Isaac G. Briggs.

Epilepsy, Hysteria, and Neurasthenia online

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glycerin. Their protein content averages less than that of milk, and in
energy value they are vastly inferior. Their daily dose yields but
55-300 calories including their alcohol; this is only one-thirtieth to
one-fifth the minimum requirements of resting patients. To increase
their dose to that required to maintain nutrition would mean the
ingestion of an amount of alcohol equivalent to a pint of whisky per

Of recent years very expensive preparations of real or alleged organic iron
compounds have had a large sale. Iron is a component of hæmoglobin, a solid
constituent (13 per cent by weight) of the blood, which combines with the
oxygen in the lungs, and is carried (as oxyhæmoglobin) all over the body,
giving the oxygen up to the tissues. Hæmoglobin is an exceedingly complex
substance, but it contains only one-third per cent by weight of iron in
organic form.

The liver is the storehouse of iron, its reserve being depleted when there
is an extraordinary demand for iron. The minute amounts of iron in ordinary
food are amply sufficient for all our needs; any excess is simply stored,
and, later excreted, and has no effect whatever on the circulating

Iron is only of value in certain forms of anæmia, and the many patent
medicines purporting to contain hæmoglobin or organic iron are therefore
useless to neuropaths. The Roman plan of drinking water in which swords had
been rusted, is quite as valuable as drinking expensive proprietary
compounds. When iron is indicated Blaud's Pills are perhaps the best

Huge quantities of patent medicines containing phosphates in the form of
hypo-or glycerophosphates, and (or) lecithin are sold annually.

All phosphorus compounds are reduced to inorganic phosphates in the
digestive tract, absorbed and eliminated, so that, as with iron, if
phosphates are needed, the form in which they are taken is of no moment.
Why, then, pay huge sums for organic-phosphorus compounds (synthesized from
inorganic phosphates) when they are immediately reduced to the same
constituents from which they were constructed, the only value in the
reduction process being seen in the immense fortunes which patent-medicine
proprietors accumulate?

Lecithin is isolated from animal brain, or egg-yolk, and commercial
lecithin is impure. Not only does the ordinary daily diet contain ample
lecithin (5 grammes), but two eggs will double this, while liver or
sweetbread, both rich in phosphorous, may be eaten.

The much-vaunted glycerophosphates are decomposed to and excreted as
phosphates. Sollmann's remarks apply to all similar proprietary articles:

"A proprietary compound of glycerophosphates and casein has been widely
and extravagantly advertised as 'Sanatogen'. It is a very costly food,
and in no sense superior to ordinary casein, such as cottage cheese."

Hypophosphites have been boomed by various people, chiefly for financial
reasons. Five or six of them are usually prescribed, with the addition of
cod liver oil, and perhaps quinine, and (or) iron and strychnine, the
complexity of the prescription being expected, apparently, to compensate
for the uselessness of its various ingredients.

To deduce rational remedies, it is first necessary to elucidate the causes
of inefficiency; and to expect a brain which is out of order to function in
an orderly manner simply because it is supplied with one of the substances
necessary to its normal functioning (regardless of whether a deficiency of
that substance is the cause of the disorder), is as rational as it would be
to expect to restart an automobile engine, the magneto of which was broken,
by filling up the half-empty petrol tank.

* * * * *



"When shall I begin to train my child?" said a young mother to an old
"How old is the child, madam?"
"Two years, sir!"
"Then, madam, you have lost just two years," answered the old
physician, gravely.

Neuropathic children are super-emotional, and from them come prodigies,
geniuses, perverts and madmen. They are usually spare of build, with pale,
sallow complexions, and dark rings under the eyes.

They can never sit still, but wriggle restlessly about on their seats, pick
their nostrils, and bite their nails. They are always wanting to be doing
something, but soon tire of it, and start something else, which is as
quickly cast aside; their energy is feverish but fitful. They jump to
conclusions, quickly grasp ideas; as quickly forget them. Having no
capacity for calm, reasoned judgment, they are creatures of impulse,
imperative but timid, suffer from strange ideas, and worry over trifles.

