Among the great unsolved problems of modem medicine are many of those associated with mental disease. People still fear the sudden appearance of the “loss of the mind”, or the birth of a child apparently without normal mental ability. Over 3,000,000 children are born in this country every year. Actually from 150,000 to 200,000 of those born will eventually be committed to hospitals for mental disease.
Much can be done to prevent or overcome many of the conditions that disturb the mind. With modern methods of treatment, improvement can even be secured in certain forms of complete mental breakdown. Problems of mental defect and of mental diseases are not only approached by putting the patients in institutions but also by applying some of these new forms of treatment.
Parents, teachers, and those organizations concerned with the supervision of children must realize the importance of recognizing strange behavior at the earliest possible moment.
Children who are mentally retarded or who are slow in their mental development should be submitted to expert advice as soon as possible. These children will be brought into social and economic competition, and the contrast with normal children, coupled with pressure from forces behind them at home and even from their association with competitors, may result in a reaction and in the formation of attitudes which lead to permanent disturbances.
There are many causes of mental breakdown and many classifications of mental disturbance. Research has been intensified on dementia praecox, in which the so-called insulin shock, metrazol shock, and electric shock treatments are being tried. Modern medicine also offers new forms of study, including analysis of the mental processes, leading to recognition of the underlying factors in mental disturbances.
The wise man need not fear such a catastrophe. He should know that scientific methods of diagnosis and treatment are now available.