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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 90.djvu/417

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Treating Maniacs with Water

How the modem physician soothes raving luna- tics with nothing but hot and cold water

Bv John E. Lind, M.D.

Senior Assistant Physician, Gov't. Hospital for Insane, Washington, D. C.

��THE expression "raving maniac" is met with constantly in the press and in our daily speech, but it is doubtful if many people know just what it means. Probably the most common picture con- jured up by the term is a vision of a wild- eyed lunatic dashing madly through a terrified crowd, shooting and stabbing, until he is overpowered by the police and borne aw^ay to a padded cell where his shrieks are heard but faintly through the walls. While a maniac may run amuck in the streets before he is apprehended, this is not so common nowadays. Our knowl- edge of the real nature of insanity is becom- ing more exact, and we are able to detect its presence sooner as well as to treat it more intelligently and humanely.

A little over a centur>- ago the person who was mentally ill was regarded as something between a wild beast and a criminal. He was chained hand and foot to a stone wall in a dark, ill- ventilated cell ; his food was doled out to him at the end of a long stick; he was exhibited in iron cages to passersby, who, by paying a few pennies, were at liberty to ridicule him or "stir him up" in any way they chose. When his keepers thought it advisable he was beaten, ducked under the water or otherwise ill- treated with the idea that the evil spirit, which was supposed to have taken posses- sion of him, could thus be driven out. Towards the end of the i8th century, Pinel, a French doctor, made the experi- ment of striking the chains from the in- mates of Saltpetrie, a famous old asylum at Paris. His example was soon followed throughout the civilized world. Even after this great step forward, however, many strange and, as we now see, cruel methods of treating the mentally ill were practised, ruch as strapping them in rotary swings which revolved a hundred times a minute, bleeding them freely, etc.

In all the history of the treatment of mental disorder it is the maniac who has given the most trouble, and naturally so. He is quiet neither night nor day. Pacing

���The continuous bath for raving maniacs. In this the patient lives, eats and sleeps

restlessly back and forth, tearing his clothes to pieces, singing and shouting, refusing to eat or sleep, he has always been a menace to life and propert>^ In thousands of cases he has so worn himself out that, his vitality reduced to a low level, he has been the prey of some disease.

What the Strait- Jacket Means

There have been three main ways of treating maniacs, all of which have had for their basic idea the object of restraining them. The first of these ways was by actual restraint; that is, the excited person, was put in a strait- jacket or bound hand and foot. What torture this was to the poor sufferer will never be known, except by those who have endured it. Some of the readers of the Popular Science Monthly have had what are termed the "fidgets," when it seems impossible to be quiet for more than a second. If you can imagine having the fidgets a hundred times as badly as you have ever had them and if you can imagine being strapped in a canvas jacket with your arms bound tightly to your s'des so that you cannot move them and being kept in this way for days at a time you will have a faint idea of what the maniac suffered during the years when this was the only method of handling such cases.

Following these mechanical devices for restraining them, patients were given power-

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