societies expressed via this phobic neurosis his irrational fears with regard to certain objects that allegedly were the bearers of aggressive intentions, of fictitious dangers, as well as with regard to the empty spaces—the sky, the ocean, the far horizons—or during quiet times in the form, for example, of the vague shapes in the twilight; spaces and moments where imaginary forms and forces, malignant and terrifying, were apprehended and hallucinated. The old imperial civilizations of India and China, Pharaonic Egypt and Mesopotamia, Mexico and the Andes were tormented by these purely immaterial malignant powers. The real dangers to which these civilizations were necessarily exposed—potential invaders, wild animals or natural catastrophes—were perceived as the material representations and tangible proofs of these abstract, incorporeal and timeless powers, which had to be incessantly exorcized and combated and whose approach had to be anticipated. From the demon armies of Taoism to the djinns of Islam and the satanic legions of medieval Christianity, along with the evil genies of ancient Egypt and the Mesopotamian devils, among others, the men of these settled agricultural civilizations were bewitched by and obsessed with the invisible forces whose presence they experienced in a confused but real way. These nefarious powers possessed all the characteristics of the living individual subject, hemmed in by a social morality whose rules were internalized by all: there were demons devoted to pillage, wreckers, soul-stealers; they were often erotomaniacs and always inveterate enemies of the rules acknowledged by the refined civilizations.

This same phobic neurosis was manifested, of course, in medieval Europe, as is testified by the popular religion, art and even the sciences of this period of European history. The men of the Middle Ages lived in a state of constant alert and this anxiety cast its shadow over their existence. Those times, of course, did not lack danger: the risks of invaders bent on pillage, unforeseen famines, and violent death, were ubiquitous. But these dangers do not by themselves explain such anxiety; today one can live a stone’s throw from a nuclear power plant or amidst a full-blown AIDS epidemic without any misgivings. The Middle Ages were tormented by an irrational anxiety, nourished on visions, apprehensions and fantastic interpretations. Terrifying beasts were reported in hallucinations; dragons and monsters of the wilderness made the inhabitants of entire towns tremble in fear; domestic animals were claimed to possess evil attributes—black cats, goats with cloven hooves, and other horned beasts—creations or materializations of the devil in person. From the depths of the night fearful apparitions emerged; that was when the witches danced at their black Sabbaths in the forests that still covered immense tracts of the European continent. And that is when the seventh sons took on their true form as sorcerers and prepared terrible sendings against those who did not have sufficient protection.

The unknown spaces were also full of terrifying images. Marc Bloch says: “In stormy skies people still saw phantom armies passing by: armies of the dead, said the populace; armies of deceitful demons, declared the learned, much less inclined to deny these visions than to find for them a quasi-orthodox interpretation.” (These processions of the dead that the common people projected into the sky were, as far as the bastions of moral order were concerned, nothing but the false representations of devils.) Monsters also guarded the portals of the horizons and the depths of the ocean concealed all kinds of fabulous incarnations that prevented travelers from venturing too far from the coasts.

All these images and anxieties represented a basic fear: the fear of the devil, the devourer of souls and convicted sex fiend. It was the devil that was recognized in evil animals, in the vague images of the twilight sky, behind the infinite horizon or in the farthest reaches of the ocean. Everyone knew that there would be a final confrontation with him some day, at the moment of individual death, of absolute solitude. This encounter is also inscribed in history under the form of the “End Times” and the “Last Judgment”. Around the year 1000, in accordance with a somewhat loose interpretation of the Book of Revelation, it was announced with great fanfare that the date of the Second Coming would be the one-thousandth year after Christ (after his birth? Or his death? According to which calendar?), and during those years “waves of fear swept almost incessantly over this region or that, subsiding at one point only to rise again elsewhere” (Marc Bloch).

Such phobic socio-neuroses are therefore easily identified in all the imperial agricultural civilizations for which we have historical accounts. Everywhere, evil forces swarmed around and beneath the anxious masses. But what definitively characterize the phobic nature of these societies are the means that they used to protect themselves from or to neutralize these evil forces. As in the individual phobic neurosis, this mainly took the form of places of refuge, but also of objects invested with the same protective virtue, or even magical practices devoted to ward off danger.

