« AnteriorContinuar »
overseen;" nor can we blame these results of superstition among the vulgar, while their superiors in intellect and acquirement continue to refer similar effects to mental agency. The influence of epilepsy upon the brain is such, as in its progress to destroy altogether the manifestations of mind, and to produce a hideous expression of the countenance, usually usually a peculiar grin, which, with minds predisposed to such explanation, it would not be difficult to imagine Satanic; but which is manifestly the result of the organ having been rendered unfit for the manifestation of mind: and the semi-human expression of involuntary laughter remains to tell the sad tale of what sin has wrought. But in this case will it be said, that the soul is the seat of disease? Surely not! And if not, if disease of brain can produce a perfect obliteration of mental manifestation, it may be permitted also to occasion its perversion, and to give rise to those unreal images which have been called apparitions.
attend the several forms of malady and such an epileptic individual now under consideration; beginning with the simplest disturbance of the dance of St. Vitus, and ter minating with that wretched state of suffering, in which the patient is doubled up upon himself, and scarcely retains the form of a human being. Among these, also, may be reckoned, feebleness and diminution of the power of the will over the voluntary motions, involuntary actions, tremors, general palsy, palsy of only one half of the body, convulsions, irritation of only one set of muscles, and paralysis of their antagonists, as of the flexor and extensor muscles of a limb, all the varieties of cramp; and, above all, the peculiar expression of the countenance, arising from the constant and exclusive employment of certain muscles to embody the feelings and views. But if all these bodily effects be readily traced to irritation of the brain, it must surely be allowed, that these same disturbances, from whatever cause arising, will exert a reflex influence upon the cerebral organ, and tend to place it in a very unfit state for intellectual integrity of manifestation, and must therefore be easily excited to morbid sympathy.
Lastly, we shall notice the intermittent or remittent character of its maladies; such as in epilepsy, hysteria, and other diseases, more especially belonging to the nervous system. Now this attribute cannot surely be ascribed to the influence of a spiritual immaterial principle; which in itself, as a cause of disease, cannot admit of change, of paroxysm, of increased mischief, and again of improvemnt. It is true that these diseases have been referred to distant sympathies; but the brain is evidently their real source. It must be remembered, also, that epilepsy has been ascribed to possession, and even at the present day, an impression of this kind exists in the mind of the vulgar. I have been frequently told that such
Before we conclude this part of our inquiry, we must notice some of the causes producing diseased manifestations of mind.
1. Original malconformation will give rise to idiotcy. Instances have occurred which shew that without brain there can be no manifestation of mind: and in old age, that organ undergoes a change which shuts out the operations of the mind from being perceived. But can it be believed that the idiot has no soul? or that the feebleness of old age extinguishes the powers of the spiritual principle, at a period when it is fast approaching its glorious change of immortality; or that the humble faithful servant of God is liable to disease of spirit, just as he is actually entering the confines of the heavenly world? No: the brain may be diseased or enfeebled, but the soul can be subject only to one moral taint, for which a remedy has been pro
vided. A similar effect will sometimes be produced in some cases of water on the brain.
2. Wounds of the brain will occasion a variety of morbid symptoms, differing too according to the precise portion of brainular structure which has become the subject of injury; thus demonstrating, so far as demonstration is possible, the dependence of mental manifestation on brainular integrity.
3. Concussion of the brain will produce giddiness, sickness, a complete loss of power and of recollection, and generally a suspension of the manifestations of mind. These symptoms may be so intense as to occasion death; and if not, they will be followed by a reaction, which will be attended by inflammation, delirium, or insanity. Still, by the blessing of God, under a judicious management there is an ultimate restoration to the state of health. It is also probable that sea-sickness and sick-headache both owe their origin to some irritation of the brain. 4. Compression of this organ, from whatever cause arising, and however slight in degree, will produce, according to its intensity, more or less alteration, and even extinction, of mental manifestation; and when that compression is suddenly relieved, there will sometimes be an immediate return to health, but more generally it will be through a series of perverted manifestations.
