Hysteria and How to Treat It
A fit of hysterics is usually caused by an emotional upset or mental stress. The attack may resemble an epileptic fit. But is more dramatised and is ‘staged’ to gain sympathy and attention. It will continue as long as there is an audience.
In an adult, hysteria may vary from temporary loss of control – when the person shouts or screams – to a noisy display or arm waving, tearing at clothes and hair, and rolling on the ground in an apparent frenzy. Although genuinely distressed, sufferers take care not to hurt themselves. They may, for example, ‘collapse’ into a fairly safe position. They may also move weakly to suggest illness.
What you should do
• Be gentle but firm. Reassure and try to calm the person.
• Ask relatives and onlookers to leave the area.
• When the attack has subsided, suggest diplomatically that the person sees a doctor.
DO NOT slap a hysterical person on the face as it may cause psychological harm.