A study of crying hysteria and dreaming in Zulu women
In previous research, the commonexistenoe of "crying fits" and stereotyped
dreams in Zulu womenhad been e::-tablished. Thi s thesi sis an exploratory
attempt to investigate the nature of these fits, the nosological implioations
of the condition, their aetiology, and the interrelationship of symptomand the
A brief account of the Zulu people is given and the literature on the
conclitions, small as it is, is deaJ.t with.
In the actual investigation, an extensive enquiry was conduoted by means
of a questionnaire administered to a hospital population - incidences of crying
fits and dre3lIling were thus established on a sample of approximately 500 Zulu,
male and female. The influence of social values on the manifest content of
dreams was determined, as was the essentially "female" nature of the "Crying
The intensive investigation was carried out on a further sample of the
population of the Nqutu district, by means of a 200 item questionnaire, pertinent
to the family situation, marital status and duties, reproductive life, medical
history, dreaming, history of bewitchment, wishes etc. of the subjeots. The
114 subjects of the intensive investigation were divided into "Crying HYsteric"
and "Control" groups, on the basis of' positive or negative answers to the
questions "Have you ever suffered from crying fits?". The groups were then
compared in detail, on all variables - statistical checks being used whenever possible It was established that the crying fits are closely associated vii th very
direct s'y!aptomsof anxiety, and could, under strong social pressure, be
associated with a particular symptomof conversion hysteria. In addition
there we re links with the dream material and with belief in bewitchment
Dreams are shown to be, on occasion, wish fulfilments, and some light is
thrown on the formation of dream symbols Some Freudian hypotheses are
supported by the data.
Discussion of the relevance of the findings to psychopathology and
ethnology, and suggestions for future research are included.