This section of the book is from "The Complete Herbalist" by Dr. O. Phelps Brown. Also available from Amazon: The Complete Herbalist: The People Their Own Physicians By The Use Of Nature's Remedies.
This is an unsound manifestation of intellectual power. The indications which should excite alarm are headache, vertigo, mental confusion, fretful temper, inaptitude for usual occupations, defective articulations, dimness of vision, and flightiness of manner. The patient is also aware that he is not right, he shuns his old friends, has frightful dreams, is tortured with wicked thoughts. If it exists with general paralysis it is frequently incurable. Derangement is manifested in various ways, viz:--
1st Mania. -- This is characterized by general delirium, in which the reasoning faculty is disturbed and confused, if not lost, ideas absurd, wandering, or erroneous; conduct violent, excited, and extremely mischievous. The maniac's hair is crisped, he neglects his family and business, suspects his friends, dislikes the light, and certain colors horrify him, his ears are sometimes very red, noise excites and disturbs him, and he has frequent fits of anger and melancholy, without any cause. His delirium extends to all subjects, and the entire intellect, affections and will are in a chaotic wreck.
In puerperal mania occurring after delivery, the delirium is frequently extreme, there being a tendency to suicide or child-murder. Maniacs in general have a disposition to murder or suicide.
2d. Monomania. This is characterized by mental aberration on one subject. The patient seizes upon a false principle, and draws from it injurious conclusions, which modify and change his whole life and character. In other cases the intellect is sound, but the affections and disposition being perverted, their acts are strange and inconsistent. Attempt is made to justify their hallucinations by plausible reasoning.
3d. Dementia. This is a condition in which the weakness of intellect is induced by accident or old age. The ideas are numerous, but vague, confused and wandering; the memory is impaired, and the manners childish, silly and undecided.
4th. Moral Mania. Moral insanity is a condition in which there is a perversion of the natural feelings, affections, temper, habits, and moral dispositions. The conduct is eccentric, and an uncontrolable destructive tendency, or a propensity to every species of mischief, are frequently the leading features. A slight insanity is popularly called "a kink in the head;" in Scotland, "a bee in the bonnet."
If insanity is characterized by fear, moroseness and prolonged sadness, it is called lypermania or melancholia. If religion is the theme of delirium, it is termed theomania. If amatory delusions rule, it is called erotomania. If the suicidal tendency is strong, it is designated autophomania, and if characterized by aversion to man and society, it is called misanthropia. If the tendency is to stealing, it constitutes kleptomania. Close confinement, and low diet, such conveniences as prisons afford, are the best cures for this species of mania.
It is a pitiful sight to see the thousand fancies in regard to themselves of the insane. One imagines himself as an inspired individual, and charged with the conversion of the world, while another sincerely believes that the devil has entered into him, and he curses God, himself and the universe. Still another believes that he controls the world, and directs the movements of the planets. One believes that all the wisdom is concentrated in him, and offers to teach the wisest. Another imagines himself some grand king, is proud, withdraws from his fellows, and will allow no one to come in his presence without proper acts of homage. Yet another is Napoleon, or some other great general, and he fights his battles anew, and majestically marshals his imaginary army. Idiocy is owing to a congenital deficiency of mind, and in consequence the idiot may often be a deaf-mute, and be governed by insane passions.
The cause of insanity is hereditary predisposition, constant revolution in the mind of some painful thought, injured feelings which cannot be resented, mortified pride, perplexity in business, disappointed affections or ambition, political or religious excitement, loss of friends or property, and in general, whatever worries the mind or creates a deep distress. Another prolific cause is masturbation.
TREATMENT. -- The real character of the malady should be ascertained, and, if possible, the pathological condition giving rise to the disorder corrected. Out-door exercise, lively amusements, fresh air and daily bathing, contribute largely to establish a cure. The exciting cause should be removed. The stomach and bowels should receive due attention. The tonics should be given to improve the general health of the patient. Ladies'-slipper, scullcap, cannabis indica, gelsemium, aconite, veratrum, belladonna, quinine, opium and lupulin, stand in good repute for this disorder. The moral treatment should be such as is best adapted to the condition of the patient. It is probably best, when practicable, to place the patient in some well-conducted insane asylum, where he will have proper attendance and treatment. If this is not feasible, the physician should make such arrangements as will best secure the patient, if of vicious disposition, from harming himself or others, but in no case should unnecessary restraint be placed upon the patient.
I have conducted the treatment in many cases of insanity, many of whom I had never seen, and wherever my instructions were faithfully carried out, a cure was generally effected. If any of my readers have relatives or friends who may have become insane, and who may desire to know my opinion of the case, or its chances for cure, and will describe the case to me fully, I will cheerfully state them. (See page 390 for address.)