The affections are strong and vehement, likes and dislikes are taken
without reason, while intense personal attachments - often
unrequited - occur, but not seldom swing round to indifference, or even
bitter enmity. The passions and emotions are all abnormal, for owing to
deficiency in the higher inhibitory centres, the victim is blown about by
every idle emotional wind that blows. The slightest irritation may provoke
an outburst of maniacal rage, or a fit. Consequently, they require the most
careful, but firm training, right from birth, to bring them up with a
minimum of nerve-strain. Twitchings, night or day terrors, sleep walking,
and incontinence of urine often trouble them. They should be examined by a
doctor once a year.

These children have no _balance_, and are usually selfish, always
garrulous, with a love of romancing, while a ready wit combined with
fertile imagination often gains them a bubble reputation for learning they
do not possess. Invention, poetry, music, artistic taste and originality
are occasionally of a high order, and the memory is sometimes phenomenal;
but desultory, half-finished work, and shiftlessness are the rule.

Their appetite is fitful and fanciful, they like unsuitable foods, and
their digestive system is easily upset. At puberty, sexual perversity is
common, and the animal appetite, is as a rule, very strong, though rarely,
it may be absent. During adolescence, there is excessive shyness or
bravado, always introspection, and exaggerated self-consciousness.

As they grow older, they readily contract hypochondria, neurasthenia,
hysteria, alcoholism, insomnia and drug habits, and react unduly to the
most trifling external causes, even to the weather, by which they are
exhilarated or depressed.

Education. Send them to school only when the law compels you, and observe
them closely while there, for health is far more important to them than
education. "Infant prodigies" lack the mental staying power and physical
robustness which real success demands, though they may do well for a time.
Go to your old school: the successes of to-day were dunces twenty years
ago; about those whose names are proudly emblazoned in fading gold on Rolls
of Honour, a discreet silence is maintained.

Keep a keen lookout for symptoms of over-effort. Sleepiness, languor, a
vacant expression, forehead wrinkled, eyebrows knit, eyes dull, sunken and
surrounded by dark rings, twitchings, restlessness, or loss of appetite are
all warnings that the pace is too strong for the child.

"These are the cases in which the School Board - who ordain that if
children are well enough to play or run errands, they are well enough
to attend school - should be defied."

This defiance must of course be reinforced by a doctor's certificate.

To the healthy, the strain of preparing for and enduring an examination is
tremendous; to highly strung children it is dangerous. Home-work should be
forbidden in spite of the authorities. Let the child join in the sports of
the school as much as possible.

School misdemeanours form a thorny problem, for discipline must be
maintained, and a stern but just discipline is very wholesome for this
type, who are too apt to assume that because they are abnormal, they can be
idle and refractory. On the other hand, parents should promptly and
vigorously object to their children being punished for errors in lessons,
or struck on the head.

Diet. Food, while being nourishing, and easily digested, must not be
stimulating or "pappy". Meat, condiments, tea, coffee and alcohol are
highly undesirable, a child's beverage being milk and water.

Meals should be ready at regular hours, and capricious appetites should
freely be humoured among suitable foods, served in appetizing form to tempt
the palate. Let them chatter, but see they do not get the time to talk by
bolting their food.

Most children can chew properly soon after they are two, but they are never
taught. Their food is "mushy", or is carefully cut, and gives them no
incentive to masticate. So long as food is digestible, the harder it is the
better, and plain biscuits, raw fruits, and foods like "Grape Nuts", are
splendid. Mastication helps digestion; it also prevents nasal troubles.

The desire for food at odd moments causes trouble, which is aggravated if
the meals are not ready at stated hours. Gently but firmly refuse the piece
of bread-and-butter they crave, explain why you do so, and though they
weep, or fly into a passion, do not lose your own temper, or beat, or give
way to them. When accustomed to regular hours and firm refusals they will
not crave for titbits between meals.

It is very hard for them to see other members of the family freely
partaking of condiments, drinks and unsuitable foods, and be told they are
the only ones who must refrain. A little personal self-sacrifice helps
immensely, and if your child _must_ refrain so _might_ you.

All foods must be pure. Avoid tinned goods, and cheap jams, which contain
mangels and glucose. Judged by the nutriment they contain - most cheap foods
are very expensive.

