The value of electricity as a therapeutical agent, particularly in diseases of the nervous and muscular systems, has of late years become widely recognised. There is, however, less assurance of its usefulness in disorders of the mind. This is probably largely due to the comparatively small experience which has been acquired of its action in the treatment of the insane. Still, two important series of observations have been made in this country—besides a few abroad—the one by Dr. Allbutt, of Leeds, in the West Biding Asylum, the other by Dr. Newth, in the Sussex Asylum; and both observers obtained some satisfactory results. But it must be admitted that there is considerable difference in their respective conclusions. Thus Allbutt found very little advantage from it in most cases of melancholia, whereas it was in that class of cases that Newth records the most distinct successes. In narrating its action in a melancholic, Newth states that the result was “most marvellous, and satisfactorily attributable to the treatment.” Allbutt noticed most improvement in acute dementia. Just possibly, irrespective of the difference in the cases themselves, the mode of application of the galvanism may have had some influence in determining the character of the effects. Both physicians used the continuous current, but Allbutt applied the two poles to the head, while Newth applied only one to it, the other being in the hand of the same or opposite side, and sometimes in a basin of acidulated water, in which the hands or feet were placed.
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