=Loss of Appetite.= A nervous patient with a good appetite is “the exception that proves the rule.” The neurotic is usually under weight and often complains that he feels satiated almost as soon as he begins to eat. Loss of appetite may, of course, mean that the body is busy combating toxins in the blood, but in a nervous person it usually means a symbolic loss of appetite for something in life, a struggle of the personality against something for which he has “no stomach.” Psycho-analysis often reveals the source of the trouble, and a little bullying helps along the good work. By simply taking away a harmful means of expression, we may often force the subconscious mind to find a better language.
Since the stomach seems to be an organ which is much better fitted to care for food than to care for a depressing emotion or a false idea, it seems far more sensible to change our minds than to keep enlarging our list of eatables which are taboo.
And since most indigestion is in very truth nothing more nor less than an emotional disturbance, worked up by fear, anger, discontent, worry, ignorance, suggestion, attention to bodily functions which are meant to be ignored, love of notice and the conversion of moral distress into physical distress, the best diet list which can be furnished to Mr. Everyman in search of health must read something like this:
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday,
A Calm Spirit
Plenty of Good Cheer
A Varied Diet Commonsense
Judicious Neglect of Symptoms
Forgetfulness of the Digestive Process
A Little Accurate Knowledge
A Determination to
BE LIKE FOLKS
In which we relearn an old trick
THE BUGABOO OF CONSTIPATION
In line with the taboos connected with the taking of food are the ceremonials attendant upon its elimination. Taking anxious thought about functions well established by nature is a feature of conversion-hysteria, the displacement of emotional desire from its psychic realm into symbolic physical expression. Whatever other symptoms nervous people may manifest, they are almost sure to be troubled with chronic constipation. It is true that there are many constipated people who do not seem to be nervous and who resent being classed among the neurotics. Everybody knows that the occasional individual who has difficulty in swallowing his food is nervous and that the, trouble lies not in the muscles of his throat but in the ideas of his mind. But very few people seem to realize that the more common individual who makes hard work of that other simple process—elimination of his intestinal waste matter—is suffering from the same kind of disturbance and giving way to a nervous trick. When all the facts are in, the constipated person will have hard work to clear himself of at least one count on the charge of nerves.