Brought into the open
IvyGarlitz enjoysaFreudiangraphicbook. MadeleineKingsley praisesaminor-keytale
word: “Hysteria is the language of the protesting body… Psychoanalysis was born when (Freud) discovered that it was possible to interpret rather than medicate symptoms that had no biological or neurological cause.”
Zarate’s art is moving, with evocative homages to Toulouse-Lautrec and Honoré Daumier. While Hysteria openly portrays the darkness beneath the characters’ conscious minds, some of the forces that shaped Freud and his era aren’t fully probed. Freud states, as he is forced to leave Vienna, “I am surrounded by mass hysteria”. The book reflects how the world changed for him from the grotesqueness of the Paris madhouse to civilised Vienna but only briefly considers the Nazi madness that engulfed Austria.
In the final sequence, a “witness” from the future, Princess Diana, reveals to Freud that, like the women in his case studies, she suffered from anorexia and depression. Together, they observe contemporary sufferers of these conditions and others, now called functional disorders of unknown cause; and list the medications they have been prescribed.
The dismayed Freud says that his aim was to get rid of dependence on drugs and other physical interventions. The depiction of Freud foreseeing the present is intriguing but sketchy. Still, Hysteria richly demonstrates how Freud helped patients by uncovering their buried conflicts and suggests how his legacy continues to be pertinent.
Ivy Garlitz is a poet and critic