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JAMA 100 Years Ago
May 10, 2006


Author Affiliations

JAMA 100 Years Ago Section Editor: Jennifer Reiling, Assistant Editor.

JAMA. 2006;295(18):2184. doi:10.1001/jama.295.18.2184-a

One of the most interesting of the later developments of the unfortunate catastrophe at San Francisco has been the announcement that a certain number of persons who had been for some time confined strictly to their beds and who were considered, at least by themselves and their friends, to be suffering from incurable paralysis, as a consequence of the shock have been restored to strength enough to walk and in some cases to apparently perfect health. In one case, the patient is reported to have been absolutely bedridden for over fifteen years, yet was so completely cured that he was able to help very shortly after the earthquake in the work of relief. The newspapers have made much of these cures and yet they will probably not appear so surprising to physicians. It is not an unusual thing in medical experience to have a patient who is suffering from hysterical paralysis frightened into activity by the occurrence of a fire or by a visit from burglars or some act of violence in his or more often her immediate neighborhood. The cure of hysterical mutism in the same way is an old-time tradition in medicine, of which Hippocrates has made mention.