All the territories where the settled agricultural civilizations developed are covered with temples, sanctuaries, and monasteries, sacred spaces for providing shelter from the machinations of the devils, where the individual could find asylum and safety. In medieval Europe, an entire town sang the words of the Psalmist: “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings” [Psalm 61:4] and “May there be peace inside your walls and prosperity in your palaces” [Psalm 122:7]. In his Manuel de psychiatrie, Henri Ey quotes these words spoken by a patient who suffered from phobic neurosis: “Now that I am sitting down, I feel at peace. When I see my refuge, the fear subsides: I am neither cold nor hot, my heart palpitations stop, while, a minute before, I was filled with panic, my legs gave out from under me, I was covered in sweat”. The same form, the same content, the same inspiration.

The men of the settled agricultural civilizations also had recourse to diverse tranquilizing objects, to which they attributed an authentic protective value—relics, talismans, medallions, crucifixes, amulets—just as the modern phobic neurotic uses certain objects invested by him with a protective and calming power (four-leafed clovers, touching wood, etc.). In short, daily prayers, exorcism ceremonies and pilgrimages played the same role that is performed, for the phobic neurotic, by the utterance of certain formulas, the repetition of certain gestures, attitudes or charms.

As for voluntary, and often irrevocable, withdrawal into monasteries, such as those of Hinduism, Buddhism or medieval Christianity, this also pertains to the most serious forms of phobic neuroses, forms in which the afflicted person definitively shuts himself away in a place of refuge, “devoid of desires”, reducing his existence to repeated stereotyped activities that are never varied. This life is undoubtedly similar to that of the men and women of the past who took refuge in convents and cloisters to the day of their death, places where the days and the nights followed the rhythm of repetitive activities.

If we add to this picture the fact that the sexual life of the phobic is always disturbed, in the sense that it is dominated by an intense inhibition, insofar as the “sexual desire is experienced as a threat of destruction in which anxiety prevents one from ever getting close to another person”,2 we would not be mistaken to compare this with the medieval Church’s repudiation of “fornication” and the “flesh”, as well as with the various requirements of sexual mutilation demanded in other similar civilizations in order to attain the status of an adult in the community.

The polymorphous anxieties of the imperial agricultural civilizations, and above all, the means that they deployed to protect themselves, confirm the fact that these civilizations were powerfully dominated by a phobic socio-neurosis for which their entire cultural edifice provides testimony, in their writings, in their buildings, and in their individual and collective activities. There is no reason to be surprised at the extent to which these civilizations were compelled, in order to remain faithful to their principles, to demonize the individual living subject who, at bottom, was opposed to the social subject of these civilizations.

The immense apparatus of protection constructed by the phobic civilizations, demonstrated by the multitude of temples, monasteries, objects and behaviors that served an exorcizing purpose—to which apparatus there was also a corresponding apparatus, in the secular world, of fortified castles, towers, coats of mail and helmets—was nothing but the expression of a fundamental measure of protection: that of the social order itself. This order was based on the dual ecclesiastical-military foundation, and on the happy marriage between these two orders in the medieval knighthood, and in other analogous organizations in the Far East and in Islam. The soldier-monk was undoubtedly the ideal and most respected figure in these civilizations, the perfect representative of its phobic neuroses: “He is truly a fearless knight and secure on every side, for his soul is protected by the armor of faith just as his body is protected by armor of steel. He is thus doubly armed and need fear neither demons nor men” (Bernard de Clairvaux, Liber ad milites Templi: De laude novae militae). Thus, the universal submission to the ecclesiastical-military system had its real basis in the phobic socio-neurosis; and the question that we asked above, concerning what aberration could have possibly caused men to tolerate such social organizations, encounters its answer in this collective madness.

Some readers will be shocked by this “psychiatrization” of a way of life that lasted for thousands of years, and which has left behind such admirable architecture, paintings and literature. They might even produce the texts that show that, in many of these civilizations, men were capable of recognizing the fact that their anxiety and the protections erected against it were nothing but expressions of the divided soul and that, in short, they were not unaware of the fact that this involved an interior upheaval that was taking place within man himself. This objection is unacceptable, insofar as this knowledge was always exceptional, accessible to very few individuals and, furthermore, these individuals were generally persecuted by their own religious institutions, which sometimes put them to death.

In any event, one may observe that the most salient traits of the phobic socio-neurosis were preserved for as long as these civilizations lasted. They did not begin to disintegrate until the collapse of the imperial agricultural system, in order to then give way to a civilization of a totally different kind that entailed a different kind of lunacy.

