Separation Illness in Children in Traditional Chinese Medicine

By Fan, T. W. | Hong Kong Journal of Psychiatry, September 1993 | Go to article overview

Separation Illness in Children in Traditional Chinese Medicine


Fan, T. W., Hong Kong Journal of Psychiatry


The physicians in ancient China were already aware that psychological or emotional factors might cause somatic symptoms in small children and appropriate gratification of the frustrated desires could trip to alleviate the symptoms. There are a few references to psychosomatic disorders in small children in the literature of Traditional Chinese Medicine.

Chen Fu Zheng [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (c. 1736-1795), a famous paedetrician in Ming Dynasty, wrote in his book "A Collection of Paediatrics" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1750) that "there are also Internal factor caused by outside frustrations. Perhaps others tease him and take away his beloved things, or play with him with what he is usually afraid of. Whether these are intimate persons, beloved foods or playthings to which the child is closely attached but cannot express in words, ante he cannot get assess to them and feels frustrated, he will become drowsy and sleepy. He will not be lively even when not sleeping. He will have no appetite for milk or food. These are the symptoms. Treatment should begin with gratifying his wishes, then supplemented by some t bolus and alerting powder."

[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]

In the "Supplement of the Classical Medical Records of Famous Physicians" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1770) by Wei Zhi-xiu [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1722-1772), the category of separation illness [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] include cases of small children falling ill when separated from their "attachment objects" (just like Linus' blanket).

A famous paediatrician of Ming Dynasty Wan Qaun [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] (1567-1619) described in his book "Elaboration on Paediatrics" [TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] how he treated a friend's one and a half year old son. He was attending a drinking party on the night of seventh day of seventh month at his friend's house. …

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