– A condition of nervous weakness, in which self-control is lost, the will no longer asserts itself, and the emotions have free play. In the hysterical fit the laughs without real merriment, and cries without cause, is convulsed, but does not lose consciousness as in epileptic attacks. There are also difference of sensation-one part may become hyper-sensitive and another lose all power of feeling pain. Hysteria can simulate almost any disease; on the other hand, cases of real illness are sometimes set down as simply hysteria. The history of a case, and especially of the patient, will be the best guide in deciding, and the presence or absence of previous hysterical attacks. One of the most common symptoms of hysteria is the well-known sensation of a lump in the throat. It should not be forgotten that hysteria is a serious disease, and may be a fatal one. Some women are liable to become hysterical when under the influence of shock or intense excitement. They may have one or two attacks in a lifetime, and no more. These are not what are called hysterical patients proper. With them it is only a passing accident. The true hysteric is a person of highly nervous organisation and very unstably balanced.
Such as one may suffer periodically from attacks of hysteria from no observable cause, and is easily put into an attack from a very slight cause. Men may be hysterical as well as women.
General Treatment.- Plain, regular mode of living, avoidance of stimulants and anything exciting, are the best measures for those who have a tendency to hysterical attacks. In the attack the application of cold water to the face will in most cases restore self control. The wet towel is the best means of applying it. A corner of the towel should be dipped in cold water, and the face flicked with this. This measure should only be resorted to when the patient is of strong constitution and in good general health. The safest plans is to loosen the clothes, and take care that the patient does not hurt herself, and do nothing more, but wait will the fit is over. The worst thing to do is to exhibit much sympathy. The attendant may feel it, but must not show it, for this only makes the patient worse.
Medicines.-(Every few minutes in an attack. Two or three times a day for the constitution.)
-Great impressionability, capriciousness, rapidly alternating mental states, feeling of a “lump” in the throat, relieved by swallowing food; effects of worry.
-Hysterical fainting attacks.
-“Lump” in throat; cannot bear anything tight about her; worse after sleep.
(Hysteria takes a great variety of forms, and if the ordinary medicines do not succeed the permanent symptoms of the case must be carefully compared with the materia medica. The constitutional remedy will be chosen according to the general condition of the patient between the attacks).