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June 22, 2007



Hey ,
I think the laughing fit is a mild version of what some people call "Hysterics" - the laughing/crying thing that's some kind of psychic defense mechanism.

That's a link to a short essay about blocked emotions in the face of continuing violence. The writer finds (on hearing that a friend has been shot) that she "want[s] to be in hysterics," wants to feel the grief, break dishes, etc. And she wonders if the other Palestinians around her suppress their feelings, too, in a group psychology.
BTW, Reb, we all use the words "hysteria," "hysterical" casually, and it's easy to forget their ancient & problematic history.
Here's another link (abstract only):


"Hysteria" is the term we use to describe the condition of the feminine in this screwed up world we've made for ourselves.

It's not an illness, but rather a natural human stress response. It's not an insult either, unless the speaker means it as an insult and, even then, the hearer can choose to treat it as a compliment.

In occupied Ireland, agoraphobia is endemic among the women.


Agoraphobia & Ireland:
From the DSM-IV-TR Casebook:
"Ann, a 32-y.o. medical secretary in Dublin, is referred to a clinic for treatment of depression. She confides that the reason she is depressed is that for the last 5 months, she has been afraid that she will urinate in public. She has never actually done this; and in the safety of her own home, she considers the idea ... to be nonsensical. [...]
"The fear of being in situations from which escape might be difficult in the event of developing an embarrassing or incapacitating symptom is called Agoraphobia.
"Usually Agoraphobia is a complication of Panic Disorder [300.21]."
There's more discussion on the differential diagnoses and the successful treatment outcome, but (unsurprisingly), nothing to put the individual's case in a cultural, let alone political, context.
TallSkinny suggests that the stress response derives from living under occupation (although this was example from Dublin and not Belfast or Derry).
I have no doubt that TallSkinny is right, and I'm always on the lookout for a good, new study of public mental health in a civilian population living under military occupation, but it seems that the few folks who could do such a study are too busy and under-resourced to do anything besides provide care.
Yesterday morning, Dr. Mona El-Farra, a medical doctor in Gaza, Palestine, gave a PowerPoint on conditions in Al-Awda Hospital, where she works, and in Gaza generally since last summer's Israeli military action (and during the current factional fighting).
She said 50% of the adults and 50% of the children she sees have a PTSD diagnosis. And she emphasized something so obvious that I'd never thought of before: Treatment and healing can only begin after the causes of the trauma stop.
If your community is continuously seething with violence, there's no chance for people to start to move into recovery.

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