American Journal of Insanity, April and July, 1895; Alienist and Neurologist, July, 1895; The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, June, 1895.
Dr. Clara Barrus writes in the American Journal of Insanity an article on “Gynæcological Disorders and their relation to Insanity.” She tabulates one hundred cases in which examinations were made whether the patient presented symptoms calling for uterine examination or not, and is of opinion that a thorough physical examination is necessary in all female cases, since the manifestations which would lead to examination were only noted in three patients. Very often the pain and discomfort felt by insane patients is misconstrued, and so, while we get no expression of pain itself, we may find the patient suffering from delusions that she is pregnant, that she has been violated during the night, and so on. A synopsis of the table is given, and shows the age of the patient, whether married or not, the presence or absence of menses, lencorrhóa or masturbation, of anomalies and new growths, the condition of the uterus and external genitalia, and the kind of mental disease which is presented. The gynæcologist who learns that it is the exception rather than the rule to find an insane woman with normal pelvic organs must be careful not to assign these abnormal conditions as a cause of insanity, but to keep an open mind, suspending his conclusions until further data can be examined. No doubt the causes of insanity in women are as varied and many of them are identical with the causes of insanity in men, but women have an additional physical and mental strain resulting from the crises which they have to undergo, such as the establishment of puberty, the monthly period, pregnancy, the puerperal state, and the climacteric. None of these by itself is sufficient to produce insanity, and when any of these experiences are said to be the cause of mental disease, we must acknowledge that though these may be the exciting cause, yet the predisposing one is an unstable organisation, causing the patient to be disturbed by occurrences which would only temporarily upset a healthy organism. As regards the table itself, one must guard against the erroneous opinion that the lesions which present themselves are associated more frequently with certain forms of insanity than with others, for although there were thirty-six cases of melancholia and twenty-one of dementia, and only nineteen of mania, ten of paranoia, and twenty-four of miscellaneous mental disorders, we must remember that cases of melancholia and dementia are more tractable and more easily examined, while those of acute mania, paranoia and sexual perversion are examined with difficulty. The author concludes that each case on admission should be examined, and if there is any abnormality present it should be removed if possible; by this means the degree of nerve irritation will be lessened and one of the “stumbling blocks” in the way of the patient's recovery will be removed.
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