Professor Harry M. Johnson, of the University of Virginia, speaking about the consequences of fatigue said, "If you are tired, you are insane." Dr. Johnson, giving the results of his seven years of research at the Mellon Institute, explained: "A tired man reveals characteristic symptoms of one form or another of insanity, and not always in a small degree.
"Sluggishness, inattentiveness, defective speech, lapse of memory, stubbornness, painful obstinacy, hallucinations, loss of consciousness, vacuity, fits of anger — all these are the usual symptoms of fatigue, even if they begin gradually.
"After a good sleep a tired man becomes liberated from these symptoms and usually regains his strength. But it may happen that sleep will not establish the normal balance. It may happen that as a result there will appear new types of abnormally, and the man will become prey to inactivity, depression, insensitiveness, and will remain apathetic to everything, showing not the slightest interest or attention, and unable even to undertake any work in his own profession. Such a condition may continue for several hours, and even for several weeks."
In another field of research, physicians at Columbia University have announced a new theory about colds. Ac cording to this theory, it is not the man who catches the cold, but the bacteria and microbes; and the illness of the man himself becomes a secondary factor. Comparatively recently bacteriologists have established that one and the same microorganism may be either pathogenic or saprophytic, depending upon conditions in which it is placed. The most harmless microbe, after a change of surroundings and conditions of existence, may become pathogenic. Harmless microbes and bacteria, which are found in the nose and mouth, under the influence of dampness or a sharp change of temperature become generators of illness.
One should not forget that in reality the inner conditions of a man are subject to change, not only due to external circumstances but also under the influence of the condition of the nervous system. In other words, we again approach the identical conclusion that depression and imbalance of the nervous system create numerous cases of disorders that but recently were regarded as resulting from exterior causes.
The assertion of the investigator that fatigue creates the conditions of madness is not paradoxical. Indeed, the inner nervous energy may fall into such an unnatural state that its being defined as madness may be not far from truth.
That identical very strong poison that is created by fits of anger and irritation, even if it undergoes a change after-ward, nevertheless is precipitated into the nerve channels during various unnatural elations and depressions.
One may congratulate the investigator who dares to call the condition of depression madness. Usually people hesitate to define so drastically such commonly accepted conditions. Madness is understood as a state demanding isolate but if many people even legally insane are walking free then how many of them are to be found in various temporary stages of madness!
Recalling various former legislative measures, teachings, philosophic theories, one notices that they were actually concerned primarily with the establishment of equilibrium. Not some special psychiatrists but practical psychologists have called upon people to adopt conditions in which the least self-poisoning could take place. The awakening of bacteria and microbes to action, in the majority of instances, will be a case of self-poisoning, because it will occur owing to a consciously directed pseudo-activity. So-called fatigue, with all its burdens, is primarily a result of incorrect distribution of labor.
Many times have the most ancient as well as the newest doctrines suggested a wise change of labor to avoid burden-some fatigue. During a sufficiently varied change of labor fatigue as such is impossible. Besides, deadening inactivity may engender a most harmful kind of fatigue. Especially now when so many seemingly hitherto unnoticed ailments are revealed, each investigator will first look for means to establish balance. After all, we live not only in a time of excessive labors but also in a period of most unnatural and, at times, murderous interrelations. Take practically any page of a newspaper to prove to yourself that the most unheard-of symptoms of madness are now broadly spread. For instance, take the following account from a newspaper of 1934:
"As has happened usually in past years, in the course of 1934 several singular records were established:
"A German woman, Edna Asselin, received first prize in an international contest for housewives for sweeping a corridor two meters wide and seven meters long in thirty-eight seconds".
"An American, James Aagord, was proclaimed victor in a shouting contest, which took place in the state of Nebraska. He yelled so loudly that he was heard at a distance of a mile and a half".
"In Cincinnati a bridge tournament which started in 1924 has just ended. Each player scored over a million points".
"Eighteen-year-old Rose Rooney from Rhode Island ate at one sitting eighteen quarts of shellfish".
"A tailor, Einduber, from Denver, threaded into the eye of a needle twelve extremely fine threads, one after another.""
It may be concluded that such records of that year should be sufficient to remind us about the dangerous stages of madness creeping and hiding amidst the present day masses of humanity. There is really a vast field of research here for psychologists. Thus it would seem that many otherwise unsolvable state and social problems could be solved by striving for equilibrium. The same Golden Path, ordained long ago, is again sought by humanity amidst an unusual and probably unrepeatable twilight of madness. The daily news speaks of extraordinary crimes, perpetrated with unusual, cold cruelty.
Of course all cruelty is madness. Possibly, one could trace the manner in which the progressive madness of cruelty and malediction was stratified. These paths, being the must negative, will undoubtedly remain forever within the Limits of madness. Investigations as to why a man falls into cursing and all sorts of disgusting cruelties very probably would have saved many from these dark paths. If, in accordance with the justified assertion of the investigator, fatigue is but a step of madness, then how much the more should cruelty is being outlived. It is not so, regrettably. There are appearing even new kinds of cruelty, subtle, penetrating into all forms of daily life. Let us hope Sat madness, in all its forms and degrees, will be thoroughly investigated.
January 24, 1935