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A few "Confessions" made by psychopathic sufferers will help us best to understand the character, the mechanism, the factors, and principles of neurosis:
"As you are desirous of knowing more about my life and environment, I state concerning them as follows:
"You will remember that I told you that my stepfather was a liquor dealer. Throughout all the time that he was in business we either lived over the bar-room or else right in the places where the liquor was sold. My step-father was very heavy drinker, man of violent nature, and decidedly pugnacious. As a child I have been scared to death by drunken brawls, and many nights have been dragged out of bed by my mother who would flee with me to the house of a neighbor for safety.
"I might say that until I was seventeen years old, I lived in continual terror of something going to happen. If he was arrested by the police, as often happened, our home would be a scene of turmoil until the case was settled.
"I remember one incident very plainly, when he came home one night completely covered with blood as the result of being held up by thugs, and another time when he left the house to subdue some quarreling drunks with a pistol and returned after an exchange of shots with his hand shot through.
"As a child, I was inclined to study, and associated very little with other children. My mother tells me that I talked early, but when about three years old I began to stammer. This trouble bothered me a great deal, and I used to worry about it all the time, especially in school when I would try to recite. I might add that even now, when excited, I am troubled in the same way.
"My step-father has been subject to nightmares nearly all his life; when asleep he would cry and moan and would be unable to move until some one would shake him out of it. He was terribly afraid of them, and I remember he used to say that he expected to die in one of them. I used to be left alone with him quite frequently, and I stood in constant fear of his dying; and if he fell asleep, as he frequently did in the day time, I would wake him or watch his respiration to see if he was alive.
"At other times have been awakened in the night by his cries and would assist my mother in bringing him to consciousness. It was during one of these times that I became aware of my heart palpitating, and whenever he had such a spell, I would be in a state of fear and excitement for some time after. He would have these nightmares nearly every night and some times four or five times in one night, and I might add that he has them even now.
"I began to have attacks of dizziness in the streets, and finally one day, I had one, and all symptoms and fears of the attack came on in school, and from that time on I have watched my respiration and suffered from dizziness, mental depression, and sadness.
"You have asked me to tell you more in detail about the attacks or nightmares to which my step- father was subject, and which always frightened me greatly, especially when a child.
"My step-father had the habit of falling asleep quite often, even in the day time, and I have never known him to go to sleep without having an attack in some form. If one watched him asleep, as I often did, one could tell by his respiration when an attack was coming. His breathing would become slower and hardly perceptible, and finally he would begin to moan, and cry out; then, when shaken vigorously and spoken to, he would awaken in great fear and apparent suffering. If he had an attack, and we did not respond soon enough, he would be very angry and say that we cared not if he should die. We were so afraid of these attacks that we had trained ourselves to be ever on the look-out for his cries, even at night.
"It really seemed as if his life rested in our hands. I might say that sometimes these attacks lasted several minutes, before he could be awakened. He used 'to say that at such times he always dreamed some- one was choking, beating, or otherwise torturing him. He had been told by some physician that he would ultimately die in such an attack.
"These attacks were sufficient to precipitate a small panic in the house. I know not a single hour of the day or night, but that I have either been called or awakened by my mother in her efforts to awaken him. With the attack over, I would be trembling all over, and my heart would be beating madly. I can remember these attacks from my earliest childhood, and it seems to me that on one occasion, at your office, I was startled just as these attacks used to make me."
While in the hypnoidal state, patient exclaimed: "I am afraid. All my life I lived under terror. . . .This is just my disease,―fear."
"I lived from infancy in a state of apprehension and fear. In my home there seemed to be always a tension. I don't know that I ever relaxed there during my waking hours. I was never at peace mentally. This was largely brought about by my mother's chronic condition of fear. I should not have had such a large development of the fear habit had there been any neutralizing influence. But my father was a weak character, living under fear, being afraid of responsibility, so that my character was closely molded on his. He gave me no moral fiber to resist fears of mother, and so did not help me to build any character of my own. I still carry with me the state of apprehension and fear that I contracted in my early life. I had only one serious illness in my life outside of my nervous troubles. Had an attack of bowel trouble somewhere near the age of six. I was once struck in the face by a dog's teeth. I have had various cancer experiences.
