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$ 356. Of readiness of reasoning in the partially insane. Those who have been personally acquainted with the intellectual condition of the partially insane, have sometimes observed in them great quickness of thought in some little emergencies, and an unusual degree of cunning. When, for instance, an attempt has been made to seize and confine them, they steadily and promptly mark the motions of their pursuers; they rapidly decipher their intentions from their countenance, and cause them no small degree of perplexity. In particular, it has been observed in some instances that they discover more fluency of expression and rapidity of deduction than others of a perfectly sound mind, or than themselves could have exhibited before their derangement. This singular fact is to be briefly explained.
The unusual quickness of deduction and of expression which has sometimes been noticed in partially insane persons, may be referred to two causes : First, an uncommon excitation of the attention, and of all the intellectual powers; and, secondly, a removal of those checks which attend the sober and the rational in their reasonings.
Some of the checks which retard the process of reasoning in the case of men whose powers are in a good state, are these.---(1.) There is a distrust of phraseology, a fear of mistakes from the ambiguity and vageness of language. The object of a rational man is supposed to be to arrive at truth, and not merely to gain a victory. He therefore - feels anxious not only to employ terms which appear to himself proper, but which shall be rightly understood by his opponent. But the irrational man, as might be expected, does not find himself embarrassed with considerations of this nature.—(2.) A second obstruction to facility and promptness in argumentation, in the case of the sober-ininded and rational, is this: They fear that they may not be in possession of all those premises on which the solution will be found in the event to depend.-Many disputes are carried on without previously forming an acquaintance with those facts which are necessarily and prominently involved. While disputants of sound min ls have any suspicion on this point, and know not but it will be labour lost, they of course feel their interest in the dispute very much diminished.--(3.) The third circumstance to which reference was had is this: The influence of certain feelings of propriety and of good sense, which ordinarily govern men in the full exercise of their powers.
The disputant feels himself under obligations to profess a deference for his opponent; it is due to the customary forms of society. He is sometimes restrained and embarrassed by what he considers due to those who are present to hear the argument. He is particularly careful to say nothing foolish, absurd, or uncharitable. All these things weigh nothing with the insane person. He is not troubled about exactness of expression, or the observance of ceremonies, but strangely rushes, as it were, upon the main points of the controversy, regardless of all minor considerations.*
$ 357. Partial mental alienation by means of the inagination. Men of sensibility and genius, by giving way to the suggestions of a melancholy imagination, sometimes become mentally disordered. Not that we are authorized to include these cases as among the more striking forms of insanity; they in general attract but little notice, although sources of exquisite misery to the subjects of them. But such are the extravagant dreams in which these persons indulge; such are the wrong views of the character and actions of men, which their busy and melancholy imaginations are apt to form, that they cannot be reckoned persons of truly sound minds. These instances, which are not rare, it is difficult fully to describe; but their most distinguishing traits will be recognised in the following sketch from Madame de Staël's Reflections on the Character and Writings of Rousseau.
After remarking that he discovered no sudden emo. tions, but that his feelings grew upon reflection, and that he became impassioned in consequence of his own meditations, she adds as follows: “Sometime
“ Sometimes he would part with you with all his former affection ; but if an expression had escaped you which might bear an unfavourable construction, he would recollect it, examine it, exaggerate it, perhaps dwell upon it for a month, and conclude by a total breach with you. Hence it was that there was scarce a possibility of undeceiving him ; for the light, which broke in upon him at once, was not sufficient to efface the wrong impressions which had taken place so gradually in his mind. It was extremely difficult, too, to continue long on an intimate footing with him. A word, a gesture, furnished him with matter of profound meditation; he connected the most trifling circumstances like so many mathematical propositions, and conceived bis conclusions to be supported by the evidence of den.onstration.
