Professional Wrestling & Hysterics

From The Hysteric-Obsessional Dialectic in True Detective by Daniel Tutt.  

The question the hysteric asks is thus: what kind of object am I for the other?

What I like about this quote is how it shows that the hysteric can become interested in the position they are taking up relative to the desire of the Other. It shows how the hysteric is not always concerned with gaining the approval or validation of the Other but does want to be of use to the Other.

The hysteric wants to be the object the Other can't do without. If the hysteric's relationship to the Other leads to adoration, that's fine, but if it leads to being villainized and reviled, that's fine too.

One of the ways that I've come to think about the hysteric is through the great American folk art: professional wrestling.

In the world of professional wrestling, there are two kinds of characters:

  • Faces (sometimes called babyfaces) are the "good" wrestlers, the heroes in the story
  • Heels who are the "bad" villains in the stories

Wrestlers sometimes switch back and forth between these two roles. A face will do something cruel and thus turn heel. At other times, a heel will come to the rescue of a hero and become a face.  

However, regardless of if a wrestler is a face or a heel, the one thing they both want is heat --when the crowd gets worked up and emotionally invested in the story. It does not matter if the wrestler (i.e., hysteric) is being adored or hated. What matters is that they have the crowd (the Other) fired up.

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