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c

Classroom of school children. Ref: MNZ-2816-1/4-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22735320

October 1918

It is no exaggeration to state that the majority of professional and business men in this country are neurasthenic. Manual workers are not driven at the same pace, and have abundant opportunity for recreation, but “class-consciousness” and dissatisfaction with their lot in life has caused widespread nervous disorder amongst working-men. The American maxim of “Push or be pushed” is so generally observed that there is insufficient time for rest and repair. It is worthy of note that our New Zealand soldiers are as liable to nervous disorders as British troops; the conditions of life in this country are in many ways less pressing and irksome, and the comparison ought to be altogether in our favour. Worry and nerve strain are the principal causes of insomnia and indigestion and unhappiness generally. We need to learn the truth of the words of Othello, “Poor and content is rich, and rich enough.” If we cannot bring our circumstances to our minds we should bring our minds to our circumstances, and this is the root of all philosophy. Our standards and ideals are wrong. Our minds run on “the plumed troop and the big wars that make ambition virtue,” and deeds to be admired must be vigorous and prominent and public, and the more private virtues, more feminine than masculine, are held in little esteem. The common round and trivial task, devoid of excitement and the public applause, does not furnish all we ought to ask, and many a stout fellow the pride of his platoon has not the character in civil life to attend diligently to his vocation or to avoid the ordinary temptations of life: he lacks tenacity, resource, self-control, patience, contentment, evenness of temper, a sense of responsibility to others, and is restless, nervous, and dissatisfied.

Neurasthenia and the like are sometimes acquired but more often hereditary. What can be done by way of prevention? First of all, proper care of the infant is necessary, and this is being well attended to by the Plunket Society. During school age little is being done that should be done in New Zealand. Children are sent to school too early. They are crowded together and often burdened with home lessons which are unnecessary and harmful during the primary stage of education. The Greek method of physical development during that stage is almost neglected. Tuition in good weather should be in the open air. The children, generally speaking, have insufficient sleep, and the daily expenditure of energy is not balanced by sufficient rest. Children, too, should have more intellectual and moral training. It is poor State economy not to provide enough teachers in the State schools to give the scholars individual attention and eradicate shyness or precocity, self-consciousness, introspection, and excessive emotionalism. Are the children in the schools taught that life is a hard task and not a playground or a dormitory, that (duty must not be avoided and conscience must be obeyed, that strength lies in quietness and in confidence? The cares and restiveness of the day should go down with the sunset, so that we may bring a fresh mind to the claims of the morrow.

It is very important that the pre-neurasthenic state should be recognised and treated, and it is very easily overlooked but much more amenable to treatment than when the disease is definitely and obviously established. Various pains, especially in the back, and headache, constipation, blushing, self-consciousness, irritability of temper, fatigue after slight exertion, are the main premonitory symptoms, and the treatment is at first rest at home for a week or two and then a holiday, and the demeanour and “atmosphere” of the physician is of more importance than the pharmacopeia. A patient afflicted in this way should be told how to order his occupation and his recreation and to take a good annual holiday for the rest of his working life, and sufficient time for sleep and for rest. It is sad to think that the doctor himself, more often than not, from the pressing claims of his vocation, cannot put into practice for himself his own advice, and is chained like Prometheus to the rock. It may be that this form of self-sacrifice has won for us such a tribute as Robert Louis Stevenson penned—and he had many dealings with doctors—“The physician is the flower (such as it is) of our civilisation; and when that stage of man is done with, and only remembered to be marvelled at in history, he will be thought to have shared as little as any in the defects of the period, and most notably exhibited the virtues of the race.”

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

c

Classroom of school children. Ref: MNZ-2816-1/4-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22735320

October 1918

It is no exaggeration to state that the majority of professional and business men in this country are neurasthenic. Manual workers are not driven at the same pace, and have abundant opportunity for recreation, but “class-consciousness” and dissatisfaction with their lot in life has caused widespread nervous disorder amongst working-men. The American maxim of “Push or be pushed” is so generally observed that there is insufficient time for rest and repair. It is worthy of note that our New Zealand soldiers are as liable to nervous disorders as British troops; the conditions of life in this country are in many ways less pressing and irksome, and the comparison ought to be altogether in our favour. Worry and nerve strain are the principal causes of insomnia and indigestion and unhappiness generally. We need to learn the truth of the words of Othello, “Poor and content is rich, and rich enough.” If we cannot bring our circumstances to our minds we should bring our minds to our circumstances, and this is the root of all philosophy. Our standards and ideals are wrong. Our minds run on “the plumed troop and the big wars that make ambition virtue,” and deeds to be admired must be vigorous and prominent and public, and the more private virtues, more feminine than masculine, are held in little esteem. The common round and trivial task, devoid of excitement and the public applause, does not furnish all we ought to ask, and many a stout fellow the pride of his platoon has not the character in civil life to attend diligently to his vocation or to avoid the ordinary temptations of life: he lacks tenacity, resource, self-control, patience, contentment, evenness of temper, a sense of responsibility to others, and is restless, nervous, and dissatisfied.

