DELIRIUM, med.jur. A disease of the mind produced by inflammations, particularly in fevers, and other bodily diseases.
2. It is also occasioned by intoxicating agents.
3. Delirium manifests its first appearance "by a propensity of the patient to talk during sleep, and a momentary forgetfulness of his situation, and of things about him, on waking from it. And after being fully aroused, however, and his senses collected, the mind is comparitively clear and tranquil, till the next slumber, when the same scene is repeated. Gradually the mental disorder becomes more intense, and the intervals between its returns of shorter duration, until they are scarcely, or not at all perceptible. The patient lies on his back, his eyes, if open, presenting a dull and listless look, and is almost constantly talking to himself in a low, muttering tone. Regardless of persons or things around him and scarcely capable of recognizing them when aroused by his attendants, his mind retires within itself to dwell upon the scenes and events of the past, which pass before it in wild and disorderly array, while the tongue feebly records the varying impressions, in the form of disjointed, incoherent discourse, or of senseless rhapsody. In the delirium which occurs towards the end of chrome diseases, the discourse is often more coherent and
continuous, though the mind is no less absorbed in its own reveries. As the disorder advances, the voice becomes more indistinct, the fingers are constantly picking at the bed-clothes, the evacuations are passed insensibly, and the patient is incapable of being aroused to any further effort of attention. In some cases, delirium is attended with a greater degree of nervous and vascular excitement, which more or less modifies the above-mentioned symptoms. The eyes are open, dry, and bloodshot, intently gazing into vacancy, as if fixed on some object which is really present to the mind of the patient; the skin is hotter and dryer; and he is more restless and intractable. He talks more loudly, occasionally breaking out into cries and vociferation, and tosses about in bed, frequently endeavoring to get up, though without any particular object in view." Ray, Med. Jur. §213.
4. "So closely does delirium resemble mania to the casual observer, and so important is it that they should be distinguished from each other, that it may be well to indicate some of the most common and prominent features of each. In mania, the patient recognizes persons and things, and is perfectly conscious of, and remembers what is passing around him. In delirium, he can seldom distinguish one person or thing from another, and, as if fully occupied with the images that crowd upon his memory, gives no attention to those that are presented from without. In delirium, there is an entire abolition of the reasoning power; there is no attempt at reasoning at all; the ideas are all and equally insane; no single train of thought escapes the morbid influence, nor does a single operation of the mind reveal a glimpse of its natural vigor and acuteness. In mania, however false and absurd the ideas may be, we are never at a loss to discover patches of coherence, and some semblance of logical sequence in the discourse. The patient still reasons, but he reasons incorrectly. In mania, the muscular power is not perceptibly diminished, and the individual moves about with his ordinary ability. Delirium is invariably attended with great muscular debility; and the patient is confined to bed, and is capable of only a momentary effort of exertion. In mania, sensation is not necessarily impaired and, in most instances, the maniac sees, bears, and feels with all his natural acuteness. In delirium, sensation is greatly impaired, and this avenue to the understanding seems to be entirely closed. In mania, many of the bodily functions are undisturbed, and the appearance of the patient might not, at first sight, convey the impression of disease. In delirium, every function suffers, and the whole aspect of the patient is indicative of discase. Mania exists alone and independent of any other disorder, while delirium is only a symptom or attendant of some other disease. Being a symptom only, the latter maintains certain relations with the -discase on which it depends; it is relieved when that is relieved, and is aggravated when that increases in severity. Mannia, though it undoubtedly tends to shorten life, is not immediately dangerous; whereas the disease on which delirium depends, speedily terminates in death, or restoration to health. Mania never occurs till after the age of puberty; delirium attacks all periods alike, from early childhood to extreme old age." Id. §216.
5. In the inquiry as to the validity of testamentary dispositions, it is of great importance, in many cases, to ascertain whether the testator labored under delirium, or whether he was of sound mind. Vide Sound mind; Unsound mind; 2 Addams, R. 441; 1 Addams, Rep. 229, 383; 1 Hagg. R. 577; 2 Hagg. R. 142; 1 Lee, Eccl. R. 130; 2 Lee, Eccl. R. 229; 1 Hag . Eccl. Rep. 256.
DELIRIUM TREMENS, med. jur. A species of insanity which has obtained this name, in consequence of the tremor experienced by the delirious person, when under a fit of the disorder.
2. The disease called delirium tremens or mania a potu, is well described in the learned work on the Medical Jurisprudence of Insanity, by Dr. Ray, §315, 316, of which the following is an extract: "it may be the immediate effect of an excess, or series of excesses, in those who are not habitually intemperate, as well as in those who are; but it most commonly occurs in habitual drinkers, after a few days of total abstinence from spirituous liquors. It is also very iable to occur in this latter class when laboring under other diseases, or severe external injuries that give rise to any degree of constitutional disturbance. The approach ofthe disease is generally indicated by a slight tremor and faltering of the hands and lower extremities, a tremulousness of the voice, a certain restlessness and sense of anxiety which the patient knows not how to describe or to account for, disturbed sleep, and impaired appetite. These symptoms having continued two or three days, at the end, of which time they have obviously increased in severity, the patient ceases to sleep altogether, and soon becomes delirious. At first, the delirium is not constant, the mind wandering during the night, but during the day, when its attention is fixed, capable of rational discourse. It is not long, however, before it becomes constant, and constitutes the most prominent feature of the disease. This state, of watchfullness and delirium continues three or four days, when, if the patient recover, it is succeeded by sleep, which, at first appears in uneasy and irregular naps, and lastly in long, sound, and refreshing slumbers. When sleep does not supervene about this period, the, disease is fatal; and whether subjected to medical treatment, or left to itself, neither its symptoms nor duration are materially modified.
3. "The character of the delirium in this disease is peculiar, bearing a stronger resemblance to dreaming, than any other form of mental derangement. It would seem as if the dreams which disturb and harass the mind during the imperfect sleep that precedes the explosion of the disease, continue to occupy it when awake, being then viewed as realities, instead of dreams. The patient imagines himself, for instance, to be in some particular situation, or engaged in certain occupations according to each individuals habits and profession, and his discourse and conduct will be conformed to this delusion, with this striking peculiarity, however, that he is thwarted at every step, and is constantly meeting with obstacles that defy his utmost efforts to remove. Almost invariably, the patient manifests, more or less, feelings of suspicion and fear, laboring under continual apprehension of being made the victim of sinister designs and practices. He imagines that certain people have conspired to rob or murder him, and insists that he can hear them in an adjoining apartment, arranging their plans and preparing to rush into his room; or that he is in a strange place where he is forcibly detained and prevented from going to his own home. One of the most common hallucinations is, to be constantly seeing devils, snakes, vermin, and all manner of unclean things around him and about him, and peopling every nook and corner of his apartment with these loathsome objects. The extreme terror which these delusions often inspire, produces in the countenance, an unutterable expression of anguish; and, in the hope of escaping from his, fancied tormentors, the wretched patient endeavors to cut his throat, or jump from the window. Under the influence of these terrible apprehensions, he sometimes murders his wife or attendant, whom his disordered imagination identifies with his enemies, though he is generally tractable and not inclined to be mischievous. After perpetrating an act of this kind, he generally gives some illusive reason for his conduct, rejoices in his success, and expresses his regret at not having done it before. So complete and obvious is the mental derangement in this disease, so entirely are, the thoughts and actions governed by the most unfounded and absurd delusions, that if any form of insanity absolves from criminal responsibility, this certainly must have that effect. 3 Am. Jur. 5-20.


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