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Catholic Dictionary




An emotional disorder that may defy ready diagnosis and yet deeply affects the moral responsibility of the hysterical person. It may assume various forms, notably: 1. conversion hysteria, where conflicts in the mind become disabilities in the body, such as paralysis, blindness, or lack of feeling; 2. sleepwalking; 3. flight, where the person loses all memory of the past; 4. multiple or split personality, when the individual becomes alternately different people with no conscious connection between successive states. Hysteria has been known for centuries, and is an object of the Church's special concern in investigation of persons reputed for sanctity, and of reported miracles in order to exclude the "cure" of hysterical sickness.