« PoprzedniaDalej »
or from a sense of duty, but he eats without desire or a craving sense of hunger. Hence, those who are suddenly deprived of their senses by an overwhelming and unexpected evil, pass days and nights without food of any kind, each sufferer feeling with King Lear,
When the mind's free
Dr. Brigham says: “One day, when about to sit down to dinner, with an appetite whetted by five or six hours' exercise, a letter was put into
my hands announcing the death of a friend to whom I felt strongly attached. The consequence was an instantaneous loss of appetite, which continued for two or three days.” A stern look, and a very few reproachful words from Henry VIII. gave the ambitious Woolsey a fit of indigestion which destroyed the Cardinal's life.
The stomach, in its turn, reacts upon the mind, causing confusion of thought, defect of memory, and of the power of abstraction—not to mention despondency, irascibility, and other kinds of morbid mental disturbance, by which the sufferer is made ineffably wretched. Hence dyspepsia, that malady so Protean in its forms, once generally thought to be a disease originating always in the stomach, is now considered by many of the most intelligent of the faculty as primarily a disease of the brain and nervous system, perpetuated by mental excitement, especially in the case of students. Thus it has been observed, that persons who are in the habit of strongly employing their mental faculties shortly after taking food, are more or less subject to this affection. In such a case, the nervous energy required for the process of digestion, instead of being expended upon the stomach, is wasted upon the intellectual organs. Aristotle informs us that all the great men of his time were hypochondriacs; that “they had cultivated their mind at the expense of their body.”
Nor is the force of the morbid impulse proceeding from the brain wholly exhausted upon the stomach, but often reaches to.
THE LUNGS AND HEART-causing diseased action in both. The acute pain sometimes felt in the region of the heart, a tremulous or fluttering sensation there, interruptions of the pulse, and palpitations, which the alarmed sufferer is ready to ascribe to organic disease, are very often symptoms only of “gastric derangement, which has been generated by the morbific influence of the mind.”
But none of the viscera of the body better show its alliance to the mind, or illustrate and establish this mysterious influence of the body on the mind, than the
LIVER. What are all the uses of this organ in the human economy, is still a subject of inquiry. The main service which it performs, so far as is generally understood, is merely the secretion daily of a few ounces of bile. But when we consider its dimensions—the largest gland of any kind in the human system—the number and size of its parts, and its peculiar structure, we cannot resist the impression that this great constituent of the vital mechanism is used for a higher purpose than this. And hence the opinion has obtained, both among the ancients and moderns, that the liver has a powerful influence on the temperament, the mental functions, and the passions of the man, and thus affecting his moral and religious feelings. We presume to offer no solution of the fact, nor even a conjecture, why a certain class of mental phenomena should be developed by the condition of this particular gland; why the liver should exhibit its affinities for that which is gloomy and sad, rather than the lungs or heart? But the fact is witnessed every day, that such is the power of many of the depressing passions when suddenly excited, that they cause a gush of bile into the system at large, which gives a yellow tinge to the eye, and overcasts the mind with the most rueful forebodings and ineffable despondency. Why it should cause this mental dejection, is just as inexplicable as is the hopeful, buoyant spirit of the hectic patient, whose more desperate malady is seated in his lungs. The contrast is remarkable, whatever may be the cause.
While in the last stage of consumption the sufferer is cheerful and incredulous as to the issue which is so obvious to others, the man labouring under disease of the liver is often oppressed with a heaviness of heart which repels relief from any suggestion of reason or the consolations of religion. The classical reader will recollect the frightful story of the miserable Tityus, as told by both Homer and Virgil, who, for his nameless crime, was condemned to be eternally tormented by the preying of a vulture upon his liver, which was supernaturally reproduced as fast as consumed.
Rostroque immanis vultur obunco,
A huge vulture, with his hooky beak,
Whether our poets designed that fable should receive a physiological gloss, and were prompted, in part, by their own morbid experiences or not, it is certainly a most graphic allegory, descriptive at once of the seat, the intensity, and hopelessness of that unspeakable wretchedness which so often proceeds from a diseased condition of this organ. Such would seem to have been the opinion of Lucretius, who, in giving