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execution of a criminal. The sight caused him such violent emotion, that he at once felt himself seized with an irresistible desire to kill, while at the same time he entertained the utmost horror at the commission of the crime. He depicted his deplorable state, weeping bitterly, and in extreme perplexity. He beat his head, wrung his hands, remonstrated with himself, begged his friends to save themselves, and thanked them for the resistance they made to him."*
§. 330. Insanity of the affections or passions.
From the instances which have been given, it will be seen, that sudden and strong impulses, indicating a disordered state of the mind, may exist in reference to very different things, and also in very various degrees. The cases last mentioned were of such an aggravated nature, that they may properly be regarded as instances, (and perhaps the same view will apply to some other cases of a less marked character,) of actual alienation or insanity. And as such they may be correctly described as instances of the insanity of the Affections or Passions.
The insanity of the passions is a state of mind somewhat peculiar, even as compared with other forms of insanity. The powers of perception, in cases of insanity of the passions, are often in full and just exercise. The mind may possess, in a very considerable degree, its usual ability in comparing ideas and in deducing conclusions. The seat of the difficulty is not to be sought for in what are usually designated as the intellectual powers, in distinction from the sensitive nature; but in the passions alone. The victim of this mental disease does not stop to reason, reflect, and compare; but is borne forward to his purpose with a blind, and often an irresistible impulse.
Pinel mentions a mechanic in the asylum, BICETRE, who was subject to this form of insanity. It was, as is frequently the case, intermittent. He knew, when the paroxysms of passion were coming on, and even gave warnings to those, who were exposed to its effects, to make their escape. His powers of correctly judging remained unshaken, not only at other times, but even in the commission of the most violent
*Gall's Works, Vol. 1st, Am. Ed. p. $29.
and outrageous acts. He saw clearly their impropriety, but was unable to restrain himself; and after the cessation of the paroxysms, was often filled with the deepest grief.
§. 331. Of the mental disease termed hypochondriasis.
The seat of the well known mental disease termed Hypochondriasis is to be sought for in a disordered state of the Sensibilities. It is, in fact, nothing more nor less, than a state of deep depression, gloom, or melancholy. This is the fact; and we never apply the term hypochondriasis to a state of the mind, where such gloom or melancholy does not exist; but it is nevertheless true, that the occasion or basis of the fact may sometimes be found in a disordered condition of some other part of the mind. One or two concise statements will illustrate what we mean.
One of the slighter forms of hypochondriasis can perhaps be traced to inordinate workings of the Imagination. The mind of the sufferer is fixed upon some unpromising and gloomy subject; probably one, which has particular relation either to his present or future prospects. He gives it an undue place in his thoughts, dwelling upon it continually. His imagination hovers over it, throwing a deeper shade, on what is already dark. Thus the mind becomes disordered ; it is broken off from its ordinary and rightful mode of action; and is no longer what it was, nor what nature designed it should be.
There is another, and still more striking form of hypochondriasis, which is connected in its origin with an alienation of the power of belief. As in all other cases of hypochondriasis, the subject of it suffers much mental distress. He is beset with the most gloomy and distressing apprehensions, occasioned, not by exaggerated and erroneous notions in general, but by some fixed and inevitable false belief. One imagines, that he has no soul; another, that his body is gradually but rapidly perishing; and a third, that he is converted into some other animal; or that he has been transformed into a plant. We are told in the Memoirs of Count Maurepas, that this last idea once took possession of the mind of one of the princes of Bourbon. So deeply was he infected with this notion, that he often went into his garden, and in
sisted on being watered in common with the plants around him. Some have imagined themselves to be transformed into glass, and others have fallen into the still stranger folly of imagining themselves dead.-What has been said confirms our remark, that, although hypochondriasis is, in itself considered, seated in the sensibilities, yet its origin may sometimes be found in a disordered state of some other part of the mind.. It is also sometimes the case, that this disease originates in a violation of some form of sensitive action. It is not only, as its appropriate position, seated in the sensibilities; but it sometimes has its origin there. It is related of a certain Englishman, a man of generous and excellent character, that his life was once attempted by his brother with a pistol. He succeeded, however, in wresting the pistol from his brother's hand, and on examination found it to be double charged with bullets. This transaction, as might be expected in the case of a person of just and generous sentiments, filled him with such horror, and with such disgust for the character of the man, that he secluded himself ever after from human society. He never allowed the visits even of his own children. It is certainly easy to see, that under such circumstances the sensibilities may receive such a shock as to leave the subject of it in a state of permanent dissatisfaction and gloom. In other words, he may in this way and for such reasons become a confirmed hypochondriac.