"My father, when I was very young, had some irritation of the throat. A physician told him he was in danger of cancer. I can recall him anxiously looking at his throat. Later a neighbor went to a 'plaster specialist' to have a supposed cancer of the tongue removed. His wife was often at our home talking of his sufferings.
"While attending dental school I contracted some trouble. I went to a physician near where I lived. He talked to me of a possibility of syphilis. I became much frightened, and read all I could find on syphilis. The books scared me still more. At last on the advice of friends, I went to another physician who reassured me, and I lost part of my fear.
"After this I returned home for a summer vacation. This was in 1904. That summer my tongue felt sore, I looked at it, and found it peculiar. This aroused my fears of syphilis. Upon returning to Chicago in the fall (1904) I asked my physician to recommend a specialist. He sent me to a syphilographer, who told me I had no syphilis, but that the condition of my tongue was caused by gall bladder trouble. He wished me to have the gall bladder operated which I refused to do. I thought no more about my tongue until I studied cancer in oral surgery. I would then occasionally worry over my condition. About this time an actor whom I knew died of cancer of the tongue. I worried over my tongue, being afraid of cancer, for several days after this. I then went along for seven or eight years without much thought of my tongue.
"One day in February 1913, after some pain in my side which brought the thoughts of gall bladder and then of the tongue, I asked advice of a physician. He looked at my tongue and said: 'I don't wish to frighten you, but you should have that tongue attended to. You might some day have a cancer there.' He sent me to a throat specialist who said the condition of my tongue was due to a back tooth. I had the tooth removed. I afterwards consulted Dr. L., a surgeon at Eau Claire, Wis., with the idea of having the gall bladder operated upon. He laughed at the gall bladder trouble, but sent me to Battle Creek Sanitarium with the idea, I think, that the change would relieve me of my fears. At Battle Creek I was told I had a mild case of colitis, and was put under treatment for it.
"While at Battle Creek my fears grew less. I remained at Battle Creek about two months. Shortly before leaving there I was given a Wasserman test. This they told me was faintly positive. I was then given three injections of Neo-Salvarsan. I then left Battle Creek and stopped at Chicago to see Dr. P. Dr. P. said any Wasserman would be positive, taken with no more care than mine had been. That there was no reason to think there was any syphilis anyway. He then sent me to Dr. W., an internist, who said I had hyperacidity of the stomach.
"I did not feel very badly at this time, although my fears of cancer persisted. I was carrying on the work In my office. Later in the summer I went to the Mayo Clinic at Rochester, Minn., where I was given a local application for my tongue. In the fall of 1913, while in Milwaukee, I consulted an oral surgeon, Dr. B. He said 'I will send you to Dr. F., a dermatologist who knows more about diseases of the tongue than any man I know.' I consulted Dr. F. who said: 'Geographical tongue, do. not worry about it.' My fears were instantly relieved. I seldom thought of my tongue in the next two years.
"In the fall of 1916 I had some trouble with my stomach. This seemed to bring my fears to mind and one day my fear of cancer returned. There was a connection between my fears and the stomach and gall bladder trouble diagnosed in regard to my tongue. At least the stomach trouble would bring thoughts of the tongue condition.
"I tried to help myself out of my mental condition by reading articles on cancer. This made me worse. I went to Chicago where I was told by Dr. S., a dermatologist, that radium might remedy the condition of my tongue. I had several applications of radium. After this I still worried a great deal. I went through the spring and summer under a nervous strain, but still able to carryon my work. That fall (1917) I had such intense fear that I was attacked by acute insomnia. I was unable to sleep without Veronal. The day after my insomnia began I found myself very weak. I was pale, and my heart would pound on the least exertion. I had also a great deal of pain in my bowels. I went to Chicago and consulted Dr. E., Dean of Northwestern University Medical School. He told me such conditions usually traveled in a circle, that my nervous condition might leave me in a few months. I went through the winter in this condition.
"I began to have a great fear of the fact that it was necessary to use hypnotics. This fear of drugs was strong, and overshadowed my other fears. I read an article on hypnotics as a habit; this added to my fear of them.
