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Causes: Insanity and allied mental disorders are perhaps the most intractable complications of all the ills that have fallen to the lot of man. The human brain is perhaps the most complicated of systems devised by nature and if it becomes disordered even the best of physicians is puzzled. Mental disorders may range from peculiarity of behavior to outright violence.

Some cases of insanity and allied complications can be traced to a nervous disposition and a set of predisposing causes. And then, there are other stresses of modern life which may unhinge the mind unless the person is extremely careful. Heredity, an abnormal disposition or temperature or a too finely balanced mind are other factors which must be taken into account. There may also be exciting causes such as the death of a loved one, a sudden shock e.g. business reverses, exhaustion of the nervous system and infections like those of syphi is tuberculosis. Alcoholism and senile degeneration are some of the other factors responsible for mental symptoms.

Even though a sudden shock may precipitate an attack of insanity, mental illness generally develops gradually. There are certain symptoms of an approaching nervous breakdown, of which the most important is the sudden change in disposition of the victim. A person may suddenly become suspicious or lose his habit of looking at everybody with suspicion. The alteration of behavioral pattern is a strong indicator of the mental crisis that strikes in the form of madness.

Insanity may either consist of (i) insane beliefs; or (ii) insane acts. The victim may start having illusions or delusions. He may also start talking to persons whom nobody else can see, but the victim is sure that they exist; or he may claim a spotlessly clean place to be smelling of something ab noxious. Insanity might exhibit itself in attempts at homicide or suicide in addition to constant tearing of clothes, disregard of personal appearance, refusal to eat food, kleptomania (an irresistible urge to steal), indecent exposure of the person and commission of revolting, unnatural sexual offences.

Remedies: The only possible home treatment for an insane person is to keep him comfortably in a clean place. Personal hygiene must be ensured even if the patient has to be given a bath forcibly. His room should be clean and the doors should be covered with khas grass screens. If that is not available, leaves of Camel's Thorn (Jawansa) or Sweet Basil (Tulsi) should be used.

If the patient is constipated, five tolas of the pulp of Tamarind and seven mashas of Senna should be steeped overnight in water, strained in the morning, mixed with four tolas of confection of Rose Leaves (Gulkand) and given to drink. One masha of powder of root of Sarpgandha should then be given with 250 ml. of goat's milk sweetened with sugar candy. A similar dose should be given to him in the evening. After a few days his wildness will be moderated and his insomnia will go.

If Sarpgandha root is not available, six mashas of kernel of Pumpkin Seeds, an equal quantity of Poppy Seeds and 21 Raisins should be ground, strained and given to drink in the morning and evening. Bhang should be ground in goat's milk and the paste so obtained should be applied to the palms and soles during the day and night.

Regimen: Patients suffering from insanity and other mental disorders should be kept away from alcohol and other intoxicating drugs. Their food should be simple and nutritious and they should not be allowed to fall a prey to constipation as that is likely to aggravate the condition. Goat and cow's milk is suitable for lunatics and the vegetables recommended for them are: White Long Gourd, Towel Gourd, Parwal and Khurfa. It is better to avoid meat and spices. The patients should be handled tactfully and never be told that they are 'mad'. If they complain of persecution, they should better be humored. A pleasant understanding atmosphere and companionship is of the vital importance in bringing about a cure.


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