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EARLY SYMPTOMS OF MENTAL DISORDER.
the shadowy forms of false perception, erroneous judgment, paralyzed volition, perversions of the moral sense, derangement and confusion of thought, to positive hallucinations, and clearly manifested insane delusions; and from brain-fag, cerebral lassitude, loss of mental stamina, tone, weakened memory (dysmnesz'a), actual loss of memory (amnesia), and flagging powers of attention, to obvious states of imbecility, and idiocy.
In analysing the precursory symptoms of cerebropsychical disease, it will be important to remember, that the earliest signs of appreciable deviation from mental health, often resemble, in a remarkable degree, temporary and transient exaggerations of natural and healthy conditions, or states of mind, the first symptoms of the psychical affection being recognised by certain marked deviations from ordinary phases of Many/it, and normal modes of action, or conduct.
Premonitory Symptoms of Insanity.
THIS subject is too important and comprehensive, to be analysed at any length in a work which professes to embody only an outline of incipient morbid cerebral, and psychical phenomena.
This section will be considered in the following order :
1. Anomalous, and masked afiections of the mind.
Stage of consciousness.
Exaltation of mind.
Depression of mind.
A berration of mind.
Impairment, and loss of mind.
This classification of the phenomena of disordered thought will embrace the more prominent and salient points connected with the subject of incipient insanity.
Previously, however, to my considering any one of the , preceding sections, I propose to discuss cursorily,
1. 77m present limited lcnowledye of the physioloyy q" the nervous system, and ignorance of the phenomena of mind, and li e.
2. Analoyy hetween insanity and dreaminy.
3. State of the mind, when passiny into a condition of alienation, as deduced from the written confessions quatients riter recovery.
IGNORANCE OF THE NATURE OF INSANITY.
4. .Morbicl plienomena of tlzouglzt, as mang'festecl during t/ze states of transition, and convalescence from attacks of insanity.
In order to obtain a right appreciation of the mind in its incipient, as well as matured conditions of disorder, it will be requisite for the psychological physician to analyse with metaphysical exactness, and scientific, medical precision, the intellect, when in the preceding states of unhealthy manifestation. These are four philosophical points J'appui in this important inquiry, and if elaborately and, faithfully investigated, a clearer insight may yet be obtained of morbid psychical phenomena, hitherto deemed very obscure, if not, altogether inexplicable.
Before proceeding to an analysis of the premonitory symptoms of the various types and phases of mental and cerebral disorder, it will be well to refer to, the following important preliminary interrogatories: they suggest themselves as prefatory, or starting points in this inquiry. What is insanity? Is its nature known; its essence discovered; the laws governing its phenomena understood P What is the constitution of its materies morbz' ,- the exact condition of the moral, and intellectual faculties, emotions, instincts, or passions, during, to use the significantly suggestive language of Coleridge, “ the mind’s own revolt upon itself ” P In what does mental derangement consist? Is it an affection of the moral, intellectual, emotional, or perceptive faculties, and are the reason, judgment, comparison, memory, and imagination most implicated in the malady? Is there a type of insanity manifesting itself more in conduct, than in the ideas? What is the nature, where the seat, of the alienation of mind? In which of the mental faculties does the disease commence its ravages, and where is the precise position, in the brain, of the latent insane nz'clue, or germ P"
° The subjoined poetical description of insanity was written by a lunatic
Has insanity a centrifugal or a centripetal, a subjective or, an objective origin? In less technical phraseology, do the disordered ideas of the insane depend upon centric causes of irritation and disease, operating from within to without, or are they the consequences of eccentric or, objective influences, acting from without to within; in other words, are we to consider the symptoms of mental alienation, as emanations from the brain, similar in character (to borrow an appropriate image) to the “ rays of light proceeding from a body which is itself ignited,” or, are they analogous to the rays reflected from a polished surface, in intimate organic sympathy with disordered action established in a remote part of the body?
Is insanity an affection of the mind per se? Has the disease a psychical or, a somatic origin P Is it possible for
confined in the State Asylum, Utica, U.S.A. It is interesting as proceeding from the pen of a man in an unquestionable state of mental derangement.
“ A maniac! Know ye the meaning of that word, Ye, who of health and reason art possess'd? Can ye scan The tumult raging in the inner man P Could’st thou draw aside the curtain That doth envelope his distracted soul, And see behind it, what he doth conceive is real, Then might'st thou see him scorch'd 'Pon bars of iron, heated red by fire, Enkindled ’ncath them. On every side Are those, whose office 'tis (it so doth seem to him), To see it is not quench'd. Should this delusion leave him, His poor distracted soul, will, by some new fear, Be tempest toss’d. Then will he fancy Everything that he doth see or hear, And cannot comprehend, is but some method To destroy or harm him. Thou canst not know nor feel, 0! ye, whom God hath bless'd with reason, A tithe of what he suffers: For thus to know or feel, Thou must become, like him, A maniac!" Asylum, lltica, N.Y. J. M. B.
resonance or THE MENTAL AND NERVE roses. 33
thought, in the abstract, to be diseased, independently of images occupying the consciousness? Does alienation of mind depend, not exclusively upon a psychical, or somatic cause, but upon a disturbance in the normal relations existing (in states of cerebral, and mental health) between the mental, and physical functions of the brain ?
Before endeavouring to solve these subtle and abstruse psychological problems, it will be necessary to ask what is mind? Have we any knowledge of its nature, clue to its seat, accurate idea as to its mode of action, or anything approximating to a right conception, of its essence? “That are the modifications, the metamorphoses, organic or functional, which the vital principle, and nerve-force undergo, during their passage through the exquisitely organized, and highly vascular cineritious, or vesicular brain structure?
How does the occult mental principle, believed by physiologists to be evolved or eliminated in the yrey matter of the brain, become so mysteriously and marvellously changed from nerve, to mental force, and vice versa', in the hemispherical ganglia? Is the development of psychical phenomena the result of what is termed, a correlation of the two preceding modes of dynamical action, or, is mind a new creation, essence, principle, or power, organized or elaborated in the vesicular portions of the cerebral mass?
“'hat is the nature of the vis nervosa of Haller? Is the brain a galvanic battery, and are the nerves constituted, for the transmission of impressions, like electric wires? ls the mysterious and undefinable "fluid," or “force,” circulating in the nerve tubes, :1 voltaic current, in other words, a principle identical with that of electricity, or one, in its essence, origin, and operations, entirely sm' yeneris? \Vhat is the via vita, and how is it associated with, and dependent upon, organized structures? What are the