The Nervous System - What Life Factors Conduce To Growth Of Nervous Ills?
( Originally Published 1936 )
We well may ask, "What are the factors in life which are conducive to the development of functional or nervous diseases?"
Generally speaking, diseases are either hereditary or acquired. It is difficult to determine how much of our traits of character are inherited, and how much acquired by contact with other human beings after birth. The weight of evidence points to the latter as being the principal actor in the play. We inherit blue eyes, brown hair, body type and weight, bald heads, big noses, and all the other physical characteristics which make people interesting. Our traits of character, however, and the stability of our nervous systems, are largely a matter of contact and experience with others.
Granting this to be true, how fortunate is the child born and reared by sensible parents, possessing good control of their nervous systems, and how unfortunate is the child of neurotic, hysterical or highly emotional parents.
Many quite stable persons develop under the latter situation, but the average is against them from the start. Many children emulate their parents, because knowledge is largely acquired in the early impressionable years of mimicking others. Such children are figuratively battered about between excess love and unreasonable anger; between fear and bravado; between over-solicitous attention and neglect. Even such natural functions as eating, sleeping and elimination receive an unnatural and unwarranted attention, and the child is tremendously impressed with the importance of a lost meal, a coated tongue, a scratch on the hand, a failure to respond to a call of nature when the clock strikes nine. Life early becomes very complex and serious, revolving around taboos, fears, don'ts, doubts, turmoil and indecision. Is it any wonder such a child develops nervous indigestion when mature?
Then there are other people who, even though their adolescent years were passed under favorable circumstances, develop nervous or emotional tendencies in adult life. Many factors enter into this, but they usually will fall into certain broad classifications—economic, domestic, thwarted ambition, organic disease.
The present economic disaster has brought to physicians thousands of men and women who previously always had been considered physically able and emotionally sound. The symptoms vary tremendously—headache, dizziness, backache, indigestion, loss of appetite and weight, weakness, anemia, insomnia, mental depression are the common ones.
Many persons are able to stand the minor shocks of life during good times, but are unable to maintain equilibrium when some major adversity, such as loss of money or position, occurs.
Incompatible domestic relations probably still heads the list, particularly with women. Books could be written about this subject and still not cover all the causes that are advanced as reasons why men and women fail to live together in peace and harmony. Back of it all is a fundamental reason—ignorance of the laws of physiology. Add to this selfishness, bad temper, jealousy, idleness,' illness, perversions and other similar human frailties, and the picture is practically complete.