Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 82.djvu/65

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Such considerations as these, consequently, make the question as to what may be done to prevent the development of such a condition, or to successfully minister to it eventually, an altogether most serious matter, especially in cases where not only the sufferer's own conditions and tendencies, but those of the entire environment, have to be considered.

In the first place, there can be no question that every case of a mind diseased should be as carefully investigated and as thoroughly understood as possible, and this from the very beginning. No sort of off-hand, "intuitive" pseudo-diagnosis should ever be relied upon as a basis either of prevention or remedy; the "case" is always really too complex to admit of any such guess-work whatever. Yet it is owing to just such a want of adequate investigation and accurate diagnosis that many a sufferer from mental pain has not only not received needed prevention or relief from his would-be ministrant, but has adversely most ignorantly or presumptuously been given abundant time to sink deeper and more permanently into his misery—so deep, in fact, so overwhelmingly, many times, that afterwards the utmost skill can be but partially successful—every really opportune moment having thus been allowed to pass forever by! Altogether and always, mental pain is too serious and dangerous a matter ever to be thus looked upon indifferently or ignorantly, or to be foolishly and fatally experimented with by not fully prepared remedialists.

In many instances, also, it seems to be altogether too readily assumed that what are called "imaginary" forms of this affection may be similarly slighted and mismanged—in fact, trifled with—without much thought as to what may be the consequence in the end. Indeed, it seems often to be considered as evidence of some kind of superior wisdom, to pronounce the sufferings of a given case as "purely imaginary," and so not to be "encouraged" by any sort of attention whatever. As a rule, however, it may be absolutely taken for granted that sick people, including the uncounted number of but-half-sick people, and those too who are said to "imagine" their illness, do not repeatedly or persistently make complaints without reasons that, when once understood, are seen to be really good and sufficient; and that every complaint of seemingly imaginary suffering has always something very real beneath it, which should at least be accurately ascertained and properly considered, before the sufferer is either condemned or ignored. Recent investigations into the true nature of the inner life, especially as this has been unsuspectedly determined by accidental shock and stress while yet in the plasticity of its very early stages, have thrown much light upon many of these perplexing types of mental invalidism in older people; and it is more than probable that further scientifically directed research will make still clearer much that is now so obscure and inexplicable. Hence, it must legitimately follow that every sort of shallow conception