Imágenes de páginas

tially irritating the brain and nerves, is incapable of exciting the heart, but that it is influenced by all agents applied to any considerable portion of these organs, and that it feels the effect of such an influence as long as it is applied. Excitements of this kind are to be found in such inflammatory causes as sudden alternations of heat and cold, exposure to the rays of a vertical sun, the sudden suppression of accustomed evacuations, various kinds of poison, and inebriation. In certain forms of cerebral inflammation, the first symptoms evince an increasing intensity of all sensations. In the case of a lady, a patient of Dr Good, there was an intolerable acuteness of hearing and vision, insomuch that the slightest light and sound, even the humming of a fly, became insupportable. Ideas also were rendered more vivid. But as the inflammation increased, the acute sensibility to external impressions gradually diminished, while the recollected images of the mind assumed a most frightful reality. In an example which came under my own notice, ideas of vision were so intense, that although the patient closed his eyelids, he could not even then dispel the lively images of demons that haunted his bed. The sleep was moreover disturbed with the most horrible dreams.

A very curious case of spectral illusions is related by Dr Alderson of Hull, in which the irritation of the brain or its membranes seems to have resulted from an extended inflammation under the scalp.

A few months ago,” says this writer, “I visited Mr R., who was seized, in his passage from America, with a most excruciating headach. He obtained some

temporary relief from the formation of matter under the scalp; swellings came on in the throat, and he had some difficulty of respiration when in bed. At this time, he complained to me that he had troublesome dreams, and that he seemed to dream whilst awake. In a short time after, he told me he had, for an hour or two, been convinced that he had seen his wife and family, when his right judgment told him that they were in America ; and the impression was so strong a few nights afterwards, and the conversation he had with his son so very particular and important, that he could not help relating the whole to his friends in the morning, and requested to know if his wife and son were not actually arrived from America, and at that time in the house. I was sent for to hold consultation, and he evidently saw that they all took him to be insane. He therefore immediately turned to me, and asked me, whether the complaint he then had would bring on the imagination of spectres, and apparitions, and figures; for he had always hitherto been an unbeliever in ghosts, and in every thing else ; he felt, and his friends likewise acknowledged, that he was perfectly sane, and strong in mind as ever he was in his life. Having satisfied him with the nature and extent of his complaint, and that it would soon vanish with his bodily sufferings, he and his friends were made easy in their minds; but the phantoms became at length more troublesome, so that he could not bear to go into his bed-room, where every picture brought with it the association, and conjured up the spirits of the departed, or introduced a train of unpleasant companions. He remained after

this in a low room, and was for a time free from in. truders; but in a bright brass lock he again saw his transatlantic friends, and never afterwards could he look to it but he saw them; and when I have been with him, and have purposely taken up a book, I have seen him hold conversation in his mind's eye with them; and I have momentarily known him consider me as hearing and seeing them toomI say momentarily, for he is a man of strong parts, and perfectly convinced of the nature of the complaint ; for whenever I spoke, and he turned from the lock, he could converse on religion, physic, and politics, as well as ever. He then changed his house; the matter again formed under the scalp, and he is now in a state of convalescence, and totally free from such visitations."

The effect induced on the brain by intoxication from ardent spirits, which have a strong tendency to inflame this organ, is attended with very remarkable effects. These have been lately described as symptoms of delirium tremens. Many cases, indeed, are recorded, which shew the liability of the patient to long-continued spectral impressions. “I was called," says Dr Armstrong, “ to visit Mr B. J., a short spare

year of his age; who, I was told, was so very ungovernable, that his friends had provided a strait-waistcoat for him, and only waited my approbation to put it on. I found him in a state of extreme perturbation, impressed with the idea that

man, in the

* Edinburgh Medical and Surgical Journal, vol. vi. p. 291.

+ An excellent thesis on this subject was written in the year 182), by Dr Begbie of Edinburgh,

two men were lurking in the adjoining room, who were determined to murder him, and who had repeatedly, in the course of the morning, fired pistols at him with that intention. In order to escape from the supposed assassins, he had just made an attempt to leap through the chamber - window, and had only been prevented from so doing by the interference of some relations, with whom he had been struggling very hard. I endeavoured to pacify him, by assuring him that no one should do him an injury, and at last prevailed upon him to sit down. Occasionally, however, he looked at me suspiciously; and, upon the least noise being made below stairs, started and stared wildly round the room. His breathing was rather hurried. He occasionally sighed deeply, and at intervals he was attacked with a dry hollow-sounding cough, which appeared to shake his whole frame. His face was pale, and his countenance full of anxiety. To all my questions his answers were confused, and not at all to the purpose ; he hesitated almost at every syllable, and mistook the pronunciation of many words. On inquiry, I learnt that he had latterly been in a state of intoxication, more especially in the preceding week, and on Saturday the 14th of November; since which time he had taken less stimulus than usual, with the intention of becoming temperate. The following particulars were likewise related to me. On Sunday, the 15th of November, he complained of being very languid, took little food, and only drank about two glasses of wine, a small quantity of ale, and half a glass of gin. Towards the evening he grew rather feverish, and passed an uneasy and sleepless

night. He remained nearly in the same state during the ensuing Monday, till late in the afternoon, when he was seized with a violent hollow elanging cough, which made him perspire profusely, and was very troublesome through the night, which he passed, as before, without sleep. On Tuesday morning he had a severe fit of coughing, after which he became exceedingly fretful and irritable, the slightest contradiction throwing him into an excessive passion. In the latter part of the day he refused both wine and food, asserting that he was confident some wicked people were watching an opportunity to poison him ; and, when preparing to go to bed in the evening, suddenly started, as if somebody was about to lay hands upon him. He soon afterwards, however, went to bed, but obtained no rest whatever. From this period the distraction of mind increased, and he was in constant alarm about the safety of his person. At an early hour the next evening, he desired to go to bed; but, hearing a noise made by a servant beneath his chamber, he leapt up in great agitation, declaring that two men had just entered the house with the dem sign of murdering him. Being somewhat calmed by the kindness of his friends, he went to bed again, and begged them to be watchful in the night. He did not seem at all disposed to sleep, but talked at intervals about his life being in imminent danger from fire-arms and poison, and kept constantly gathering the bed-clothes about him till daylight, when he rose, much agitated with the fear of assassination, and has since continued restless and alarmed.”

Dr Armstrong, after detailing several other symp

« AnteriorContinuar »