"Before using hypnotics I noticed my sexual power was less, or rather there was no pleasure in it. This did not trouble me as I thought it a part of my nervous condition.
"In April, 1918, I went again to Battle Creek. I did very well there for a week, but then got into a deep depression, became weak, and was frightened to think I was no better. I remained in Battle Creek for three weeks, and then went home. A month later I went to St. Paul and consulted a neurologist. He did not know what to do for me.
"I went to Milwaukee and consulted another neurologist. I was becoming more despondent all the time. I decided to go to a sanitarium to see if I could not get rid of my drug habit. I went to Wauwatosa, Wis., and remained there three weeks, but I could see they did not know what to do for me.
"In August I entered the Rest Hospital at Minneapolis and remained there for a while under the care of Dr. J. I managed to drag along, terrorized by my condition and by the fact that I could get no relief.
The drug habit was my greatest obsession at this time. I used bromides and chloral hydrate,―changed hypnotics frequently.
"In January, 1919, I saw Dr. P. of Chicago, who sent me to a sanitarium where I received no help. I then hunted through magazines for articles on nervous diseases. I read of Dr. S. and his work and came under his care at Portsmouth in May, 1919. While there I learned to control my fears. I left Portsmouth in August feeling sure of myself. I would occasionally have a depression which would not frighten me and did not remain with me long. I was looking forward to a happy future.
"During the summer of 1921 I felt tired most of the time. However, I was still sure of being able to handle myself. One day after feeling very tired my fear of cancer returned. I got into a panic and started East to see Dr. S. On arriving in Boston I found he was in the West. I went to Dr. P .'s office; was sent to Dr. W. and by him to a psycho-analyst. The psychoanalyst said I had a ‘mother complex, without usual sexual features.' Psycho-analysis proved a failure, and I abandoned the treatment with disgust, as useless and silly."
The patient was under my care for five months. He is now back to his dental work. He writes to me that he is gaining rapidly in weight, and is in excellent condition.
"I am a married woman of fifty-two. All my life I have been imprisoned in the dungeon keep of fear. Fear paralyzes me in every effort. If I could once overcome my enemy, I would rejoice forever more.
"In my childhood everything cowered me. I was bred in fear. At five or six my mother died, and I feared and distrusted a God who would so intimidate me and bereave me. I heard tales of burglars being discovered hiding under beds, and a terrified child retired nightly for years. I was in agony of fears. My fears I never told. Later I heard of the doctrines of God's foreknowledge, and, as a little rebel, I would place dishes on the pantry shelves, changing from place to place, and then giving up in despair, knowing that if foreknowledge were true, God knew that I would go through with all that performance.
"Through childhood I feared suicide. It was a world of escape that appealed to me and yet appalled me. I also heard of somnambulism, and I never saw a keen bladed, knife, but I dreaded that in my sleep I might do damage to myself or to my friends in a state of unconsciousness.
"In my twenties I did attempt suicide a number of times, but somehow they proved unsuccessful. I always aimed to have it appear an accident. I dreaded to have my death appear as a stain and disgrace to my family which I loved.
"I always fear to walk at any height, on a trestle over running walls, or even to walk on a bridge without side railings.
"As a child I was afraid of the dark, I was afraid of going out on the street in a dark night. In fact, even a moonlight night terrified me when I remained alone. I was afraid to go into dark places, such as cellars, or into lonely places even in the daytime.
"As a child I was always shy, fearful, timid, and self-conscious to a painful degree. Even as a grown-up woman I am often a sufferer from the same cause, although I have sufficient self-control to conceal it.
"I have to be careful of my state of health, the latter is very delicate. I am a chronic sufferer from indigestion and constipation, although I somehow manage to regulate these troubles.
"When I need my nerves in good control so frequently, they are in a state of utter collapse. My brain is in a state of confusion, in a state of whirl just when I need to think the clearest. My poor brain feels as if a tight band encircled and contracted it. It seems to me as if the brain has shrunken from the temples.
"My memory is unreliable. Often I read quite carefully, but I am unable to recall what I have read. Especially is this so, if called upon without previous warning. My brain goes into a panic of an extremely alarming kind.
"I was told that I was a woman of a good brain and of great talent, that all I needed was to exercise my will and determination, and that I would succeed. I lack concentration and I lack confidence.
