In April 1896, Sigmund Freud presented a paper on hysteria to the Society for Psychiatry and Neurology. The paper was entitled The Etiology of Hysteria. To write this paper, Freud used 18 male and female patients and reached to a conclusion that all these 18 subjects had been victims of sexual trauma and unwanted sexual attacks by their caretakers.
As a result of the childhood trauma, these patients development hysteria in adulthood.
Based on his findings, Sigmund Freud concluded that the internal psychic pain that the patients were suffering was due to an act that was the patients were subjected to as children from the outside and the person performing the act was from the children's social environment.
However, this paper was not well received as the psychologists at that time did not acknowledge that child sexual abuse used to take place. Instead, Freud's colleagues were doubtful about his claims.
This paper ultimately led to what became known as Freud's seduction theory. Freud believed that his theory could give a solution to the problem of origin of hysteria and neurosis. According to the theory, suppressed memories of childhood sexual abuse was the most essential reason for a person developing hysteria and obsessional neurosis.
When Freud came up with this reason, he believed that the patients were giving facts about being sexually abused as children and he concluded that the sexual abuse was the reason for neurosis and other mental health problems in patients. However, it was only a few years later that Freud realized that many of the so-called factual stories about sexual abuse and sexual trauma were in fact fantasies stemming from an overactive imagination. This led Sigmund Freud to retract many of the claims he had made. He instead declared that his finding were incorrect because the women subjects had lied about their childhood sexual trauma experiences. This in turn had a serious repercussion on survivors of sexual abuse. Their stories of sexual trauma and abuse were not believed for decades.
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