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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 78



Here came in the question of fatigue, a matter about which the lecturer said he should not say much, seeing that it had been dealt with the previous night by Dr Malcolm. However, he explained certain lantern pictures and photo micrographs in point. One represented a cell from the spinal cord of a cat before exertion, another a similar cell after exertion. The comparison was striking. After the exertion an entire change in the cell was noticeable—it was very much shrunken, and its whole appearance was altered. Most striking of all were two pictures of a nerve cell from the ganglia of a honey bee. When the bee went out to work in the morning his cell had a large full nucleus; when he came home at night the nucleus was shrunk and the cell altered. The next picture was rather dreadful; it was the negative (for fear of recognition Dr King did not show the positive) of a photograph of an insane girl of fourteen who had been sent to Sea-cliff. Insanity, Dr King says, should scarcely develop before the age of twenty-one. Why did it occur in this case? The inciting cause was teeth; teachers should look to teeth—they ought to be inspected. This girl had a double set of teeth, like a shark, and the extraction of one or two of these at the proper time would have saved her infinite pain and trouble from inflamed gums and inability to masticate her food. Digestion became impaired, and poisoning of the brain cells followed. More insanity came from the alimentary canal than from any other source. As for treatment in such casts, give the patients plenty of open air, and get them tired, so that sleep might occur. That was better than all the drugs in the world. When poison was generated in the system, it was clear that the fluid that bathes every nerve cell must poison the very sources of thought and action. All that was best in man suffered first because the cells that were most highly specialised had the least nutritive and resistive faculty. Thus the highest brain cells go under to alcohol or chloroform long before the other cells become paralysed.