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August 13, 1887

DELIRIUM GRAVE.Read in the Section on Practice of Medicine, Materia Medica and Therapeutics, at the Thirty-Eighth Annual Meeting of the American Medical Association.

Author Affiliations


JAMA. 1887;IX(7):196-200. doi:10.1001/jama.1887.02400060004001a

Synonyms.—Delirium Acutum, Mania gravis, Typhomania, Bell's Disease, Dèlire aigu, Manie grave, Phrenitis.

The disorder I am about to consider, owes its importance not so much to its frequency as to the fact that it furnishes opportunities for grave yet excusable errors in diagnosis. It may fall to the lot of the general practitioner to see but a single case in a life-time. But that very single occasion will prove a memorable one. On the one hand his diagnosis will oscillate between typhoid fever, meningitis, sunstroke and hydrophobia. On the other he may be misled, through the occurrence of lucid inteivals, to predict the recovery of a patient, who is in reality suffering from one of the most malignant and fatal affections of the nervous system to which mankind is liable.

The nomenclature of acute fatal delirium reflects this great uncertainty. The ancients spoke of it as Phrenitis, a curious term

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