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minished the vividness of pleasurable feelings; the general result being, that painful feelings are rendered inordinately intense, while pleasurable feelings become so faint as to be no longer the object of mental consciousness.
PROOFS THAT, DURING INTENSE EXCITEMENTS OF THE
MIND, NO LESS THAN DURING SYNCOPE AND SLEEP, THE CAUSES WHICH EXCLUSIVELY ACT UPON ORGANS OF SENSATION EVENTUALLY EXTEND THEIR VIVIFYING INFLUENCE TO THE RENOVATION OF PAST
“ Perturbations and passions which trouble the phantasie, though
they dwell between the confines of sense and reason, yet they rather follow sense than reason, because they are drowned in corporeal organs of sense.” Anatomy of Melancholy.'
Ar the present day, it would appear the most idle of tasks to attempt a serious answer to a question as seriously proposed, -Why the ideas of sleep or of syncope, which are so faint as not to be the object of consciousness, may be rendered vivid by stimuli that act intensely on organs of sensation? Ancient metaphysicians, however, thought very differently of the matter. They often puzzled their brains to explain, why blows, for instance, which affected organs of touch only, should, in a fainting fit, occasion the full activity of thought. They conceived of such agents as stimulating the blood in its purification and overheating--a process supposed to take place in the heart, whereby the vital fluid was the sooner enabled to throw off subtle vapours, which passed immediately
to the cavities of the brain. These fum es or animal spirits, as they were commonly named, then put into movement the little cerebral gland, which is the seat of the soul, and thereby recalled or revived such species or ideas of things as had been seen or heard formerly, and were there in a manner buried. Hence the rationale of the plan which Ralpho pursued, when he endeavoured to recover Hudibras from a fit into which he had fallen. He inflicted some severe blows on the knight's breast, which had the effect of stirring up or of stimulating the blood nearest the heart, whereby animal spirits were the sooner concocted and enabled to make their escape from this fluid to the brain, so as to act upon the pineal gland, and assist it in resuscitating and liberating a few ideas :
“ Then Ralpho gently raised the knight,
Look'd out, but yet with some amazement.” But, after all, it is a question of some importance to our present investigation, Why, during syncope or sleep, the causes which exclusively excite organs of sensation should eventually extend their vivifying influence to the renovation of past feelings? Now this effect can only be explained by an irritating cause, which primarily operates upon organs of sensation
eventually influencing the whole of the circulation, to the varied conditions of which the general vividness of sensations and ideas holds a more immediate correspondence than to states of the nervous system. Nor is a simple explanation of this kind without
It may assist us in reconciling the plan resorted to for a recovery
vivid as well as from faint states of the mind, which, prima facie, seems to involve a contradiction. For it is very remarkable, that the self-same means should, under certain circumstances, be employed, not exclusively for the excitation, but even for the depression of intense mental states.
Two illustrations in proof of this fact may be now adduced. The first of these is from an old dramatic author, who, from the incidents of common life, has. but too faithfully depicted the rough practices, not altogether unknown at the present day, that are employed for the purpose of stimulating the faint feelings of syncope :
Rut. Come, bring him out into the air a little :
Item. He feels, there's life in him.
Rut. But where ?
Polish. What a brave man's a doctor,
With Doctor Rut's plan of exciting feelings, when in an extreme languid state, may be compared the mode, apparently self-same, that Cardan successfully employed, but with the opposite view of reducing his mental excitement, and thereby of dispelling the ecstatic illusions to which he was almost daily subject. “ I have found out,” he observes, " that I cannot exist without a certain degree of pain; for when it altogether ceases, I feel so impetuous a fury seize my mind, that a moderate quantity of voluntary pain is much more safe, and renders me much more respectable. For this reason I bite my lips, distort my
fingers, pinch my skin, and the tender fleshy part of the left arm, even to tears. Thus have I been able to ive without reproach."
From these two illustrations, it is now, I trust, sufficiently evident, that whether an increase of mental vividness be meditated, as in the attempt to rouse the languid feelings of syncope,ếor, on the contrary, whether a reduction of the intense ideas of ecstatic illusions be the object of medical treatment, one com
* Magnetic Lady, by Ben Jonson, act 3, scene 4.