Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/57

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53
A MIND DISEASED

CANST THOU NOT MINISTER TO A MIND DISEASED?
By Dr. SMITH BAKER
UTICA, N. Y.

WITH respect to this most pathetic question of the sick-room, the good Doctor in "Macbeth" seems to have exhausted the medical possibilities of his time, in his answer, "Therein the patient must minister to himself." Moreover, had he tried, though never so devotedly, to remove from Lady Macbeth's mind the "thick-coming fancies that kept her from her rest," he would have almost ignominiously failed, not only to "cure her of that," but equally to

Pluck from memory a rooted sorrow,

Raze out the written troubles of the brain,
And with some sweet oblivious antidote
Cleanse the stuff'd bosom of that perilous stuff

Which weighs upon the heart;

and all this, in spite of the dangerous gravity of the case, and his royal employer's urgent need.

Indeed, not only then but always, even until now, has the skill requisite "to purge to sound and pristine health" the mind thus seriously troubled been so generally wanting, that it does not now seem amiss to point out once more some of the difficulties which lie in the way, and likewise to indicate wherein, to some extent at least, surer and more permanent means of success than those heretofore used may be looked for, if not just now, then in the near future.

In this worthy undertaking, even Macbeth himself, by his remarkable diagnosis, may help us to make a more promising beginning than his contemporary physician could possibly make, at that time, and without necessarily becoming involved in so many of the mistakes which otherwise might seriously obstruct vision and paralyze action as well. To the king, stunned, remorseful, apprehensive as he was, the case presented, notwithstanding, certain very definite characteristics, which, in his rather picturesque classification, may be noted as "thick-coming fancies," "rooted sorrow," "written troubles," and the "stuff'd bosom" that "weighs upon the heart." Looked at in the light of modern knowledge, this list of insistent ideation, deep grief, visual hallucinations, morbid apprehensions and fears, guilty conscience and depressed emotions, are seen to make up still a very large percentage indeed of the sufferings of those who are looked upon as having either potentially or