A nervous woman’s emotions are constantly side-tracking her away from the main cause of her difficulty, and so keeping her nervous. A nervous woman’s desire to get her own way—and strained rebellion at not getting her own way—bedazzles or befogs her brain so that her nerves twist off into all sorts of emotions which have nothing whatever to do with the main cause. The woman with the troublesome relative wants to be considered good and kind and generous. The woman with the nervous money conscience wants to be considered upright and just in her dealings with others. All women with various expressions of nervous conscience want to ease their consciences for the sake of their own comfort—not in the least for the sake of doing right.
I write first of the nervous hypocrite because in her case the nervous strain is deeper in and more difficult to find. To watch such a woman is like seeing her in a terrible nightmare, which she steadily “sugar-coats” by her complacent belief in her own goodness. If, among a thousand nervous “saints” who may read these words, one is thereby enabled to find herself out, they are worth the pains of writing many times over. The nervous hypocrites who do not find themselves out get sicker and sicker, until finally they seem to be of no use except to discipline those who have the care of them.
The greatest trouble comes through the befogging emotions. A woman begins to feel a nervous strain, and that strain results in exciting emotions; these emotions again breed more emotions until she becomes a simmering mass of exciting and painful emotions which can be aroused to a boiling point at any moment by anything or any one who may touch a sensitive point. When a woman’s emotions are aroused, and she is allowing herself to be governed by them, reason is out of the question, and any one who imagines that a woman can be made to understand common sense in a state like that will find himself entirely mistaken.
The only cure is for the woman herself to learn first how entirely impervious to common sense she is when she is in the midst of an emotional nerve storm, so that she will say, “Don’t try to talk to me now; I am not reasonable, wait until I get quiet.” Then, if she will go off by herself and drop her emotions, and also the strain behind her emotions, she will often come to a good, clear judgment without outside help; or, if not, she will come to the point where she will be ready and grateful to receive help from a clearer mind than her own.
“For goodness’ sake, don’t tell that to Alice,” a young fellow said of his sister. “She will have fits first, and then indigestion and insomnia for six weeks.” The lad was not a nerve specialist; neither was he interested in nerves—except to get away from them; but he spoke truly from common sense and his own experience with his sister.
The point is, to drop the emotions and face the facts. If nervous women would see the necessity for that, and would practice it, it would be surprising to see how their nerves would improve.