"In my childhood hell fire was preached. Foreordination and an arbitrary God were held up to my childish comprehension. I was bred in fear, and self destruction resulted."
The following valuable account given by an eminent physician brings out well the factors and principles of neurosis expounded in this volume:
"You ask me to write about my fears. I give you a brief account.
"As a child, as far as memory carries, I had a fear of ghosts, of giants, of monsters, and of all kinds of mysterious and diabolical agencies and witchcraft of which I had heard a number of tales and stories in my early childhood. I was afraid of thieves, of robbers, and of all forms of evil agencies. The fears were stronger at daytime, but more so at night. Strange noises, unexpected voices and sounds made a cold shiver run down my back.
"I was afraid to remain alone in a closed room, or in the dark, or in a strange place. It seemed to me as if I was left and abandoned by everybody, and that something awful was going to happen to me. When I happened to be left alone under such conditions I was often in a state of helplessness, paralyzing terror. Such states of fear sweep occasionally over me even at present. I find, however, that they are far more complicated with associations of a more developed personal life. I know that in some form or other the fears are present, but are inhibited by counteracting impulses and associations. I still feel a cold shiver running down my back, when I happen to go into a dark cellar in the dead of night, or happen to remain alone in a dark, empty house. Such fears date back to my fourth year, and possibly to an earlier time of my childhood.
"As a matter of contrast-inhibitions of such fears I may either brace myself and put myself in a state of courage and exaltation, or when this does not succeed, I let my mind dwell on other fears and troubles. I find that the last method is often far more effective in the inhibition of fear states which at the moment are present with me. All I need is to press the button, so to say, and awaken some other fears, the present fears diminish in intensity, and fade away for the time being. I actually favor, and welcome, and even look for disagreeable and painful experiences so as to overcome some of my present fears. The new fears are then treated in the same way.
"As I became older, about the age of eight, I began to fear disease and death. This may be due to the infectious diseases that attacked many members of our family, about this time. In fact, I have been present at the death bed of some of them, and the impression was one of terror, mysterious horror.I was afraid I might get diseases from which I might die. After my witnessing the last agonizing moment of death, my elders thought of removing me to a safer place; their fears and precautions still more impressed the feat of danger of disease and death. I may say that I really never freed myself from the fear of disease and death. The latter fear is always present with me in a vague form, always ready to crop up at any favorable opportunity. This fear, in so far as it is extending its tentacles in various directions, is often the bane of my life. Even at my best there is always a kind of vague fear of possible danger, lurking in various objects which may be infected or possibly poisonous.
"This fear has been spreading and has become quite extensive, involving my family, my children, my friends, my acquaintances, and my patients. Usually I ignore these fears, or get control over them by an effort of will. When, however, I happen to be fatigued, or worried over small things in the course of my work, or happen to be in low spirits by petty reversals of life, these fears may become aroused. Under such conditions I may become afraid, for instance, of drinking milk, because it may be tuberculous.
"This fear may spread and involve fear for my children and my patients; or again I may be afraid of eating oysters and other shell fish, because they may be infected with typhoid fever genus. I may refuse to eat mushrooms, because they may be poisonous. The other day I was actually taken sick with nausea and with disposition to vomiting after eating of otherwise good mushrooms. The fear seized on me that they all might be poisonous 'toad-stools.' Such fears may extend to ever new reactions and to ever new associations, and are possibly the worst feature of the trouble.
"I have a fear of coming in contact with strangers, lest I get infected by them, giving me tuberculosis, influenza, scarlet fever, and so on. This mysophobia involves my children and my friends, inasmuch that I am afraid that strangers may communicate some contagious diseases. A similar fear I have in regard to animals, that they may possibly be infected with rabies, or with glanders, or with some other deadly, pathogenic micro-organism. I am afraid of mosquito bites, lest they give me malaria, or yellow fever. The fears, in the course of their extension, may become ever more intense and more insidious than the original states.
