Catalepsy is one of the most striking of the great group of functional disorders of the nervous system. In this country it is a rare disease, except in lunatic asylums, where, at least in a modified form, it is by no means uncommon. Among the recorded cases a considerable proportion occurred in women of a hysterical disposition. It has, however, been observed in many other conditions. Thus in some individuals it has been associated with gross organic lesions of the brain, such as tumours and softening; but these may be regarded as accidental coincidences, and not as essential to the disease. Malaria would seem to have been the agent in its production in a number of instances, this opinion being supported by the fact that the patients recovered under the use of quinine and other remedies with similar properties. A curious case is recorded by Vogt of an Alpine village near Würzburg, in which half of the population, both males and females, suffered from this disease. He states that the inhabitants had been much given to intermarriage, and that generally they are, or at least were—for his account was published in 1863—a small and deformed race. The seizures were of short duration, not generally lasting longer than five minutes. They were preceded by a chill, which was soon followed by a strange sensation in the arms and legs. Then the sufferers became deadly pale, while their limbs got stiff, and continued in the position they were in when the attack commenced.
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