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Tactile hallucinations and psychosis from a cocktail of mis-prescribed drugs

Identifier

026088

Type of spiritual experience

Hallucination

Background

It is now known that a great deal more than rabies can be caught from both a dog and cat’s bite.  Their mouths are often filled with bacteria and if the wound draws blood, then the bacteria can get in the blood stream and thus travel round the body.  So the little boy was first attacked by bacteria that caused the leg to become infected, and attacked the heart and the lungs [spitting blood].

Potassium bromide (KBr) is a salt, widely used as an anticonvulsant and a sedative in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.  In high concentrations, it strongly irritates the gastric mucous membrane, causing nausea and sometimes vomiting.  It has no anti-bacterial properties, as such it would have simply added to the woes of the child.  In the latter half of the 19th century, potassium bromide was used for the calming of seizure and nervous disorders on an enormous scale, with the use by single hospitals being as much as several tons a year (the dose for a given person being a few grams per day). 

Bromide compounds, especially sodium bromide, remained in over-the-counter sedatives and headache remedies in the US until 1975, when bromides were outlawed in all over-the-counter medicines, due to chronic toxicity.  In effect this little boy was being poisoned by the bromide as well, which is why he was getting the tactile hallucinations and started to become insane.

There is some possibility that he was suffering later from sepsis as his’ saliva at times thick and glutinous’.

We then have the final medical ineptitude – chloral hydrate, which has killed numerous people and caused endless hallucinations, psychoses, and mental problems.

It is interesting that Dr Finlay clearly believed it was all in the mind, despite the dreadful symptoms and sought only to alleviate the symptoms.  He also seems to have been completely oblivious to the fact that he was the cause of the worsening of the disease.

A description of the experience

As described in Illustrations Of The Influence Of The Mind Upon The Body In Health And Disease, Designed To Elucidate The Action Of The Imagination - Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., M.R.C.P.,

PART II. THE EMOTIONS.
CHAPTER VIII. INFLUENCE OF THE EMOTIONS UPON THE VOLUNTARY MUSCLES.
SECTION II. — Irregular and Excessive Muscular Contraction : Spasms and Convulsions.

Quite recently (Medical Times and Gazette, June 18,1870) Dr. Finlay has reported a case of nervous hydrophobia occurring in a boy of 12, "produced simply by mental anxiety and terror:"

In the beginning of the year he was bitten by a small terrier on the left leg. The wound was slight, and healed without difficulty.

No ill effects were observed, as regards the bite, for two months, but in the interval he complained of pains in the chest, and spat blood, for which he attended the Brompton Hospital. In the beginning of March he complained of severe pain in the leg, at and about the bitten part, at first stationary, but afterwards it assumed the form of an epileptic aura. He described this sensation as a peculiar creeping pain, which progressed gradually to the heart, having reached which, insensibility occurred, accompanied occasionally by twitching movements of the extremities and of the muscles of the neck and face.

Bromide of potassium was ordered. A week afterwards he said that after the aura had crept up to the abdomen, he felt as if the dog that had bitten him was in his inside scratching violently ; while during the fit he barked, and his expression was wild, fierce, and haggard. Salivation marked the close of the fit. Next day he attempted to bite and scratch all within his reach, and in many respects imitated the actions and gestures of a dog. Sometimes, e. g., he would seize the pillow with his teeth, growling the while as a dog does with a rat. Occasionally he refused food, unless allowed to lap it, while, when threatened with a whipping if he would not stop barking and biting, he would turn round and whine as a dog does when struck. On the 10th day the symptoms were aggravated, and the saliva at times thick and glutinous.

As he had not slept for two nights he was ordered chloral, and continued the bromide. Two hours' sleep followed the second dose of chloral. Next day the lad was very violent, and in the evening was with difficulty restrained, the barking and howling being loud enough to be heard in the street.

Pulse rapid and weak. After taking 30 grains of chloral he slept seven hours, but was more violent than ever after he awoke. When presented with another dose of chloral, he became violently convulsed at the sight of the glass. Similar convulsions were produced by showing him wine, water, &c. ; in fact, he refused all fluids. Dr. Finlay attributes this refusal simply to a suspicion that the chloral would be thrust on him in some other mixture. The bromide appeared now to have most influence upon the fits, and at the end of a fortnight from the commencement of the attack, the fits were only occasional, but yet he sometimes barked during sleep. The latter is an interesting circumstance.

The patient was now removed to St. Mary's Hospital, where he soon completely recovered under the care of Dr. Handfield Jones.

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image

Activities

Observation contributed by: Henry Ibberson