Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/255

This page has been validated.
243
LITERARY NOTICES.

rest for women" in just the condition in which she found it.

The third section, occupying fifty pages, is a review of the various theories of menstruation, and shows considerable research.

The next section is devoted to what the author calls experimental research upon six persons in the form of daily tabulated statements of pulse, temperature, dynamics, and the excretion of urea, before, after, and during ovulation. The general results to be gathered from the tables are, that excretion of urea is increased previous to the hæmorrhage over the usual amount, although there were many exceptions to this rule, individual peculiarities generally governing the results. The number of cases observed, however, was too small to afford conclusions. The same objection may be made against the dynamometer and temperature tests. Physiological experiments of this nature always require a sufficient number of subjects to reduce individual peculiarities and accidental conditions to a minimum in the mean results. The state of the circulation is given a very careful study by means of the sphygmograph before, during, and after menstruation, from which observations the author concludes that there is an increase in the tension of the arteries seven to nine days preceding menstruation, to be lowered, as a rule, a few hours after the beginning of the hæmorrhage, reaching its minimum after its cessation. This increase in intermenstrual arterial tension, being similar to that observed in pregnancy, leads the author to this remarkable conclusion—"that in all these respects the intermenstrual, and especially the premenstrual, period represents a pregnancy in miniature." From the facts gathered in this experimental chapter, "it should follow," the author says, "that reproduction in the human female is not intermittent, but incessant; not periodical, but rhythmic; not dependent on the volitions of animal life, but as involuntary and inevitable as are all the phenomena of nutritive life." From what we know of the author, we believe the phraseology of the above will be materially altered in the next edition. Aside from the unscientific use of words, and the strained meaning put upon the word rhythmic, the author confounds reproduction with the conditions essential to reproduction. It conflicts also with reasoning to which this is designed to be the natural conclusion. For instance, on page 98, speaking of the Graafian vesicles, she says that, "as the process of their development is gradual, the periods of rupture are necessarily intermittent;" and, as if to preclude all idea of rhythmic action, she says, further, it "is one of the most irregular of physiological phenomena."

We shall end our notice by a few remarks on the conclusions with which the author closes the book.

Menstrual pain, instead of being the result of want of rest, depends upon—1. "Imperfect power of resistance in the nerve centres." This presupposes an inherent tendency to pain in all women during this act, its expression depending on the power of repression, although this alternative is evaded by the author. 2. Organic defects; and, lastly, acquired pain, which may depend upon conditions common to both sexes in the genesis of disease; upon causes mainly due to parturition, and thus peculiar to women; or "from two causes, very much more frequently operative in women than men, namely, ill-arranged work and celibacy." Whether this work is "ill-arranged" with reference to time or not, the author does not inform us. The conclusion is natural that this ill-arrangement is due to the need of intervals of rest, since work and rest are natural antitheses. The evil effects of celibacy are insisted upon in several places. The author even rises to the heights of impassioned prose, when she says that "many others never obtain the opportunity to bear a single child, for which, nevertheless, every fibre of their physical and moral being is yearning." While we cannot express ourselves so poetically, we concur in the idea; but it is not a little singular that, since the motive of the book is to demonstrate woman's capacity for continuous work during certain periods, the derangements due to matrimony receive no attention. The fifth and last conclusion is that "there is nothing in the nature of menstruation to imply the necessity, or even the desirability, of rest for women whose nutrition is really normal." Yet, upon the previous page, in speaking