The rise of the mercantile-industrial system, first in Europe, and then in the rest of the world under the pressure of the European armies, is distinguished not only by its breakthrough scientific discoveries, or by its novel social organization, but by the fact that it entailed a different kind of perception, a way of thought and of conduct that were very different from those of the imperial agricultural civilizations, and it is not hard to identify in these new traits the broad outlines of the obsessive neurosis described by psychiatry.

The demonization of the “foreigner”, of the “infidel”, of the “barbarian” and, finally, of the unknown in general, which were characteristics of the imperial agricultural civilizations, could neither be embraced nor recognized by the new class of cosmopolitan merchants and bankers whose activities were based on foreign trade. The unacceptable freedom of life, which the old feudal order had banished beyond its frontiers and beyond the world itself, projected into the heavens and beyond the seas, combated by its priests and its armies, had to be reintegrated into the new civilization, but as an obscene and unendurable intruder, who had to be dominated, suppressed, imprisoned, and prohibited from speaking or acting. The demon had come home and it was there that he had to be fought. The basic features of obsessive neurosis are well known, with its shame-stricken ego and its neurotic firebreaks: accumulation, maniacal desire for order, scrupulous hygiene, strict and rigid moralism, and morbid introspection. These new traits were precisely the ones that characterized the new civilization.

Concerning feudal society, Marc Bloch mentions the “vast indifference to time” that was characteristic of the men of that era and adds that “the regard for accuracy, with its firmest buttress, the respect for figures, remained profoundly alien to the minds even of the leading men of that age” (it would have undoubtedly been more correct to say, “especially of the leading men of that age”). He also observes that, despite the elevated intellectual speculations of that era, medieval science was not at all devoted to understanding a “nature which, after all, was not regarded as greatly deserving of attention”. The mercantile-industrial civilization brought an entirely different kind of intellectual focus, one that would be further elaborated in the following centuries.

Among the fundamental changes that took place with the rise of the new civilization, we must first call attention to an almost generalized passion that was previously rare: the accumulation of wealth. While the ruling classes of the medieval era generously squandered the usufruct of their goods in festivals, feasts and other sumptuary expenditures, the new class of merchants accumulated their gains and re-invested them in the production process. This accumulation served to construct, consolidate and generalize a world that was completely unlike the one it replaced. Whereas the medieval ruling classes claimed to protect the group against the machinations of the devil and his worldly representatives, the new class of merchants hoped to construct a society that would be a refuge from polymorphous but internal enemies: disorder, illness, filth, ignorance, and even death itself. The new protective divinity was no longer in heaven, but in monetary reserves. The fortified tower and the temple gave way to international banks and the headquarters of trade union federations.

This passion for accumulation was even manifested in the form of art collecting, the construction of gigantic libraries, botanical gardens, public and private zoos, museums, collecting antique weapons, and stamp collecting. It can also be discerned in a maniacal zeal for learning, often very specialized and far removed from any particular intellectual project. This new passion was also institutionalized and inculcated in children in the schools, as if it were the new mercantile catechism. Everyone is exhorted not to spend without consideration, to economize, to husband their scarce resources so that one day they can acquire a little house, a broom, a dictionary, an edifying book, in order to protect themselves from homelessness, from dirt, from ignorance and from intemperance.

The war that was launched against these new enemies of the human race was never completely won, any more than was the combat waged by the obsessive neurotic against his inner demons. It would sometimes happen that a rich banker would be ruined in one night, in an outburst of unprecedented prodigality with a cabaret dancer. And it was even more common for bad workers to spend their entire week’s wages in one night at the tavern. But these paradoxical and universally condemned behaviors confirm, as if this was necessary, the obsessive and compulsive nature of the general movement of accumulation-retention that is characteristic of the new mercantile-industrial society.

This dominant passion must be considered in connection with another inclination that is also a unique characteristic of obsessive neurosis: the mania for order, classification, and uniformity. From its origin, the new civilization concerned itself with organizing and unifying the world in accordance with its rigid schemas. In France, regional customs were combated and then abolished; local dialects were persecuted and then prohibited, so that they could be replaced by a single official language. And contrary to what has been repeated endlessly, this uniformity did not have the sole purpose of facilitating the circulation of commodities, because the same tendency is observed in all fields, regardless of its advantages in each case. During that same period, of course, classical literature established the rigid rules of literary and theatrical composition. Laws were passed to regulate spelling and syntax. Medieval architecture, which was judged during this period to be detestable and incompatible with “good taste”, was replaced by a geometrical architectonic order. Alexandrine symmetry was increasingly imposed on poets and the literary innovations of François Rabelais were censured.

