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The time of some mental processes in the retardation and excitement of insanity online

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very slow. P. shows nothing abnormal. 1

1 The averages for this experiment illustrate well the danger of draw-
ing conclusions too hastily from time measurements of mental phe-
nomena. The most evident conclusions from these results alone
would be that C. was retarded at the time the experiments were made.



MENTAL PROCESSES. 31

In the discrimination and distribution of one hundred colored
cards results were obtained (Table XI) similar to some already
discussed. Ev. was very slow, C. was slow, P. was medium
in rapidity, and B., Ed., and F. were rapid, increasing in the
order named. All the subjects improved from practice.

TABLE XI.

Weekly average time in seconds for discriminating and distributing one

hundred colored cards. The average variations are given below

the averages. The numbers of experiments, when more

or less than five, are in parentheses.



Serial


Normal.


Depressed.


Excited.


weeks.


B.


F.


Ed. Ev.


C.


P.




157-5


119.8


151.0 422.6


2OI.O


190.0


i


7-5

(2)


3-3

U)


20. 8 30.1


21.3

(4)


4-5

a)




133-8


128.0








2


7.8


o.o










(4)


(i)










I4I-5










3


H-5












(2)












108.8






188.2


134.8


4


3-1






7.8


5-9




(6)












105.2


109.0


I2O.2 37O.8






5


2.6


4-7


7-4 15-8










(3)








6








171.2


122.4










3-4


4.1






112.


376.8






9




4-0


25-4










(2)









Conclusions. When the results of all the experiments are
considered it is evident that the excited patients do not show
any consistent increase in speed over the normal or depressed
patients. The maniacal condition is, therefore, not an increased
motor ability but merely an increased motor diffusion.

The retarded subjects, on the other hand, were slow at the
beginning of all the series, but this retardation in the time of
mental processes is not regular.

For the performance of what we may call the more complex
mental processes, e. g. , choice reactions, adding, etc. , the re-
tarded subjects do not take proportionately so long a time as
they do for simpler acts. The maniacal patients tend to keep
the normal relations.



32 FRANZ.

In the retarded patients considerable practice effect was
found. This was more noticeable during the first few experi-
ments. In other work I have shown that general exercise in-
creased the speed of some mental processes in a case of retarda-
tion, and at the same time lowered the thresholds for pain and
touch sensations. These facts indicate that this class of
patients may be improved to some extent by systematic exer-
cise, i. <?. , their movements may be made more rapid. This would
not cure the depression but would help by lessening the re-
tardation. In every person there is a tendency for the forma-
tion of habits, and not the least in the insane. It is probable
that in many cases there is formed the habit of slowness,
and this may be supplanted by an activity habit formed by
exercise.

From the results of the simple reaction and the tapping ex-
periments it seems unlikely that the retardation comes princi-
pally at the beginning of the movement, as has been suggested.
If the retardation was a slowing in starting we should expect
to have a definite time added to the normal time for all psy-
cho-motor activities, and otherwise to keep the normal time
relations (minus this time) for all mental processes. More de-
tailed experiments are needed on this subject.

I have previously suggested that the retardation may be a
general lowering of the irritability, but from the experiments
already made it is not fully settled where the (supposed) low-
ered irritability is. Some experiments which I have made show
that in cases of retardation the tendon reflexes are slower than
normal and that the skin sensibility is dulled. In conjunction
with the fact that the addition o/ extra mental processes does
not greatly increase the total time, these facts would indicate
that if there is a lowering of the irritability such lowered irri- A
tability is not principally in the brain but rather in the periph-
eral parts of the body, particularly the nervous system. I
expect to take up this matter in more detail in another paper.

In only a few cases are the average variations for the insane
subjects greater than normal.






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Online LibraryShepherd Ivory FranzThe time of some mental processes in the retardation and excitement of insanity → online text (page 4 of 4)