Lightly boil, poach, or scramble eggs; steam fish and vegetables; cook rice
and sago in the oven for three hours. See that milk puddings are chewed,
for usually they are bolted more quickly than anything else. The stomach is
expected to deal with unchewed rice pudding, because it is "nourishing". So
are walnuts, but you do not swallow them whole.

Fruit must be fresh, ripe and raw, with skin and core removed. Brown bread,
crisply toasted and buttered when cold, is best. Porridge is admirable, but
many children dislike it. Try to induce a taste by giving plenty of milk,
and sugar or syrup with it.

The starch-digesting ferments in the saliva and pancreas are not active
until the age of 18 months, before which infants must not be given starchy
foods like potatoes, cereals, puddings and bread.

All greenstuffs must be thoroughly washed, or worms may pass into the
system. Foul breath, picking the nose, restlessness, fever and startings
are often attributed to worms, when the real "worms" are mince pies,
raisins, sour apples, and even beer.

Never force fat on children in a form they do not like, for there are
plenty of palatable fats, as butter, dripping, lard and milk. Cream is as
cheap, as good, and far nicer than cod-liver oil.

Decide on your children's diet, but do not discuss it with or before them.
If a child _does_ dislike a dish, never force it on him, but try to induce
a liking by serving it in a more appetizing way. Never mix medicines with

Worms. Various symptoms are due to intestinal worms, and a sharp lookout
should be kept for the appearance of any in the stools, and suitable
treatment given when necessary.

Treatment for thread and round worms:

R. ij.
Hydrarg. chloridi ij.
Pulv. iv.
Mix and divide into four.

Take one at bedtime every other night,
followed by castor oil in the morning.

Tapeworms. These are rarer, being much more frequently talked or read about
than seen. A doctor should be consulted.

Moral Training. The road to hell is broad and easy; so is that to heaven,
for if bad habits are easily acquired, so are good ones.

Example is the best moral precept, and if the conduct of parents is good,
little moral exhortation is needed. "What is the moral ideal set before
children in most families? Not to be noisy, not to put the fingers in the
nose or mouth, not to help themselves with their hands at table, not to
walk in puddles when it rains, etc. To be 'good'!" To hedge in the child's
little world, the most wonderful it will ever know, by hidebound rules
enforced by severe punishments, is to repress a child, not to train it.
While the commonest error is to spoil a child, it is just as harmful to
crush it. Be firm, be kindly, and, above all, _be fair_.

Issue no command hastily, but only if necessary, and shun prohibitions
based on petulance or pique. Give the child what it wants if easily
obtainable and not harmful.

If the desire is harmful, explain why, but if a child asks for a toy, do
not pettishly reply: "It's nearly bedtime!" when it is not, or even if it

Discipline is essential, but discipline does not consist in inconsistent
nagging; harshly insisting on unquestioning obedience to some unreasonable
command one moment, and weakly giving way - to avoid a scene - on some matter
vitally affecting the child's welfare the next.

There must be no coddling, and no inducement to self-pity. Such children
must be taught that they are capable of real success and real failure, and
that upon personal obedience to the laws of health of body and of mind,
this success or failure largely depends.

A child should be early accustomed to have confidence in himself. For this
purpose all about him must encourage him and receive with kindliness
whatever he does or says out of goodwill, only giving him gently to
understand, if necessary, that he might have done better and been more
successful if he had followed this or that other course. Nothing is more
apt to deprive a child of confidence in himself than to tell him brutally
that he does not understand, does not know how, cannot do this or that, or
to laugh at his attempts. His educators must persuade him that he _can_
understand, and that he _can_ do this thing or that, and must be pleased
with his slightest effort.

It seems a trifle to let a child have the run of cake plate or sweet-tray,
or to stay up "just another five minutes, Mummy!" to avoid a howl, but
these are the trifles that sow acts to reap habits, habits to reap
character, and character to fulfil destiny. It is selfish of parents to
avoid trouble by not teaching their children habits of obedience,
self-restraint, order and unselfishness. Between five and ten is the age of
greatest imitation, when habits are most readily contracted.

