The two names above, indicate the same disease, the former being applied to the affection when found in the female, the latter in the male.
Hysteria has characters peculiar to itself, but is also apt to assume the form and mimic the symptoms of diseases of a much graver nature.
The hysterical paroxysm resembles somewhat an epi-lectic fit, yet is very easily distinguished from it. There are strong convulsive movements of the limbs and trunk; the head thrown backward, the face flushed, the eyelids closed and tremulous, and the jaws firmly shut. If the hands are left at liberty, she will often strike her breasts, tear her hair, and rend her clothes. After a short time a calm may take place, which, however, is generally followed by another spasm, and the whole attack not unfrequently terminates in an explosion of tears, sobs, and convulsive laughter.
Another variety of this form of paroxysm, is when the patient suddenly sinks insensible, and without convulsions; there is a slow, interrupted breathing and flushed cheeks; she recovers, fatigued and in tears.
The hysterical seizures are confined almost entirely to women, generally between the ages of fifteen and forty, and are as a general thing, connected with some derangement of the sexual functions.
The variety of serious diseases which may be so accurately mimicked by hysteria as to defy detection, except by the practiced eye of the physician, is truly astonishing. Among the rest we find palsy - perfect hemiplegia or panplegia - entire loss of voice, laryngitis, and pain in the breasts, resembling that of cancer. We also find a peculiar kind of cough, loud, harsh and dry, resembling croup, hiccough, violent vomiting, sometimes of blood. Hysterical affections of the bones, joints, and back, are exceedingly common, in which the pain is extremely severe, and the symptom such as to lead friends and sometimes physicians to believe that a serious difficulty is present. The limbs are often drawn up and immoveable, and the system so filled with pain on the slightest movement, as to lead the patient to suppose that death would be the result of any attempt to walk, and yet, let the house take fire, or some violent shock take place, they would run for their life and be surprised to find themselves when the excitement wore off, perfectly recovered. I was once called to see a patient who had never moved from her bed for nine months. She ate well most of the time, yet insisted every morning she should not live till night, and every night persisted in taking a weeping farewell of her friends. I ordered a small pistol to be placed at night at the foot of the bed, so arranged that it could be discharged from another room by a slow match, and when discharged would set on fire a quantity of cotton, upon which had been poured some turpentine. When all was quiet, the pistol was discharged, the cotton blazed up, and the poor girl, screaming with terror, jumped from her bed and rushed from her room. I need not say, the next day on calling I found my patient entirely well. She has since married, and is the mother of two children, but ascertaining by some means or other the hand I had in the trick, she has never forgiven me.
The application of cold water in the form of a shower-bath, or during the paroxysm, cold water dashed into the face or poured on to the head from a pitcher, will be found serviceable. The patient also may be allowed to smell from time to time of Camphor.
One drop, a powder, or six globules in a glass half full of water, a teaspoonful every ten -minutes during the spasm, when the spasm has subsided, give every two or three hours until entirely relieved.
Where there is intolerance of light and noise; shrieking for help; suffocative constriction of the throat and difficulty of swallowing. Also where the hysteria is attended with nausea and fainting. Dose. - Same as Cocculus.
Dose - Two drops, or twelve globules, in a glass half full of water, a teaspoonful every half hour until there is an improvement and then every four hours.
Alternate tears and laughter; morbid sensibility; religious melancholy, despair, oppression at the chest.
Same as Pulsatilla.
If during the fit the face is red and swollen, and there are evidences of a determination of blood to the head.
Same as Pulsatilla.
Spasms from fear, rage, or fright; clenching of the jaws; coldness of the extremities and cold perspiration on the forehead; convulsive jerking with numbness; fainting from the least movement.
Dose - Same as Cocculus.
Great bodily and mental indolence, depression of spirits, constipation and restlessness.
mur. - Depression of spirits, weeping and disposition to be alone; ill-humor, aversion to life, headache with want of appetite.
Six globules or three drops should be placed in a glass half full of water, and if the symptoms are violent, a teaspoonful given every half hour. If the symptoms are not violent, a dose two or three times a day will be sufficient.