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the left slipper on the right foot, or any other very trifling thing! And yet such instances are without number.may be considered singular enough, but so it is; that some men cannot endure the sight of a fish, eel, or lobster; another person is disgusted at the sight of cheese, honey, eggs, milk, or apples; another is exceedingly distressed, and even convulsed at the sight of a toad or a cat, a grasshopper or a beetle.
§. 340. Of association in connection with the appetites.
We now proceed to give a few illustrations of this interesting subject, which has hitherto received so little attention. In doing this, it may be incidentally remarked, that the Instinctive tendencies in man, which are but few in number, are in their own nature of such a fixed and decided character as apparently to be placed, in a great measure, beyond the reach of association. But it is not so with the Appetites. On the contrary, they are subject to very strong influences from that source, as will appear by some statements.
I. Almost every article, which is capable of being masticated and digested, is made in one country or another an article of food. It is the case, at the same time, that there are many articles, used as food in one country, which are not used as food in another. This difference in the manner of living is to be ascribed, in many cases, to some early and fixed association. In some countries the people eat rats, mice, frogs, lizards, horse-flesh, dogs, locusts, caterpillars, &c.* In other countries, in our own for instance, the associations adverse to the use of such kinds of food are so strong, that it is next to impossible to overcome them.
II. There are appetitive associations of a different kind. It is well known, for instance, that the appetite for drink may be inflamed by a mere name, or the sight of a particular building or place, or the return of a certain hour of the day. This unquestionably is the result of a casual association. And the association may have become so strong, that the appetite is rendered wholly irrepressible, whenever such objects recur. This is particularly true, when the liquor itself, the rum, gin, wine, or brandy is placed directly before
*Lander's Niger, Vol. I, Am. Ed. pp. 170, 179. - Lives of Celebrated Travellers, Vol. I. Am. Ed. pp. 102, 215.
the thorough-going drunkard. The appetite in a moment becomes so strong as to convulse the whole soul. He is agitated and rent with a sort of madness; and rushes upon the object before him, much as the furious lion seizes and rends his keeper, when he has accidentally seen and tasted his blood.
§. 341. Of casual associations in connection with the propensities.
As we pass on from the Appetites to the consideration of that part of our Sentient nature, which was examined under the head of the Propensities, we find some instances of the power of association, both in strengthening and in annulling them. -Among other Propensities, which have a distinct and natural origin, is the desire of society; but it is undoubtedly the case, that peculiar circumstances may operate either to increase this desire, or to annul it altogether. All cases of decided and permanent Misanthropy, for instance, are the work, with perhaps a few exceptions of congenital alienation, not of nature, but of circumstances. If a man of kind and benevolent feelings is exceedingly ill treated by one, whom he has often favored, it is possible at least, that it will result in a fixed aversion to that person, which nothing can afterwards overcome.
If a deep and permanent injury were inflicted, not merely by a friend, but a brother, the effect on the mind might be so great, as not only to break up the original principle of sociability, but implant a decided and unchangeable hostility to the whole human race. Such treatment would be so contrary from what the injured person had a right to expect, that the mind would be thrown entirely out of its original position; and with such force as to be unable to recover it.
§. 342. Other instances of casual association in connection with the propensities.
The desire of power, in the remarks which were formerly made upon that subject, was regarded as an original propensity. This principle may become disordered in its action by becoming inordinately intense, and also in connection with some casual association. Mr. Locke in his Letters on Toleration mentions the case of an individual, whose mind was so long and intently fixed upon some high object, that he be
came partially insane. He was for the most part rational at other times, but whenever the object he had so earnestly pursued was mentioned, it brought into exercise so many intense associations, that he immediately became deranged.
Although we might find it difficult to illustrate this subject from the ordinary forms of the propensity to Imitation, the power of casual associations may distinctly be shown in sympathetic imitation. If a person's feelings be from any cause so strongly excited, as to show themselves in involuntary bodily action, subsequently the mere sight of the person, place, or instrument, that was prominently concerned in the original excitement of the mind, will generally be attended with a recurrence of the sympathetic bodily action. After such results have followed a number of times, the association will become so strong, that it will be very difficult, if not impossible for the sympathetic person to repress the outward bodily signs in all cases, coming within the reach of the association.
§. 343. Inordinate fear from casual associations.
