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694
[MEDICAL AND GENERAL
INSANITY

A typical case of the fully developed disease is not easily mistaken. The patient is usually anaemic and thin, the expression of the face is unnatural, the eyes widely opened and bright; and there is great motor restlessness, the muscular movements being purposeless and inco-ordinate. This inco-ordination of movement affects not only the muscles of the limbs and trunk but also those of expression, so that the usual aspect of the face becomes entirely altered. The temperature is generally slightly febrile. The tongue and lips are cracked and dry through excessive shouting or speaking. There is often no desire for food or drink. The heart’s action is rapid and forcible. The skin is soft and moist. The urine is scanty, turbid and loaded with urates. The white blood corpuscles per cubic millimetre of blood are markedly increased, and the blood serum contains agglutinines to certain strains of streptococci which are not present in healthy persons. Sensibility to pain is lost or much impaired. Such patients will swing and jerk a broken limb apparently unaware that it is broken. Sleep is absent or obtained in short snatches, and even when asleep the patient is often restless and talkative as if the disease processes were still active.

Mentally the patient is excited, often wildly so, quite confused and unable to recognize time or place. Answers to questions may sometimes be elicited by repeated efforts to engage the attention of the patient. The speech is incoherent, and for all practical purposes the patient is mentally inaccessible. This state of acute excitement lasts usually for two or three weeks and gradually passes into a condition of chronic restlessness and noise, in which the movements are more coordinate and purposeful. The confusion of the acute stage passes off and the attention can be more readily attracted but cannot be concentrated on any subject for any length of time. The patient will now recognize friends, but the affections are in abeyance and the memory is defective. The appetite becomes insatiable, but the patient does not necessarily gain in weight. This stage of subacute excitement may last for months, but as a rule favourable cases recover within six months from the onset of the disease. A recovering patient gradually gains weight, sleeps soundly at night and has periods of partial quiescence during the day, particularly in the morning after a good night’s sleep. These lucid intervals become more and more prolonged and finally pass into a state of sanity. Some cases on the other hand, after the acute symptoms decline, remain confused, and this state of confusion may last for months; by some alienists it is described as secondary stupor.

The symptoms detailed above are those typical of an attack such as is most frequently met with in adult cases. Acute mania, however, is a disease which presents itself in various forms. Adolescent cases, for instance, very commonly suffer from recurrent attacks, and the recurrent form of the disease is also to be met with in adults. The recurrent form at the onset does not differ in symptoms from that already described, but the course of the attack is shorter and more acute, so that the patient after one or two weeks of acute excitement rapidly improves, the mental symptoms pass off and the patient is apparently perfectly recovered. An examination of the blood, however, reveals the fact that the patient is still suffering from some disorder of the system, inasmuch as the white blood corpuscles remain increased above the average of health. Subsequent attacks of excitement come on without any obvious provocation. The pulse becomes fast and the face flushed. The patient frequently complains of fullness in the head, ringing in the ears and a loss of appetite. Sleeplessness is an invariable symptom. Self-control is generally lost suddenly, and the patient rapidly passes into a state of delirious excitement, to recover again, apparently, in the course of a few weeks. Recurrent mania might therefore be regarded as a prolonged toxaemia, complicated at intervals by outbursts of delirious excitement. Acute mania in the majority of cases ends in recovery. In the continuous attack the recovery is gradual. In the recurrent cases the intervals between attacks become longer and the attacks less severe until they finally cease. In such recovered cases very frequently a persistent increase in the number of the white blood corpuscles is found, persisting for a period of two or three years of apparently sound mental health. A few cases die, exhausted by the acuteness of the excitement and inability to obtain rest by the natural process of sleep. When death does occur in this way the patient almost invariably passes into the typhoid state.

The residue of such cases become chronic, and chronicity almost invariably means subsequent dementia. The chronic stage of acute mania may be represented by a state of continuous subacute excitement in which the patient becomes dirty and destructive in habits and liable from time to time to exacerbations of the mental symptoms. Continuous observation of the blood made in such cases over a period extending for weeks reveals the fact that the leucocytosis, if represented in chart form, shows a regular sequence of events. Just prior to the onset of an exacerbation the leucocytosis is low. As the excitement increases in severity the leucocytosis curve rises, and just before improvement sets in there may be a decided rise in the curve and then a subsequent fall; but this fall rarely reaches the normal line. In other cases, which pass into chronicity, a state of persistent delusion, rather than excitement, is the prevailing mental characteristic, and these cases may at recurrent intervals become noisy and dangerous.

Treatment.—Acute mania can only be treated on general lines. During the acute stage of onset the patient should be placed in bed. If there is difficulty in inducing the patient to take a sufficient quantity of food, this difficulty can be got over by giving food in liquid form, milk, milk-tea, eggs beaten up in milk, meat juice and thin gruel, and it is always better to feed such a patient with small quantities given frequently. Cases of mania following childbirth are those which most urgently demand careful and frequent feeding, artificially administered if necessary. If there is any tendency to exhaustion, alcoholic stimulants are indicated, and in some cases strychnine, quinine and cardiac tonics are highly beneficial. The bowels should be unloaded by large enemata or the use of saline purgatives. The continuous use of purgatives should as a rule be avoided, as they drain the system of fluids. On the other hand, the administration of one large normal saline enema by supplying the tissues with fluids, and probably thereby diluting the toxins circulating in the system, gives considerable relief. A continuous warm bath frequently produces sleep and reduces excitement. The sleeplessness of acute mania is best treated by warm baths wherever possible, and if a drug must be administered, then paraldehyde is the safest and most certain, unless the patient is also an alcoholic, when chloral and bromide is probably a better sedative.

The Elevated Stage of Folie Circulaire or Manic Depressive Insanity.—As previously mentioned in the description of the depressed stage of this mental disorder, the disease is equally prone to attack men and women, generally during late adolescence or in early adult life, and in a few cases first appears during the decline of life. Hereditary predisposition undoubtedly plays a large part as a predisposing cause, and after that is said it is difficult to assign any other definite predisposing causes and certainly no exciting causes. As in the stage of depression, so in the stage of excitement the first attack may closely follow upon typhoid fever, erysipelas or rheumatic fever. On the other hand many cases occur without any such antecedent disease. Another fact which has been commented upon is that these patients at the onset of an attack of excitement often appear to be in excellent physical health.

The earliest symptoms of onset are moral rather than physical. The patient changes in character, generally for the worse. The sober man becomes intemperate. The steady man of business enters into foolish, reckless speculation. There is a tendency for the patient to seek the society of inferiors and to ignore the recognized conventionalities of life and decency. The dress becomes extravagant and vulgar and the speech loud, boastful and obscene. These symptoms may exist for a considerable period before some accidental circumstance or some more than usually extravagant departure from the laws and customs of civilization draws public attention to the condition of the patient. The symptoms of the fully developed disease differ in degree in different cases. The face is often flushed and the expression unnatural. There is constant restlessness, steady loss of body weight, and sleeplessness. In very acute attacks there are frequently symptoms of gastric disorder, while in other cases the appetite is enormous, gross and perverted. The leucocytosis is above that usually met with in health, and the increase in the