Hungarian Goulash

Everyday Signs of Incipient Madness

Dr. George S. Bunn, a brain specialist, of Boston, United States, America, in a lecture recently delivered before an audience consisting largely of insurance men, named some of the commoner everyday symptoms which indicate incipient insanity. It was, he declared, the duty of all who first comprehended what these symptoms meant to enlighten the unfortunate man or woman who exhibited them, that advice might be sought before it was too late.

Dr. Bunn’s views regarding the actions whereby it is possible to recognise those whose mental equilibrium is beginning to sway a little caused considerable surprise among his hearers.

Are you mad ? Well, believe me, you are without doubt in the incipient stages of insanity if you, in reading your newspaper, grip it fiercely with both hands as though you expected someone to tear it away from you. The man with an evenly balanced, mind never clutches his newspaper in this manner. He holds it firmly, but gently. To morrow morning, on your way up to town, look around at your fellow passengers and observe how they hold their newspapers. You will doubtless see at least three out of eight exhibiting the lunatic grip!

The man or woman who makes it a habit of carrying his or her umbrella, grasping it tightly in the centre, is likely to become mad in the course of time.

Another embryonic maniac may also be recognised as he takes his walks abroad. This is the man who persists in swinging his walking-stick in a circle as he strides through the street. A lunacy expert declares that this reprehensible habit is almost certain proof of the existence of lunacy.

How do you draw a circle? A great deal depends on whether you begin it from left to right or from right to left. Dr. Bunn has studied this point very carefully and he has noticed that lunatics invariably begin drawing from the right towards the left, whereas a person with a well-balanced brain, such as a mathematician, commences the circle from the left towards the right.

Illegibility in the writing of educated adults, the frequent and often pointless underlining of words, are both common enough amongst everybody’s acquaintances. In the opinion of at least one very eminent mind specialist, both are sure signs of an unbalanced brain-as is the writing of the man whose lines ran up or down across the page.

Self-consciousness is another forerunner of insanity. There is always the certainty that a man who blushes and stammers when in the presence of ladies has the little rift within the lute which may widen into something more, always the possibility that it may do so with alarming suddenness.

A Hungarian professor has devoted years to the study of lunatics and their ways and in his capacity as visiting specialist to & large private asylum in his Hungarian capital he has ample scope for observation.

The habitual contraction of the brows and forehead, resulting from the skin forming a mass of wrinkles and eccentric lines, is given by the professor as one of the surest indications of approaching semi-insanity.

So is the odd habit of placing the sole of one boot across the instep of the other whenever yon sit down, or even when standing.

People who, in walking’ along the street, tap every lamp post as they pass, or draw their fingers along the walls or palings, are very far from sane. What is at first a trick of manner becomes after a time an absolute mania. Should a person given to one of these habits remember, at midnight say, that he or she had forgotten to touch & certain post or to draw a line along a certain wall during the day, that person will, if the trick had become a mania; rise from bed to remedy the omission, no matter what trouble it may cost him. Insanity is almost bound to follow in due course.

A watch should be constantly kept on a man’s fingers and a mental note taken of the way in which they are used. For instance, if a man frequently uses them to pull or twist his moustache, there is little doubt that he is threatened with the terrible affiiction.

Then, again, grown persons who bite their fingernails are in doing so exhibiting symptoms which the Hungarian, expert would regard with considerable suspicion.

All these are traits which mark the men or women in the world who are either half mad already or may become mad any day. Yet they maintain a reputation for sanity, while some who are undoubtedly sane incur the charge of madness.

EVERYDAY SIGNS OF INSANITY. (1903, January 25). Sunday Times (Perth, WA : 1902 – 1954), p. 14.

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