A Case of Hysteria

Sharon Kivland


Artist Novel, 23 x 17.4 cm, 321 p, language: English, publisher: Book Works. ISBN: 978 1 870600 25 9.
Materials: ink, paper

Collection: Collection M HKA, Antwerp (Inv. no. B 2029/822).

Literary synopsis

A Case of Hysteria draws on Freud’s analysis of Dora, a young woman who is brought to him by her father. Dora is suffering from repeated loss of voice and a nervous cough. A mystery novel about Dora, which investigates the events discussed in her analysis as clues to the unlocking of a story of love and betrayal, the book is also a critical study that rewrites one of the key texts in psychoanalysis. A Case of Hysteria reveals an illuminating picture of Dora. The writer-turned detective traces the events recounted in the analysis, following the story to Vienna, Meran, and Franzenbad.

A Case of Hysteria is […] only nominally about Freud's famous case study, a departure point for a much broader, as well as a much more personal kind of reflection. In some ways, this might seem a rather perverse take on a book which, in its language and its form sticks closely to the letter of Freud's text, repeatedly and slyly quotes it, mimics its original structure, borrows the intonations of its voice. […]  What A Case of Hysteria does is make strategic use of Freud's Fragment of an Analysis of a Case of Hysteria in order to argue a series of very important points about, on the one hand, what constitutes a case study, and on the other, about writing and the creative process itself’. 

- Julia Borossa

Relation of the novel to the artist’s practice

The novel is the first major work in the series that addresses – and rewrite – a number of Freud’s case histories. It also relates to Sharon Kivland's longstanding engagement with psychoanalysis.

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