Different Times, Different Judgements, Different “Mental Disorder”

How society not only judges differently unusual behavior and uses treatments  at different times, it also facilitates the emergence of different “mental disorders” in stressed individuals

By Nicholas Pediaditakis, MD

Society, at different times, depending on the prevailing “spirit of the times,” judges — and even punishes — strange or unusual behavior differently, as well as treating it differently.

Here is an example:  In December 14, 1799, our first president died. He did not have to die; he was only 62. Two days earlier he went out on his farms and endured snow and hail for several hours. On his return he sat for dinner, wet and shivering. He got a severe sore throat — easily today treatable with antibiotics, bed rest and fluids like orange juice.

Instead, three doctors one-after-another visited and they treated him with the only three treatments available then for all conditions: Enema, blood letting, and emetic inducing vomiting.

All three did it with enthusiasm, taking turns. Out of five liters of blood available in his body they took out 3.5 liters!  He died because of hypovolumia meaning no blood left in his arteries.

The physicians’ oath urges “to do good or to do no harm” (Greek: ἀσκέειν, περὶ τὰ νουσήματα, δύο, ὠφελέειν, ἢ μὴ βλάπτειν).

Here is another example:  At the turn of the century, a famous professor in Neurology in Paris named Charcot — who was a teacher of Sigmund Freud — would demonstrate in his classes the peculiar phenomenon of behavior of unfortunate, oppressed, victimized young girls of the street (many were, in fact, sexual workers). He named their behavior Grand Hysteria; that is the girls falling down, rolling their eyes, having convulsion like movements, and contorting their body in a rather bizarre fashion. (None of the symptoms were conforming to the anatomic configuration of a brain.)  Actually, under certain circumstances apparently, humans have the capacity to behave like opossums who fall down in a rigid fashion when threatened, or like fainting dwarf goats who do the same when chased. Charcot compiled 2 or 3 volumes with examples of this behavior, which now is unheard of, as women are treated more in a dignified and equitable way and humans are more sophisticated to utilize such a ‘begging for help’ behavior.

Today, certain individuals, mainly young women that are hyper intense, quick minded, usually very intelligent, were in the past protected for the expression of explosive behavior — say in a Greek village of old, by the structure of the family, the counsel of the priest, and the punishing attitude of the father or brother. Now-a-days if unstructured in fortitude, indulged or un-schooled in fortitude, especially with a similar in-born temperament to that of the father, when reaching 18 expect “to test their wings “as it were. Now as they are unstructured they may express themselves in what we call now Borderline Disorder. The young person with these qualities, when under stress, oscillates from extreme explosive, anger, and vituperative equally extreme begging for forgiveness for their extreme behavior. They demonstrate similar extreme behavior in other areas. This condition was unheard of in the times past. Even though many girls were born with similar natural hyper-intensity and reactivity in their temperament. All things to think about .


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