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Isaac G Briggs.

Epilepsy, hysteria, and neurasthenia, their causes, symptoms & treatment; online

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and the many patent medicines purporting to contain
haemoglobin 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
preparation.



96 EPILEPSY, HYSTERIA, NEURASTHENIA

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 decom-
posed 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 strych-
nine, 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



PATENT MEDICINES 97

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 (regard-
less 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.



CHAPTER XXI

TRAINING THE NERVOUS CHILD

" When shall I begin to train my child ? " said a young
mother to an old doctor.

" 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

98



TRAINING THE NERVOUS CHILD 99

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 walk-
ing, 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 desul-
tory, half-finished work, and shiftlessness are the rule.

Their appetite is fitful and fanciful, they like unsuit-
able 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 exces-
sive shyness or bravado, always introspection, and
exaggerated self-consciousness.

As they grow older, they readily contract hypochon-
dria, 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 educa-
tion. " 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.



100 EPILEPSY, HYSTERIA, NEURASTHENIA

Sleepiness, languor, a vacant expression, forehead
wrinkled, eyebrows knit, eyes dull, sunken and sur-
rounded 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 endur-
ing an examination is tremendous ; to highly strung
children it is dangerous. Home-work should be for-
bidden 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 undesir-
able, a child's beverage being milk and water.

Meals should be ready at regular hours, and capri-
cious appetites should freely be humoured among suit-
able 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



TRAINING THE NERVOUS CHILD 101

" 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. Mastica-
tion 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 pan-
creas are not active until the age of 18 months, before



102 EPILEPSY, HYSTERIA, NEURASTHENIA

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 attri-
buted 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 food.

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.

Santonin! - gr. ij.

Hydrarg. chloridi mitis - - gr. ij.

Pulv. aromatici - gr. 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



TRAINING THE NERVOUS CHILD 103

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 hide-
bound 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 is.

Discipline is essential, but discipline does not consist
in inconsistent nagging ; harshly insisting on
unquestioning obedience to some unreasonable com-
mand 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 confi-
dence 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



104 EPILEPSY, HYSTERIA, NEURASTHENIA

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 under-
stand, 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



TRAINING THE NERVOUS CHILD 105

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



106 EPILEPSY, HYSTERIA, NEURASTHENIA

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 warn-
ing 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



TRAINING THE NERVOUS CHILD 107

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 " con-
version " ; 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 environ-
ment for an actual or potential neuropath could not
be imagined.

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 mani-



108 EPILEPSY, HYSTERIA, NEURASTHENIA

fested in a steadfast attempt to overcome the weak-
ness 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.



CHAPTER XXII

DANGERS AT AND AFTER PUBERTY

" 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.

A 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 com-
mences, 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

109



110 EPILEPSY, HYSTERIA, NEURASTHENIA

and reticent, is at another, boisterous and self-asser-
tive.

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 refer-
ences in the Bible and other books, and unguarded
references in conversation. Under such conditions
not one in a thousand and your child is not that one
escapes impurity and degraded sex ideas.

Wherever youth congregate, this subject crops up,
and those who talk most freely to the others are just
those with the most distorted and vicious ideas, whose
discourse abounds in obscene detail and ribald jest.
Your child must learn either from ignorant, unclean
minds, or be taught in a clean, sacred way, which will
rob sex of secrecy and obscenity ; learn he will ; if
you will not teach your child, his pet rabbit will.

When children ask awkward questions, say quietly
that such matters are not discussed with children, but
promise to tell them all about it when they are ten
years old ; delay no longer, for most children learn
self-abuse between ten and twelve.


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