The most important symptoms of a case of sickness are the mental symptoms. Hahnemann called attention to this fact. The most important symptoms produced by a drug upon healthy people are the mental symptoms. This fact has been recognized by our drug provers. Other things being equal, the homoeopathist who most closely applies the artificial symptoms to the natural symptoms, when prescribing, achieves the most notable success.
It is not claimed that homoeopathy will cure every case of insanity. Some cases are incurable. Homoeopathy will cure every curable case. It has astonished observers by curing many terrible cases which had been considered incurable. It mitigates the sufferings and postpones the fatal termination in the worst cases. I have in mind a number of cases of paresis so far advanced as to require a urinal to be worn in the trousers and help in locomotion, who were preserved to a good measure of business activity a number of years longer than the most hopeful observer dared to claim, by homoeopathic medicine and careful regimen. I think of the apparently hopeless case of mania in the practice of the late Dr. J. P. Van Evera. The patient was in constant motion and lamentation. If near a window she wanted to throw herself from it. When near the water she wanted to drown. On entering the kitchen she endeavored to get into the stove and burn to death. The case was referred to the late Professor Selden H. Talcott, who gave Rhus tox. and cured the case promptly. Nothing in my medical experience has given me more insight and confidence in homoeopathy than that cure. It served me well in the case which is about to be related.
The insane patient should not be deceived. After listening attentively to his strange statements, the physician can say: “That is the way it seems to you, but I think it is thus and so. I believe you are a little crazy.” Again, if it becomes necessary to send him to a public institution, the patient should be so told, in a kindly way, saying that the change is thought necessary for his comfort and care, and that he may the sooner recover. If he gets excited and refractory, listen calmly to what he has to say, but do not yield nor appear to yield the point. A physician who acts thus will retain the respect and confidence of the patient, and be in the position to render him the greater amount of benefit medically.
Mrs. R was very happy with her devoted husband and lovely daughter. Unfortunately she meddled with “Christian Science.” It upset her badly. Hoping that a change of surroundings and scene would help her, she started on a trip to different points in New England. The movement was disastrous. She became evidently insane and was hurried back to New York in a few days. Here is her own story written a few years after her recovery:
“The final culmination of my illness came on the 12th of September, 1900. This was the outcome of five years or more of intermittent insomnia brought on by a nervous condition, due, in part, to perpetual speculation on psychological subjects and arduous study of mental and religious subjects. Neglect of physical exercise and proper diversion and the attempt to do a thousand things at once probably rendered hurtful occupations which might otherwise have been harmless.
“In July and August I was nervously and physically run down, and it is difficult to discriminate between what might be called physical and mental symptoms. In July I had been exaggeratedly anxious about a kitten which we took to the country from New York. The kitten was badly frightened on the journey and somewhat bruised. The bruises became bad running sores, and I devoted myself to its cure, giving it mental treatments at frequent intervals. The first serious symptoms occurred while driving early in September. There was great agony in the head with inclination to sleep. When in a half asleep condition and on awaking, the anguish was awful. A few days before the 12th I began to oscillate in mind between a belief in a future state and the reverse. Suicidal thoughts came to me in order to get relief from the pain which was partly physical and partly mental.
“One day I was quite hopeless and the next cheerful. About the 10th I seriously proposed to my husband the destruction of the family together. That night I did not sleep at all, and had a grinding pain in my head as though something were breaking, and visions or horrid nightmares went chasing through my brain . With this came the certainty that something awful was going to happen to me. It did.
“On the 27th I went to New York with my husband and daughter and called on Dr. Carleton. Took the Sound boat. Previous to going I tore up my letters and prepared for death or insanity. I was careful not to alarm my mother. On the boat I had intervals of hope and cheerfulness followed by delusions that were terrifying. The intervals became shorter and shorter. At this time there was a curious pain starting from the back of the right ear and running up into the head. (I should say it was like the application of a strong electric current to a nerve.) During the night I slept a short time twice, and on awaking the pain was more severe and the certainty that I was losing my mind was more intense. I seemed to be waked by this intense pain in the head which I have described. On board the boat, for the first time, I had symptoms which endured all through my illness. I saw a peculiar significance in accidental trifles, which seemed to have double meaning. Black cinders falling on my white shirt waist made me believe that sin was falling on me.
“This mental and physical pain was continuous and intermittently more severe during the following day on the train to Provincetown and after we arrived there. Instead of remaining there, as had been intended, we took boat in the afternoon for Boston. The boat was delayed in starting by a severe blow. I was glad to go because I hoped that the boat would go down.”
“On the boat, for a time, sitting on deck, I felt better, then lay down in the cabin and slept for an hour. On awaking the pain was intense, and it was with difficulty I could control myself. We landed at Boston and started to walk to the hotel. On the way I could no longer endure the pain in my head, and screamed violently, all the time conscious that I must control myself for my daughter’s sake, for she was with us. Screaming was a tremendous relief. When I was restrained by force, at first, it excited me greatly.”
“A peculiar change of my mental vision came to me in the boat just before leaving Provincetown for Boston. It seemed as though my brain was turning, so as to receive external sensations through new openings. By an effort of will I delayed this movement. Finally, in a few minutes, the change came, and my husband, to whom I was talking, seemed to assume another personality. This sensation continued for some days.
“At the Boston hotel, in spite of a narcotic, I did not sleep. On the journey to New York by train, the next day, my brain seemed to be running away at a terrific pace. I could not control it. It was reasoning out things. “
“At the hotel in New York I did not sleep the first night. My mind was reasoning out a sort of arithmetical progression. The sense of hearing became extraordinarily exaggerated. The car bells in the street, the first night in New York, only, seemed to be ringing inside my head. I had a severe choking sensation from phlegm running into my throat.
“I consider my cure due largely to the fact that I was never deceived and not shut away from my family and every day interests.
“November 26th, 1905. I feel in better health now than ever in my life.”
She saw and heard imaginary persons and things, was melancholy, terrified, loquacious, desired light, shunned food and drink, saying they were poisoned, was restless, trembled, had involuntary stools and urine. Her nose was red. She had a fixed, strange idea for a time, then dropped it to take up another idea. She slept very little, and it was months before she averaged thirty hours a week.
I gave Stramonium, two hundredth, in water every two hours for five days, but becoming impatient, changed to Lachesis. I then turned to Sulphur, two hundredth for a week. This was followed Rhus tox. with some benefit, up to November.
Doctor Blauvelt, of the Board of Health, saw the case. He thought she could not live much longer. November 10th, I became satisfied that Stramonium was the remedy, and returned to it, with benefit to the patient. Professor Talcott saw the case with me and expressed hope for her life.
Early in January, 1901, improvement ceasing, I gave a dose of Aurum metallicum cm. with great benefit, which lasted until October. Then returning to Stramonium, I gave a dose of the cm. potency. She was nearly well. In January, 1902, Veratrum album cm. took the field and held it four months, when, improvement flagging, the millionth potency was substituted for the cm. That finished the case.