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Symptoms of the Paroxysms

Category: Diseases of The Nervous System

Convulsive seizures are common manifestations
of hysteria, and frequently present a great similarity to epilepsy. The
prodromal (fore-running) symptoms are frequently present and may begin
several days before the convulsion occurs. In milder forms, in which the
cause may be due to a temporary physical exhaustion, or emotional shock,
the fore-running symptoms are of short duration. The patient may become
very nervous, irritable, impatient, have fits of laughing and crying,
alternately, or have a feeling of a chill rising in the throat. The
convulsion follows these symptoms. The patient generally falls in a
comfortable place; consciousness is only apparently lost, for she
frequently remembers what has taken place; the tongue is rarely bitten, In
the milder forms the movements are apt to be disorderly. In the severe
forms the movements are apt to be a lasting contraction of the muscles and
the patient may have the head and feet drawn back and the abdomen drawn
front. There then may follow a condition of ecstacy, sleepiness,
catalepsy, trance, or the patient may show symptoms of a delirium with the
most extraordinary sights of unreal things. These convulsions may last for
several hours or days. Firm pressure over the ovaries may bring on a
convulsion, or if made during a convulsion may arrest it. The disease is
rarely dangerous to life, yet death has followed exhaustion induced by
repeated convulsions or prolonged fasting. The duration of hysteria is
very uncertain.

DURING A CONVULSION. The first thing to do is not to be frightened. A
patient in a convulsion from hysteria very seldom injures herself during
the convulsions. If you are sure it is hysteria, give a nasty tasting
medicine, asafoetida is a splendid remedy, but not in pill form, for there
is no taste or smell to them. Sometimes a convulsion may be arrested by
the sudden use of ice to the backbone or abdomen or by dashing cold water
in the face and chest, or by pressing upon the ovaries. When the hysteria
is of a mild form it is sometimes a good plan, when the convulsion comes
on, to place the patient in a comfortable position and then leave her, and
when the patient comes to and finds herself alone and without sympathy,
the attacks are less likely to be repeated. Sometimes if you watch a
patient closely when she is seemingly unconscious, you will see, if you
look at her very guardedly, that one eyelid is not entirely closed, and
that the patient really sees much that is occurring around her. I am
writing of real genuine hysteria, in which the patient is not quite right,
not only physically but mentally,--especially the latter,--during the
attack at least. For that and other reasons such patients should not be
treated cruelly.

Next: Preventive Treatment of Hysteria

Previous: HYSTERIA

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