Approaching Hysteria and Abjection through Freudian Reading of Toni Morrison’s Paradise

Maha Yasir Abed, Lajiman Bin Janoory


This paper examines the representation of hysteria in Toni Morrison’s Paradise. The study will mainly focus on the psychological traits of the female protagonists. Such traits provide amble instance of the influence of hysteria on the protagonists’ conscious behavior. For this reason, the primary conceptual formwork will be psychoanalysis. Accordingly, Sigmund Freud’s concept of hysteria will be applied to interpret the hysteric symptoms which result from harmful sexual experiences like rape, molestation and violation in a male dominated society. In this regard, the protagonist’s suffering from hysteric symptoms, like fear, silence, nightmare, and many other symptoms are going to be scrutinized in order to identify the influence of hysteria on the protagonist’s reaction. Freud asserts that sexual experience or molestation that occur within childhood is the main source of hysteria which appear later. Thus, this paper will illustrate the causes that lead the protagonist to be hysteric from Freudian perspective and emergence of self- actualization to gain subjectivity and independence.


Freud, Hysteria, Psychoanalysis, Self- actualization, Morrison, Paradise

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