5. The state of fever will occasion large deviations from healthy brainular function. These will vary materially according as the febrile condition shall partake more or less of the inflammatory character; as it shall be more or less characterized by debility or oppression; as it shall be marked by symptoms of a peculiar nature; or as it shall more evidently depend upon the morbid structure of some particular organ, and assume the form of decided hectic. In all these states, however, one feature is to be uniformly found; namely, that of perverted
mental manifestation: visions are seen which have no reality, but which are firmly believed by the patient, who maintains them as never doubting their existence; persons and things appear and act and talk as they would do under the supposed circumstances, and the patient will consistently relate that such has been the case. Now let it be recollected, that we have here traced apparit ions of one kind, visions, &c., to a bodily-morbid cause; and if this be indisputable, it can scarcely be denied, that all other supernatural appearances may be refined to some similar, or analogous cause.
6. Local inflammation of a slow character, and consequent disorganization, must be enumerated as another cause of the perversion of mental manifestation, and of the more or less complete destruction of intellectual power.
7. The whole class of nervous diseases contribute to impair, and, under extreme circumstances, to destroy the manifestations of mind. We are well aware, that nervous disorders have been often ascribed to fancy; and from the facility with which they may be simulated, this is likely to be the case in some instances: but still no rational person will deny that the nervous system is liable to disease; and that it produces great distress when so disturbed. None but persons who have thus suffered, or who have witnessed such sufferings, can imagine the misery which it induces, or the perversions of intellect, feeling, perception, and judgment, to which it gives rise. This state may be very transient, or it may continue for years; it may be suspended by a powerful impression upon the system, or it may resist every remedial measure; it may be called into action by mental emotion, or bodily disturbance; it may be opposed by a powerful effort of the will: but it will be cured only by that which relieves the source of
irritation, and then gives tone to those nerves to prevent their too great susceptibility. How is this to be accounted for, on the supposition of mere mental agency? The converse of such a proposition is further illustrated by the good effects of cold applied to the head. Wherever there is irritation, thither will blood be determined, and congestion, or inflammatory action, will be the result. In persons so predisposed to cerebral excitement, great advantage will accrue from the application to the head of cold water, suffered to evaporate, which operates in diminishing increased action; carrying off heat as one cause of stimulation; subduing sensibility by its directly sedative influence; relieving fulness and tension, by its condensing effect upon the blood; and preventing congestion, by giving that degree of tone to the vessels that they will not readily yield to the impulses of the blood, or allow themselves to be distended by it. The good effects of cold applied to the head, in diminishing the excitement arising from wine, or other alcoholic stimulus, is well known to those who take too much habitually: yet we see that the use of this means presupposes a bodily organ in a state of irritation, and is only adapted to relieve the phenomena of mind, by operating on the material organ through which its manifestations are made.
Lastly: we will only further notice a few of the different phases of byphochondriasis. It was formerly supposed, that this malady depended upon a merely disordered state of the digestive organs: and it may be so in some instances. But often where this is the case, it is only that these organs form the first link in the chain of disturbance, and that irritating a too susceptible brain, they produce phenomena which are purely cerebral. Generally it will be found, that the brain is primarily affected, and that the digestive organs only suffer from the interrupCHRIST. OBSERV. No. 329.
tion of a due and regular supply of
Let us not doubt, or underrate
has said ten minutes before: nor will he remember ten minutes hence that which is now enjoined. His judgment is feeble, erring, fallacious: his will changed at every instant, and by every changing impression. Now, whence these perverted manifestations? Is it that the spiritual principle is diseased? Rather is it not that its organ has ceased to be subservient to its purposes?
