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Hack Tuke, Daniel – Sickness - Epilepsy induced by powerful emotions - terror



Type of Spiritual Experience


The cause and effect chain that Dr Hack Tuke describes in this case history is quite long.  Basically high emotion – in this case overwhelming fear, - can cause nutritional deprivation as it restricts the body’s ability to absorb certain nutrients.  Nutritional deprivation, especially of essential minerals , then causes the ‘disruptive discharge’ of epilepsy.

One mineral we now know is associated with epilepsy if in imbalance is potassium, the giving of potassium bromide [remember the date is 1850] thus restores potassium balance.

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.

Dr. Todd, Dr. Carpenter, and Van der Kolk, all employ the familiar illustration of the Leyden jar to describe the condition of the nervous tissue at the seat of the disease. Continual malnutrition causes disturbance of the polar state of some region of the encephalon. If it amounts to a certain intensity it is manifested in an epileptic fit, as the jar, " when charged with electricity to a certain state of tension, gets rid of the disturbance of equilibrium by the disruptive discharge." (Dr. Todd's "Lumleian Lectures," 1849, and Human Physiology By Dr. Carpenter. 4th Edit. 1853, p. 876.)
I abridge the report of the case given by Dr. Althaus in the " Medical Times and Gazette," April 24th, 1869. ……………………………..

Mary B — ,  16, one of fifteen children of the same mother. The mother says none of her other children have had fits, but that she had a succession of frights when enceinte with this child. The girl herself had her first fit after a fright, some other children having played at ghost with her in a cellar. This was when she was five years of age. Some years afterwards she had another fright, by a woman coming up to her while she was playing in the street, and swearing at her. Since this she has never been quite free from fits.

The convulsive seizures are well marked, commencing with a scream; the head is turned to one side, there is foam at the mouth, the tongue is bitten, the urine often passes involuntarily. The convulsion lasts four or five minutes, during which there is complete loss of consciousness. After the fit the patient sleeps for half an hour, and then wakes with a bad headache, and speaks slowly and thickly for some time. There is no aura with these fits, which occur at intervals of two or three weeks. Sometimes she has a succession of five or six in the same day; at others only one or two at a time.

The attacks of petit mal are much more frequent, as she has sometimes thirty or forty such seizures in one day, and rarely goes three or four days without any. Four months' treatment with bromide of potassium relieved her of the convulsions, but the petit mal remained the same.

A month after this, during which galvanism [the therapeutic use of electric current] was applied to both mastoid processes and the cervical sympathetic twice a week, report is made, "much better in every respect. Since galvanism was commenced she has only on three occasions had fits of petit mal, and then only four or five where she had thirty before." November 12th. "Has had altogether ten applications of galvanism. Had last attack of petit mal early in August. Last convulsive attack March 3d. Apparently well. Ceased attendance."

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

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