§. 332. Of intermissions of hypochondriasis and of its remedies.
The mental disease of hypochondriasis is always understood to imply the existence of a feeling of gloom and depression; but this depressed feeling does not exist in all cases in the same degree. In all instances, it is a source of no small unhappiness; but in some the wretchedness is extreme. The greatest bodily pains are light in the comparison. It is worthy of remark, however, that the mental distress of hypochondriasis is in some persons characterized by occasional intermissions. An accidental remark, some sudden combination of ideas, a pleasant day, and various other causes are found to dissipate the gloom of the mind. At such times there is not unfrequently a high flow of the spirits, corresponding to the previous extreme depression.As this dis
ease, even when mitigated by occasional intermissions, is prodigal in evil results, it becomes proper to allude to certain remedies, which have sometimes been resorted to.
(1) The first step towards remedying the evil is to infuse health and vigor into the bodily action, especially that of the nervous system. The nerves, it will be recollected, are the great medium of sensation, inasmuch as they constitute, under different modifications, the external senses. Now the senses are prominent sources of belief and knowledge. Consequently when the nervous system, (including of course the senses,) is in a disordered state, it is not surprising, that persons should have wrong sensations and external perceptions, and, therefore, a wrong belief. If a man's nerves are in such a state, that he feels precisely as he supposes a man made of glass would feel, it is no great wonder, when we consider the constitution of the mind, that he should actually believe himself to be composed of that substance. But one of the forms of the disease in question is essentially founded on an erroneous, but fixed belief of this kind. Hence in restoring the bodily system to a right action, we shall correct the wrong belief, if it be founded in the senses; and in removing this, we may anticipate the removal of that deep seated gloom, which is characteristic of hypochondriasis.-(2) As all the old associations of the hypochondriac have been more or less visited and tinctured by his peculiar malady, efforts should be made to break them up and remove them from the mind, by changes in the objects, with which he is most conversant, by introducing him into new society, or by travelling. By these means his thoughts are likely to be diverted, not only from the particular subject, which has chiefly interested him; but a new impulse is given to the whole mind, which promises to interrupt and banish that fatal fixedness and inertness, which had previously encumbered and prostrated it.(3) Whenever the malady appears to be founded on considerations of a moral nature, the hypochondriasis may sometimes be removed, or at least alleviated, by the suggestion of counteracting moral motives. If, for instance, the despondency of mind has arisen from some supposed injury, it is desirable to suggest all well founded considerations, which may tend to lessen the sufferer's estimate
of the amount of the injury received. When the injury is very great and apparent, suggestions on the nature and duty of forgiveness may not be without effect. But whatever course may be taken, it is desirable, that the attention of the sufferer should be directed as little as possible to his disease, by any direct remarks upon it. It was a remark of Dr. Johnson, whose sad experience enabled him to judge, that conversation upon melancholy feeds it. Accordingly he advised Boswell, who as well as himself was subject to melancholy of mind, "never to speak of it to his friends, nor in company."
§. 333. Disordered action of the passion of fear.
The passion of FEAR, inasmuch as there are various objects around us which are or may be dangerous, is obviously implanted in us for wise purposes. But it not unfrequently exhibits an irregular or disordered action. This disordered state of the affection may discover itself, when considered either in reference to the occasion on which it exists, or in reference to the degree in which it exists. In some cases, for instance, it is connected with objects, which in the view of reason and common sense ought not to excite it. Some persons are afraid to be alone in the dark; it is exceedingly distressing to them. Others are afraid (so much so perhaps as to be thrown into convulsions by their presence,) of a mouse or a squirrel or an insect. It will be necessary to refer to, and to give some explanation of cases of this kind, under the head of Casual Associations.
Again, fear may exist with such an intensity as essentially to affect the mind, and even cause insanity. Probably the power of this passion is not well understood. Certain it is, that terrible results have often followed from the attempts of persons, particularly of children, to excite it in others, even in sport. Many instances are on record of individuals, who have been permanently and most seriously injured, either in mind or body or both, by a sudden fright.
Sometimes, especially when connected with permanent causes, it gradually expands and strengthens itself, till it is changed into DESPAIR. The distinctive trait of Despair, in distinction from all other modifications of fear, is, that it excludes entirely the feeling of hope, which exists in connection