To still other people nervous trouble means fear,—just terrible fear without object or meaning or reason (anxiety neuroses); or a definite fear of some harmless object (phobia); or a strange, persistent, recurrent idea, quite foreign to the personality and beyond the reach of reason (obsession); or an insistent desire to perform some absurd act (compulsion); or perhaps, a deadly and pall-like depression (the blues).
As a matter of fact, the neuroses include all these varieties, and various shades and combinations of each. There are, however, certain mental characteristics which recur with surprising regularity in most of the various phases—dissatisfaction, lack of confidence, a sense of being alone and shut in to oneself, doubt, anxiety, fear, worry, self-depreciation, lack of interest in outside affairs, pessimism, fixed belief in one’s powerlessness, along whatever line it may be.
Underneath all these differing forms of nervousness are the same mechanisms and the same kind of difficulty. To understand one is to understand all, and to understand normal people as well; for in the last analysis we are one and all built on the same lines and governed by the same laws. The only difference is, that, as Jung says, “the nervous person falls ill of the conflicts with which the well person battles successfully.”
Since at least seventy-five per cent. of all the people who apply to physicians for help are nervous patients; and since these thousands of patients are not among the mental incompetents, but are as a rule among the highly organized, conscientious folk who have most to contribute to the leadership of the world, it is obviously of vital importance to society that its citizens should be taught how to solve their inner conflicts and keep well. In this strategic period of reconstruction, the world that is being remodeled cannot afford to lose one leader because of an unnecessary breakdown.
There is greater need than ever for people who can keep at their tasks without long enforced rests; people who can think deeply and continuously without brain-fag; people who can concentrate all their powers on the work in hand without wasting time or energy on unnecessary aches and pains; people whose bodies are kept up to the top notch of vitality by well-digested food, well-slept sleep, well-forgotten fatigue, and well-used reserve energy. That such a state of affairs is no Utopian dream, but is merely a matter of knowing how, will appear more clearly in later chapters.
In which we learn what “nerves” are not, and get a hint of what they are
AN EXPLODED THEORY
="Nerves” not Nerves.= Pick up any newspaper, turn over a few pages, and you will be sure to come to an advertisement something like this: