Positive and negative cerebral symptoms: the roles of Russell Reynolds and Hughlings Jackson
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Sir John Russell Reynolds (1828–1896) is often remembered for his description of eclamptic convulsions in children,1 which at that time referred to various fits including febrile convulsions.2 Reynolds also suggested electrotherapy in nervous diseases.3 Interestingly, he is widely quoted for his commendation of the “great value of Cannabis indica”4 in migraine, epileptic conditions, depression, and asthma.
Perhaps of greater import his 1861 paper2 espoused5 the concept of positive and negative neurological symptoms as being the excess or negation of vital properties. Positive symptoms were abnormal “superimposed” behaviours that included not only clonic jerking and abnormal movements but also hallucinations and paranoid delusions. Negative symptoms included loss of sensation, paralysis, and coma. Unfortunately he failed to write further on this theme. Like Jackson, Reynolds also noted that the lesion did not directly cause the symptoms observed.1
The origins of …