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The mind, weakened by disease, noise merely, but of all improper is easily disturbed and agitated, excitement. Visiting is generally a except in those cases in which dis- perfect nuisance in the chamber of ease blunts the sensibilities. De sickness. Multitudes of lives are rangement of mind is often the pro- continually sacrificed to curiosity duct of mere weakness, under in- and mistaken kindness. The tatiling crease of excitement, without any circles that gather around the firefresh accession of local disease. side of the sick room, and retail A familiar illustration of this you their mixtures of medical lore, and may see in fever. Very often there slander, and hair-breadth escapes, is mental derangement only during and wonderful cures, often inflict the paroxysm of fever, the mind torture upon the shattered nerves of being quite clear in the remissions. the poor patient, and that torture Especially is this the case with sometimes, I have not a doubt, ends children, whose sensibilities and in death, when a recovery might othsympathies are in so much more erwise have taken place. lively a state than those of the adult. No one should enter the sick
Slight causes, therefore, which room from curiosity or from a mere would produce little or no effect vague desire to do good. Nothing upon the mind of one in firm health, but the actual prospect of doing may affect strongly the mind of a good should prompt him to go there. sick man.
A single example will Indeed, every thing which interferes suffice. The patient was sick with with the proper quiet of the sick typhus fever. He had been very should be most scrupulously avoided. much deranged, and great care had It should always be remembered, been taken to guard against any that in many cases of disease, menexcitement, which might act inju- tal excitement may do as much riously upon him. He was now harm as the excitement produced by getting better, and his mind had be- stimulating medicines. And it is as come calm and clear, though still, much the business of the physician like his body, it was very weak. to direct in the management of this A friend came in one morning as matter, as in the administration of usual to inquire about him. He remedies; for it has as real, if not knew that all visitors had been pro. as great a bearing on the recovery hibited from going into the sick of the patient. Indeed, sometimes room, but he wished very much to it is vastly more important than all see his friend, and, as he had an the medicine that is given in the opportunity, he looked in through case. I call to mind a case which the door, as it chanced to be a litle illustrates this last remark so stri. open. The dull eye of the sick kingly, that I will state it as briefly man saw him dimly, and he at once as possible. A patient was taken became as much affected as if he sick, with some important business had seen
a dreadful vision. His pressing upon his attention at the distempered fancy conjured up ideas time of the attack. He was perof a painful character, which re. suaded to dismiss it entirely from mained upon his mind for a week, his thoughts for the time. He was and endangered as well as delayed soon relieved by the remedies that his convalescence.
were used, and he was in a fair way This incident leads me to remark for a recovery.
was however that physicians find great difficulty in such a state, that it was very imin securing a due degree of quiet- portant that he should be kept from ness in the sick room. I use the all excitement, and as I saw that he word quietness in its widest sense. was disposed to attend to the business I do not mean the avoidance of now with some friend, whom he
wished to have called in for the pur. family. So many were sick, that pose, I told him and his family in the house was a perfect hospital. A plain terms the risk which he would large portion of the parish poured run if he should pursue this course. in of course, to offer their sympathy He however disregarded my injunc. and their services. Most of these tions, and the consequence was that persons did more harm than good. in the evening of the same day he I attempted to remedy the evil by was very sick, and in a few days directions to the nurses, and by condied from disease in the brain, which versation with individuals, but in was clearly induced by the mental vain. At length I put up a card on excitement. If he had followed my the door of the house, to this effect. directions as scrupulously in regard • Visitors are requested to go directly to this point as he did in regard to into the parlor. No one is to enter the medicines which were given, the sick rooms but those who have recovery instead of death would the care of the sick. No talking probably have been the result. in the entry.' This effected the
Some, in their anxiety to secure desired change at once. I introduce the quiet of the sick, go to an ex this case simply to show the diffitreme, and give almost the silence culties which exist on this point, of the grave to every sick room. especially in country towns, and the They institute a sort of prison dis- very plain remedy which can be cipline, and shut out both the light applied. There is no reason why of heaven and all cheerfulness of a universal rule should not be adoptintercourse. The very means which ed in every case, in which it is they take to produce quietness, the deemed necessary by the physician. stealthy step and the whisper, are The attendants on the sick often apt to disturb the patient more than make a great mistake in supposing noise or excitement would do. Dis.
