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Dr Trousseau - Deep emotion from any cause and more particularly fright, is a determining cause of St Vitus's dance



Type of Spiritual Experience

Invisible input - healing

Number of hallucinations: 1


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.,

SECTION II. — Irregular and Excessive Muscular Contraction : Spasms and Convulsions.

Trousseau, after observing that deep emotion from any cause and more particularly fright, is a determining cause of St. Vitus's dance, gives the following :

" The young girl, 1 6 years old, who lay in bed 30, St. Bernard's ward, afforded an instance of this. Her previous health had always been good ; she had never had rheumatic pains (and careful auscultation detected no sign of cardiac disease), and her complaint dated a fortnight back. A man caught hold of her one evening as she was going downstairs without a light, and she was so frightened that she had a nervous fit, and from that moment became affected with St. Vitus's dance. The disease was developed to a pretty high degree, and her case could be regarded as typical.

"Several among you may recollect another girl, aged 17, who was sent into my ward by Professor Jobert, in December, 1860. She had an artificial anus in the umbilical region, which had rendered a surgical operation necessary. She had always been very nervous, and had a strange temper ; and she was so alarmed by the operation that she was immediately seized with St. Vitus's dance, which was very grave, was attended with delirium, and got well by slow degrees also. The invasion of St. Vitus's dance is rarely sudden as it was in these two instances" (Trousseau's Clinical Medicine. Translated for the New Sydenham Society by Dr. Bazire. 4 vols. 1868, I, p. 397-8).


 In [another] case, the cause was intense grief from the death of a sister. The patient was a lady, set. 19. Strange convulsive movements of the head and upper limbs were the most prominent symptoms. When Trousseau saw her, her aspect was that of perfect health, but her whole left side was the seat of violent choreic movements — so that she was in danger of hurting herself against the furniture. An attempt to arrest them by taking hold of her hand made them worse : there was one means, however, of quieting all this agitation, as if by magic, namely, the piano. She could spend an hour or two at the instrument, playing to perfection, and with the greatest regularity ; in excellent time, and without missing a note.

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps