Preliminary report / Case study
HDV, 10:53, two channel video, 2013
Experience is a reward of labour. We regard nothing as a mistake. Some years ago, thanks to random observation, we tracked down the primary stimuli of widely disparate forms, symptoms and disorders – the origin that first gave rise to the said manifestations.
We understand the present as a complex situation, one that is deformed and misunderstood, a situation historically overlapped with other situations with their own peculiar complexities and their own pace, which are overlapped with other situations etc.
Sometimes people truly do not remember and are often quite ignorant of causal associations and determining events. Sometimes certain syndromes were engendered by traumas experienced. The situation in the case of other manifestations is less clear. Generally speaking, in the majority of cases the traumatic event creates continuity. It is not conclusive, but persistent, and lacks a visible conclusion and hope for change.
The most disparate symptoms that can be regarded as spontaneous have a close relationship to determining traumas and the trauma is here ever-present in various shapes and forms. Socio-economic conditions often do not provide instruments for examining the situation and the visible symptoms therefore persist and are regarded as immutable.
To take the most mundane of examples, when some painful effect that occurs during intake of food is repressed, it later engenders nausea and vomiting that may persist for months.
A highly intelligent man assists while his brother, under anaesthetic, has a locked hip joint straightened. At the moment the joint is released with a snap, he feels a sudden pain in his own hip joint, which persists for a whole year.
The general erasing of impressions, the fading of memories that we call forgetting and that afflicts primarily non-active recollections.
The fundamental manifestation of this neurosis arising from forgetting is a splitting of the consciousness.
Clear awareness, recollection, is an essential condition for understanding the situation that is occurring.
We can describe hypnosis as artificial hysteria. The basis and the precondition for hysteria is the existence of hypnotic states.
The majority of people are probably in a constant state of hypnosis, while being incapable of recognising this state.
Our experiences bring little new, but they clarify the discrepancy between the hypothesis that ‘hysteria is psychosis’ and the fact that one may easily find among hysterics even people of fervent spirit, strong will, above-average character and critical capacity. In hypnotic states, a person who is consciously thinking is equally as confused as we all are in dreams.
The concept of hysteria, therefore, has shifted, if not fundamentally altered. There is also one other perspective, however: that of hysteria as the only condition bordering on psychosis that facilitates recognising the deep hypnosis of mankind, and understanding the situation.
In such a case, hysteria is not identical to hypnosis, but constitutes the boundary between psychosis and hypnosis – a seam that can be ripped apart.
An employee who has been ill-treated by his boss suffers fits in which he collapses, rages and fumes, but does not utter a single word and shows no signs of hallucination. The fit is evoked during hypnosis and he now reveals that he is reliving the scene in which his boss swears at him in the street and strikes him with his cane – how he humiliates him.
The fit then comes spontaneously, just as memories spontaneously emerge in our minds. It may also be provoked, just as any memory may be invoked in accordance with the laws of association.
What has already been said
Everywhere we happen on things which are so self-evident that we need expend no effort in understanding them. That which people experience together, they regard as their inevitable human lot. A child living in a world of old people will learn the customs of such a world. The ordinary course of events becomes routine for him. If someone is bold enough to wish for something extraordinary, he would only wish for it as an exception to the norm.
We should not allow ourselves to be misled: we are not talking about psychology, but about unsuspected solidarity.
It does not matter whether a man or woman is concerned; the symptoms are similar for both sexes.
Work has to begin somewhere. For that, it is necessary to have an outside view, to look upon that which is given, not as self-evident, but as dubious, to be astonished, as if one does not expect it, as if one did not understand it. Then one sees and understands things live never before.
We should not allow ourselves to be misled: that is our conclusion.
A 40-year-old woman
A woman of youthful appearance and a refined, expressive face. Her face has a tense, painful expression, her eyes narrowed, her gaze fixed on the ground and her forehead deeply furrowed. She speaks with effort in a soft voice and her speech is interrupted now and again by spasmodic pauses on the verge of a stammer. While speaking her fingers are interlocked. Frequent twitches appear in her face and neck muscles in the manner of a tic.
What she says is quite lucid and testifies to her education and intelligence. It is therefore all the more astonishing that every few minutes she comes to a halt, her face takes on an expression of alarm and disgust and she calls out in an altered, anxious voice “Don’t move, don’t talk, don’t touch me!”
She had read in the newspapers about an apprentice who had tied up a boy and stuck a white mouse in his mouth. The boy had died of terror. She clenches her fist several times in succession.
“Don’t move, don’t talk, don’t touch me!”
She often answers questions in a convoluted way, so people do not understand her. Asked how old she is, she replies “I’m a woman of the last century.”
Asked why she is so easily frightened, she replies “Those are memories from my childhood, when my siblings often threw dead animals at me. When I was seven I unexpectedly saw my sister in a coffin and when I was eight my brother often dressed up as a ghost in a sheet and scared me. Then, when I was nine I saw my aunt in a coffin and her jaw suddenly dropped.
Other frightening memories:
How she found her mother afflicted by a stroke lying on the ground, how at the age of nineteen she came home and found her mother dead with a contorted face.
How she found a toad under a rock and lost her voice for an hour.
How the parents of her cousin, a simpleton, had all his teeth extracted at once for some reason.
How, while travelling by train, some strange man had suddenly opened the door to her compartment four times and stared at her fixedly.
How, shortly after the birth of her daughter, her husband had been sitting by her bed eating breakfast and reading a newspaper and he suddenly stood up, looked strangely at her, took a few steps and fell to the floor dead.
She talks of institutions for the mentally ill where they shower the patients with icy water and strap them in machines that spin them round and round until they calm down.
Other symptoms and stories
She describes nightmares in which the legs and arms of chairs turned into snakes, a monster with the beak of a vulture pecked and bit her whole body, other strange animals mauled her and so forth. Then she always adds:
“That really happened. It wasn’t a dream.”