the patient to be so fast asleep, or so cretion should be exercised by the stupid, as to receive no impressions physician, and the friends of the from their conversation. Often, patient should rely on him to direct from this cause, he is obliged to this part of the management of the hear what may do him great harm. case, as well as that which is strictly Amid the confused thoughts of his medical. He must judge as to the dreamy bewildered state of mind, degree and kind of excitement ap the idea of his own death is conjured propriate to the case, and direct in up by some remark, to trouble and its application, for the same reason affright him. Instead of getting the that he should, in a case of disease rest which his wearied body and of the eye, direct as to the amount mind so much need, his nerves are of light which should be admitted disturbed by the hum of conversa
tion, and his mind is harassed by a It is often very difficult to carry succession of dread thoughts and out these principles, especially in visions, suggested by remarks, of families that have but a small num which it is supposed that he takes ber of apartments. The fear of no cognizance. giving ofiense too, very often opens Some, who are very cautious on the door wide for visitors, against these points in regard to adults that the most positive injunctions of the are sick, never think of their appli. physician. To obviate this difficulty, cation to children. Often, for exI have in some few cases put upon ample, does the physician find, on the door a card, forbidding this kind entering the sick room, those whom of intrusion-an expedient which I kindness and curiosity have assemhave found to be very successful. bled there, talking loudly, while the One case was that of a clergyman's mother is trying in vain to soothe
the troubled child by rocking the the child. The physician should cradle as if for a wager. Much, never be held up as a bugbear to too, is often said in presence of sick children, but should uniformly be children that ought not to be, on the spoken of in their presence in such false supposition that they do not terms, that when he visits them in understand what is said. Many a sickness, they may rejoice to see child is frightened by horrid stories, him, both as a friend and as one and by gloomy comments upon his who is to bring them relief. There
Visitors stand over him, is no doubt that many a child is and besides fretting him by their seized with an ill-defined terror, staring, they say something, per- when the physician is called in, and haps, of this sort. • Poor thing! thinks of him only as some dreadful how sick he looks! I don't believe monster that cuts off children's ears, he can get well.' And then they and gashes their flesh almost for go on to tell about some little child, sport. The effect of such a feeling perhaps his playmate, that had died
on the weakened and agitated nerves recently, and whom, perhaps, he is always injurious, and undoubtedly saw laid in his grave, and utter in is sometimes fatally so. One may his hearing, with all due solemnity get some adequate idea of the feel. and sorrowfulness, the opinion that ings of children under such circumhe is affected much like him, and stances, by imagining himself, in a will probably die in the same way, state of weakness and disease, to be adding, by way of consolation to visited by an incarnate demon, who the poor mother, that then they will has both the power and the dispobe in heaven together. Children sition to torment him. have sensibilities and hopes and I am anxious to impress most fears, like adults, and they under faithfully the mind of the reader stand, even at a very tender age, with the importance of giving rest enough about death to be affected, to the mind in sickness. I have and often very strongly, by this already remarked on the extent and holding up of its grim visage di- the intimacy of the union between rectly before them. The mind, and the mind and the body. It is never the nervous system, by which the to be forgotten in the chamber of mind is connected with the body, sickness, that the mind not only is are as excitable in the child as in not by itself, alone and independent, the adult, and the avoidance of un but that it is not connected with necessary alarm and excitement is sound nerves, but acts upon a de as important in the sickness of the ranged body, and is acted upon by one as in that of the other.
it, through the multitude of nervous I can not forbear here to notice filaments, which, scattered every one thing, which often exerts a bad where, are receiving impressions at influence upon the mind of the child every point, and transmitting them in sickness. It is the habit which to the mind. If, therefore, the mind, many people have of threatening thus disturbed by disease, be at the their children, when in health, with same time troubled by causes apsending for the doctor to bleed them, plied directly to it, the result must or to give them some bitter medi- be a reaction from the mind through cine, as a punishment for their mis the nerves upon the disease itself. deeds. The inevitable tendency of The mental and the bodily irritathis is to increase the mental de. tions must increase each other. It pression and agitation which disease is then just as important to withhold produces, by the gloomy associa. all irritating causes from the mind, tions which are thus necessarily at as from the diseased organ. For tached to sickness in the mind of example, if the brain be inflamed,
that inflammation may be aggra pa!pable as in this case, is nevervated as certainly by exciting the theless as real. While it caused in mind, as it would be by the admin the case of John Hunter a sudden istration of any stimulant to the and final suspension of the heart's body. In either case the same re. action, it would, in a man suffering sult occurs—the brain is stimulated from some inflammation, aggravate —the only difference is in the chan- that disease, by driving the blood nel through which it comes. And too forcibly into the inflamed part, it is the duty of the physician to and by making its irritable nerves shut out the irritation from one chan- partake of the general excitement nel, as much as from the other. of the system. The effect might When the eye is inflamed, one part not be at any moment very power, of the curative means is to exclude ful, but if the irritation be repeated the light, because the light, by ex or continued, although it may be citing the nerve of sight, would in- vastly less in amount than it was in crease the inflammation. But the the case of Hunter, the accummu. action of the mind is as really con
lative effect of the excitement upon nected with the brain and nervous the disease would at length become system, as the act of vision is with very great, perhaps destructive. the eye; and therefore it must be And in certain low states of disease, guarded against in inflammation of when, in the midst of great weakthe brain, as vision is in inflamma ness, the nervous system is in an tion of the eye. The same may
extremely agitated condition-a conbe said, to some extent, at least, of dition, in which little causes may every other part as well as the produce powerful effects, a comparbrain, for every organ is supplied atively slight irritation induced in with nerves connecting it with the the mind, connected as it is with mind.
