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Method in the Madness: Hysteria and the Will to Power


  • Matthew Gildersleeve

    () (School of Social and Behavioural Sciences, The University of Queensland, St Lucia QLD 4072, Australia)


At the very start of a chapter on hysteria in her book From Mastery to Analysis: Theories of Gender in Psychoanalytic Feminism , Patricia Elliot cites Nietzsche’s “truths are illusions of which one has forgotten that they are illusions”. This paper follows this connection between hysteria and the work of Nietzsche. This paper will highlight how a Lacanian interpretation of hysteria can elucidate Heidegger’s reading of Nietzsche’s Will to Power and how this interpretation of the Will to Power can better explain the value and importance of hysteria for psychoanalysis and philosophy. I will show that the hysteric’s discourse has a “higher value” than the master’s discourse because it meets Nietzsche’s definition of art, which aims at life’s enhancement rather than the master’s knowledge or truth which aims at the preservation of life. My work will explain how the hysteric’s discourse can transform the master’s discourse into the analyst’s discourse through the Will to Power. This is important, as this is the ultimate aim of psychoanalysis where “At the end of analysis the subject passes to the position of analyst”. This is the ultimate aim of psychoanalysis because “For Lacan, the Discourse of the Analyst is revolutionary because it articulates the truth of the (unconscious) subject”. Fundamentally, the objective of this article is to demonstrate that “hysteria is to be understood not as an ‘abnormal’ condition but as one possible manifestation of the subject’s uncanny relationship to itself”.

Suggested Citation

  • Matthew Gildersleeve, 2016. "Method in the Madness: Hysteria and the Will to Power," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 5(3), pages 1-25, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:gam:jscscx:v:5:y:2016:i:3:p:29-:d:73777

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    Cited by:

    1. Matthew Gildersleeve, 2017. "Se Faire Voir with Jung and the Ethics of Psychoanalysis," Social Sciences, MDPI, Open Access Journal, vol. 6(1), pages 1-24, February.

    More about this item


    Nietzsche; Lacan; Heidegger; hysteria;

    JEL classification:

    • A - General Economics and Teaching
    • B - Schools of Economic Thought and Methodology
    • N - Economic History
    • P - Economic Systems
    • Y80 - Miscellaneous Categories - - Related Disciplines - - - Related Disciplines
    • Z00 - Other Special Topics - - General - - - General


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