Come to no decision until hearing the child's wishes or statements, and
thinking the matter out; having come to it, _be inexorable_ despite the
wiles, whines and wails of a subtle child. Reduce both promises and threats
to a minimum, but _rigidly_ fulfil them, for a threat which can be ignored,
and a promise unfulfilled, are awful errors in training a child.

Persuade, rather than prohibit or prevent, a child from doing harmful
actions. If it wants to touch a hot iron, say clearly it is hot, and will
burn, but _do not move it_. Then, if the child persists, it will touch the
iron tentatively, and the small discomfort will teach it that obedience
would have been better. Let it learn as far as possible by the hard, but
wholesome, road of experience.

Makeshift answers must never be given to a child. Awkward questions require
truthful answers, even though these only suggest more "Whys?"

Sentimentality must be nipped promptly in the bud, and an imaginative and
humorous view of things encouraged. The child must be taught to keep the
passions under control, and to face pain (that great educator which
neurotic natures feel with exaggerated keenness) with fortitude.

Fear must be excluded from a child's experience. "Bogies!" "Ghosts!"
"Robbers!" and "Black-men!" if unintroduced, will not naturally be feared.
The mental harm a highly strung child does by rearing most fearsome
imaginings on small foundations is incalculable, and has led more than one
to an asylum.

Try to train the child to go to sleep in the dark, but if it is frightened
give it a nightlight. As Guthrie says, the comfort derived from the
assurance that Unseen Powers are watching over it, is small compared to
that given by a nightlight. He mentions a child who, when told she need not
fear the dark because God would be with her, said: "I wish you'd take God
away and leave the candle."

If the child wakes terrified, it is stupid and wicked to call upstairs: "Go
to sleep!" A child cannot go to sleep in that state, and a wise mother will
go up and softly soothe the frightened eyes to sleep.

Neuropathic children often have night terrors within an hour or two of
going to bed. Piercing screams cause a hasty rush upstairs, where the child
is found sitting up in bed, crouching in a corner, or trying to get out of
door or window. His face is distorted with fear and he stares wildly at the
part of the room in which he sees the terrifying apparition. He clings to
his mother but does not know her. After some time he recovers, but is in a
pitiful state and has to have his hand held while he dozes fitfully off. He
often wets the bed or passes a large amount of colourless urine. Medical
treatment is imperative.

Corporal punishment is unsuitable for neuropathic children, for the mere
suggestion of its application usually causes such excessive dread, mental
upset and terror as make it really dangerous. Such children are often said
to be "naughty" when in reality they are unable to exercise self-control,
owing to defective inhibitory power. Try patiently to inculcate obedience
from the desire to do right, and make chastisement efficacious from its
very exceptional character.

"The young child is too unconscious to have a deliberately perverse
intention; to ascribe to him the fixed determination to do evil, is to
judge him unjustly and often to develop in him an evil instinct. It is
better in such a case to tell him he has made a mistake, that he did not
foresee the consequences to which his action might lead, etc." Many parents
fall into a habit of shaking, ear-boxing, and such-like harmful minor
punishments for equally minor offences, which should be overlooked.

In all little troubles, keep _quite calm_. The child's nerve and
association centres have not yet got "hooked up", and you cannot expect it
to act reasonably instead of impulsively. This excuse does not apply to
you. One excitable person is more than enough, for if both get angry,
sensible measures will certainly not result.

The necessity for calmness cannot too strongly be urged. The treatment for
a fit of temper, is to give the unfortunate child a warm bath, and put it
to bed, with a few toys, when it will soon fall asleep, and awake refreshed
and calm.

Proceed gently but with absolute firmness, _start early_, and remember that
example is better than precept.

Religion. Offering advice on this subject is skating on very thin ice, and
we do so but to give grave warning against neuropathic youth being allowed
to contract religious "mania", "ecstasy", or "exaltation".

Neuropaths are given naturally to "see visions and dream dreams", and if
this tendency be exaggerated an unbalanced moral type results. Jones says:

"The epileptic is apt to be greatly influenced by the mystical or
awe-inspiring, and is disposed to morbid piety. He has an outer
religiousness without corresponding strictness of morals; indeed the
sentiment of religious exaltation may be in great contrast to his
habitual conduct, which is a mixture of irritability, vice and
perverted instincts."

