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THE STRESS OF MODERN CIVILIZATION AS A FACTOR IN THE CAUSATION OF INSANITY.

THE STRESS OF MODERN CIVILIZATION AS A FACTOR IN THE CAUSATION OF INSANITY. The stress of modern civilization as a factor in the causation ofinsanity. BY FREDERIC S. THOMAS , M.D., PROFESSOR OF MENTAL DISEASES CREIGHTON MEDICAL COLLEGE, OMAHA. In presenting a few thoughts upon this subject, I desire not to be exhaustive, but to present points merely for your consideration. The author does not claim the stress of modern civilization to be an exclusive factor in the causation of insanity, yet one which should not be dismissed without consideration. . . . Instead of modern culture making the masses more resistive and better qualified for life's battle, in many instances, by reason of over-stimulation and faulty cerebral development, it tends to weaken the inhibitory qualities of the brain. We are told that man in uncivilized life has but one source of pleasure, viz.: The gratification of his animal desires and passions. In his ultra civilized state, however, we find him possessed of another and higher condition—"a psychical existence—an intellectual life." This changed condition, the result of an irresistible evolutionary process, has transferred him from the field of ethnology to the domain of psychology. A comparative study of mental alienation of both the uncivilized and the highly civilized races shows an unusually high per cent. of insanity in the latter. Omitting from our consideration epilepsy, trauma and their results, little or no insanity is observed among the unenlightened races. The higher the scale of intelligence and the more exacting the demands upon a people, the more likelihood there is apparently, of brain disease. . . . "The prevailing tendency of modern civilized life is to over-stimulation of children. The tendency pervades our whole educational system. It permeates juvenile literature, it is manifest in childish recreations and has invaded the home. Such overstraining and stimulation of the nervous organism can not fail to cause harmful effects during childhood, and frequently produces neurasthenic and nervous temperaments in later life." . . . In our environment of moderncivilized life, the delicate structures of the ear and brain, which were so constructed as to recognize the tone, pitch and harmony of sound, are being shocked by the discordant screams of the locomotive, the noise of the street-car with its clanging bells, the rumbling of the heavy wagons upon our stony pavements, the monotonous cry of the newsboys, the auctioneer or the fruit vender upon our street corners. By reason of all this, the beautiful and refreshing sleep of childhood is disturbed and the growing brain, which demands so much repose during this period of life, has been made to suffer therefrom. The human eye, even more delicate in construction than any other organ in the body, no longer has reflected upon its retinal expanse the beauty of field and flower: the rolling landscape; the crystal streams with their green verdured banks, or the blue, starry vault above us, but is made to witness the revolting scenes of men maddened by their scramble for gold, or begrimed by the heat of toil in the busy marts of trade. The delicate olfactory cells which gather strength and delight from the pure air of the country, laden with the aroma of growing flowers and ripening grain, which gladden the heart of childhood, are dulled and blighted by the smoke and stench of our cities. Instead of this maddening whirl and strife of modern civilized life, could the eyes of childhood but be limited to see nature in her pristine beauty; the ears hear only the sweet carol of birds and the melody in the rustling leaves of the forest trees; then the sweet lullaby songs of mother would never cease to ripple harmoniously in the chambers of memory. If these things could hold a place in our modern civilized life, no one would dare say that the stress of modern civilization was a factor in the causation of insanity. JAMA. 1898;31:1403-1404 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png JAMA American Medical Association

THE STRESS OF MODERN CIVILIZATION AS A FACTOR IN THE CAUSATION OF INSANITY.

JAMA , Volume 280 (22) – Dec 9, 1998

THE STRESS OF MODERN CIVILIZATION AS A FACTOR IN THE CAUSATION OF INSANITY.

Abstract

The stress of modern civilization as a factor in the causation ofinsanity. BY FREDERIC S. THOMAS , M.D., PROFESSOR OF MENTAL DISEASES CREIGHTON MEDICAL COLLEGE, OMAHA. In presenting a few thoughts upon this subject, I desire not to be exhaustive, but to present points merely for your consideration. The author does not claim the stress of modern civilization to be an exclusive factor in the causation of insanity, yet one which should not be dismissed without consideration. . . . Instead of...
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Publisher
American Medical Association
Copyright
Copyright © 1998 American Medical Association. All Rights Reserved.
ISSN
0098-7484
eISSN
1538-3598
DOI
10.1001/jama.280.22.1902
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The stress of modern civilization as a factor in the causation ofinsanity. BY FREDERIC S. THOMAS , M.D., PROFESSOR OF MENTAL DISEASES CREIGHTON MEDICAL COLLEGE, OMAHA. In presenting a few thoughts upon this subject, I desire not to be exhaustive, but to present points merely for your consideration. The author does not claim the stress of modern civilization to be an exclusive factor in the causation of insanity, yet one which should not be dismissed without consideration. . . . Instead of modern culture making the masses more resistive and better qualified for life's battle, in many instances, by reason of over-stimulation and faulty cerebral development, it tends to weaken the inhibitory qualities of the brain. We are told that man in uncivilized life has but one source of pleasure, viz.: The gratification of his animal desires and passions. In his ultra civilized state, however, we find him possessed of another and higher condition—"a psychical existence—an intellectual life." This changed condition, the result of an irresistible evolutionary process, has transferred him from the field of ethnology to the domain of psychology. A comparative study of mental alienation of both the uncivilized and the highly civilized races shows an unusually high per cent. of insanity in the latter. Omitting from our consideration epilepsy, trauma and their results, little or no insanity is observed among the unenlightened races. The higher the scale of intelligence and the more exacting the demands upon a people, the more likelihood there is apparently, of brain disease. . . . "The prevailing tendency of modern civilized life is to over-stimulation of children. The tendency pervades our whole educational system. It permeates juvenile literature, it is manifest in childish recreations and has invaded the home. Such overstraining and stimulation of the nervous organism can not fail to cause harmful effects during childhood, and frequently produces neurasthenic and nervous temperaments in later life." . . . In our environment of moderncivilized life, the delicate structures of the ear and brain, which were so constructed as to recognize the tone, pitch and harmony of sound, are being shocked by the discordant screams of the locomotive, the noise of the street-car with its clanging bells, the rumbling of the heavy wagons upon our stony pavements, the monotonous cry of the newsboys, the auctioneer or the fruit vender upon our street corners. By reason of all this, the beautiful and refreshing sleep of childhood is disturbed and the growing brain, which demands so much repose during this period of life, has been made to suffer therefrom. The human eye, even more delicate in construction than any other organ in the body, no longer has reflected upon its retinal expanse the beauty of field and flower: the rolling landscape; the crystal streams with their green verdured banks, or the blue, starry vault above us, but is made to witness the revolting scenes of men maddened by their scramble for gold, or begrimed by the heat of toil in the busy marts of trade. The delicate olfactory cells which gather strength and delight from the pure air of the country, laden with the aroma of growing flowers and ripening grain, which gladden the heart of childhood, are dulled and blighted by the smoke and stench of our cities. Instead of this maddening whirl and strife of modern civilized life, could the eyes of childhood but be limited to see nature in her pristine beauty; the ears hear only the sweet carol of birds and the melody in the rustling leaves of the forest trees; then the sweet lullaby songs of mother would never cease to ripple harmoniously in the chambers of memory. If these things could hold a place in our modern civilized life, no one would dare say that the stress of modern civilization was a factor in the causation of insanity. JAMA. 1898;31:1403-1404

Journal

JAMAAmerican Medical Association

Published: Dec 9, 1998

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