Hysteria (சூதிகாவாதம்) in Siddha Medicine

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Hysteria in Siddha Medicine
Article by
Divya Jayachandran

It is one of a psychiatric aspects, of much importance since it's prevalence is increasing now a days. This disorder should be clearly understood by the doctor and the relatives of the patient as well, because the symptoms shown by the patient may create an atmosphere of tension around and the physician may misinterpret these symptoms.

In General
Hysteria, in its colloquial use, describes unmanageable emotional excesses. People who are "hysterical" often lose self-control due to an overwhelming fear that may be caused by multiple events in one's past that involved some sort of severe conflict; the fear can be centered on a body part, or, most commonly, on an imagined problem with that body part. 

The origin of the term hysteria is commonly attributed to Hippocrates, even though the term isn't used in the writings that are collectively known as the Hippocratic corpus. The Hippocratic corpus refer to a variety of illness symptoms, such as suffocation and Heracles' disease, that were supposedly caused by the movement of a woman's uterus to various locations within her body as it became light and dry due to a lack of bodily fluids. One passage recommends pregnancy to cure such symptoms, ostensibly because intercourse will "moisten" the womb and facilitate blood circulation within the body.

By the mid to late 19th century, hysteria (or sometimes female hysteria) came to refer to what is today generally considered to be sexual dysfunction. Typical treatment was massage of the patient's genitalia by the physician and, later, by vibrators or water sprays to cause orgasm.

A more modern understanding of hysteria as a psychological disorder was advanced by the work of Jean-Martin Charcot, a French neurologist. In his 1893 obituary of Charcot, Sigmund Freud attributed the rehabilitation of hysteria as a topic for scientific study to the positive attention generated by Charcot’s neuropathological investigations of hysteria during the last ten years of his life. Freud questioned Charcot’s claim that heredity is the unique cause of hysteria, but he lauded his innovative clinical use of hypnosis to demonstrate how hysterical paralysis could result from psychological factors produced by non-organic traumas (psychological factors that Charcot believed could be simulated through hypnosis). To Freud, this discovery allowed subsequent investigators such as Pierre Janet and Josef Breuer to develop new theories of hysteria that were essentially similar to the medieval conception of a split consciousness, but with the non-scientific terminology of demonic possession replaced with modern psychological concepts.

The name suggested in Siddha Medicine for this ailment was “Soothiga vatham“ (சூதிகாவாதம்). “Soothigam” (சூதிகம்) means “uterus” and “Vatham” (வாதம்) means “any change”. Hence, it was thought by our ancestors in earlier days that it was a disease caused due to changes taking place in uterus so limited to females only. But later on it was proved that it may be found in both sexes equally. This is mostly occurring in middle age group. The patient is either emotionally immature or self traumatizing. They may produce symptoms in an exaggerated manner so as to get the sympathy of others. It may be also seen that such people may have an unhealthy atmosphere or are neglected at home or workplace.

Treatment mesures for hysteria in Siddha Medicine
1. The holistic approach of siddha medicine can enable a physician to understand the real fact.
2. The medicines like Vallarai nei, Brahmi nei, and medicines containing Amukkara or Abini can help. These act as brain tonics.
3. Next the physician should provide a healthy support and counseling to know the root cause of the problem and have a open talk with the patient alone so as pacify their violent mind.
4. The relatives or informer of the patient should also be councelled to keep patience and advised to always look after the patient with care.
5. The patient should be attracted towards meditation or pranayama so as to give a soulful treatment.
6. If the physician becomes successfull in motivating the patients and removing the root cause of disturbing factor of their mind then 90% of illness or problem gets cured. The family members should obey the instructions of the doctor and provide the same to the patient.

Sources: Various Siddha Medical literatures and Wikipedia, siddham.in
Photo courtesy: symphony-passion (Pencil sketch)

About the Guest Author
Divya Jayachandran from Alappuzha, India. Studying Bacheolar of Siddha Medicine and Surgery at Santhigiri Siddha Medical College, Trivandrum, India. She is much interested in Siddha Philosophy, Siddha Materia Medica and various other branches of Siddha Medicine.

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Its an excellent work.. I appreciate and astonish. Siddha dreams will make Siddha dreams true..let us all work for that. Congratulations!

April 29, 2011 at 10:29 AM comment-delete

Its an excellent work.. I appreciate and astonish. Siddha dreams will make Siddha dreams true..let us all work for that. Congratulations!

July 22, 2011 at 11:57 AM comment-delete
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