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Lewis, N.D. (1948). Psychosomatic Principles and Patterns in Disorders of the Special Senses†. Psychoanal. Rev., 35(4):411-439.

(1948). Psychoanalytic Review, 35(4):411-439

Psychosomatic Principles and Patterns in Disorders of the Special Senses

Nolan D. C. Lewis, M.D.

I feel signally honored to have been chosen to give a Weir Mitchell lecture, and also humble and a bit fearful that I shall fail to meet and maintain the standards set by those lecturers who have preceded me in these undertakings to bring the memory and particularly the outstanding accomplishments of this great man to the attention of new generations of physicians and scientists.

It is not my intention tonight to review the interesting life history of Dr. Mitchell. It has been done a number of times by others better qualified for the task, but in as much as one of his early special interests had something to do with the selection of the topic for this evening I should like to remind you that S. Weir Mitchell (1830-1914) although more widely known as a neurologist, poet and novelist made worthful contributions to American physiology and stimulated a lot of activity in that field after his period of study with the famous French physiologist Claude Bernard.

He was an original thinker and worker. Among other accomplishments he was the first to describe causalgia in 1864, post paralytic chorea in 1874, and with William Thomson he first recognized the relationship between eyestrain and a variety of headache. In 1878 he described erythromelaglia (Weir Mitchell's Disease), a rare vasomotor neurosis of the extremities (Am. J. Med. Sci. 1878, LXXXVI, 1). The term causalgia means “burning pain” that is sometimes present in injuries of the major peripheral nerves. It constitutes a syndrome resulting from war wounds. The burning pain is associated with hyperaesthesia and trophic alterations in the tissues of the affected extremity.

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