"As a child I had some bad experiences with dogs; I was attacked by dogs and badly bitten. Although this fear is no longer so intense as it was in my childhood, still I know it is present. My heart sometimes comes to a sudden standstill, when I happen to come on a strange dog. When the strange dog growls and barks, all my courage is lost, and I beat an inglorious retreat. It is only in the presence of other people that I can rise to the effort of walking along and apparently paying no attention to the dog. This is because I fear the opinion of others more even than I fear the growls of dogs. My social and moral fears are far greater than my purely physical fears.
"When I became older, about the age of eighteen to twenty, a new form of fear appeared, like a new sprout added to the main trunk, or possibly growing out of the main fear of disease and death, that is the fear of some vague, impending evil. The fear of some terrible accident to myself and more so to my family, or to any of the people of whom I happen to take care, is constantly present in the margin of my consciousness, or as you would put it, in my subconsciousness. Sometimes the fears leave me for a while, sometimes they are very mild, and sometimes again they flare up with an intensity that is truly alarming and uncontrollable. The energy with which those fears become insistent in consciousness, and the motor excitement to which they give rise are really extraordinary. The fear comes like a sudden flood. The energy with which those fears rise intoconsciousness is often overwhelming.
"Fear gets possession of me under circumstances in which my suspicions are, for some reason or other, aroused to activity, all the more so if the suspicions o( possible impending evil are awakened suddenly. In other words, the fears arise with stimulations of associations of threatening danger to myself and to my family, I am afraid that something may happen to my children; I fear that they may fall sick suddenly; I fear that some terrible accident may happen to them; I fear that they may fall down from some place, and be maimed or be killed, I fear that my children and other members of my family may be poisoned by people who are not well disposed towards them, I am afraid that they may pick up some food that was infected, or that they may be infected in school by children who happen to suffer from some infectious maladies. I am afraid that my children may be overrun by some vehicles, by automobiles, or that they may be killed in an accident, that they may be killed by a street car, or even that the house may collapse. This latter event had actually taken place when I was a child. In fact, many, if not all of those fears have actually their origin in my experience.
"As I write you these lines, memories of such events come crowding upon my mind. Are they the noxious seeds that have been planted on the soil of fear? I am afraid sometimes that even the food I and my children as well as other people eat may give rise to toxic products and thus produce disease. Often in the dead of night, I may come to see my children in order to convince myself that they have no fever; and that they are not threatened by any terrible disease. The very words 'sickness,' 'disease,' 'not feeling well,' 'death,' arouse my feeling and sometimes throw me into a panic. I am afraid to use such words in connection with any of my children. I am afraid that the evil mentioned may actually happen.
"When a child I learned about testing and omens. If a test comes through in a certain way, it is an omen of good luck, otherwise it means bad luck. This superstitious testing and omens have remained with me, and that in spite of my liberal training and knowledge of the absurdity of such superstitions. I may test by opening the Bible at any page, or I may test by anything that might occur, according to my guesses. All of these fears I know have no meaning for me, they are senseless and absurd, but they are so rooted in my early childhood, they have been so often repeated, they have accumulated round them so much emotion of fear that they come to my mind with a force which is truly irresistible. Many of the fears have multiplied to such an extent that I cannot touch anything without rousing some slumbering fear.
"To continue with my fears; I am often afraid that the doors are not well locked, and I must try them over and over again; I go away and come back again, and try and try again, and once more. It is tiresome, but as the fear is constantly with me, and is born again and again, I cannot be satisfied, and must repeat the whole process over and over until I get tired, and give up the whole affair in sheer despair. In such cases a contrary and different fear comes in handy. One devil banishes another. I am afraid that the gas jet is left open, and I must try it over and over, and test the jets with matches. This process of testing may go on endlessly. The fear remains and the process must begin again until it is stopped by sheer effort of will as something meaningless, automatic, and absurd. The performance must be stopped and substituted by something else.
"Colds, or attacks of influenza of the mildest character have given rise to fears of pneumonia. Pain in the abdomen, or a little intestinal distress has awakened fears of possible appendicitis, or of tumor, or intestinal obstruction. The least suspicion of blood in the stools awakens the fear of possible cancer. Vomiting or even nausea brings fears of cancer of the stomach. There is no disease from which I have not suffered.
"The same fears have naturally been extended to my children, and to all those who are under my care. The least symptom is sufficient to arouse in me fears of possible terror and horrible consequences.
