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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/258

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moment when a man afflicted with neuralgia receives the morphine injection for the first time, to free himself temporarily from pain, may be decisive for his whole future life. It soon happens that the anodyne is resorted to, not merely for unendurable nervous attacks, but for every little discomfort, care, and grief, so that the veil of forgetfulness may be drawn over the unpleasantness and the pressure of the unwelcome reality may pass away in dreaminess. Thus the unhappy man sinks from step to step in the slough of opium-poisoning, from which deliverance is possible only rarely and with difficulty. Energy, the power of resistance, the sense of duty and pleasure in action are lost, and he becomes a physical wreck; indolent and indifferent, timid and uneasy, emotional and excitable, the unhappy man presents the most critical symptoms of what is called "morphinism." Similarly terrible consequences follow the habitual use of other quieting drugs, including the preparations of cocaine. Those, therefore, who suffer from nervous disorders can not be too earnestly warned never to use any such preparations, except in extreme cases, by the prescription of their physician.

Massage has recently played a considerable part among the remedies applied for the removal of nervous pains. Good effects are obtained in neuralgias which originate from colds or stagnation of the blood by means of the kneading and the muscular exercises which are implied in this term. The structures in which the disordered nerves branch out should be worked in all directions, but only by experienced, intelligent hands—with pressure, rubbing, kneading, shaking, and moving, in order to remove the disturbance. Rough handling by awkward persons, such as those to whom the process is too often intrusted, may do more harm than good. Health gymnastics is included among the movement cures which are resorted to for the alleviation of nervous pains. In many cases, too, the opposite course—complete rest—is prescribed for quieting the excited nervous system, for the reduction of oversensitiveness.

In desperate cases, where medicines and mechanical applications have failed, surgical operations are called in, to remove the pain by severing the nerves. The results which have been often attained by this operation justify its application.

The best protection against nervous disorders is found in sparing the nervous force; in avoiding overexertion of body and mind; in systematic practice of bodily exertion and muscular exercise; in a wise alternation of work and recreation, and in hardening the power of resistance of the body and steeling that of the mind; in everything that can protect our emotional nature against degenerating into sentimentality, our feeling into tenderness.—Translated, for the Popular Science Monthly from Die Gartenlaube.