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General Symptoms of Insanity

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GENERAL SYMPTOMS OF INSANITY.

Probably the first thing noticed about a per son whose mind is becoming affected is some change in the state of feeling, some depression or elevation. Under this change the person becomes restless, morose, sad, mirthless, in different, irritable, or reckless and extrava gantly joyous and merry. Under the operation of the disease the person's moral nature may become perverted, so that he is untruthful and dishonest, vicious or immoral. The moral per version may be so great as to lead to yielding to some wild impulse or fury that ends in vio lent or murderous acts. It must be again noted that the former character of the patient is the standard by which his present, supposed insane, conduct is to be judged.

Further, some faculty of mind becomes im paired, memory often and reason, though fre quently the quite insane person will argue with apparent smartness and ready wit. The intel lectual disorder may show itself in slowness of thought and incoherence of speech. Will also becomes perverted, so that the person is weak and tickle, or stubborn and perverse. Thus some insane patients have the delusion that they are acting under the will of some other whose commands, no matter what they be, they are bound to obey, so that they are impelled by impulses whose time and direction cannot be reckoned on.

A common symptom of insanity is the exis tence of illusions and halltuinations. The term "illusions" is applied when the patient sees some object actually before his eyes, but, under the influence of his diseased brain, the object becomes transformed to him into something quite different from what it actually is. Thus

shadows are taken for fiends or wild beasts, dust becomes grains of gold, pebbles become diamonds. In the same way all his senses may cheat him ; a noise may be a voice speaking to him, the wind may whisper evil things to him, and so on. But when a person sees something when there is nothing to correspond to it ex ternally, when he hears a voice and there is no sound even to explain his imagination, that is, when there is nothing affecting the senses from without to give occasion for the diseased ima gination, the person is said to be the victim of a hallucination. Often these hallucinations govern the person's life to a great extent. He sees figures beckoning him onwards, and he must follow; friends long dead throng round him; voices command him, and he must obey though they incite to murder. Thus tendencies to suicide and murder are often due to such hallucinations. Delusions, again, are false ideas originated by the disease in the person's mind, such as that his head is made of glass, that he is heir to the throne, &c. Besides these dis turbances of feeling, intelligence, will, and sense, there are such affections as paralysis, epilepsy, catalepsy, convulsions, and others, to which the insane are liable.