Apologetics for order and moderation spread to every aspect of culture. Science was not content with accumulating innumerable observations of exotic plants and animals, it had to classify them and put them into some kind of order, with botanical and zoological nomenclature, in accordance with criteria that would have not possessed the least practical value in the eyes of primitive peoples. Science warehoused and catalogued its discoveries in “neo-classical” style edifices surrounded by improbable geometrical gardens, “à la française”. This hatred of exuberance, fantasy, and living movement; this obsessive taste for order, unification, symmetry and moderation, characterized this civilization as well as its passion for the accumulation of wealth.

Another cultural peculiarity merits consideration. The new civilization engaged in a total war against “filth”, that is, dirt, “deleterious miasmas”, and “obscenity”. It cleaned and paved its streets, prohibited urination in parks and installed public urinals and washrooms everywhere. Long before the invention of microbiology, medicine no longer believed that diseases were produced by external demons, and had come to view them as indicative of the internal and invisible presence of deadly “miasmas”, which science had to detect, neutralize and destroy.

We can also mention, as yet another obsessive trait of this civilization, a strict and narrow-minded moralism, which demanded sobriety and decency, and proper language and a modest attitude, from everyone. Under this cloak of inflexibility and affectation, however, one could discern an ill-concealed aggressiveness that was expressed in the new irony, in “repartee” or by way of a rigorous casuistry that gave its most caricatural representatives a straight-jacketed, severe, stiff and artificial air, characteristic of the merchants painted by Rembrandt and Van Eyck, as well as of certain intellectuals of the 18th century (in The Last Days of Immanuel Kant, by Thomas de Quincey, and in The Confessions of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, one may find veritable clinical treatises on this neurosis). On the other hand, the modesty of the era and its constrained language concealed totally contrary tendencies that the austerity of the recommended manners sought to restrain. And one may add to the achievements of this mercantile-industrial society the invention of pornography, with the dissemination of multiple works and obscene engravings “for collectors”.

All the original traits of this civilization—accumulation of wealth, classificatory mania, inquisitorial persecution of “filth”, obtuse moralism—combined with its orgiastic, eschatological and pornographic compensations, provide a fair depiction of an obsessive socio-neurosis, where spontaneous individual life, socially unacceptable and experienced as repugnant and shameful, is subjected to the constraints of specific neurotic mechanisms.

These mechanisms form part of the construction and protection of the new mercantile-industrial organization. Just as the phobic socio-neurosis of the settled agricultural civilizations had contributed to the preservation of the ecclesiastical-military system, the obsessive socio-neurosis constituted the most solid support for capitalism for several centuries. It was responsible for giving one and all an inclination for order, for economy, for repression and self-censorship. Everywhere, it favored saving, individual discipline and respect for property, all of which were virtues that contributed to capitalist organization and working class submission.

From the very beginnings of mercantile-industrial civilization, the old Catholic religion, with its patron saints and its holy medallions, was denounced and combated by those who opposed both the absolute monarchy as well as the supremacy of the priesthood. This civilization forged a new religion, under the provisional name of “Protestantism”, with its shopkeeper’s morality, its prudery, its severity, its maniacal cult of hygiene and its constant examinations of one’s conscience whose purpose was to detect the roots of an inner sinfulness that it sought to extirpate. This loss of interest in heaven and this new passion for scrupulous self-examination on earth spread to every aspect of the culture of the era. The attention of the scientists and artists was no longer directed towards the beyond in a combination of metaphysical dimensions, but turned towards the earth and towards the inner nature of matter. The painters also rejected the old metaphysical perspective and adopted the geometrical perspective. The men of science no longer constructed theological systems, but delved tenaciously into matter, in search of its primary building blocks and its laws of association, with new instruments that were constantly being improved.

This entire culture was inseparable from the obsessive socio-neurosis that coexisted with mercantile-industrial civilization. It was dominant in Europe, and then spread to the immense territories that were gradually transformed in Europe’s image and semblance, and it remained dominant right up until quite recently. Today, however, it has given way to another socio-neurosis, one that is more compatible with our current form of social organization.

