Irish Journal of Medical Science (1926-1967)

, Volume 11, Issue 3, pp 108-121

First online:

Dysmenorrhœa: The oldest theories and the newest treatment

  • D. J. Cannon

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The special purpose of my paper is to remove the weeds which arrest the growth and development of the modern theories of dysmenorrhœa which I outlined in a previous communication. Some of these weeds are most difficult to eradicate; for they have their roots deep down in the history of gynæcology. I refer in particular to Menge’s version of the psychological theory of pain which he based upon a false philosophy and a false physiology.

I admit that a genuine psychological theory of dysmenorrhœa based upon Aristotle’s theory of body-mind relationship is a theoretical possibility. We shall have to depend, however, upon the results of psychotherapy in order to refute the hypothesis or convert it into an accepted theory. I also admit that psychological factors may augment the intensity of dysmenorrhœic pain. Psychotherapy, therefore, may be a useful adjunct to the treatment of dysmenorrhœic cases whether they rest upon a physiological or psychological basis.

Mechanical theories of dysmenorrhœa arise from a natural prejudice on the part of certain gynæcologists against psychological explanations; for between such explanations of functional dysmenorrhœa and mechanical explanations, there can be no via media from the point of view of psycho-physical parallelism.