Dotage, Phrensy, Madness, Hydrophobia, Lycanthropia, Chorus sancti Viti, Extasis

Dotage, Phrensy, Madness, Hydrophobia, Lycanthropia, Chorus sancti Viti, Extasis

Delirium, Dotage.] DOTAGE, fatuity, or folly, is a common name to all the fullowing species, as some will have it. Laurentius and Altomarus comprehended madness, melancholy, and the rest under this name, and call it the summum genus of them all. If it be distinguished from them, it is natural or ingenite, which comes by some defect of the organs, and over-much brain, as we see in our common fools; and is for the most part intended or remitted in particular men, and thereupon some are wiser than others: or else it is acquisite, an appendix or symptom of some other disease, which comes or goes; or if it continue, a sign of melancholy itself.

Phrensy.] Phrenitis, which the Greeks derive from the word φρην [phren], is a disease of the mind, with a continual madness or dotage, which hath an acute fever annexed, or else an inflammation of the brain, or the membranes or kels of it, with an acute fever, which causeth madness and dotage. It differs from melancholy and madness, because their dotage is without an ague: this continual, with waking, or memory decayed, &c. Melancholy is most part silent, this clamorous; and many such like differences are assigned by physicians.

Madness.] Madness, phrensy, and melancholy are confounded by Celsus and many writers; others leave out phrensy, and make madness and melancholy but one disease, which Jason Pratensis especially labours, and that they differ only secundum majus or minus, in quantity alone; the one being a degree to the other, and both proceeding from one cause. They differ intenso et remisso gradu, saith Gordonius, as the humour is intended or remitted. Of the same mind is Areteus Alexander Tertullianus, Guianerius, Savanarola, Heurnius; and Galen himself writes promiscuously of them both by reason of their affinity: but most of our neoterics do handle them apart, whom I will follow in this treatise. Madness is therefore defined to be a vehement dotage; or raving without a fever, far more violent than melancholy, full of anger and clamour, horrible looks, actions, gestures, troubling the patients with far greater vehemency both of body and mind, without all fear and sorrow, with such impetuous force and boldness, that sometimes three or four men cannot hold them. Differing only in this from phrensy, that it is without a fever, and their memory is most part better. It hath the same causes as the other, as choler adust, and blood incensed, brains inflamed, &c. Fracastrius adds, "a due time, and full age to this definition, to distinguish it from children, and will have it confirmed impotency, to separate it from such as accidentally come and go again, as by taking henbane, nightshade, wine," &c. Of this fury there be divers kinds; ecstasy, which is familiar with some persons, as Cardan saith of himself, he could be in one when he list; in which the Indian priests deliver their oracles, and the witches in Lapland, as Olaus Magnus writeth, 1. 3. cap. 18. Extasi omnia prædicere, answer all questions in an extasis you will ask; what your friends do, where they are, how they fare, &c. The other species of this fury are enthusiasms, revelations, and visions, so often mentioned by Gregory and Beda in their works; obsession or possession of devils, sibylline prophets, and poetical furies; such as come by eating noxious herbs, tarantulas stinging, &c., which some reduce to this. The most known are these, lycanthropia, hydrophobia, chorus sancti viti.

Lycanthropia.] Lycanthropia, which Avicenna calls Cucubuth, others Lupinam insaniam, or Wolf-madness, when men run howling about graves and fields in the night, and will not be persuaded but that they are wolves, or some such beasts. Ætius and Paulus call it a kind of melancholy; but I should rather refer it to madness, as most do. Some make a doubt of it whether there be any such disease. Donat ab Altomari saith, that he saw two of them in his time: Wierus tells a story of such a one at Padua 1541, that would not believe to the contrary, but that he was a wolf. He hath another instance of a Spaniard, who thought himself a bear; Forrestus confirms as much by many examples; one amongst the rest of which he was an eye-witness, at Alemaer in Holland, a poor husbandman that still hunted about graves, and kept in churchyards, of a pale, black, ugly, and fearful look. Such belike, or little better, were King Prætus' daughters, that thought themselves kine. And Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel, as some interpreters hold, was only troubled with this kind of madness. This disease perhaps gave occasion to that bold assertion of Pliny, "some men were turned into wolves in his time, and from wolves to men again:" and to that fable of Pausanias, of a man that was ten years a wolf, and afterwards turned to his former shape: to Ovid's tale of Lycaon, &c. He that is desirous to hear of this disease, or more examples, let him read Austin in his 18th book de Civitate Dei, cap. 5. Mizaldus, cent. 5. 77. Sckenkius, lib. 1. Hildesheim, spicel. 2. de Mania. Forrestus. lib. 10. de morbis cerebri. Olaus Magnus, Vicentius' Bellavicensis, spec. met. lib. 31. c. 122. Pierius, Bodine, Zuinger, Zeilger, Peucer, Wierus, Spranger, &c. This malady, saith Avicenna, troubleth men most in February, and is now-a-days frequent in Bohemia and Hungary, according to Heurnius. Schernitzius will have it common in Livonia. They lie hid most part all day, and go abroad in the night, barking, howling, at graves and deserts; "they have usually hollow eyes, scabbed legs and thighs, very dry and pale," saith Altomarus; he gives a reason there of all the symptoms, and sets down a brief cure of them.

