“To be a woman is to relate to Elissa Bassist’s fierce and funny new memoir, Hysterical, a searing indictment of the patriarchal and misogynistic medical system that so often belittles, ignores, and seeks to silence women’s voices… Thus, this impassioned memoir, which critiques “a culture where men speak and women shut up,” was born, and Bassist became definitively uncaged. Hysterical is for the women who are tired of being ignored, shamed, overmedicated and misunderstood.” – Shondaland

Elissa Bassist is an award-deserving author, humor writer, teacher, speaker, and editor of the “Funny Women” column on The Rumpus.

As a founding contributor to The Rumpus, she’s written cultural, feminist, and personal criticism since the website launched in 2009. Her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Marie Claire, Mother Jones, Creative Nonfiction, The New Yorker’s Daily Shouts, McSweeney’s Internet Tendency, LATimes.com, EW.com, GMA.com, ELLE.com, The Cut, Jezebel, Longreads, Lit Hub, Electric Literature, Paris Review Daily, Insider, Lilith Magazine, and more including the bestselling anthology Not That Bad: Dispatches from Rape Culture, edited by Roxane Gay.

Formerly, she produced and co-hosted Literary Death Match in San Francisco and was the editor of various impressive books and has since gone on to be a barista.

Currently, she teaches humor writing at The New School, 92NY, Lighthouse Writers Workshop, and elsewhere.

Hysterical, published by Hachette, is her first book.

She lives in Brooklyn and is probably her therapist’s favorite.



Hachette Books |

Writer Elissa Bassist shares her journey to reclaim her authentic voice in a culture that doesn’t listen to women in this medical mystery, cultural criticism, and rallying cry.

Between 2016 and 2018, Elissa Bassist saw over twenty medical professionals for a variety of mysterious ailments. Bassist had what millions of American women had: pain that didn’t make sense to doctors, a body that didn’t make sense to science, a psyche that didn’t make sense to mankind. But then an acupuncturist suggested some of her physical pain could be caged fury finding expression, and that treating her voice would treat the problem. It did.

Growing up, Bassist’s family, boyfriends, school, work, and television had the same expectation for a woman’s voice: less is more. She was called dramatic and insane for speaking her mind; she was accused of overreacting and playing victim for having unexplained physical pain; she was ignored or rebuked like women throughout history for using her voice “inappropriately” by expressing sadness or suffering or anger or joy.

Because of this, she said “yes” when she meant “no”; she didn’t tweet #MeToo; and she never spoke without fear of being “too emotional.” So, she felt rage, but like a good woman, repressed it. In Hysterical, Bassist explains how girls and women internalize and perpetuate directives about their voice, making it hard to emote or “just speak up” and “burn down the patriarchy.” But her silence hurt more than anything she could ever say. Hysterical is a memoir of a voice lost and found, and a primer on new ways to think about a woman’s voice, where it’s being squashed and where it needs amplification. Bassist breaks her own silences and calls on others to do the same—to unmute their voice, listen to it above all others, and use it again without regret.


Humor Writing for People Who Are or Aren't Funny (Yet)

A craft talk breaking down the short comedy piece in order to write and publish your own parodies, satires, and character monologues in venues like NewYorker.com’s Daily Shouts. By the end, everyone has new skills to deploy on the page and on dates, and if that doesn’t happen, then it’s not my fault.


Tragedy Plus Time

A craft talk on the healing power of joking in prose and how to transform personal tragedy into critically acclaimed comedy (or at least a more entertaining tragedy) with tips and tricks that work every time.


How to Write a Tragicomic Memoir

A transparent craft talk on writing, rewriting, and publishing a personal tragicomedy, and on the delicate art of how a tragedy can make you laugh while RIPPING YOU APART. In a few hours I share every hard-earned lesson about how to get total strangers interested in reading your life story.


Performance Hacks

An interactive seminar on how to present aloud what you’ve written on the page and make it come alive for audiences and compliments.


Speak Again

Why do even the most unapologetic women apologize every other minute? Why do feminists feel compelled to talk the “correct” amount, to verbalize their thoughts the “right” way? Why do women with degrees in gender studies not report their own heart attacks for fear of “being annoying”?“Speak Again” is a life-changing talk based on insights from Hysterical, about how to reclaim your authentic voice (and agency and sanity) in a world that doesn’t listen to women and dismisses them as “hysterical” for speaking their minds. I offer women new ways to think about a woman’s voice and their own, like where it’s being squashed, where it needs amplification, and how to hear it above all others and use it without regret. This talk is for anyone trying to say something, whatever it is, instead of so much nothing.


Women and illness (mental and physical), chronic pain, and trauma

-How emotional pain becomes physical (the mind-body connection)
-How silence makes us sick
-How patriarchy and the news cycles makes women especially sick
-Being an authority on your own body



-Why we hate women’s voices (and how to stop)
-Self-silencing and self-editing and how this causes digestive havoc, respiratory problems, full-body stress, and it imperils women’s minds, bodies, and souls like a virus by reducing agency, compromising thinking and sense of self, while isolating and disempowering us
-How voice is as important as breath
-Talking cures and how to articulate the unspeakable (in terms of emotion, illness, trauma) in a society where mostly men control the narrative, the news, the internet, reproductive rights, and far too many conversations
-Advice on saying the hardest word, “no”



Medical gaslighting, regular gaslighting and self-gaslighting


“Hysteria” in all its forms

Medical gaslighting, regular gaslighting and self-gaslighting



Dismantling It

The Zeitgeist with Elissa Bassist

“Hysterical” Women with Elissa Bassist

Left Bank Books Presents Elissa Bassist

Elissa’s Events

Elissa’s Workshops & Seminars

Elissa’s Column Funny Women

Elissa’s Articles and Writing

Elissa’s Editing Services

Hysterical Book and link to press, videos, podcasts and excerpts!

Honors, Awards & Recognition

Essay “The Never-to-Be Bride,” published in the New York Times, was listed as “Notable” in The Best American Essays, edited by Cheryl Strayed
Her writing has appeared in:
The New York Times
-Marie Claire
-Creative Nonfiction
-Men’s Health and more!

Media Kit

By clicking the link below your will be directed to a Google Docs Folder
where you can download author photos and cover images.

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