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ously a somewhat general and indefinite one, it may indicate something more. When, for instance, this irregular and disordered state passes a certain limit, goes beyond a certain boundary which is more easily conceived than described, it becomes Insanity or Alienation. That is to say, the merely irregular action becomes an insane or alienated action, when it becomes so great, so pervading, and so deeply rooted in the mind, that the individual has no power of restoration in himself. So that it would seem to follow in view of this remark, that there may be a disordered state of the mind, which is insanity; and under other circumstances a disordered state of the mind, which is not insanity, or rather which is less than insanity. But in either case,. this condition of mind is not to be regarded, nor is it in point of fact, a sound mental state. Although we may not be able to say specifically in a given case, that the disorder has reached the point of insanity, yet it is certain that the mind in this disordered state, whether the disorder be greater or less, is presented to our view in a new and important aspect.
Unquestionably a wide and interesting field of remark is opened here. Nevertheless what we have to say will necessarily be brief, indicating rather the general trains of thought which naturally present themselves, than following them out into minuteness of detail. And in executing this plan, imperfect as it can hardly fail to be, we shall conform, so far as may be practicable, to those classifications of our Sensitive nature, which have hitherto helped to aid our inquiries.
§. $09. Of the disordered and alienated action of the appetites.
Accordingly we remark, in the first place, that there may be a disordered and alienated action of the Appetites.-It is well known, that the appetites grow stronger and stronger by repeated indulgence. While the process of increased appetive tendency is going on, there still remains, in the majority of cases, enough of remonstrance in the conscience and of restrictive and aggressive energy in the Will, to ward off that state of thraldom, which is rapidly approaching. But in some melancholy cases it is otherwise; the line of demarcation, which separates the possibility and the impossibility of a restoration, is passed; and from that time onward there is nothing but interminable sinking. Such cases as these may
undoubtedly be regarded as coming within the limits of some of the multiplied forms of mental alienation.
The most frequent instances of mental alienation, originating in a disordered and excessive energy of the appetites, are to be found in that numerous class of persons, who habitually indulge in the use of intoxicating drugs, particularly ardent spirits. When the person, who indulges in the use of intoxicating liquors, has so increased the energy of this pernicious appetite as really to bring himself within the limits of mental alienation, there is no hope of a return by means of any effort, which he himself is capable of making. He may have a clear perception of the misery of his situation; the desire of esteem may still arouse within him the recollection of what he once was and of what he still ought to be; the conscience may still speak out in remonstrance, though probably with a diminished voice; the will may continue to put forth some ineffectual struggles; but it is found to be all in vain. If left to himself and not put under that constraint, which is proper to persons in actual insanity, it may be regarded as a matter of moral certainty, that he will plunge deeper and deeper in the degrading vice of which he is the subject, so long as the remaining powers of life shall support him in the process.
The individuals, who are in this situation, seem themselves to have a consciousness of this. They see clearly, that in their own strength there is no hope. In repeated instances such persons have gone to keepers of penitentiaries and other prisons, and earnestly entreated for admission, on the ground that nothing short of strict seclusion within their massy walls would secure them against the ruinous indulgence of their appetite."The use of strong drink, (says Dr. Rush, Diseases of the Mind, Chap, X,) is at first the effect of free agency. From habit it takes place from necessity. That this is the case, I infer from persons who are inordinately devoted to the use of ardent spirits being irreclaimable, by all the considerations which domestic obligations, friendship, reputation, property, and sometimes even by those which religion and the love of life can suggest to them. An instance of insensibility to the last, in a habitual drunkard, occurred some years ago in Philadelphia. When strongly urged, by one of
his friends, to leave off drinking, he said, 'Were a keg of rum in one corner of a room and were a cannon constantly discharging balls between me and it, I could not refrain from passing before that cannon, in order to get at the rum."" (See in connection with this subject, Vol. I. §. 99.)
§. 310. Disordered action of the principle of self-preservation.
As we advance upward from the Appetites to the region of the Propensities, such as the principle of self-preservation, the desire of knowledge, the desire of society, and the like, we shall find the latter as well as the former, probably without an exception, subject, in certain individuals, to a greater or less degree of what may be termed a diseased or disordered action. We begin with the propensive principle of Self-preservation, or what may be designated in other terms, as the natural desire of a continuance of existence. This principle like the others of the same class, although not generally in so marked a degree, will sometimes manifest itself under such circumstances and in such a manner as obviously to show, that its action is not a natural, regular, or healthy action. Persons, under the influence of the disordered action of the principle which is connected with the preservation of life, multiply, as they would be naturally supposed to do, images of danger and terror, which have no existence, nor likeness of existence, except in their own disordered minds. They not only see perils, which are invisible to others; but are led to take a multitude of precautions, which in the estimation of those around them are altogether unnecessary, and even ridiculous.
