Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/172

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160
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

The falling off of the hair is too frequent a result of anxiety, or other depressing emotion, to escape common observation. A case reported in the Lancet, of May 4, 1867, forms an excellent illustration:

"A man of nervous temperament began business as a draper in 1859. At that time he was twenty-seven years of age, in good health, though not very robust, unmarried, and had the usual quantity of (dark) hair, whiskers, and beard. For two years he was in a state of perpetual worry and anxiety of mind, and his diet was very irregular. Then his hair began to come off. He declares that it literally fell off, so that when he raised his head from his pillow in the morning, the hair left on the pillow formed a kind of cast of that part of his head which rested on it. In a month's time he had not a single visible hair on any part of his body—no eyebrows, no eyelashes; even the short hairs of his arms and legs had gone; but on the scalp there could be seen, in a good light, patches of very fine, short down. This was in 1861. Medical treatment proved of no avail, and he was finally advised to do nothing. So long as his anxiety continued, the hair refused to grow, but by the latter part of 1865 his

business became established, and, coincidently, his hair reappeared; and when Mr. Churton, of Erith, reported the case, he had a moderately good quantity of hair on the head, very slight whiskers, rather better eyebrows, and the eyelashes pretty good."

The influence of painful emotions in causing gray or white hair and alopecia has been sufficiently illustrated, and it would have been interesting to adduce a reverse series showing the opposite effects of joy. But it is a very different thing to restore to its healthy habit the function of a tissue whose pigment has been removed by slow mal-nutrition, or by sudden shock. I may adduce such a circumstance as the following, however, to show that hair, which has turned gray in the natural course of life, may, by the stimulus of specially-favorable events, become dark and plentiful again:

"An old man (aged seventy-five), a thorough out-and-out radical—even the cancelli of his bones were so impregnated with a thorough disgust of the Government of George IV. that he threw up a lucrative situation in one of the royal yards, and compelled his youngest son to follow his example—insisted that his wife, also aged (about seventy), toothless for years, and her hair as white as the snow on Mont Blanc, should accompany them to the land where God's creatures were permitted to inhale the pure, old, invigorating atmosphere of freedom.