20 PSYCHOTHERAPY : SCIENTIFIC AND RELIGIOUS chap.
Mental functions are usually retarded and there is sluggishness of thinking, and an inability to concentrate and lack of feeling. In a few cases, however, for reasons not well understood, the individual becomes irritable rather than phlegmatic. Myxoedema may be treated successfully with thyroid extracts.
Since thyroid deficiency may progress to any degree, there are undoubtedly many cases of relatively mild disorders of this class which go unrecognized. Probably some of the persons who suffer from ' general poor health ' and ' neurasthenia ' are really cases of thyroid trouble. Symptoms of sluggishness, apathy and weakness can arise from many causes, however, either physiological or psychological. Not every occurrence of these conditions is to be ascribed to glandular defects. When thyroid deficiency is suspected, the basal metabolism test offers a means of making a fairly sure diagnosis.
An excessive secretion of thyroxin causes an increased speeding up of bodily processes with restlessness, hyperactivity, and loss of weight, excitability, insomnia and a tendency to anxiety. Goitre is due to a gross enlargement of the thyroid gland, and the other symptoms of hyperthyroidism are often present in a marked degree. In severe cases, the most effective treatment is the surgical removal of a portion of the gland.
Imbedded in the thyroid gland are the four tiny parathyroid bodies, which are independent endocrine glands. Their secretion is known to regulate the calcium metabolism of the body, by controlling the calcium content of the blood. Removal or injury of the parathyroids results in convulsive seizures and usually in death. Some cases of epilepsy are probably due to parathyroid disturbance, as they have been treated successfully with extracts of the gland.
Lying in a small depression in the skull behind the