Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 78.djvu/617

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neglects either aspect of the duplex organism with which it deals, the results are bound to be unsatisfactory.

Let us consider more specifically the contribution of the manual arts to the attainment of perfect mental balance. Statistics are unanimous that insanity, hysteria and neurasthenia are rapidly increasing in all civilized lands. Now, the newer psychological interpretations of insanity are of the utmost suggestiveness for education. Originally, the insane person was thought to be possessed of devils, cursed of God, etc. Later the scientific studies in neurology led to the theory that insanity in all cases is due to lesions of the brain: to actual degeneration of the nervous tissues induced by hypothetical toxins of disease. This is demonstrably true for certain forms of insanity. But for a very large proportion of insanities and for most, if not all, of that border-line group designated in psychiatry as the psychasthenias, the theory of lesions remains absolutely without positive confirmatory evidence. In regard to these the belief is rapidly gaining ground among psychiatrists that we have to do not with diseased tissues in the ordinary sense, but rather with disturbances of function which in greater or less degree are amenable to correction by the so-called "method of re-education." This system of therapeutics has already proved successful in numberless cases of depression, hysteria and neurasthenia, and is believed by America's leading authority on insanity. Dr. Adolph Meyer, to be hardly less applicable to the form of adolescent insanity known as dementia præcox. Recent extensions of our knowledge of this disease are so pertinent to our theme as to warrant a brief discussion of it here. Dementia præcox is one of the most interesting forms of insanity for three reasons. In the first place, it is extremely common, accounting for some thirty per cent, of the total admissions to insane hospitals. In the second place, it does not prey upon the old or mentally decrepit and is not allied in any way with the diseases of immorality. Instead, it attacks the youth, and not infrequently the youth of most marked intellectual promise. In the third place, some of the newer studies of the disease show that it is due to definite ascertainable functional disturbances of the individual's mental evolution and that it will yield to the right kind of educational treatment. As characterized by Dr. Meyer, dementia præcox is "a miscarriage of instincts through lack of balance"; a deterioration of habits, "due to progressively faulty modes of meeting difficulties." We are informed further that it is most likely to develop in the youth of the "repressive type," characterized by seclusiveness and what is likely to be taken for "depth of thought." It usually involves fantastic day-dreaming, sexual imagination, brooding over disappointments and (the most central symptom) a discrepancy between thought and action. As described by Dr. Meyer: