DEHYDRATION REACTION

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A disturbance in behavior resulting from an insufficiency of water, classified as a metabolic disorder.In addition to intense thirst sensations, dehydration produces widespread cellular changes which may have severe mental as well as physical effects.When the supply of water falls far below the body’s normal quota, cells in all parts of the body, including the brain, give up their water, and disturbances in function result. The most pronounced dehydration symptoms are found in patients suffering from cholera and third-degree burns, as well as survivors of shipwrecks and persons lost in the desert. Dehydration is also a danger in postconcussion disorders and certain senile conditions.Early symptoms are apathy, irritability, and drowsiness. These are followed by inability to concentrate and changes in temperament in which habitual characteristics tend to be exaggerated. The worrisome become anxious, the pessimistic become morose, the lively become overvivacious. As intense feelings of thirst develop, they dominate all mental activity even to the exclusion of hunger, pain, and fatigue.If dehydration develops to a point where 10 per cent of body weight is lost, more serious symptoms appear: delirium, spasticity, and inability to walk. After that, perception grows increasingly defective, blindness and deafness may develop, and in the last stages before death, stupor and unconsciousness set in.Illustrative Case: DEHYDRATION REACTION The following classic account was written by the great flier Antoine de Saint-Ex- upery, whose plane had crashed in the North African desert:I went on, finally, and the time came when, along with my weariness, something in me began to change. If those were not mirages, I was inventing them.“Hi! Hi, there!”.I shouted and waved my arms, but the man I had seen waving at me turned out to be a black rock. Everything in the desert had grown animate. I stooped to waken a sleeping Bedouin and he turned into the trunk of a black tree. A tree trunk? Here in the desert? I was amazed and bent over to lift a broken bough. It was solid marble.Straightening up I looked round and saw more black marble. An antediluvian forest littered the ground with its broken treetops. How many thousand years ago, under what hurricane of the time of Genesis, had this cathedral of wood crumbled in this spot? Countless centuries had rolled these fragments of giant pillars at my feet, polished them like steel, petrified and vitrified them and indued them with the color of jet.Since yesterday I had walked nearly fifty miles. This dizziness that I felt came doubtless from my thirst. Or from the sun. It glittered on these hulks until they shone as if smeared with oil. It blazed down on this universal carapace. Sand and fox had no life here. This world was a gigantic anvil upon which the sun beat down. I strode across this anvil and at my temples I could feel the hammer strokes of the sun.“Hi! Hi, there!” I called out.“There is nothing there,” I told myself. “Take it easy. You are delirious.”I had to talk to myself aloud, had to bring myself to reason. It was hard for me to reject what I was seeing, hard not to run toward that caravan plodding on the horizon. “There! Do you see it?”“Fool! You know very well that you are inventing it.”“You mean that nothing in the world is real?” . .I had been walking two hours when I saw the flames of the bonfire that Prevot, frightened by my long absence, had sent up. They mattered very little to me now.Another hour of trudging. Five hundred yards away. A hundred yards. Fifty yards.“Good Lord!”Amazement stopped me in my tracks. Joy surged up and filled my heart with its violence. In the firelight stood Prevot, talking to two Arabs who were leaning against the motor. He had not noticed me, for he was too full of his own joy. If only I had sat still and waited with him! I should have been saved already. Exultantly I called out: “Hi! Hi!” The two Bedouins gave a start and stared at me. Prevot left them standing and came forward to meet me. I opened my arms to him. He caught me by the elbow. Did he think I was keeling over? I said:“At last, eh?” ,“What do you mean?” ,“The Arabs!”,“What Arabs?”,“Those Arabs there,with you.Prevot looked at me queerly, and when he spoke I felt as if he was very reluctantly confiding a great secret to me: “There are no Arabs here.”This time I know I am going to cry."

Cite this page: N., Sam M.S., "DEHYDRATION REACTION," in PsychologyDictionary.org, November 28, 2018, https://psychologydictionary.org/dehydration-reaction/ (accessed January 24, 2022).
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