General Practice

ONE HUNDRED YEARS AGO

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7029.489 (Published 24 February 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:489

EARLY RISING AS A CAUSE OF INSANITY.

Some time ago we showed cause why early rising, instead of being a virtue as unscientific moralists have taught us, should be considered a mischievous practice condemned by sound physiology as well as by the natural instinct of mankind. It now appears—if we are to believe an American specialist in mental disease—that, in stating the case against early rising, we did not go far enough. Dr. Selden H. Talcott, of Middletown, New York, has recently called attention to the relative frequency with which farmers and their families become insane. The cause of this, we learn, has hitherto been thought to be the isolation of their lives, the hard work they have to do, and perhaps the excessive use of “pie” and potatoes. Insanity in this country has been attributed to almost everything from tea drinking to the reading of tracts, but the influence of the potato as an etiological factor is new to us.

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