« VorigeDoorgaan »
but, previously to the present attack, this evacuation had been neglected. Supposing, therefore, that the mental disorder might arise from a superabundance of blood and some irregularity in the circulation, he again resorted to the application of leeches. When the leeches were applied, no person was with him besides the surgeon; but, during the operation, his chamber was crowded with human phantasms of all descriptions. In the course of a few hours, however, they moved around the chamber more slowly; their colour began to fade, until, growing more and more obscure, they at last dissolved into air, and he ceased to be troubled with them afterward *
Ø 341. 3d cause of excited conceptions. Attacks of fever In violent attacks of fever there are sometimes excited conceptions ; particularly those which have their origin in the sense of sight, and are known by way of distinction under the name of Apparitions. The conceptions which the sick person has, become increased in vividness, until the mind, seeming to project its own creations into the exterior space, peoples the room with living and moving phantoms. There is a statement, illustrative of this view, in the fifteenth volume of Nicholson's Philosophical Journal, a part of which will be here repeated. The fever in this instance, of which an account is given by the patient himself, was of a violent character, originating in some deep-seated inflammation, and at first affecting the memory, although not permanently.
· Being perfectly awake,” says this person, “ in full possession of memory, reason, and calmness, conversing with those around me, and seeing without difficulty or impediment every surrounding object, I was entertained and delighted with a succession of faces, over which I had no control, either as to their appearance, continuance, or removal.
* Memoir on the Appearance of Spectres or Phantoms occasioned by Disease, with Psychological Remarks, read by Nicolai to the Royal Society of Berlin on the 28th of February 1799 ; as quoted by Hibbert, pt. i., ch. i.-—Walter Scott, in his Demonology and Witchcraft, speaks of the apparitions of Nicolai as a leading case in this department of human knowledge. He also expresses the opinion that many others have had the same experience with Nicolai, but have been deterred by va. riris causes from making it public.
“ They appeared directly before me, one at a time, very suddenly, yet not so much so but that a second of time might be employed in the emergence of each, as if through a cloud or mist, to its perfect clearness. In this state each face continued five or six seconds, and then vanished, by becoming gradually fainter during about two seconds, till nothing was left but a dark opaque mist, in which almost immediately afterward appeared another face. All these faces were in the bighest degree interesting to me for beauty of form, and for the variety of expression they manifested of every great and amiable emotion of the human mind. Though their attention was invariably directed to me, and none of them seemed to speak, yet I seemed to read the very soul which gare animation to their lovely and intelligent countenances. Admiration, and a sentiment of joy and affection when each face appeared, and regret upon its disappearance, kept my mind constantly riveted to the visions before it; and this state was interrupted only when an intercourse with the persons in the room was proposed or urged," &c.—The apparitions which this person experienced were not limited to phantasms of the human countenance; he also saw phantasms of books, and of parchment and papers containing printed matter. Nor were these effects exclusively confined to ideas received from the sense of sight; at one time he seemed to himself to hear musical sounds. That is, his conceptions of sound were so exceedingly vivid, it was in effect the same as if he had really heard melodious voices and instruments.
ộ 342. 4th cause of apparitions and other excited conceptions. Inflam
mation of the brain. · Apparitions, and excited conceptions in general, exist, in the fourth place, in consequence of inflammations and other diseases of the brain.-We may infer from certain passages which are found in his writings, that Shakspeare had some correct notions of the influence of a disordered condition of the brain on the mental operations We allude, among others, to the passage where, in explanation of the apparition of the dagger which appeared to Macbeth, he says.