"I am afraid that suits may be brought against me, or that some of my own people, patients and even employees whom I discharged, may bring legal action against me in court, or blackmail me. When I leave home, I am afraid that something terrible has happened. The fear of impending evil is always with me. The fears have invaded every part of my being. It seems as if there is no resistance in those terrible fear states.
"Perhaps it may interest you to know that, although I am quite liberal, and even regarded as irreligious, still I am afraid to express any word against God, Christ, saints, martyrs of any church and de- nomination, be they Christian, Mohammedan, Buddhist, or pagan. I am afraid lest they may hear me and do me harm; I fear to say a word even against the devil or Satan. I am obsessed by fears. Fears pursue me as long as I am awake, and do not leave me alone in my sleep and dreams. Fears are the curse of my life, and yet I have control of them, none but you has any suspicion of them. I go about my work in a seemingly cheerful and happy way. The fears, however, are the bane of my life, and torture me by their continued presence.
"I tried to find whether or not those fears had any relation to my wishes or to my sexual experiences. I must say that I find they bear no relation whatever to wish or sex. My mental states grow on fear, take their origin in fear, and feed on fear. Fear is the seed and the soil of all those infinite individual phobias that keep on torturing me unless opposed by a supreme effort of my will.
"Truly the Biblical curse well applies to my life.
"'The Lord will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sickness, and of long continuance. Moreover, he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of, and they shall cleave unto thee. And every sickness and every plague, which is not written in the book of this law, them will the law bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed. Thou shalt find no ease, neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest; but the Lord shall give thee a trembling heart, and failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind. And thy life shall hang in doubt before thee, and thou shalt fear day and night and shall have none assurance of thy life. In the morning thou shalt say, Would God it were even! and at even thou shalt say, Would God it were morning! for the fear of thine heart wherewith thou shalt fear. . . .'
"I laid bare my soul before you. I permit you to do with this document whatever you may think fit."
"I was born of healthy parents; grand-parents were also healthy. All lived to a ripe old age, and died of natural causes. Father is still living; I was a healthy normal child with little sickness up to the age of 16. A few years prior I belonged to a gymnasium and enjoyed superb physical strength and health, though I was from childhood somewhat of a coward. I then became associated with some youngsters who liked night life. This association influenced me to join them in their nightly escapades.
"Between overtaxing myself in the work and trying to keep up with the boys socially my system was drained. This was kept up for about five years. I was working for a dry cleaning establishment the owner of which did not appreciate my hard work. I gave ten hours a day service, but he required even more, so that I spent as many as fifteen and eighteen hours a day, and kept that up for about five years.
"It was in January, 1911, at the age of twenty while sitting in a restaurant eating my lunch, I felt a strange sensation coming over me, such as blood rushing to my head, followed by weakness, trembling and fainting spells. I summoned up what will power I had left, shook my head in effort to brace up, and tried to finish my meal, but without success. I left the restaurant and coming outside felt the same sensation. I leaned against a building, and my knees gave way from under me until I was compelled to lie down. I made an attempt to get up, boarded a street car, and started for my father's store which was about a mile down the street. As I stepped on the platform I felt the same spell coming over me. Some of the men standing on the back platform saw my condition, and helped me. I arrived at the store where I collapsed.
"An ambulance was called, and I was taken to the city hospital. The interne diagnosed the case as acute indigestion. He prescribed some soda tablets, and told me to be careful with my diet. I felt relieved at what he told me, because I thought it was not so serious as I had expected. For I thought the end was near. My brother who accompanied me spoke kind and encouraging words which soothed my nerves.
"On the street car my thoughts started to go over the whole of what had occurred. I could not control myself and gave way again. When I got home I could not eat. I lay down and tried to get some sleep, but sleep was out of the question. My thoughts always wandered back to these spells, and that would bring back another spell. I took the tablets prescribed by the physician, but they did not help me any.
"The next day I tried to go to work, but could not on account of these spells. I then decided to call our family physician. He told me it was a nervous breakdown, and prescribed bromides. I kept on having these spells in spite of the bromides. I was at a loss what to do. From then on I became afraid to venture anywhere, to go to any place, for fear of these spells. My real trouble began. I was afraid to live, and afraid to die, afraid to go out, afraid to lie down, always afraid of these spells.
