abstracted & translated by
Honora Lee Wolfe, Lic. Ac, FNAAOM (USA)
Keywords: Chinese medicine, acupuncture, psychiatry, hysteria
While hysteria is a politically incorrect term in modern (or, perhaps more accurately, post-modern) Western medicine, it is still a term used in China by practitioners of both Western and Chinese medicine. In issue #3, 2004 on page 46 of the Hu Nan Zhong Yi Za Zhi (Hunan Journal of Chinese Medicine), Zhang Wang of Tianjin published an article titled, "The Acupuncture Treatment of 30 Cases of Hysteria." In the preface to this article, Dr. Zhang equates hysteria to the traditional Chinese medical disease categories of reversal (or syncope), depression, and visceral agitation. A summary of this article is presented below.
Among the 30 patients enrolled in this study, there were four males and 26 females aged 16-62 years with a disease duration ranging from 30 minutes to one year. All met criteria for this diagnosis set forward in the Chinese equivalent to the DSM-IV. The main symptoms included hysterical aphonia, emotional outbursts, selective amnesia, numbness of the extremities, spasms and convulsions, rapid breathing, pounding one’s chest, stamping one’s foot, pulling one’s hair out, tearing one’s clothes, and incessant laughing and/or crying.
The points chosen for treatment in this protocol were bilateral Nei Guan (Per 6) and He Gu (LI 4). After disinfection of the skin, these points were needled perpendicularly to a depth of one inch and then stimulated with large amplitude twisting and turning, strong needle sensation, and draining technique. After obtaining the qi, the needles were retained in situ for 10 minutes.
Cure was defined as complete disappearance of all symptoms after strong needle stimulation. Some effect was defined as partial disappearance or marked reduction in symptoms. No effect meant that there was no change from before to after treatment. Based on these criteria, 28 cases or 93.33% were cured and the other two cases (6.67%) got some effect. Thus the total effectiveness rate was 100%.
In the People’s Republic of China, hysteria is a commonly seen psychiatric disorder in young and middle-aged females who tend to be low on the social totem pole and are often extremely frustrated due to lack of freedom in their lives. Dr. Zhang says this condition is mostly due to excesses of the seven affects which then cause counterflow and chaos of the qi mechanism with loss of regulation of the viscera and bowels, yin and yang. Nei Guan is the network vessel point on the hand jue yin heart wrapper (pericardium) channel and is also one of the meeting points of the eight (extraordinary) vessels. It regulates and harmonizes the qi and blood, loosens the chest and rectifies the qi, opens depression and regulates the spirit, calms the heart, quiets the spirit, and stabilizes the mind, rectifies the qi and harmonizes the stomach. He Gu is the source point of the hand yang ming large intestine channel. The lungs and the large intestine have a mutual exterir/interior relationship. Therefore, this point regulates and disciplines the yin and yang qi mechanism, courses the liver and resolves depression, moves the blood and resolves tetany. When these two points are used together, Dr. Zhang says that they regulate and rectify the qi mechanism, open the orifices and arouse the spirit, open depression and resolve tetany, nourish the heart and quiet the spirit. In Dr. Zhang’s experience, most cases of hysterical aphonia will resolve in five minutes using the above technique. However, the reader should take good note of the needle technique employed. Like most Chinese acupuncture protocols for hysteria (and hysteria is typically treated with acupuncture in China, not herbal medicine), this protocol uses very strong needle stimulation, i.e., pain. Therefore, at the very least, we can say that this treatment has the effect of shocking the patient out of his or her hysteria. This protocol should be compared to other such protocols for hysteria using either Yong Quan (Ki 1) or Huan Tiao (GB 30), all of which use very strong needle stimulation and affect the majority of cures in one treatment.
Copyright © Blue Poppy Press, 2004. All rights reserved.
For more information on the Chinese medical treatment of hysteria and related psychiatric disorders, see Bob Flaws & James Lake’s Chinese Medical Psychiatry available from Blue Poppy Press.