Pinel under the head of Melancholy mentions a case, which may be considered as illustrating this subject. "A distinguished military officer, (he says,) after fifty years of active service in the cavalry, was attacked with disease. It commenced by his experiencing vivid emotions from the slightest causes; if, for example, he heard any disease spoken of, he immediately believed himself to be attacked by it; if any one was mentioned as deranged in intellect, he imagined himself insane, and retired into his chamber full of melancholy thoughts and inquietude. Every thing became for him a subject of fear and alarm. If he entered into a house,
he was afraid that the floor would fall, and precipitate him amid its ruins. He could not pass a bridge without terror, unless impelled by the sentiment of honor for the purpose of fighting."*
§. 311. Disordered and alienated action of the possessory principle.
There are instances, occurring with a considerable degree of frequency, of a disordered or alienated action of the desire of possession or the Possessory principle. Some of these are voluntary; that is to say, are brought about by a course of action, of which the responsibility rests upon the individual. Others appear to be congenital or natural.—Among the class of confirmed misers we shall be likely, from time to time, to find instances of the first class. There are individuals among this class of persons, who have so increased the energy of the Possessory principle, (Acquisitiveness, as it is sometimes conveniently termed,) by a long voluntary course of repetition, that its action is no longer under the control of the Will, but has obviously passed over into the region of mental alienation. Such probably must have been the case with a certain individual mentioned by Valerius Maximus, who took advantage of a famine to sell a mouse for two hundred pence, and then famished himself with the money in his pocket. It is difficult to tell, however, although a person may unquestionably become insane in his avarice, whether this is actually the case in any given instance, or whether notwithstanding its intensity, it falls in some degree short of alienation.
The reader will be able probably,by consulting the resources of his own recollection, to understand the applications of this subject. Nevertheless we take the liberty to delay a moment upon the well known and somewhat singular case of Sir Harvey Elwes, of Stoke in the county of Suffolk, England. Sir Harvey Elwes inherited from a miserly mother, and an uncle of the same parsimonious disposition, the large property of £350,000. This singular individual, as is sometimes the case with misers, is said to have punctually discharged his obligations towards others, and in some instances even to have conducted with liberality; but in whatever concerned himself his parsimony, notwithstanding his great riches,
*Pinel, as quoted in Combe's Phrenology, Boston ed. p. 241.
was extreme and unalterable. When travelling he accustemed himself to great abstinence, that he might lessen the charges of his maintenance; and for the same reason he supported his horse with the few blades of grass, which he could gather by the sides of hedges and in the open comLike his predecessor Sir Harvey, from whom he seems to have derived his title and who was hardly less miserly than his nephew, he wore the clothes of those, who had gone before him ; and when his best coat was beyond the ability of any further service, he refused to replace it at his own expense, but accepted one from a neighbor. He was so saving of fuel, that he took advantage of the industry of the crows in pulling down their nests; and if any friend accidentally living with him were absent, he would carefully put out his fire and walk to a neighbor's house, in order that the same chimney might give out warmth to both. Although he never committed any of his transactions to writing, he could not have been ignorant of his immense wealth; but this did not prevent his being exceedingly apprehensive, that he should at last die with want. "Sometimes hiding his gold in small parcels in different parts of his house, he would anxiously visit the spot to ascertain whether each remained as he had left it: arising from bed, he would hasten to his bureau to examine if its contents were in safety. In later life, no other sentiment occupied his mind: at midnight he has been heard as if struggling with assailants, and crying out in agitation, I will keep my money,-I will; nobody shall rob me of my property!' though no one was near to disturb him in its possession. At length this remarkable person died in the year 1789, aged nearly eighty, and worth nearly a million."*
§. 312. Instances of the second kind or form of disordered action of the possessory principle.
There are other instances of the disordered action of the principle of Acquisitiveness, which appear to be congenital or constitutional. In the case of the persons to whom we now have reference, the disposition to get possession of whatever can be regarded as property, whether of greater or less * Origin and Progress of the Passions, (Anonymous,) Vol. I. p. 310.