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On Catalepsy, with Cases. Treatment by High Temperature and Galvanism to Head

  • Alex. Robertson (a1)
Extract

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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This is one of a number of apparatus which were designed by the writer about seventeen years ago for the purpose of applying heat and cold at graduated temperatures to different parts of the body. They include, besides the water-cap, a spinal bag (which has been of great use in the treatment of various diseases of the spinal cord), a chest and abdominal bag, a uterine bag, and a throat bag. A description of them, particularly of the chest one, was published in a serial paper in the “British Medical Journal” for November and December, 1871, and in the “Glasgow Medical Journal” previously. I have added this note to prevent possible misapprehension, as there are now other apparatus, metallic as well as India-rubber, in use, constructed on the same principle, but all of them have been introduced since the period referred to.

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The British Journal of Psychiatry
  • ISSN: -
  • EISSN: 2514-9946
  • URL: /core/journals/the-british-journal-of-psychiatry
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On Catalepsy, with Cases. Treatment by High Temperature and Galvanism to Head

  • Alex. Robertson (a1)
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