The same views may undoubtedly be carried into the higher department of the Affections or Passions. It is sufficiently evident, for instance, that the passion of FEAR is an attribute of man's nature; and in ordinary cases it is susceptible of being subjected to the control of reason and the sentiments of duty. But this is not always the case. Casual associations are sometimes formed, which no effort of reason and no calls of duty can rend asunder. We will endeavor to illustrate this subject by some familiar instances.
Some persons have been exceedingly frightened by thunder and lightning at early periods of life. The fright may have been occasioned either directly, or by the actual terrific power and nearness of the explosion, or by merely seeing an exhibition of great fear in parents or others more advanced in years. And from that hour to the end of life, they have never been able, with all possible care and anxiety, to free themselves from the most distressing fear, on such occasions.
Casual associations, occasioned by some unfortunate circumstances in early life, have been the source of very great and irrepressible fears in respect to death. The fear of death is natural; and perhaps, we may say, is instinctive;
but it does not ordinarily exist in such intensity, as essentially to interrupt one's happiness. And yet from time to time, we find unhappy exceptions to this statement. Miss Hamilton, in her Letters on Education, gives an interesting account of a lady, who suffered exceedingly from such fears. She was a person of an original and inventive genius, of a sound judgment, and her powers of mind had received a careful cultivation. But all this availed nothing against the impressions, which had been wrought into her mind from infancy. The first view, which she had of death in infancy, was accompanied with peculiar circumstances of terror; and the dreadful impression, which was then made, was heightened by the injudicious language of the nursery. Ever afterwards the mere mention or idea of death was attended with great suffering; so much so, that it was necessary, by means of every possible precaution, to keep her in ignorance of her actual danger, when she was sick; nor was it permitted at any time to mention instances of death in her presence. So that the estimable writer of this statement asserts, that she often suffered more from the apprehension, than she could have suffered from the most agonizing torture, that ever attended the hour of dissolution.*
§. 344. Casual associations in respect to persons.
That the Affections may be more or less disordered by means of casual associations is further evident from what we notice in the intercourse of individuals with each other. Men sometimes form such an aversion to others, or associate with them such sentiments of dread, that the connection of the persons and the feelings becomes permanent and unconquerable. It has sometimes been the case, that a man of distinguished talents has been defeated and prostrated by another, in an argument perhaps, on some public occasion; and although he harbors no resentment against his opponent, and has no sense of inferiority, yet he never afterwards meets him in company without experiencing a very sensible degree of uncasiness and suffering.
Persons have sometimes been ill treated by others; and this occasionally forms the basis of an invincible association, * Elementary Principles of Education, Letter III.
either of aversion or of dread. The poet Cowper, in early life, suffered in this way. A boy of a cruel temper, his superior in age, made him the object of long continued ill treatment and persecution. "This boy, (he remarks,) had impressed such a dread of his figure upon my mind, that I well remember being afraid to lift up my eyes upon him, higher than his knees; and that I knew him by his shoe buckles, better than by any other part of his dress."
An individual was once perfectly cured of madness by a very harsh and offensive operation. During all his life after, he acknowledged with the most sincere gratitude, that he could not have received a greater benefit; and still he was utterly unable to bear the sight of the operator, it suggested so strongly the dreadful suffering which he underwent.*
Some men have an exceeding and unaccountable aversion to the mere features and countenance of another, and cannot bear to be looked upon by them. A statement is somewhere given of a person of a noble family, who was not able to bear, that an old woman should look upon him. Certain persons, in a season of merriment, which is not always wisely directed towards these humbling infirmities of our nature, succeeded in suddenly and unexpectedly introducing him into the presence of one such, but the shock to his feelings was so great as to terminate in his death.
§. 345. Casual association in connection with objects and places.
The mental operations, in consequence of strong casual associations, may be perplexed in their action in connection with particular places and objects. "Some persons, (says Dr. Conolly in reference to this subject,) are mad and unmanageable at home, and sane abroad. We read in Aretæus of a carpenter, who was very rational in his workshop, but who could not turn his steps towards the Forum without beginning to groan, to shrug his shoulders, and to bemoan himself. Dr. Rush relates an instance of a preacher in America, who was mad among his parishioners, except in the pulpit, where he conducted himself with great ability; and he also speaks of a judge, who was very lunatic in mixed society, but sagacious on the bench."
"I have known patients, (says the same writer in anoth* Locke's Essay, Bk. II. Chap. 32.