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The Hysterical Personality

The Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of the APA (First Edition) makes no mention of a “hysterical personality” category, although unofficially it is used by many psychiatrists. Since it is frequently used as a diagnostic label in this study, a brief description of the criteria used and an explanation of the diagnostic terms related to the derivation of the “hysterical” category, are in order. The label “personality pattern disturbance” is applied to individuals whose life style demonstrates limited adaptive flexibility and certain relatively unchanging modes of expression and action (Brody1967). Included officially in the statistical manual are inadequate, schizoid, cyclothymias, and paranoid personalities.

The Samples Taken Along Various Lines


                          MALES        FEMALES

14-20 years           31                46
2 1-30 years          43                97
31-40 years           35                89
41-50 years           15                39
51-60 years            6                 18
                     ________    _________
                         130               89


                MALES              FEMALES
Single             62                 112   
Married           66                 168
Widowed        2                    9
                 ________    ________
                     130              289


The setting of this study is the author’s psychiatric office. This is situated in Manila in what is sometimes referred to as a doctor’s district. This area, bounded by United Nations Avenue on the north and Vito Cruz St. on the south, covers about six square ones and over 200 offices of doctors in private practice. Through the area runs its main stem, Taft Avenue, one of the oldest, widest and busiest thoroughfares. It brings commuters from points south to the downtown area of Manila on the north banks of the Pasig River. This district is part of Ermita, a section of the Old Manila, once the hallmark of leisured, genteel living. Now, in addition to the hospitals, it abounds in imposing hotels, multimillion peso business edifices, supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops and bars. However, one can still find, interspersed here and there, clusters of “squatter” homes and in certain sectors, rows of small, dimly lit “cocktail lounges.”

A Study Of Psychopathology

However, those who come to PGH may be patients who reside north of the Pasig or who are from a remote province, but who know a doctor or a friend of a doctor who is working at the hospital. Manila itself is about fifteen square miles in area and its suburbs belong to three cities which lie adjacent to it, namely, Quezon City, Caloocan City and Pasay City.

Because the author was assigned to the PGH outpatient psychiatry clinic, she came in contact with patients from these population groups. From this experience she draws some comparisons between the PGH group and subjects from her office practice. The high quality of service at PGH as well as its reputation for adherence to principles of scientific medicine attracts many patients to it despite overcrowding and bureaucratic difficulties. To the lower economic groups, it has a particular appeal, since ninety percent of its clientele are charity patients. To them are dispensed services and medicines completely free, costing the patient not a single centavo. Perhaps this is one of very few hospitals in the world whose charity service is rendered completely free, without even a token fee.


It seems somewhat amazing that such a modest effort as writing this book would find me deeply indebted to so many people. Owing to their great number, I feel constrained to mention mostly groups of persons rather than individuals in acknowledging their valuable help and support; otherwise, the list may prove too long.

Very special thanks go to the East-West Center and the Social Science Research Institute in Honolulu, Hawaii. These two institutions made possible my sojourn in Honolulu from October 1967 to May 1968, away from other assignments in the Philippines, in order to write this book. The group of psychiatrists and behavioral scientists at the Social Science Research Institute, led by Dr. William Lebra and Dr. Thomas Maretski, provided the affect and cognitive stimulation and support, without which I would not have been able to function at that time. The secretarial staffs of both institutions were also very helpful.



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