In the second place, fatigue shows itself to be closely bound up with emotions and instincts. The great releasers of energy are the instincts. What but the mothering instinct and the love of country could uncover all those unsuspected reserves of Dr. Girard-Mangin and others of her kind? What is it but the enthusiasm for work which explains the indefatigable energy of Edison and Roosevelt? If the wrong kind of emotion locks up energy, the right kind just as surely unlocks great stores which have hitherto lain dormant. If most people live below their possibilities, it is either because they have not learned how to utilize the energy of their instinctive emotions in the work they find to do, or because some of their strongest instincts which are meant to supply motive power to the rest of life are locked away by false ideas and unnecessary repressions, and so fail to feed in the energy which they control. In such a case, the “spring tonic” that is needed is a self-knowledge which shall release us from hampering inhibitions and set us free for enthusiastic self-expression.
What of the Nervous Invalid? If the normal man lives constantly below his maximum, what shall we say of the nervous invalid? Fatigability is the very earmark of his condition. In many instances he seems scarcely able to raise his hand to his head. Sometimes he can scarcely speak for weariness. Frequently to walk a block sends him to bed for a week. I once had a patient who felt that she had to raise her eyelids very slowly for fear of over-exertion. She could speak only about two or three words a day, the rest of the time talking in whispers. She could not raise a glass to her lips if it were full of water, but could manage it if only half full. A person nearly dead with some fatal disease does not appear more powerless than a typical neurasthenic.
If it he true that accumulation of fatigue is promptly fatal, what shall we say of the woman who says that she is still exhausted from the labor of a year ago,—or of ten years ago? What of the business man who travels from sanatorium to sanatorium because five years ago he went through a strenuous year? What of the college student who is broken down because he studied too hard, or the teacher who is worn out because of ten hard years of teaching? There can be but one answer. No matter what their feelings, they can be suffering from no true physiological fatigue. Something very real has happened to them, but only through ignorance and the power of suggestion can it be called fatigue and attributed to overwork.
=Stories of Real People.= Perhaps if we look over the stories of a few people who have been members of my household, we may work our way to an understanding of the truth. We give only the barest outline of the facts, thinking that the cumulative effect of a number of cases will outweigh a more detailed description of one or two. The most casual survey shows that whatever it was that burdened these fine men and women, it was not lack of energy. No matter how extreme had been their exhaustion, they were able at once, without rest or any other physical treatment, to summon strength for exertions quite up to those of a normal person.