every trembling filament of that As an illustration of these remarks, nervous system, may overwhelm the I will introduce a case, showing the very powers of life as certainly, if influence of the irritation of passion not as suddenly, as did the strong upon a diseased body. I refer to passion of Hunter, in overloading the death of John Hunter, who has his diseased heart, and thus stopping been often called the greatest anat its action. omist and physiologist of his age. But withholding irritation, and se“On October 16, 1793,” says his curing rest and quiet, do not combiographer, “when in his usual prise all the physician's duty in restate of health, he went to St. lation to the mind, any more than George's hospital, and, unexpectedly they do in relation to the body of meeting with some things that ruffled the patient. He is sometimes to his temper, he allowed himself to excite the mind to positive action, give way to passion; the heart be for the same reason that exciting came overloaded with blood, the medicines are sometimes adminisossified aorta, not yielding to the tered to the body; and he may thus effort of the heart, the countenance often exert, through the mind, a became dark, angina pectoris imme- very happy influence upon disease. diately ensued, and turning round This remedy, as I have already to Dr. Robertson, one of the physi- hinted, is to be applied with discre. cians of the hospital, he was inca tion, according to the nature of each pable of utterance, and died.” case, and so as not to interfere with
This, it is true, is an extraordi. that rest, which we have shown to nary case, but the result of mental be so necessary to the mind in the irritation in common cases of dis- treatment of disease. The exciteease, though not as great and as ment must, with some few excep
tions, be agreeable in character, in next day. The application of the order that it may produce a genial thermometer was made from day influence upon the nervous system. to day in the same way, and in a The mode, the time and the degree fortnight the man was cured. of its application require the exer When Perkins' tractors were in cise of discrimination, as much as vogue, Dr. Haygarth of Bath had a the dose, and form, and time of any pair of wooden ones made of prestimulant or other medicine that is cisely the same shape with the orgiven to the patient. The judgment thodox metallic ones, and contrived and tact of the physician are never to color them so that the deception more needed than upon such points should not be discovered. He then as these. Dr. Tissot, a French applied them to quite a number of physician, relates an amusing case, patients, with the same results that showing the utility of discrimination followed the use of the genuine in regard to the kind of mental tractors, which cost five guineas a stimulation to be applied. A lady pair. Pain was relieved as if by was affected with a lethargy, and magic, and the lame were made to many applications were used to walk. Their operation in these cases rouse her, but to no purpose. At is of course to be accounted for in length a person, who knew that the the same way with the operation of love of money was the ruling pas. the thermometer in the case just sion of her soul, put some French related. crowns into her hand. After a few Some medical students determined minutes she opened her eyes, and to try the influence of imagination was soon entirely aroused from her
upon a countryman who was going stupor.
into town to market. They met The influence of the imagination him one after the other, each telling upon the body is familiar to every him how pale and sick he looked. one. I will mention a few cases to At first, as he felt perfectly well, he show its power.
paid no regard to it, but after two or Beddoes, an English physician three had thus accosted him, he beof great enthusiasm, had imbibed, gan to think there must be something among other new ideas, the notion the matter with him. By the influthat palsy could be cured by inhaling ence of imagination he soon began the nitrous oxide gas. He requested to feel badly, and to look really that eminent chemist, Sir Humphrey pale. And as he still continued to Davy, to administer the gas to one meet persons, who declared themof his patients, and sent him to him selves struck with his peculiarly for that purpose. Sir Humphrey sickly and ghastly appearance, he put the bulb of a thermometer under grew worse and worse, and the rethe tongue of the paralytic, to as sult was that he sickened and died. certain the temperature of the body, I could cite numerous cases illusso that he might see whether it trative of the influence of the imwould be at all affected by the in agination upon the condition of the halation of the gas. The sick man, body, but these will suffice. filled with faith from the assurances The physician has constant op. of the ardent Dr. Beddoes, and sup portunities for making use of the posing that the thermometer was influence of mental association to the remedy, declared at once that much advantage in the management he felt better. Davy, desirous of of the sick. He does this almost seeing how much imagination would insensibly in his daily intercourse do in such a case, then told him with his patients, exciting trains of that enough had been done for that agreeable associations in their minds, time, and directed him to come the varied to suit the mental and moral