The following thesis is concerned with the histological examination of some of the endocrine glands
obtained from cases of mental disease; these have been
compared with a series of glands obtained from cases of
presumed normal mentality.
The following conclusions have been drawn.;
1) In a high percentage of cases of mental disease
there can be demonstrated an increase of fibrous
tissue throughout the endocrine glands. It is
important to note, however, that in normal cases
there is also a tendency for the fibrous tissue
to be increased though the extent of fibrosis is
certainly less than in psychotic material.
2) In schizophrenic cases there is marked tendency
for the nuclear chromatin to be reduced; this
is especially marked in the testes of male cases.
This is not a constant finding and it should be
pointed out that this condition may occur in any
chronic disease. The etiology of chromatin
deficiency is by no means certain.
3) In schizophrenic states there are commonly
marked departures from the predicted endocrine
4) The cardio- vascular system tends to be underdeveloped in schizophrenics. In manic- depressive states the cardio- vascular system is L:téll
developed and may be hypertrophied.
There is a curious fine atheroma found in many
cases of schizophrenia; this affects the aorta
in quite young cases; the cause is obscure but
may be toxic.
5) In manic states there is usually a well marked
preponderance of eosinophil cells in the anterior
lobe of the pituitary. In depressive states the
basophils tend to predominate. In depressive
states it is the rule to find pituitary glands
which are well above the average predicted weight.
in manic states the weight is average.
6) In epilepsy there is a fairly constant
increase of fibrous tissue in the anterior
lobe of the pituitary. There is a tendency
for the nuclear chromatin to be reduced in
many of the endocrine glands.
A general criticism of the above results is that
there are no constant findings which can be related to
any definite mental state; this however could hardly
be expected. The etiology of mental abnormality must,
from the nature of the problem, be very complex. It
would be irrational to expect to find a pathology which
could be described entirely,- in terms of either morbid
anatomy or psycho- pathology.
Behaviour, be it normal or abnormal, is the overt
reaction of an organism to its environment. The human
organism is composed of a multitude of cells which are
collected together into functional units; each of these
units has to adapt itself to a local envi:. °on: ;nt . Each
unit must be working in harmonious cooperation with the
others if the whole organism is to be in a state of
There is abundant evidence to show the importance
of the endocrine gland unit in the biological reactions
of all the higher animals. There is a very intimate
relationship between the ductless glands and the nervous
system; in fact it appears probable that the efficient
working of the latter is entirely dependent upon a correctly balanced endocrine system.
Histo -pathological methods of investigation have
many obvious drawbacks; it is difficult to avoid
aretfacts due to post -mortem change and distortion
due to fixation; it is still more difficult to estimate the probable degree of physiological activity of
the gland from the post-mortem appearances.
The only reliable approach to the problem is
biological. It is the writer's hope to continue
investigations along these lines and to be able to
throw some light on the functional activity of the
endocrines in mental disease.