Moreover, the senses of the hypochondriac are endowed with an extreme degree of sensibility, or they are liable to frequent hallucinations, or they become depraved. Thus, for instance, he hears voices, and receives admonitions; he sees visions, and is often assailed by unearthly visitants: he perceives around him objects which have no real existence; he acquires a fondness for substances in themselves disgusting: his feeling is unusually acute: above all, his skin becomes morbidly sensitive to changes of temperature: a stream of cold air is as death to his comforts and he is particularly excited and irritable during the prevalence of an atmosphere highly charged with electrical matter. Again: he forms false estimates of himself and his circumstances; he is convinced that he suffers the agonies of impending dissolution: at one time, his heart, he thinks, is oppressed with blood; it is stagnated there, and the organ can beat no longer at another, he cannot breathe; and again, at a third, his stomach is worn out; or other fancies. That these are really hallucinations, is manifest from the healthy state of the organs alleged to be diseased: from the frequent change of the viscus said to be affected; and from the kind and degree of indisposition. Moreover, the extreme inquietude of hypochondriacs respecting their health; the fear of one lest he be touched, because his body is composed of glass, and is so brittle that the slightest touch may occa sion its destruction; the dread of
another to go from home, because his body being a grain of barley he fears he shall be consumed by the chickens; the hopeless deprecation of the Divine vengeance by another, and the fruitlessness of reasoning in all such cases, to produce more just convictions: together with the advantage resulting from medicine, and discipline,-all shew the importance of attending to the brain. This conclusion is confirmed by the patients' frequent change of humour and expression; their overweening cordiality or suspicion-their varying mode of expression-the feebleness and changefulness of their purposes-the general timidity of their character their particular pusillanimity and fearfulness-their irrascibility without adequate cause the restlessness of their pursuits
their frequently morose reception of intended kindness-and their unprovoked jealousy, all prove the extent to which the brain, as the organ of mind, has suffered, and shew the importance of making this the first object of our attention. And if it were necessary to accumulate proofs, they might be found in the frequent disturbance of the muscular system and loss of power, amounting even to partial palsy.
It is possible, that when existing only in a slight extent, this cerebral excitation may communicate a considerable degree of activity to the intellectual operations during a certain portion of time; but in a more advanced state of the malady, the brain becomes unequal to the discharge of its functions: and thus the ideas become confused, disconnected, inconsequent, too tardy or too rapid: the mental manifestation is languid, or is excited to transient action which produces no result; the ideas become unreasonable; the sensations fallacious; and occasional delirium or absolute insanity closes the long train of morbid cerebral manifestation.
From this review of the influence of cerebral disorder, we shall only infer, that a certain state of brainular
malady always produces disordered manifestations of mind: that disordered manifestations of mind may be always traced back to functional disease of its organ: and that in such states the most unreal images are presented to the mind of the patient, with a degree of impressiveness, which supersedes the power of reason and the influence of judgment, and gives them all the attributes of simple and sober truth. Thus, then, we trust it has been proved,
That the organ through which the mind acts is material, and that it is liable to be affected by physical causes:
That it is subject to different kinds and degrees of irritation according to the particular organ which is disturbed, and which forms the first link in the chain of morbid action:
That the manifestations of mind will be proportionally disordered, and will partake of the peculiarity of this organic derangement: And, That the brain, being once overpoised from its triple balance of physical, intellectual, and moral agency, perversion of action will be the consequence and that, escaping the guidance of the will, it will continue to act on without direction, and will become liable to be deceived by disordered mental manifestations, which do in fact result only from loss of the balance of power: whether this may have been occasioned from primary or secondary physical irritation-from the overstrained employment of the brain in literary pursuit, or from the influence of powerful and exclusive emotion.
(To be continued.)
ON THE DOUBLE SENSE OF PROPHECY.
tion, that I venture to lay before your readers the result of my thoughts upon a question of so much importance as the double sense of prophecy. I am aware, that amongst those especially who entertain the deepest reverence for the word of God, any reluctance to admit the secondary or spiritual sense of prophecy is met with a certain coldness and suspicion; as if the consequence must be injurious, if not to the truth of Scripture, at least to its importance. Could I perceive the justice of this opinion, I should certainly feel bound to dismiss my present views at once. But, after all that has been said, I cannot avoid concluding, that the point in question-the double sense of prophecy-has been assumed where it ought to have been proved; that explanations of this phenomenon have been given before it has been clearly shewn that the phenomenon itself existed. I entreat, however, that this assertion may be received with an exception, most cordially made, relative to those predictions which have been declared in the New Testament to bear a secondary meaning. The instances are few in number; but they are not on that account to be treated with neglect. The question is, Do they form the exception, or the rule? Were they meant to stand apart by themselves, an insulated class of prophetic writings; or, on the contrary, to afford a key for the interpretation of other prophecies ? The whole field of prophecy, fertile as it is in matters of the deepest interest, scarcely offers a more important subject for discussion.
Bishop Marsh is well known as the zealous advocate of the former, and, among orthodox divines, the least popular, opinion. I am better satisfied, I must admit, with his lordship's conclusion, than with the
Tothe Editorofthe Christian Observer. argument upon which it stands:
IT is not without some fears lest I should incur the charge of presump
for a conclusion, although it may seem a paradox, often remains when its premises are destroyed;