Neurasthenia and the like are sometimes acquired but more often hereditary. What can be done by way of prevention? First of all, proper care of the infant is necessary, and this is being well attended to by the Plunket Society. During school age little is being done that should be done in New Zealand. Children are sent to school too early. They are crowded together and often burdened with home lessons which are unnecessary and harmful during the primary stage of education. The Greek method of physical development during that stage is almost neglected. Tuition in good weather should be in the open air. The children, generally speaking, have insufficient sleep, and the daily expenditure of energy is not balanced by sufficient rest. Children, too, should have more intellectual and moral training. It is poor State economy not to provide enough teachers in the State schools to give the scholars individual attention and eradicate shyness or precocity, self-consciousness, introspection, and excessive emotionalism. Are the children in the schools taught that life is a hard task and not a playground or a dormitory, that (duty must not be avoided and conscience must be obeyed, that strength lies in quietness and in confidence? The cares and restiveness of the day should go down with the sunset, so that we may bring a fresh mind to the claims of the morrow.

It is very important that the pre-neurasthenic state should be recognised and treated, and it is very easily overlooked but much more amenable to treatment than when the disease is definitely and obviously established. Various pains, especially in the back, and headache, constipation, blushing, self-consciousness, irritability of temper, fatigue after slight exertion, are the main premonitory symptoms, and the treatment is at first rest at home for a week or two and then a holiday, and the demeanour and “atmosphere” of the physician is of more importance than the pharmacopeia. A patient afflicted in this way should be told how to order his occupation and his recreation and to take a good annual holiday for the rest of his working life, and sufficient time for sleep and for rest. It is sad to think that the doctor himself, more often than not, from the pressing claims of his vocation, cannot put into practice for himself his own advice, and is chained like Prometheus to the rock. It may be that this form of self-sacrifice has won for us such a tribute as Robert Louis Stevenson penned—and he had many dealings with doctors—“The physician is the flower (such as it is) of our civilisation; and when that stage of man is done with, and only remembered to be marvelled at in history, he will be thought to have shared as little as any in the defects of the period, and most notably exhibited the virtues of the race.”

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

For the PDF of this article,
contact nzmj@nzma.org.nz

View Article PDF

c

Classroom of school children. Ref: MNZ-2816-1/4-F. Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington, New Zealand. /records/22735320

October 1918

It is no exaggeration to state that the majority of professional and business men in this country are neurasthenic. Manual workers are not driven at the same pace, and have abundant opportunity for recreation, but “class-consciousness” and dissatisfaction with their lot in life has caused widespread nervous disorder amongst working-men. The American maxim of “Push or be pushed” is so generally observed that there is insufficient time for rest and repair. It is worthy of note that our New Zealand soldiers are as liable to nervous disorders as British troops; the conditions of life in this country are in many ways less pressing and irksome, and the comparison ought to be altogether in our favour. Worry and nerve strain are the principal causes of insomnia and indigestion and unhappiness generally. We need to learn the truth of the words of Othello, “Poor and content is rich, and rich enough.” If we cannot bring our circumstances to our minds we should bring our minds to our circumstances, and this is the root of all philosophy. Our standards and ideals are wrong. Our minds run on “the plumed troop and the big wars that make ambition virtue,” and deeds to be admired must be vigorous and prominent and public, and the more private virtues, more feminine than masculine, are held in little esteem. The common round and trivial task, devoid of excitement and the public applause, does not furnish all we ought to ask, and many a stout fellow the pride of his platoon has not the character in civil life to attend diligently to his vocation or to avoid the ordinary temptations of life: he lacks tenacity, resource, self-control, patience, contentment, evenness of temper, a sense of responsibility to others, and is restless, nervous, and dissatisfied.

Neurasthenia and the like are sometimes acquired but more often hereditary. What can be done by way of prevention? First of all, proper care of the infant is necessary, and this is being well attended to by the Plunket Society. During school age little is being done that should be done in New Zealand. Children are sent to school too early. They are crowded together and often burdened with home lessons which are unnecessary and harmful during the primary stage of education. The Greek method of physical development during that stage is almost neglected. Tuition in good weather should be in the open air. The children, generally speaking, have insufficient sleep, and the daily expenditure of energy is not balanced by sufficient rest. Children, too, should have more intellectual and moral training. It is poor State economy not to provide enough teachers in the State schools to give the scholars individual attention and eradicate shyness or precocity, self-consciousness, introspection, and excessive emotionalism. Are the children in the schools taught that life is a hard task and not a playground or a dormitory, that (duty must not be avoided and conscience must be obeyed, that strength lies in quietness and in confidence? The cares and restiveness of the day should go down with the sunset, so that we may bring a fresh mind to the claims of the morrow.

It is very important that the pre-neurasthenic state should be recognised and treated, and it is very easily overlooked but much more amenable to treatment than when the disease is definitely and obviously established. Various pains, especially in the back, and headache, constipation, blushing, self-consciousness, irritability of temper, fatigue after slight exertion, are the main premonitory symptoms, and the treatment is at first rest at home for a week or two and then a holiday, and the demeanour and “atmosphere” of the physician is of more importance than the pharmacopeia. A patient afflicted in this way should be told how to order his occupation and his recreation and to take a good annual holiday for the rest of his working life, and sufficient time for sleep and for rest. It is sad to think that the doctor himself, more often than not, from the pressing claims of his vocation, cannot put into practice for himself his own advice, and is chained like Prometheus to the rock. It may be that this form of self-sacrifice has won for us such a tribute as Robert Louis Stevenson penned—and he had many dealings with doctors—“The physician is the flower (such as it is) of our civilisation; and when that stage of man is done with, and only remembered to be marvelled at in history, he will be thought to have shared as little as any in the defects of the period, and most notably exhibited the virtues of the race.”

Summary

Abstract

Aim

Method

Results

Conclusion

Author Information

Acknowledgements

Correspondence

Correspondence Email

Competing Interests

Contact diana@nzma.org.nz
for the PDF of this article

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