Lay stress on the simple moral teaching of the New Testament, and avoid
cranky creeds, cross references, or Higher Criticism. Teach them to
practise the moral precepts, not to quote them by the page.

Without this practical bent, a "Revival" meeting is apt to result in a
transient but harmful "conversion"; a form of religious sentiment which
finds outlet, not so much in works as in morbid excitement. In these
people, as in the insane, there is often a weird mixing-up of religious and
sexual emotion.

Teach these children that the greatest good is not to sob over their
fancied sins at "salvation" meetings, but to love the just and good, to
hate the unjust and evil, and to do unto others as they would others should
do unto them.

It is better for them to join one of the great churches, than become
members of those small sects which maintain peculiar tenets.

A word of special warning must be given against Spiritualism. There may or
may not be a foundation for this belief, but it is highly abnormal, and has
led thousands into asylums.

The medium and the majority of her audience are highly neurotic, and a more
unwholesome environment for an actual or potential neuropath could not be

The educated neuropath often peruses certain agnostic works, the result
usually being deplorable, for this class are dependent on some stable base
outside themselves, such as is found in a calm religion manifested in a
steadfast attempt to overcome the weakness of the flesh, by ordering life
in accordance with the teachings of the New Testament.

So long as abnormalities of character do not become too pronounced, friends
must be content.

Such children must be trained to express themselves in a practical manner,
not in weaving gorgeous phantasies in which they march to imaginary
victory. Day dreams form one of those unlatched doors of the madhouse that
swing open at a touch, the phantasy of to-day being written "emotional
dementia" on a lunacy certificate to-morrow.

Finally, remember that above them hangs the curse:

"Unstable as water, _thou shall not excel_."

"Go thou softly with them, all their days!" and whether your tears fall on
the ashes of a loved and loving, but weak and wilful one, or whether their
tears bedew the grave of the only friend they ever knew, you will not have
lacked a rich reward.

* * * * *



"Th' expense of spirit in a waste of shame
Is lust in action; and till action, Lust
Is perjured, murderous, bloody, full of blame,
Savage, extreme, rude, cruel, not to trust;
Enjoyed no sooner but despised straight;
Past reason hunted; and, no sooner had,
Past reason hated, as a swallow'd bait
On purpose laid to make the taker mad;
Mad in pursuit, and in possession so;
Had, having had, and in quest to have, extreme;
A bliss in proof, and proved, a very woe;
Before, a joy proposed; behind, a dream;
All this the world well knows; yet none knows well,
To shun the Heaven that leads men to this Hell!"
- Shakespeare. Sonnet 129.

At puberty (from the age of 11-15) a boy becomes capable of paternity, a
girl of maternity; during adolescence (from puberty to 25) the body in
general, and the reproductive organs in particular, grow and mature.

In the boy, semen is secreted, the voice breaks, the genitals enlarge, hair
grows on the pubes, face and armpits, and there is a rapid increase in
height owing to growth of bone. In the girl menstruation commences, the
pelvis is enlarged, bust and breasts develop, the complexion brightens, the
hair becomes glossy, and the eyes bright and attractive.

In both, the sexual instinct awakens, and the mental, like the physical,
changes are profound. There is great general instability, the child, at one
time shy and reticent, is at another, boisterous and self-assertive.

Parents rarely realize the importance and trying nature of this period when
"there awakes an appetite which in all ages has debased the weak, wrestled
fiercely with the strong and overwhelmed too often even the noble".
Adolescents suffer more from the lack of understanding, sympathy,
appreciation and wise guidance shown by their blind parents, than they do
from their own ignorance and perfervid imagination.

The transitions from radiant joy and confident expectation, reared on a
flimsy basis of supposition, to dire despair consequent on a wrong reading
of physical and mental changes, are rapid. Friends, lovers and heroes
quickly succeed one another, play their parts, and give place to others.

The awakening of the sexual appetite is usually ignored, and children are
left to gain knowledge of man's noblest power from companions, casual
references in the Bible and other books, and unguarded references in

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