* See Stewart's Philosophy of the Human Mind, vol. ii., ch. iii
“I believe," she further remarks, “ that imagination was the strongest of his faculties, and that it had almost absorbed all the rest. He dreamed rather than existed , and the events of his life might be said more properly to have passed in his mind than without him: a mode of being, one should have thought, that ought to have secured him from distrust, as it prevented him from observation ; but the truth was, it did not hinder him from attempting to observe; it only rendered his observations erroneous. That his soul was tender no one can doubt after having read his works; but his imagination sometimes interposed between his reason and his affections, and destroyed their influence; he appeared sometimes void of sensibility, but it was because he did not perceive objects such as they were. Had he seen them with our eyes, his heart would have been more affected than ours
$ 358. Insanity or alienation of the power of belief. The action of the various intellectual powers which have been brought to view in this chapter, terminates in the causation or production of Belief. In regard to that particular state of the intellect which is denominated belief, it is obvious that in a sound mind it has a natural and determinate relation to all the various intellectual susceptibilities, both External and Internal. This relation is sometimes disturbed; and the belief exists in a position altogether unsustained by the evidence which is presented. There are three classes of persons in whom this state of mind, or, in other words, the faculty or susceptibility
of belief, if we may be permitted so to call it, appears to be disordered.-(1.) The first class are those who seem incapable of believing anything which they are required to receive on the testimony of others. They must see it with their own eyes; they must hear it or handle it for themselves; they must examine it by square, rule, and compass. They remind one of the Savage, who complained, when something was proposed for his belief, - that it would not believe for him.” The causes of this singular inability are worthy of more inquiry than has hitherto been expended upon them. When it is very great, it is a mark of the approach or actual existence of idiocy.(2.) There is another class of persons who plainly show a derangement of this power by their readiness to believe everything. No matter how incongruous or improbable a story is, it is received at once. They take no note of dates, characters, and circumstances; and as they find nothing too improbable to believe, they find nothing too strange, marvellous, and foolish to report. This state of mind is frequently an accompaniment of light-headedness.—(3.) There are other cases where the alienation of belief is not general, but particular. There is nothing peculiar and disordered in its ordinary action, but only in respect to particular facts. That is, certain propositions, which are erroneous and absurd, are received by the disordered persons as certain; and nothing can convince them of the contrary. One believes himself to be a king; another that he is the prophet Mohammed ; and various other absurdities are received by them as undoubtedly true. On all other subjects they appear to be rational; but the alienation or insanity of belief is evident as soon as their cherished errors are mentioned.
TOTAL INSANITY OR DELIRIUM.
Ø 359. Idea of total insanity or delirium. We finish what we have to say on the subject of the Intellect, both in its regular and its disordered action, by a brief explanation of Total Insanity or Delirium. Partial insanity is so designated, because it exists in one only or a small number of intellectual powers; but total insanity, as the expression indicates, implies the perversion of all of thern. It involves the idea of a total disorganization; of a chaotic mingling together of the mental elements, without regard to law or order; perception, consciousness, association, memory, reasoning, all conflicting with themselves and with each other in one wild mass of irretrievable ruin.
It may perhaps be intimated here, that the relation which total insanity holds to partial insanity precludes the necessity of saying much on the former, because we have only to unite the various evils which exist in partial insanity in one mind, in order to constitute the idea and the reality of total insanity. There is undoubtedly some foundation for this suggestion; but it is nevertheless true, that objects often assume a new character in virtue of the relations they sustain; and evils, which are great in themselves, may not only assume a new aspect, but an increased aggravation by being associated with other evils. And this is true in insanity. So long as only a part of the mind is disordered, there is some hope that the light which is unobscured may penetrate the darkness of the region which is insane. At any rate, we may well suppose that the insanity of the mind is favourably modified and kept in check by the elements that still remain unperverted. But when the contagion has spread through the whole mass; when every modifying and conservative influence is obliterated, the separate evils, which existed in the different departments and powers of the mind, are likely to become more intense than they would otherwise be