* A dagger of the mind, a false creation,
Proceeding from the heat-oppress'd brain." Whether the seat, or appropriate and peculiar residence of the soul be in the brain or not, it seems to be certain that this part of the bodily system is connected, in a very intimate and high degree, with the exercises of the mind, particularly with perception and volition. Whenever, therefore, the brain is disordered, whether by a collusion, or by a removal of part of it, by inflammation, or in other ways, the mind will in general be affected in a greater or less degree.--It may indeed be said, that the immediate connexion in the cases which we now have reference to is not between the mind and the sub stance of the brain, but between the mind and the blood which is thrown into that part of the system. It is; no doubt, something in favour of this notion, that so large a portion of the sanguineous fluid finds a circulation there; it being a common idea among anatomists, that at least one tenth of all the blood is immediately sent from the heart into the brain, although the latter is in weight only about the fortieth part of the whole body. It is to be considered, also, that the effects which are wrought upon the mind by the nitrous oxide and the febrile miasma gas, are caused by an intermediate influence on the blood. On the other hand, it may be said that there cannot be a great acceleration of the blood's motion or increase of its volume, without a very sensible effect on the cerebral substance. And, therefore, it may remain true, that very much may be justly attributed to the increase of quantity and motion in the blood, and still the brain be the proximate cause of alterations in the states of the mind.
343. Facts having relation to the 4th cause of excited conceptions.
But here we stand in need of facts, as in all other parts of this investigation. The following statement, selected from a number of others not less authenticated, can be relied on.*-A citizen of Kingston-on-Hull had a quarrel with a drunken soldier, who attempted to enter his house by force at an unseasonable hour. In this
* See the Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, vol. vi., p. 288.
struggle the soldier drew his bayonet, and, striking him across the temples, divided the temporal artery. He had scarcely recovered from the effects of a great loss of blood on this occasion, when he undertook to accompany a friend in his walking-match against time, in which he went forty-two miles in nine hours. He was elated by his success, and spent the whole of the following day in drinking, &c.
The result of these things was an affection, probably an inflammation of the brain.
And the consequence of this was the existence of those vivid states of mind which are termed apparitions. Accordingly, our shopkeeper (for that was the calling of this person) is reported to have seen articles of sale upon the floor, and to have beheld an armed soldier entering his shop, when there was nothing seen by other persons present. In a word, he was for some time constantly haunted by a variety of spectres or imaginary appearances; so much so, that he even found it difficult to determine which were real customers and which were mere phantasms of his own mind. The remedy in this case was blood-letting, and some other methods of cure which are practised in inflammations of the brain. The restoration of the mind to a less intense and more correct action was simultaneous with that of the physical system.
$ 344. 5th cause of apparitions. Hysteria. It is further to be observed, that people are not unfrequently affected with apparitions in the paroxysms of the disease known as HYSTERIA or hysterics.--For the nature of this disease, which exists under a variety of forms, and is of a character so peculiar as to preclude any adequate description in the narrow limits we could properly allot to it, the reader is referred to such books as treat of medical subjects. This singular disease powerfully agitates the mind; and its effects are as various as they are striking. When the convulsive affections come on, the patient is observed to laugh and cry alternately, and altogether without any cause of a rational or moral nature; so that he has almost ihe appearance of fatuity, or of being delirious. But apparitions or intensely wvid
conceptions are among its most striking attendants. The subjects of it distinctly see every description of forms; trees, houses, men, women, dogs, and other inferior animals, balls of fire, celestial beings, &c. We can, without doubt, safely refer to the experience of those who have been much conversant with instances of this disease, in confirmation of this.
The existence of the states of mind under consideration might, without much question, be found, on further examination, to connect itself with other forms of disease. The subject is certainly worthy, whether considered in relation to science or to human happiness, of such further developements as it is capable of receiving.
0 345. Meaning of the term and kinds of insanity. “The term Insanity, etymologically considered, indicates simply want of soundness or want of health. In its application to the mind, it indicates an unsound or disordered state of the mental action. As the mind is complicated in its structure, existing, as it were, in various departments and subdivisions of departments, the disordered action may pervade the whole mind, or exist exclusively in some one of its departments. Accordingly, Insanity naturally resolves itself into the two species of Partial Insanity and Total Insanity; and it is under these two general heads that we shall now proceed to consider it.
Partial Insanity, which naturally comes first in order, is a disordered condition of one or more of the mental powers; but which leaves the mind essentially free and undisturbed in some of its departments and in some of its modes of action. The method which we propose to pur
sue in the investigation of this form of insanity, is to con| sider it as it exhibits itself in the powers of the mind sep