This section is from the book "The Transmission Of Life. Counsels On The Nature And Hygiene Of The Masculine Function", by George H. Napheys. Also available from Amazon: The Transmission of Life.
While here, as in the previous parts of our work, we dis-claim the intention of pretending to qualify one uuversed in the doctrines of medicine to manage successfully serious diseases, as are some we have mentioned, we shall attempt to put those who require it in possession of information which will enable them to escape from many of the ills they have brought upon themselves.
The treatment of nervous disorders in general has occupied prominently the attention of physicians since within the last score of years these complaints have become so much more numerous than formerly.
We may sum up the general principles of this treatment in a few words. The system must be relieved from the cause of its disorder at the earliest moment, and recourse be had to tonic and strengthening diet, and drugs to impart to it the vigor which it has forfeited.
The use of iron, as in the prescription given on an earlier page of this work, will be found of value. Change of air and scene, as by travelling, is an admirable tonic. Regulated exercise, always pushed short of the point of actual fatigue, is essential. The mineral waters which are rich in the salts of iron are of great service.
The free use of cold water is always advisable. To an ordinarily vigorous system it is singularly invigorating. It increases the nervous power and attracts the blood from the • inner organs to the surface. The cold bath, whether as shower-bath or douche-bath, should be taken with regularity.
In feeble states of the system, cold water may be depress ing, and there are some temperaments so sensitive to is that it almost throws them into convulsions. When this is the case, it is better to commence with tepid water, and gradually lower the temperature as the system becomes accustomed to it. The sponge-bath is often grateful and pleasant to those who cannot support without great discomfort the application of cold water in a more direct manner.
The wet sheet, though cold on its first application, soon becomes warm, and acts agreeably on those whose systems are feeble and irritable.
There is a strong desire in many of these cases of nervous trouble to quiet the irritability, and to cheer the depressed spirits with doses of alcoholic beverages; and there are physicians who do not hesitate to permit and even to recommend such stimulation. We must enter a decided protest against this advice and this habit. It "is not, cannot come to good." The fallacious sense of comfort temporarily imparted is followed by a reaction which requires a repetition of the dose, and soon a confirmed habit of tippling is formed. Bad at all times, this is unspeakably pernicious in cases like those we are discussing, where it is beyond everything important that the self-control be maintained, and the passions kept under.
But in spite of the rigid observance of the ordinary precepts for nervous disorders, there are some arising from this cause which will not be healed by these means, and yet are readily curable nevertheless. These are the cases which give themselves and their medical attendants the most trouble. They are weary loads to themselves and friends, and regard themselves as confirmed valetudinarians. Such require a special local treatment. Their general nervous troubles will disappear promptly when the irritation of the parts, the cause of all the symptoms, no matter how remote, is removed. Many striking cases to this effect are to be found in the various writers who have recorded their experience on these subjects.
Of course where, as in some of the cases alluded to in the earlier part of this article, the general symptoms depend upon some malformation, or upon some poison of contagion still lurking in the system, the special and appropriate means should be employed, either surgical, to reduce the malformation, or medical, to expel from the system, when possible, the morbid material.
The distinction between these various causes is often a matter of great difficulty, and no one can trust his own judgment in an obscure case. Even the expert at times is at fault, and is led to the adoption of methods of treatment which, if not injurious, are useless. This is often the fault of the patient himself. Either through ignorance, through a sense of guiltiness, or from a natural diffidence, facts which would throw light upon the cause are often withheld.
It need hardly be said that such reticence as this, however proper in general, is entirely misplaced between patient and physician. There should be no concealment when health and life are at stake. When sufficient confidence is not felt in a medical attendant to give him all the facta which are necessary for him to know, some other one should be sought.
That many fail to receive the proper treatment because they themselves are entirely unaware how closely their present troubles are related to their former vices, we well know. The hints we have given in the last few pages are for their benefit, and we hope they will lay them well to heart.
While pointing out, as we have done, a few of the nervous disorders originating in the reproductive system, we have carefully made our statements of even less strength than our medical experience and knowledge would justify. We desire to excite no unnecessary alarm in the mind of any one. But the fact that various nervous maladies may be produced by different affections of the male organs should be known to every man. Having learned how penetrating and far reaching are the effects, may we not hope that some of our readers, through the personal application of the sanitary laws, which, in this volume, it has been our endeavor to make clear, will be led to avoid exposing themselves to the exciting causes of disease of the masculine function ?
[Works referred to in this Section. - The Lancet, London, July 16 and July 30, 1870; Partial Paralysis from Reflex Irrita-turn, caused by Congenital Phimosis and Adherent Prepuce, by Lewis A. Sayre, M. D.; Prof. A. P. Dutcher, M. D., Lectures on Chronic Bronchitis, in the Philadelphia Medical and Surgical Reporter for October 12, 1867; M. Gonzales Echeverria, on Epilepsy A natomo-Pathological and Clinical Notes, New York, 1870, p. 231; Prof. Wm. H. Van Buren, M. D., on Syphilis of the Nervous System, in the New York Medical Journal, for November, 1870; Traite Historique et Pratique de la Syphilis, par le docteur E. Lancereaux, Paris, 1866, p. 441; Les Passions dans leurs Rapports avee la Santf et les Maladies, par Xavier Bourgeois, p. 29; S. W. D. Williams, M. D., on A Case of Syphilitic Insanity, in the Journal of Mental Science for April, 1869 ; A Case of Syphilitic Disease of thy Nervous System, Journal of Psychological Medicine for April, 1869 lectures on the Principles and Practice of Physic, by Thomas Watson, M. D. (Am. ed.), p. 419.]