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mon mode of practice appears to be equally successful. But before this apparent anomaly can meet with an explanation, we must be compelled to admit, that, during intense excitements of the mind, no less than during syncope or sleep, an irritating cause, which confines its action to organs of sensation, must eventually influence the whole of the circulation,-to the varied conditions of which (as I have before observed) the general vividness of sensations and ideas, when conjointly excited, holds a more immediate correspondence than to states of the nervous system. And thus the general effect must be, that the additional agents, which during an ecstacy exclusively excite organs of sensation, must, through the medium of the circulation, eventually extend their vivifying influence to the renovation of past feelings.
It will also be expedient, in completing my explanation of this anomaly, to recall the attention to a law, lately noticed, regarding the effect which mental excitements have upon consciousness. The law was thus stated:-When a cause of mental excitement adds to the general vividness of our pleasurable feelings, every feeling of an opposite quality is in an inverse proportion rendered less vivid; and, vice versaz the same law holds good when a morbific agent adds to the vividness of all our painful feelings.
It follows, then, that we must necessarily regard such causes as may act upon organs of sensation during an ecstacy, and may, by this means, impart an additional degree of vividness to renovated feelings under two distinct points of view.
In the first place, an ecstacy may be pleasurable,
while the cause, which during its continuance imparts an additional degree of intensity to actual impressions, may also be pleasurable; or, again, an ecstacy may be painful, while the cause, which, during its continuance, imparts an additional degree of intensity to actual impressions, may also be painful. Now, in each of these instances, it is almost unnecessary to add, that the effect must be, that the force or violence of the ecstacy will be increased.
In the second place, the peculiar influence imparted by any cause, which acts during an ecstacy upon organs of sensation, may be of the same pleasurable or painful kind as that class of feelings may possess, which has been rendered so faint as to be no longer the object of consciousness. In this case, then, a`different result will ensue; for, by virtue of the law to which I have often adverted, when any exciting cause of this kind, during a continuous operation, extends its vivifying influence to such pleasurable feelings as may have been rendered in an extreme degree faint, all intense feelings of an opposite or painful quality must be proportionally rendered less vivid; and, again, when any exciting cause of the same irritating nature extends its vivifying influence to such painful feelings as may have been rendered in an extreme degree faint, all intense feelings of an opposite or pleasurable quality must, in a similar manner, be proportionally rendered less vivid. It is evident, then, that the revival of one quality of feelings, which has been rendered unduly faint, will be followed by the reduction of the other quality of feelings which has been rendered unduly intense; and by this means
an ecstacy will be eventually removed. Of this principle, then, Cardan, whose case has suggested these remarks, evidently availed himself. This remarkable man, who was born at Pavia in the year 1501, and was professor of mathematics at Milan, possessed a temperament which partook strongly of the sanguine description; and this, no doubt, was a predisposing cause, which, with an excess of nervous irritability, materially conspired to render him liable to the trances, which form the subject of the remarkable narrative that he has published in his curious work, De Vita Propria. The symptoms preceding each trance, were those which so very frequently usher in many of the mental paroxysms that we have traced in other diseases, and the pathology of which is so well illustrated by the action of the nitrous oxide or febrile miasma. There was an increased intensity of pleasurable sensations. A peculiar feeling was experienced in the head, which gradually diffused itself from this organ to other parts of the system along the course of the spinal cord. He perceived, as he observes, a kind of separation from the heart, like the issuing forth of the soul, while so serious a departure was felt by the whole body, as if a door had opened; and hence the impression which arose, that he was visited by supernatural impulses. Shortly afterwards, he was less sensible of actual impressions, while spectral illusions of the most vivid kind became the sportive objects of his imagination. The words of those who discoursed to him were but faintly heard, and in time were imperceptible. His organs of touch became less and less sensible to pain, until,
at length, he felt neither pullings nor pinches, nor was he in the least degree conscious of gouty tortures, but only of such causes as were without the body. And, as he adds, when he had naturally no pain, he would excite it by whipping himself with rods, by biting his lips and arms, or by squeezing his fingers. But he acted thus to prevent a greater evil; for, in this complete state of insensibility to painful impressions, he felt such violent sallies of the imagination, and peculiar affections of the brain, as were more insupportable to him than any corporeal suffering which he could inflict upon himself. His pleasurable excitements could therefore be only subdued by exciting acute sensations of an opposite or painful quality.
The general inference to be deduced from the illus trations which I have given is briefly this :-If we would impart to the faint feelings of sleep and syncope a degree of vividness, such as subsists in our cool waking hours, it is immaterial whether the acute impressions to which the organs of sense are subjected be pleasurable or painful. But if, on the contrary, our view should be the depression of intense feelings, this object can be effected in no other way than by opposing to them the influence of acute sensations, similar in their quality of pleasure or pain to such states of the mind as, during the ecstacy, have been rendered proportionally faint and languid.
WHEN MORBIFIC CAUSES OF MENTAL EXCITEMENT EXERT TO THEIR UTMOST EXTENT THEIR STIMULATING POWERS, THEY OFTEN CHANGE THE QUALITY OF THEIR ACTION, AS FROM PLEASURE TO PAIN, OR FROM PAIN TO PLEASURE.
"Pleasure and pain are convertible and mixed:" -"that which is now pleasure, by being strained a little too far, runs into pain, and pain, when carried far, creates again the highest pleasure, by mere cessation, and a kind of natural succession." Lord SHAFTSBURY's Characteristics.
I SHALL now make a few remarks on those morbific agents, which, when exerting their utmost influence over the states of the mind, have the effect of alternately increasing the vividness of pleasurable and painful feelings. The natural consequence of this action is, that the unconsciousness of grateful and ungrateful ideas undergoes a corresponding alternation. Alcohol possesses a subordinate influence of this kind. To a particular preparation of opium used in the East, the power is ascribed not only of rendering the mind by turns unconscious of pleasure or of pain, but of