This new modern epoch, which began less than a century ago, entailed a new socio-neurosis very different from the previous one. Its characteristics are those of the old hysteria. Today, the unacceptable living subject is no longer cast up into the heavens, nor into the submarine depths, nor beyond the bounds of the horizon, nor is it combated as a shameful abscess, but has instead been completely concealed, denied, and ignored.

Whereas the possessing classes of the mercantile organization manifested, from the very beginning of that civilization, all the symptoms of an obsessive neurosis that would soon become the predominant madness of the world in accordance with the neurotic desires of those who ruled it, the producing class, the workers in particular, were the victims of another neurosis, one that resulted from the social activity to which they were relegated. In the mercantile-industrial society, the producer of goods is separated from his product at the very instant of his creative activity. His creation does not belong to him. The system of production denies his existence as a subject. And the producer rejects himself for submitting to this system. This self-rejection constitutes the basis of hysteria. Since the first decades of the 20th century, the adaptation of industry and commerce to the demands fomented by the neurotic tendencies of this class has conferred upon our current civilization its peculiar aspect of a “society of the spectacle”.

Everything that characterized the old obsessive mercantile civilization lost its main attributes. The ownership of the industrial means of production, which had previously allowed its beneficiaries to dominate all of society, had to yield a privileged position to the control of the means of information and the ownership of the instruments of communication. The current order is no longer guaranteed merely by bourgeois property and the police, but mainly by the organization of the spectacle and by the structure of language that the latter has shaped. As for the possibility of possessing or accumulating anything (except for nuclear wastes), this has now become impossible due to the instability of the entire system of production and its incessant renewal.

Likewise, the old mania for order and classification, which had helped to forge the society and the science of the preceding centuries, is now a thing of the past. Its old manorial homes, modest or seigniorial, its monotonous boulevards and its quaint little neighborhoods in the suburbs, have given way to a completely different arrangement of urban space in the new suburbs. The “disinterested” scientific research of the 18th and 19th centuries no longer conceals its total submission to the directives imposed on it by political power; and the training of new students, by way of “practice” in business and financial “apologetics”, is controlled by institutions whose goals are very different from those that were previously assigned to the university and scientific research. Even the old language, with its orthographic manias, its rigorous vocabulary and its pompous syntax, is no longer respected anywhere. Those who used to be its official guarantors have now set themselves the task of simplifying it and making it easier to use, as if it were an antiquated and ridiculous tool.

As for the demanding moralism that served as a façade for the old mercantile-industrial society, it, too, has entirely disappeared. Fraud has become a sport that is esteemed and admired by most people. No political-financial scandal, no revolt on a national scale, provokes the resignation of a government minister. Not even a notorious conviction pronounced by a criminal court interrupts the politician’s career.

The obsessive socio-neurosis, which had suffused every aspect of social life and culture throughout the last few centuries, gradually began to dissolve from the moment when industry began pay attention to the neurotic desires of those who are condemned, due to their social role, to non-existence and self-denial. This created the domain for a new socio-neurosis, whose peculiar traits coincide with those of the old hysteria described by psychiatry.

The fundamental importance of the image in hysterical neurosis is such that the latter has successfully restored “the psychoplastic and mythoplastic faculty of realization of the image”,3 and this process has gone so far that one can write, concerning this neurosis, that its motto is “Only the image, nothing but the image”.4 Our current “society of the spectacle” is also permanently inundated by a torrent of images produced by the ubiquitous television, information networks, newspapers, advertising billboards or political propaganda. This collective immersion in images is of course quite obvious today, but it is the role of identification that is performed by these images that allows us to recognize a hysterical socio-neurosis. The spectacle offers roles with which each individual can identify by way of industrially manufactured accessories that are distributed on the mass market: ridiculous clothing, electronic gadgets, furniture and decorative objects, books and other “cultural” products. The associations that pertain to these diverse elements are proposed thanks to the audiovisual productions of commercial advertising and political propaganda: the role of “young person”, “municipal councilman”, “entrepreneur”, “rebel”, “intellectual” or “creative artist”, all of them providing the opportunity to choose a fictitious personality that, eventually, you can change with each new fashion trend.