Hydrophobia is a kind of madness, well known in every village, which comes by the biting of a mad dog, or scratching, saith Aurelianus; touching, or smelling alone sometimes as Sckenkius proves, and is incident to many other creatures as well as men: so called because the parties affected cannot endure the sight of water, or any liquor, supposing still they see a mad dog in it. And which is more wonderful; though they be very dry, (as in this malady they are) they will rather die than drink: Cælius Aurelianus, an ancient writer, makes a doubt whether this Hydrophobia be a passion of the body or the mind. The part affected is the brain: the cause, poison that comes from the mad dog, which is so hot and dry, that it consumes all the moisture in the body. Hildesheim relates of some that died so mad; and being cut up, had no water, scarce blood, or any moisture left in them. To such as are so affected, the fear of water begins at fourteen days after they are bitten, to some again not till forty or sixty days after: commonly saith Heurnius, they begin to rave, fly water and glasses, to look red, and swell in the face, about twenty days after (if some remedy be not taken in the meantime) to lie awake, to be pensive, sad, to see strange visions, to bark and howl, to fall into a swoon, and oftentimes fits of the falling sickness. Some say, little things like whelps will be seen in their urine. If any of these signs appear, they are past recovery. Many times these symptoms will not appear till six or seven months after, saith Codronchus; and sometimes not till seven or eight years, as Guianerius; twelve as Albertus; six or eight months after, as Galen holds. Baldus the great lawyer died of it: an Augustine friar, and a woman in Delft, that were Forrestus' patients, were miserably consumed with it. The common cure in the country (for such at least as dwell near the sea-side) is to duck them over head and ears in sea water; some use charms: every good wife can prescribe medicines. But the best cure to be had in such cases, is from the most approved physicians; they that will read of them, may consult with Dioscorides, lib. 6. c. 37, Heurnius, Hildesheim, Capivaccius, Forrestus, Sckenkius, and before all others Codronchus an Italian, who hath lately written two exquisite books on the subject.

Chorus sancti Viti, or S. Vitus' dance; the lascivious dance, Paracelsus calls it, because they that are taken from it, can do nothing but dance till they be dead or cured. It is so called, for that the parties so troubled were wont to go to S. Vitus for help, and after they had danced there awhile, they were certainly freed. 'Tis strange to hear how long they will dance, and in what manner, over stools, forms, tables; even great bellied women sometimes (and yet never hurt their children) will dance so long that they can stir neither hand nor foot, but seem to be quite dead. One in red clothes they cannot abide. Music above all things they love, and therefore magistrates in Germany will hire musicians to play to them, and some lusty sturdy companions to dance with them. This disease hath been very common in Germany, as appears by those relations of Sckenkius, and Paracelsus in his book of madness, who brags how many several persons he hath cured of it. Felix Platerus de mentis alienat. cap. 3. reports of a woman in Basil whom he saw, that danced a whole month together. The Arabians call it a kind of palsy. Bodine in his 5th book de Repub. cap. 1, speaks of this infirmity; Monavius in his last epistle to Scoltizius, and in another to Dudithus, where you may read more of it.

The last kind of madness or melancholy, is that demoniacal (if I may so call it) obsession or possession of devils, which Platerus and others would have to be preternatural: stupend things are said of them, their actions, gestures, contortions, fasting, prophesying, speaking languages they were never taught, &c. Many strange stories are related of them, which because some will not allow, (for Deacon and Darrel have written large volumes on this subject pro and con.) I voluntarily omit.

Fuschius, institut. lib. 3. sec. 1. cap. 11, Felix Plater, Laurentius, add to these another fury that proceeds from love, and another from study, another divine or religious fury; but these more properly belong to melancholy; of all which I will speak apart, intending to write a whole book of them.

Previous Next