This section is from the book "Smith's Family Physician", by William Henry Smith. See also: Natural Physician's Healing Therapies: Proven Remedies that Medical Doctors Don't Know.
There are two species of madness, the melancholic and the furious. Between melancholic and furious madness there seems, however, to exist an intermediate species of the disease. Great eccentricity or singularity, severe dejection of spirits, and violent tendency to immoral habits, notwithstanding the inculcation of the most correct precepts and the force of virtuous example, may be regarded as only slighter shades of the disorder.
Madness is occasioned by affections of the mind, such as anxiety, grief, the love of an absent object, jealousy, sudden frights, violent fits of anger, disappointed ambition, prosperity humbled by misfortune, engagement in hazardous speculations, religious terror or enthusiasm, the uncurbed indulgence of any passion, or by violent emotion or intense study. Violent exercise, intemperance of any kind, and especially in the use of spirituous liquors, a sedentary life, the suppression of periodical and' occasional discharges, repelled eruptions, injuries and malconformation of the head, excessive evacuations, Mercury largely and injudiciously administered, and paralytic and epileptic seizures, may also act as causes.
Some writers contend that Insanity is a disease wholly of the mind, and not of the body; whereas others suppose that mania in general depends on a physical origin, or arises from disorganization, or morbid action of some part of the body, derangement of the intellectual faculties being only the effect. But every species of madness, whether it has originated in the mind or in the body, becomes the same by continuance. In madness both the mind and the body must ultimately be diseased; for a disease of the mind soon produces one of the body. It has been remarked, that persons of the greatest mental excitement, of the warmest passions, and the most acute sensibility, are chiefly prone to Insanity.
In some cases mania proceeds from an hereditary predisposition or constitutional bias. It is an indisputable fact, that the offspring of insane persons are more liable to be affected with Insanity, than those whose parents were of sound mind. Should the child of a maniac escape his parents' malady, it is scarcely likely that the grandchild will be equally fortunate. Strictly speaking, however, it is only the tendency to Insanity that is inherited.
Insanity attacks persons of all ages and complexions; but out of 265 patients who were examined by Mr. Haslam at Bethlehem Hospital, 205 were of a swarthy complexion, with dark or black hair; the remainder were of a fair skin, and light-brown or red-haired. A particular species of Insanity, sometimes occurring about the age of puberty, especially in those who have possessed a good capacity and lively disposition, and among females more than males, is noticed by this gentleman; they become by degrees listless and inactive, and the faculties are gradually obliterated, until at last they become incurable idiots.
Persons of weak intellectual powers never become insane; for how, asks an author, can a person despair who cannot think.
The most common form of Insanity is the intermitting, or that in which there are lucid intervals. Mania seldom commences before the twentieth year in the male sex, or the eighteenth in women. In the greater number of cases it makes its first attack between the fortieth and fiftieth years. Sometimes, however, the disease, instead of being temporary, or occurring in paroxysms, continues during the whole remainder of life, and the patient sinks at last under the violence of the disease, or sinks into hopeless idiotcy.
Few lunatics become blind, but numbers were noticed by Mr. Haslam to be deaf; and those who were not actually deaf, were troubled with difficulty of hearing and ringing in the ears.
It has been observed, in all institutions for the insane, that the male patients who assist in digging, planting, wheeling, weeding, wood-cutting, making fires, etc., and the females who are employed in washing, ironing, and scrubbing floors, often recover; while persons whose rank exempts them from performing such services languish away their life within the walls,
In the treatment of mania, the first step is to ascertain the cause, as on the removal of that, if not too late, must depend the successful treatment of the case. Of course attention must be paid to the general health. It has generally been found that a patient removed to a well-managed asylum has a better chance of recovery, than if left at home, surrounded by old associations.
The new medicine, Hydrate of Chloral, promises to be a valuable adjunct in the medical treatment of Insanity. Dr. W. Macleod says: "Chloral is invaluable in cases of Insanity, procuring sleep when given in large doses, and calming excitability when given in smaller doses during the day. One patient required 45 grains to cause sleep when in the sick ward, but placed in a dark cabin by night, 20 grains answered the purpose."
Dr. T. S. Clouston says: in maniacal excitement, Bromide of Potash and Cannabis Indica combined, have a powerful effect. One dram of Bromide, and one fluid dram of the Tincture for a dose.