The current spectacle therefore obtains the response of a generalized mythomania, a plasticity of the persona, and, above all, a complete concealment of real life. The unemployed person, the wage worker, the tele-spectator, the abject executive, can identify with Bill Gates, with the drug trafficker Marcola, with Zinedine Zidane, with Bin Laden, with the seducer or seductress of the latest television soap opera, rather than with their own reality that they find appalling and which has no place in that spectacle. The prevailing generalized mythomania is the direct result of an abysmal vacuum of personality, of a complete concealment of the individual living subject (of which alexithymia is one of the most disturbing symptoms). If the spectacle has succeeded in dominating modern social life, this is because, first of all, it has encountered this emptiness and because it has served to compensate for it in an illusory way.

“The spectacle is not a collection of images”, Guy Debord pointed out in 1967, “but a social relation among people, mediated by images.” This social relation precisely defines hysteria. This generalized form of neurosis is therefore the one that best characterizes the “society of the spectacle”. And it is the old mercantile alienation—the privation of the ego in the modern mode of production—that generates this socio-neurosis. The spectacle is not “capital to such a degree of accumulation that it becomes an image”; it is capitalist alienation that has become so generalized and unquestioned that it engenders a universal madness. The spectacle is the clinical aspect of this madness.

Today’s hysterical socio-neurosis is manifested even more clearly in an ostentatious eroticization of all of modern social life, accompanied by an absence, which is equally evident, of sexual satisfaction. The banalization of erotic images and spectacles is, without the least doubt, a new reality in our societies. The flourishing and audacious business conducted in pornographic films, magazines and other such products confirms this invasion of our world by the sexual imaginary, previously concealed and an object of shame; as it is also confirmed by the sexual dissatisfaction of those who seek to satisfy themselves with such means. But even more significant than this specialized commercial sector, is the eroticization of advertising, of the monstrosities of fashion and even of contemporary speech, which have stupefied our fellow citizens for less than a century. Are these erotic depictions necessary to praise the virtues of a household appliance or a brand of soft drink? The contamination of today’s imagination by eroticism is such that any attempt to attract the votes of the modern public must make use of this generalized appetite. As for real sexual behavior and, above all, the satisfactions that it delivers, it is possible to measure its tragic void by the standard of these same preoccupations and of all this exhibitionism. They constitute, in the strict meaning of the word, hysterical behaviors.

The exemplary personalities on the basis of which the hysteric reconstructs his fictitious persona are easily identifiable, but the hysteric does not find the remedy for what ails him there. He contemplates his model and wants to be contemplated in this identification. He recognizes himself as admirable. He is nourished on the gaze of others and this gaze gives him life, because any other life has been prohibited to him.

This way of existing in the world exclusively through the mediation of images has given way to outrageous collective manifestations, which distinguish our hysterical epoch, of a kind that history has not witnessed since the Late Roman Empire. The extraordinary importance of sporting events, from one end of the world to the other, from the most insignificant little village to major international competitions, the attention devoted to sports by the media, and the violence to which the public surrenders itself in these events, are indicative of the modern hysteria. The spectators of a sporting event experience, vicariously, a confrontation in which they are personally committed. They identify with this contestant, or this team and, by means of this identification, they experience the intensity of emotions. Their joy or their rage can take the form of extreme violence and can continue long after the end of the spectacle, in alcohol-drenched nights. At the same time, they make their appearance at the scene of the spectacle as followers or fans and are admired as such. Afterwards, they will identify themselves with their models in real life and will offer themselves as a spectacle before the little children of the village. The universal nature of these exhibitions was unknown in previous centuries. But today, in what other less fictitious circumstances could one experience these emotions and these confrontations? These events possess, of course, the function of channeling prohibited impulses and producing a false substitute for an absent life. How could the powers that be and the media not promote them?

The same is true of contemporary musical entertainments, which are furthermore often presented at the same stadiums as the sporting events and have nothing to do with the kinds of musical concerts that were staged in previous centuries. At Woodstock or Bercy, as on the streets where “music festivals” are organized, the members of the audience composed of fans identify with the actors on the stage and they are also the object of attentions from the spectacle in their capacity as enlightened aficionados, bathed in the aura of their admirable models. The identification is so complete and the model is so perfectly internalized that today the model can only have a phantom existence in the rave parties, as it did before in the old happenings.

