What is hysteria?

   Hysteria or Hysterics, is a diseased condition of the nervous system, arising from a variety of causes and attended by a variety of symptoms. It is more common in women than in men, partly because woman is naturally more emotional than man and partly because her education and mode of life tends to make her susceptible to nervous affections. An isolated attack of hysteria may follow severe nerve strain. Its symptoms are a seeming lack of control of the emotions. The patient will laugh or cry and be unable to stop. The first aid in such a case is a copious drink of cold water, taken slowly. This will often be sufficient to quiet the patient, and if rest and relief from strain is secured, no recurrence need be looked for. Hysteria is in chronic cases a disease of a serious nature involving brain and spinal cord. The symptoms may include neuralgic pains, convulsive attacks and hallucinations of all sorts. Such conditions must be treated under the direction of a physician.

   Nervous women, especially if anaemic, form sometimes what seems an hysterical habit. They are subject to emotional attacks, frequently of a convulsive nature, without adequate provocation. If these attacks are brought on by anger, jealousy, disappointment, fright, anxiety, etc., the patient often can be brought to effect her own cure. Such cases of hysteria seldom, if ever, occur when self-control has been taught from early childhood. The patient does not know that she can prevent the attacks. The sympathy she receives and oftentimes the indulgence of desires, the threatened thwarting of which has brought on the attack, serve to increase the frequency of the malady.

   The best cure in such a case is for the person who has the patient in charge to explain to her the cause of her trouble and assure her that the matter is within her own control, stating that in the future she will be left to work her own cure. Then when an attack seems imminent, she should be given a drink of water and left entirely alone. A reliable physician is credited with the statement that no person ever had a violent attack of this form of hysteria when absolutely unattended.