Brain Cells And Mental Operations

While the theories of neuronic action we have discussed do not

represent absolute knowledge, they are at least suggestive and helpful

in psychotherapy. Whenever there are disturbances of mental

operations, patients are likely to become very solicitous, lest these

represent organic and incurable changes. The application of Ramon y

Cajal's neuroglia theory serves to bring out the fact that most of

them can be very well e
plained as merely functional, due to passing

disturbances of activity, and not necessarily to tissue changes. When

patients become possessed of the fear that certain nervous symptoms

portend definite injuries to the nervous system, this unfavorable

suggestion keeps them from using, to its proper and full extent for

repair and convalescence, the nervous energy which they possess. This

disturbing influence can be counteracted by a straightforward

exposition of Ramon y Cajal's or the newer English theory of brain


Patients become very much disturbed if they observe a failure of

certain faculties in themselves, and are prone to think that such a

failure means serious exhaustion or enduring change. The power of

attention is one of the faculties often disturbed in neurotic cases

and causes patients needless solicitude. Disturbances of memory are

the next most alarming elements in these cases. There are then many

forms of mental distraction, absorption and preoccupation that

sometimes frighten neurotic individuals who have become solicitous

about themselves. Though only passing incidents, due to overattention

to themselves and their ills, real or fancied, and the consequent lack

of concentration of mind on a particular subject, the patients fear

serious deterioration of their mental condition, or at least of mental

control. The neuroglia theory of mental action throws a light on all

these phases of mentality that serves to lessen the solicitude of

patients and enable them to understand that, in spite of their fears,

there is nothing but functional disturbance. The condition can be

readily explained and it admits of complete restoration to health.