A WORKING THEORY FOR THE UNDERSTANDING OF MELANCHOLY AND ITS TREATMENT

(Eine Arbeitstheorie zum Verstšndnis der Melancholie und ihre Behandlung)

by Dr Immanuel Velikovsky
(Palestine Institute for Psychological Research)



If a person is full of sorrow he is discharging from his body through the cracks in his eyelids various chemicals. The peculiarity of this phenomenon is normally not regarded as being strange since the process of crying is known to everybody since earliest childhood. - This secretion brings relief.

In the case of melancholy, the sick person does not shed any tears. In fact, with the appearance of tears you can expect a change in the course of the illness.

Melancholia does not offer any hopes for a successful psychotherapeutical treatment. Even though psychic stimuli may trigger the illness or may even constitute the origin of the illness, there is no doubt nowadays that in the case of melancholia there is also invariably a disorder in the biochemistry.

The secretion of tears in grief must be regarded as a depoisoning process; that is why it brings relief.

Melancholia is therefore an illness during the course of which paralyzed secretion apparatus causes those chemicals that should be discharged to continue circulating within the organism.

Tears are important in keeping the cornea and the conjunctiva humid, in protecting them from irritations, and in mechanically removing, as far as it is possible, foreign and irritating substances. Tears may accompany laughing, yawning, coughing, vomiting, and sneezing. Furthermore, tears may appear as a form of expression for the affections of grief, rage, and joy.

Tears are also found in animals; but crying in animals has not been proven so far, and it is generally accepted that only the human being may secrete tears out of psychological motives.

R. Dubois(1) has extracted from the lacrymal gland of a cow an enzyme, a catalyst, which he calls lacrymase. When injected into guinea pigs these extracts cause spasmodic twitching of the eye, convulsive motions of the muscles of the face, and the secretion of tears. Dubois inferred, therefore, that the lachrymal glands form a substance that causes motion of the facial muscles. According to him, the formation of tears is the result of autointoxication. He calls the hypothetical toxin lachrymaline.

Proteins which are found in tears are albumin and glubalin. Their quantities vary.(2) (Arlt, Lerch 0.504, Fredrichs 0.08 - 0.1, Roetth 0.25 - 0.6 ). In his experiments Roetth has caused a formation of tears through chemical and mechanical, and also through psychological, stimuli. Charlton(3) distinguishes two groups of tears, those rich in protein (the secretion of which he determines to originate in the simpaticus) and those poor in protein (the secretion of which he determines to originate in the glossofaringius). (The “tear fibres” are believed to be in the nervous lachrymalies; how they get there has not been determined as yet.)

Weckers is of the opinion that the orbital part of the lachrymal gland in the human being is solely responsible for the secretion of tears in the act of crying. Weiss is of the opinion that there is no way of determining specific organs for the reflectory and psychological secretion of tears.

According to Fleming and Allison there are chemical components in the tear fluid which cause the formation of the specific precipitations.

With this short overview we want to clarify the state of the art in this field.

In the case of the melancholic you not only find a lower secretion of tears but also of the saliva and the gastric juices. We should, however evaluate these phenomena differently since grief causes tears but quite obviously not an increased secretion of gastric juices. This connection, however, should not be left without consideration in experiments.

The appropriate way to treat melancholia is, therefore: to cause a constant secretion of tears.

This is possible through the causation of conjunctivitis. Apart from different methods, we would also propose to try and inject into the veins a sour macerate taken from the mucous membrane of the duodenum since these injections, according to Allesandro (4), cause the scretion of tears. This is very important insofar as - as mentioned earlier - also the gastric juices are connected with the function of the lachrymal gland in the melancholic.

There is also justification for experiments to cause the secretion of tears through the injection of tears since, as we have seen oftentimes, a similar procedure nay cause a change in the biofuntions. This is done according to the motto: similia similibus. There is still another possibility that should be considered: there is a lack of secretion of tears in the melancholic either because the necessary and appropriate components are kept within the organism, or because these components are not formed in suffiecient quantity. In the latter case injection of tears would be recommended.

Even though we have reason to believe that tears which are caused through external stimuli are not identical with those cause by psychological stimuli, we may still assume that the stimulation of the lachrymal glands may result in a recapturing of their psychological function. A report on the course of the experiments will follow after a sufficient time.


References

  1. C. r. Acad. Sci 176
  2. Referiert nach Weiss.
  3. Amer. J. ophtalm., 4.
  4. Arch. ital. oftalm., 15.

First published in Wiener Medizinischen Wochenschrift, (Nr. 21, 1933); translated from the German by Helfried Zrzavy, edited by Duane Vorhees.