From The New York Times:
Hysteria is a 4,000-year-old diagnosis that has been applied to no mean parade of witches, saints and, of course, Anna O. But over the last 50 years, the word has been spoken less and less. The disappearance of hysteria has been heralded at least since the 1960’s. What had been a Victorian catch-all splintered into many different diagnoses. Hysteria seemed to be a vanished 19th-century extravagance useful for literary analysis but surely out of place in the serious reaches of contemporary science.
Functional neuroimaging technologies like single photon emission computerized tomography, or SPECT, and positron emission tomography, or PET, now enable scientists to monitor changes in brain activity. And although the brain mechanisms behind hysterical illness are still not fully understood, new studies have started to bring the mind back into the body, by identifying the physical evidence of one of the most elusive, controversial and enduring illnesses. Despite its period of invisibility, hysteria never vanished — or at least that is what many doctors say.