Hysteria & Hysterical Fits: first aid knowledge & how It evolves


I used to publish guides and articles concerning first aid on a semi-regular basis on this blog, but over time, have found it’s become harder and harder for me to do so.

Originally, we started out with a: “Here are some of the info, do with it what you will” attitude, but as we grew, we felt pressure to layer disclaimer after disclaimer within our first aid posts due to concern over potential threats of a legal nature. We are an objectively small blog and whenever writing about topics of a serious nature, I have to be extra careful.e

Sadly, I do get a lot of medical questions on my first aid posts, and whilst I view myself as somewhat competent, I can not share or advise anything beyond “go see your GP” in 99% of these cases.

I’ve endeavored in the past to reply to nearly every single comment on this blog. I’m not always fast at doing so, but I always figured if you take the effort to share your thoughts, the least I could do is respond in kind.

On a more amusing note, there is a wonderfully (present day) politically incorrect section on “Hysteria & Hysterical Fits” that would produce cataclysmic social reactions if it were repeated today.

I find it amazingly to read first aid instructions from that time period. The authors are so certain and so absolute in their advice (or rather, instructions) that it’s almost shocking.

the patient, usually a young girl in consequence of her mental excitement suddenly loses command of her actions and feelings. He subsides on a couch or in some comfortable position, throws herself about, grinding her teeth and clenching her fists; she clutches at anyone or anything near her, kicks, cries and laughs alternately.

In Hysterical Fits (Hysteria).

There is a section on the washing of wounds where they outright tell you to never do it and instead just apply iodine solution. Now, this isn’t a bad instruction, but there are case scenarios where washing a wound is not only beneficial, but highly recommended. Getting rid of dirt and detritus comes to mind– you don’t want a wound to heal over with dirt still in there!

Having my hands tied in this respect isn’t the only downside of writing about first aid. It means that I either have to make sure what I write today will still be true and relevant tomorrow (impossible), or I have to keep going back to previous articles and re-researching the topic to be sure nothing has changed in the first aid industry in the years since I originally hit “publish.”..

The eyeballs may be turned upwards, and the eyelids opened and shut rapidly. At times froth appears at the lips, and other irregular symptoms may occur. Complete insensibility is not present.

And now for the best part, the treatment!

Internet’s issue and its approach to data (that information is permanent, nothing can ever be corrected and/or deleted), puts us humbly on scribblers at much greater scrutiny, and I would argue, held to a much higher standard.

The idea that sympathy is to be avoided and referring to medical symptoms as “fits” with the threat of being made uncomfortable would be utterly shocking in this day and age, yet authors back then believed this to be true and were unrestricted in dispensing this knowledge of their time.

I find it odd how there’s such an enormous double standard with regards to where information is coming from. The media can write utter bullshit about medical topics, that isn’t factually correct, well researched and leads to many masses of people misconceiving and making terrible decisions about their health– and it’s somehow okay because it’s journalism. If oneblogger makes a slight error in a technical context, mis-communicates because he or she chose the wrong words, and/or did not update a blog post to encompass newly discovered information– that blogger will be crucified for it.

Don’t get me wrong– I think there should be a high standard. You shouldn’t be allowed to write whatever untrue nonsense you want about first aid and medical topics– but where there is a grey area, I think you should be allowed to speak about it, instead of having to pretend it isn’t there and that medical topics are white and completely black.

Special treatment.

– Threaten her with a cold water douche, and if she persists in her “fit,” sprinkle her with cold water.
– Avoid sympathy with the patient, and speak firmly to her.
– Apply a mustard leaf at the back of her neck.


Interesting times folks. Information is power, and yet never before has information been so easily available and yet, paradoxically, censured due to social pressure and regulation.

This has all forced me to reassess what was written about and in which manner I display data. It’s a tricky position to be in, and I do wonder if the next generation, whom likely will have it worse than me, will view our scribbles as the musings of the Dark Ages in comparison to theirs.

In terms of medical topics or first aid, I purposefully have to diffuse my opinion and “soften” my research findings to a more ambiguous answer so as to not happen the wrath of the regulators.

The media can write utter nonsense about medical topics, that isn’t factually correct, well researched and leads to many masses of people misconceiving and making terrible decisions about their health– and it’s somehow okay because it’s journalism.

Your thoughts?

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