This collective hysteria is easily mobilized, and today’s managerial personnel use it to control crowds and induce them to participate in useful enterprises at certain economic conjunctures. The Nuremberg rallies, the great fascist demonstrations, the parades at Red Square or the militarization of the Maoist schoolchildren showed the world what a modern power could achieve on the basis of this madness. The enthusiastic public that attends the major sporting events or the big music festivals is, in any event, the breeding ground from which the states can always obtain their troops if the economic circumstances so require. This political utilization of collective hysteria has become the norm. It serves to mobilize the population around a general-president, a national hero, or an ambitious leader of the state. Ordinarily, however, this hysteria also plays a role in all the elections held in the so-called “democratic” countries: for each candidate, it is a matter of presenting to the public a suitable image with which it can identify and, with its vote, elevate itself to the level of its own representation.

The spectators who identify with their political, sports or cinema models can, in turn, serve as images for other spectators, as we see in “Reality TV” programs, or in interviews about current affairs with ordinary people who do not have the slightest idea of what they are talking about. Here is the evident triviality that is proposed as an admirable image insofar as it has been dressed up in the glamorous vestments of identifiable models. For the spectator of these displays, identification and participation are almost instantaneous. And this person, in his banality and his stupidity, is not unworthy of a certain kind of admiration. For being what he is, and nothing more, he can be contemplated by millions of tele-spectators. His nonsense ends up being an exemplary nonsense.

The hysterical transformation of non-existence into fictitious existence can also be guaranteed in games of chance (lotteries, betting on sports, etc.), on account of the luck that transforms a nobody into a somebody. By this means one can magically attain an enviable social position; from one day to the next you can go from your apartment in a high security housing complex in some suburb to a sumptuous mansion, to a whole life lived in the sun without working, surrounded by attentive servants. These games of chance have spread rapidly and, all over the world, newsstands and street vendors offer these tickets that give you a chance to enter the kingdom of marvels. Such commerce, which was considered during the obsessive era to be immoral and reprehensible, is now organized by governments, which have imposed their monopoly on this business. Most of those who participate in these games do not even believe that they have the slightest chance of winning, but they nonetheless get to participate in the magical world offered by these occasions.

More prosaically, access to a world without poverty and anxiety and, above all, to a gratifying personality, a passionate vision of oneself, can be miraculously achieved by means of various modern or ancient drugs, obtained by prescription or illicitly. And this transmutation of the ego, which previously did not interest anyone outside of artistic milieus, presently affects a significant part of the population. Toxicomanias have become truly universal. They are, unfortunately, so effective that they detract from the sales of the modern commodities that also claim to facilitate such metamorphoses.

Beyond these mythomaniacal and erotomaniacal symptoms, hysteria even manifests itself via phenomena of “somatic conversion”, in the form of various kinds of spasms or pains. While the term, “hysteria”, has almost completely disappeared from the vocabulary of modern psychiatry, its various disorders have nonetheless made great progress: today its manifestations are designated by the benign and absurd word, “spasmophilia”. These disorders can lead in turn to organic afflictions of greater or lesser severity or favor the onset of multiple illnesses that are today quite widespread. The connection that has recently been established between alexithymia and certain immune deficiencies suggests, moreover, that the latter might be on the rise as a result of hysteria.

Whatever the case may be with regard to alexithymia, the clinical profile that we have described clearly demonstrates that a hysterical socio-neurosis has become dominant in our modern societies. The impossibility of giving free rein to the individual living subject in our current form of social organization has generalized this neurosis that, in other times, only affected women in misogynist societies.

Others before me have called attention to certain even more serious psychopathological symptoms in modern societies, symptoms that they have connected, with good reason, to schizophrenia. But this very serious disorder is, precisely, one of the more developed forms of hysteria and it is not at all surprising that some of its symptoms should be appearing today.

The relation between the dominant neurosis of an era and its mode of social organization might appear, however, to be practically refuted by the existence of individual neuroses linked to the particular living conditions of individuals, to their unique individual histories. The European Middle Ages, phobic in a collective way, was not unaffected by the other forms of neurosis. Popular fables portray misers and moralists, who are clearly obsessives; and the Witches’ Sabbaths were related to hysteria. Our industrial 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, naturally obsessive, were not unacquainted with individual phobias and their effects. Nor were they unfamiliar with hysterical fits among courtesans and young socialites. Today, doctors have the opportunity to become familiar with a large number of phobias and obsessive disorders among their patients, despite the essentially hysterical nature of our modern societies. The social structures of an era are therefore not the only causes of neuroses, and different factors, individual and micro-social—that is, family-related, occupational and cultural—play a role and contribute their own symptoms to those peculiar to the era.