"I remained at home for a couple of weeks, but the spells continued. I then decided to try another doctor. This time a stomach specialist, and as might be expected he claimed my stomach was the cause of my disturbances. The news was gratifying to me. I knew that stomach troubles could be cured, and the thought helped to quiet some of the fears. I went back to work after a few weeks. The belief in the efficacy of the drug enabled me to get down town to work, but I kept on having spells, losing weight, and feeling miserable.
"I decided to try another physician. This time a nerve specialist. After examination he diagnosed the case as nervous prostration. He gave me what he called a good nerve tonic. In addition to it he used to stripe my back with red hot instruments. I was under this doctor's care for about a year. I kept on going to work whenever I could, but the spells continued right along, at home in the night, or at work in the daytime. After a year of treatment I felt no better.
"I decided to try another nerve specialist,―his diagnosis was depletion or the nerves. He advised me to come in a couple of times a week for electric treatment. I followed instructions for a couple of months, but the spells continued just the same.
"One April day there was an electric storm. The lightning caused in me a great dread and rear. The wind broke some of the windows in our house. I had then the worst spell. I lost consciousness. When I awoke I was worse than ever. I was just choked up with fear of everything and everybody.
"I found I could no longer live in C., for the last bit of life was ebbing right out of me. I started on the train for Los Angeles. No one can realize the suffering I had to endure on my trip out West.
"Everybody on the train talked about accidents, wrecks, and robberies. After arriving in Los Angeles I felt somewhat relieved, but the spells kept on just the same. I consulted a great nerve specialist in Los Angeles. He claimed I had neurasthenia, and that I was much run down. His method of therapy was different from the rest. He suggested renting a cottage along the ocean front, and he would furnish a trainer whose wife was to take care of the cottage. The trainer was supposed to have some knowledge of physical culture and massage. After being in this camp for three months I saw no improvement in my condition.
"I went to another doctor who employed a different method. He would inject pig serum into my arm three times a week. After a thorough trial I found no relief.
"I then decided to try Christian Science for a while, but I had no relief from all my woe and misery. (When asked why he went to Christian Science while he was of Jewish faith, he replied that he was in such a state of fear that―had he been ordered to be a cockroach he would have tried to become one).
"I tried another nerve doctor. After a while it was the same old story, I then tried chiropractice. After three months' trial I found out that I had to give it up, because the manipulater aggravated my condition. Towards the end I felt such pains in my back and spine that I was compelled to lie in bed for a week before I could recover enough strength to sit up. I then tried Osteopathy. I felt no better, so I had to abandon that.
"In search for health I could not stop here, so I went to another nerve specialist who after examination claimed to have discovered something different from any other physician. He discovered I had a pair of tonsils in my mouth which did not look well to him. He ordered them removed; that meant an operation under an anesthetic. Can you Imagine my feeling when he told me the news? I had a terrible time in making up my mind what to do. Bad as I felt I made up my mind that I might as well die under ether as in any other way. I consented to the operation. It is needless to go into details here of what took place after the operation. Words cannot express it. All the tortures of hell would have been paradise towards what I went through after this operation.
"I have been going since from physician to physician, each one claiming that I haven't been to the right one, and that he was the proper physician who understood my case and could cure me. No one has been able to effect a cure."
As an example of the patient's state of extreme fear the following instance may be given. One day he came to me, a picture of misery and depression. He told me he had suffered agonies for the last couple of days, on account of an "ingrowing hair." It turned out that the patient overheard a conversation among his gossips, that some one died of an "ingrowing hair." This news strongly impressed him, and aroused his fear instinct, since he discovered an "ingrowing hair" on his throat. I found his throat was wrapped around with cotton, and covered with adhesive plaster. On unwrapping the mess I found just an ordinary little pimple. I threw away the wrappings, and gave the patient a scolding, and ridiculed him for his silliness. He felt as he said in "paradise." A competent observer will find this trait of trivial fears, characteristic, in various degrees, of every psychopathic patient.
By a series of trance states the patient was freed from his psycholeptic fear attacks; he is now in good health, and attending successfully to his business.