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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/616

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

or persecution which afflict the aged and often lead them to take refuge in the martyr-spirit, are sad examples. The state of fatigue or exhaustion is another, and "neurasthenic" insanity is only an expression in greater degree of the morbid mental action found in fatigue and exhausted states.

The primary and secondary effects of alcohol or other narcotic indulgence is another soil in which the "sense of injury" easily grows. The habitué is notoriously suspicious and irritable, and full of fictitious grievances and unwarranted persecutory ideas. His attitude toward them is that of the paranoiac, vindictive, rather than that of the melancholiac, humiliated. They swell the army of so-called "borderland" cases of insanity, fretting their friends and puzzling the doctor with conduct alternately interpreted as "cussed" or "crazy."

Where there is bodily disease, acute or chronic, the morbid "sense of injury" is much in play. An intelligent patient, on recovery from a stomach disorder, admitted that whenever her stomach had ached she was taken with a violent hatred of her companion with whom she was in affectionate relation. An ignorant Southern colored woman, who had rheumatism in her ankle, believed that she had been "hoodooed," and explained the pain in her ankle by the presence of a snake, which she believed had been put there by a "hoodoo." She was not insane, the idea being consistent with her degree of intelligence, training, and early environment. Another patient, a sensible, cultivated woman, while suffering from a non-nervous illness, in which she had received all the consideration that love and money could furnish, believed herself to have been constantly and deliberately abused. After her recovery, now some years, she still maintains the belief. Instances could be multiplied, for doctors continually meet this atmosphere in the sick-room, from ugly little grievances to delusions of persecution. They are not surprised when a patient tells them in mingled confidence and complaint that he is hungry and neglected, that "they" will give him nothing to eat, etc., to find that his wife has been most attentive, has been pressing him to eat, and has stocked the pantry in anticipation. Dr. Johnson had plenty of ground for saying that a sick man is a rascal, though the modern doctor has reversed the formula.

Persons who suffer from actual trouble or ill treatment easily develop a morbid sense of injury, just as under similar conditions they may become insane. Unable to estimate the precise amount of their real grievance, there is an easy mental overflow into the fictitious ones. It is for this reason that the narrative of a real trouble or quarrel is so fraught with calumnious arraignment of