The relations between neurosis and culture, however, are displayed in such cases by the predilection of neurotics for the era in which their own particular neurosis was dominant, and in their aversion towards their own historical time. The phobics whom one encounters these days feel in a confused way the presence in their environment of dangerous, hidden forces, against which they must protect themselves and whose attacks must be anticipated. To a significant degree they display a preference for sectarian religious or parapsychological groups. They might participate in study groups that address such issues, they might go to meetings or even lectures on these topics or they may even attend retreats. They feel a preference for the epochs and civilizations in which those concerns and interests to which they devote so much attention were more relevant than they are today. Some of them are waiting for our world to be saved by celestial intervention—whether by extraterrestrials or by the “king of the world”—that will dispel all its nightmares in one fell swoop. Such phobics already existed in the 18th century and had the same kind of nostalgic dreams. In the same way, the obsessives of our hysterical era reproach the modern world for its filth, its violence, its disorder, and its ignorance. In the refuges of their studies, meticulously ordered, they deplore the disappearance of an art of living such as the 18th century had effectively fostered. The pure hysterics, however, go to the concerts at Bercy or the Roland Garros stadium, they delight in watching television and in virtual encounters and they feel very happy to live in times that offer them such opportunities and tools. In this way, individual neuroses confirm the relations that exist between them and the civilizations in which they were dominant.

In addition, those neuroses that apparently contradict their epoch are often caused by cultural factors that are specific to a social milieu or a particular economic situation. Hysteria, long considered to be a female neurosis (from the Greek ὑστερικός: disease of the womb), was actually quite common among women in those civilizations that denied their social existence, in the gynaecea of the misogynist civilizations or in the bourgeois society of the 19th century, which allowed them only a utilitarian (mother), a decorative (mistress) or a notorious role (whore); that is, in eras when this privation of the ego had yet to affect the entire population. Similarly, the obsessive character of certain individuals of the European Middle Ages or our times is to be found especially among those whose professional activities cause them to handle money and keep accounts. The painting of the Arnolfini Wedding, by Van Eyck, at the end of the 15th century; the medieval illustrations of the sin of avarice or certain reflections contained in the 13th century Book of Marvels of the World, allow us to presume that this neurosis was particularly widespread among merchants, long before that class became the ruling class.

Even today, amidst full-blown collective hysteria, the managers of the modern world, stuffy, orderly and self-sufficient, are more like their merchant ancestors than those whom they are supposed to represent. For neuroses are initially transmitted in the family and through the family’s way of life, and Klaulis has even pointed out that cases of hysteria are forty-five times more common in families with a history of hysteria than in the general population.5

The existence of a range of different kinds of individual neuroses during the epochs when a particular socio-neurosis was dominant thus does not preclude the relation between neurosis and civilization. To the contrary, these paradoxical neuroses confirm and refine this relation. The phobic neurosis, linked to enclosure within a system of seemingly protective prohibitions, generally arises in early infancy. It may reappear in adulthood under certain circumstances. This neurosis was prevalent in the settled agricultural civilizations that endured the constraints of isolation and submission to a defensive social organization. The obsessive neurosis, which almost always emerges later in childhood, is linked to a moralistic, introspective and self-repressive upbringing. It develops in the most disciplinarian milieus, among the mercantile or intellectual bourgeoisie, and this neurosis had its moment of glory when these sectors took the reins of leadership in Western Europe. As for hysteria, which is the forgetting and denial of the ego, it first develops even later, when the child is called upon to adapt to precise models of behavior, with a total disregard for his own authenticity. It is found, of course, among the women of misogynist societies and is generalized in our time, when such models are imposed on everyone.

These different socio-neuroses are thus very characteristic of specific modes of civilization and the history of humanity is not just that of its technical development or some kind of “progress”, nor is it even just that of its institutions and revolutions. It is also the history of its collective mental disorders.

These mental disorders, which are engendered by fear, by shame or by amnesia with respect to oneself, helped to model and preserve, for relatively long periods of time, various forms of civilization in the great sedentary social organizations. They rapidly dissolved when the historical conditions that had given rise to them also disappeared and, at that moment, the civilizations that they had helped to construct became really intolerable and were rapidly transformed.

  • 1 See Henri Ey, Manuel de psychiatrie, Masson, 1967.
  • 2 Ibid.
  • 3 Ibid.
  • 4 See M. B. J. Logre, État mental des hystériques, 1924.
  • 5 See Henri Ey, op. cit.