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Occupation Neuroses

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OCCUPATION NEUROSES. Term applied to a series of disturbances which occur In occupations where one group of muscles is more or less con stantly employed. They usually disappear, especially at the beginning of the trouble, if rest of the particular group of muscles is enjoined. The symptoms do not always consist in cramps or spasms ; but in many in stances there is present a condition of fatigue, paralysis, or tremor, or some times only a pain after working, which frequently is the forerunner of more serious consequences. This group of disturbances must be carefully dis tinguished from those discussed in the article on DISEASES, where the trouble is due to some external cause, a poisoning, or other condi tion. In the class of cases here noted, an internal factor is the cause of the affection—an over-exertion which interferes with the co-ordinated action of certain related groups of muscles, so that they no longer perform their allotted tasks. The same muscles, however, may act in a perfectly normal manner when called upon to carry out some other muscular effort. The cramps of writers, pianists, typists, violinists, stenographers, milkmen, and telegraphists are among the most common of these disturbances. The first two are considered in separate articles. In the other cases the trouble is due to a painful contraction of certain muscles, or an inability to use these muscles because they are readily fatigued. These neuroses, as already indicated, can be traced to over-exertion. The consequences appear much more readily when the body at the same time has been subjected to other enervating influences, such as acute or chronic disease, mental disturb ances, injuries, etc.

Treatment is by no means a simple matter. The cause of the trouble must be taken into consideration in every case ; and the principal thera peutic measures may be summed up in massage, gymnastic exercises, and electricity, combined with other methods which may be indicated by circumstances. Telegraphists' cramp may be prevented to a certain ex tent by covering the key of the Morse instrument with a suitable rubber cap.

OILS, FIXED.—Greasy liquids, composed of a combination of fatty acids (oleic, palmitic, or stearic acid) and glycerine. They are hot miscible with water, but are soluble in ether or alcohol. The fixed oils differ from volatile or essential oils in that they evaporate at a much higher tempera ture. Unlike the latter, they leave a greasy stain on paper. There are various groups of fixed oils, including olive-oil, cottonseed-oil, linseed-oil, castor-oil, palm-oil, cocoanut-oil, lard-oil, Nv h a le-o i I, etc. They are largely used externally as vehicles for more active substances. Internally, many fixed oils are useful as foods ; and some of them, notably castor-oil and croton-oil, have distinct medicinal values.

OILS, VOLATILE.—Volatile oils are mixtures of substances found very widely distributed in Nature from the lowest to the highest plant families. They give to plants their characteristic odours, and were eagerly sought by the ancient spice-hunter, who was the prototype of the gold-prospector of to-day. In ancient times spices were sought far and near, and the know ledge of perfumes was well developed before the Middle Ages. The science of the chemistry of volatile oils and the investigation of the more exact laws governing their action on the human body commenced at a more recent date, however. Only since 1830 has the chemistry of this class of bodies assumed more definite form ; and only in the past twenty years has the action of these substances been learned positively.

Volatile oils are primarily mixtures of hydrocarbons xvith combinations of paraffin and the aromatic series of chemical compounds. They all contain carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, and a few contain nitrogen and sulphur. Those containing the last-named substance belong to the more disagreeable volatile oils, such as that found in asafoetida. Terpenes form the basis of most of these substances, and \Vitt), them are mingled, in various proportions, ether, alcohol, aldehydes, phenols, and related bodies. The action of this class of bodies upon the human organism is, as might be expected, complex, since their composition is so varied. Many of them, particularly those rich in phenol (as oil of anise, oil of cloves, and oil of cinnamon), may be very poisonous, doses of five to ten drops giving rise to serious symptoms. In fact, most of the volatile oils are very active physi ologically. The chief results are seen on the nervous system, and, second arily, on the blood-vessels. They produce a mild stimulation, increasing the psychic action of the brain, dilating the blood-vessels, and causing perspiration. They also irritate the mucous membranes of the mouth, stomach, and intestine, and on account of this action they are widely used for the purpose of improving the appetite. In very large doses they give rise to severe symptoms of poisoning, wit]) coma, collapse, urinary changes, and convulsions. The vast majority of volatile oils are employed as flavouring agents, but it should not be forgotten that they have an action of their own, and when used in large amounts may bring about serious results.

OLEOMARGARINE.—Artificial butter made from oleo-oil, lard, milk or cream, and pure butter, the product being coloured and flavoured to resemble the natural article. It was first manufactured in France, in 1869, by the direction of Napoleon III., who desired to obtain a durable butter for his navy. Since that time the product has been greatly improved. Unless it be known that impure fats have been used in its manufacture, and pro vided that it is not misrepresented to be genuine butter, there is no reason why oleomargarine should not be widely employed as a popular foodstuff.

The fat of freshly-slaughtered cattle forms the basis of oleomargarine. After having been cleansed and reduced to small pieces this fat is melted, whereby the finer and more readily soluble fats arc separated from the less soluble ones, the latter being used in the manufacture of tallow candles. The fluid fats are then mixed with milk in a certain proportion, and treated like cream in a butter-machine until the fat globules separate, as in butter. These globules are then kneaded, salted, and coloured, and are made to taste like butter by the addition of aromatic substances (coumarine, etc). The quality, as well as the price of oleomargarine, will depend on the quan tity of milk added and on the amount of more solid fats retained. In order to prevent the fraudulent misrepresentation of oleomargarine as genuine butter, most countries have enacted laws making it compulsory to designate oleomargarine distinctly as such.

OLEORESINS.—Concentrated pharmaceutical preparations, usually pre pared by the action of ether on crude drugs. Most of them contain a volatile oil and a resin. They are sometimes spoken of as balsam-5, although this term is usually restricted to those containing benzoic and cinnamic acids.