What Is the Connection between Terror and Hysteria?

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  • Written By: G. Wiesen
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2019
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The connection between terror and hysteria in a general sense is typically seen as one of causation in which terror creates hysteria. Terror is typically viewed as a response of extreme fear to a particular event or occasion, and this fear can be created either due to a conscious effort to create terror or as a response to a random event. Hysteria is often defined as a state in which someone’s emotions take control and physical symptoms can result. For many people who study these conditions, terror and hysteria are linked as an event creates terror for someone that is then turned into a hysterical state.

To understand the link between terror and hysteria, it is important to first understand what each of these terms means. Terror is a state of mind that occurs as a result of intense fear due to some occurrence or object. Someone may experience terror at the sight of a spider, screaming and freezing in fear rather than simply removing or killing the spider. Terror is often caused by particular actions, and while it may be accidental, there are also some individuals who purposely aim to create terror, often called “terrorists.”


While terror and hysteria are frequently connected through an instance of fear, hysteria can be created as a result of just about any powerful emotion. The word “hysteria” has been used in a number of contexts and many people may see it synonymously with the term “female hysteria.” These are different concepts, however, so they should be considered separately. In a general sense, hysteria merely refers to any state in which someone’s emotions are able to control his or her actions or thoughts, such as someone hearing of an outbreak of a disease and manifesting psychosomatic symptoms due to his or her fear of the illness.

With this understanding of terror and hysteria, the connection can be more easily seen. Someone experiencing an event or connecting with an idea that induces terror may then enter a state of hysteria as the terror takes control of his or her body. A person might hear about the outbreak of a deadly virus and begin experiencing nausea or other physical reactions and symptoms as terror creates a physical response in his or her body, without external causes for this reaction. Terror and hysteria can also be linked through an event that creates mass hysteria, in which multiple people all experience similar physical reactions due to terror and a type of sympathetic connection to others who become hysterical.


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