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illorbid Phenomena of Intelligence.
THE brain, being the material instrument of the intelligence, the physical media through which the mind manifests its varied powers, it is in conformity with the rules of logic, and, in obedience to the laws of inductive reasoning, to infer, that no changes in its structure or investing membranes can take place, no alteration in the quality of the vital fluid, or anatomical character or calibre of the numerous bloodvessels that circulate and ramify through its substance can exist, without, to some extent, interfering with, or modifying its psychical functions. Cases, however, are on record, in which serious injury has been done to the brain during life without damaging the intelligence, and considerable encephalic disorganization (as the result of disease) has taken place, no aberration, exaltation, depression, or impairment of the mind, having been observed, previously to death. If such cases have occurred, they must be considered either of a rare and exceptional character, or, as pathological curiosities, unless, in every instance, the alteration of structure is strictly confined to one hemisphere, or restricted to the fibrous, or conducliny part of the nervous structure, the vesicular matter, and its minute vessels remaining intact, and entirely free from all morbid change, or abnormal modification. Is it possible to conceive any great extent of disorganization, even in the medullary portion of the cerebral mass, to exist, without impli
rerscr or msmsn or THE BRAIN ON THE MIND. 25
eating, to some degree, the grey matter of the brain, and, as a consequence, deranging the phenomena of thought?
It is not my intention to discuss in this work the complex questions (physiological and metaphysical) involved in an analysis of the psycho-somatic relation or union between mind, and matter, life, and organization. It is sufficient for my purpose to affirm, as a general yosfulale, that all structural lesions of the encephalon, its investing membranes and bloodvessels, are associated with some derangement, modification, or altered action of the psyclu'cal, molorial, or seasonal functions of the great cerebral ganglion (wpdrrov Awdr'rrnpwv) the sensorz'um commune.
Softening of the brain, abscesses, tumours, atrophy, induration, and other forms of cerebral disorganization, have, it is alleged, been discovered in the brain after death, without having disordered, or even impaired the intelligence during life. But are not these unusual and anomalous cases?
If the mental and cerebral condition of those who have been represented to have died of organic disease of the brain, apparently in full possession of their intellectual, sensorial, and motorial powers, had been subjected to a close and rigid analysis, some degree of disorder, or impairment of these functions would, I believe, in many cases have been detected. We are too much disposed to form hasty generalizations in these cases, and to infer, that because the patient talks rationally foratime, on ordinary subjects, is under the influence of no appreciable illusion, hallucination, or aberration, that, therefore, the intellect is unclouded, and the brain in a perfectly sound and normal state. Such apparently healthy psychical, and cerebral manifestations, are quite consistent with the existence of encephalic disease, impairment, and even of actual latent, and concealed mental aberration. These conditions of the brain, and mind, would, I believe, be more frequently detected, if sufficient time were devoted to their analytical investigation, and, accurate, pathological, and psychical diagnostic tests, were scientifically employed by experts, practically acquainted with the art of examining the subtle phenomena of insanity.
It has been observed, “ that could we see the interior workings of such intellects, they would be found altered, limited, perverted, or changed in some way from their normal condition, although it may not be discovered in their ewiernal manifestations. It should be recollected that there are many oddities which are dependent upon cerebral conditions, but which pass for mental peculiarities, and in this way the disordered actions escape notice. Yet t/ee rule will be found logically true, that wherever there has been found the trace of organic cerebral change, there also will have been disturbed mental manifestations.”
I affirm, that in every case of disease of the encephalon, particularly if the organic change or pressure be established in the vesicular matter, or in the membranes immediately investing the brain, a disordered,or abnormal state of cerebro-psychical phenomena may, in the incipient stage, on careful examination, be detected.
Having made these preliminary remarks, I proceed to the investigation of the first, or psychical section of the subject.
‘ The mind may be in a state of morbid—
These conditions of unhealthy intelligence, exhibit in their origin, progress, and termination, a variety of
EMOTIONAL EXALTATION AND EXCITEMENT. 27
shades and degrees of disturbance, and disease, commensurate with the nature, extent, and position of the cerebral lesion. '
The state of mind, included under the head exaltation, often resembles, in its earlier manifestations, a trifling exuberance, excessive buoyancy, an unnatural elasticity, extravagance, or exhilaration of the spirits. The patient is unusually cheerful, indulges in great volubility and violence of speech, is boisterously loquacious, and manifests phases of hysterical, emotional, and pleasurable psyc/u'cal, as well as physical exaltation, rarely considered, in the early stages of diseases of the brain, and alienation of mind, to be symptomatic of morbid cerebral, or disordered, menial conditions.
“ E ai volti troppo alti e repentini
This unnatural, and, often suddenly developed flow of animal spirits, frequently merges into a state of unhealthy mental exaltation, and morbid cerebral excitement, clearly indicative of organic disease of the brain, irritation, congestion, or inflammation of its investing membranes, unhealthy blood poisoning the encephalic mass, disordered states of nerve nutrition, retained excretions, or, disturbed conditions of the cerebral circulation.
When considering the second division of the subject, viz., that of mental depression, it will be apparent that this phase of mental disorder often ranges, from mere listlessness, slight degrees of depression of spirits, taedium vitae (the “ afra cura ” of Horace), and ennui, to profound conditions of despondcncy, despair, and acute melancholia,
. Our own illustrious poet thus gives expression to the same idea :—
“ These violent delights have violent ends,
frequently urging its unhappy victim to the commission of suicide?“
It is in this state of insane thought, that a terrible struggle occasionally ensues, between an intensely morbid, and often, irresistible impulse to suicide, and the natural instinct of love of life, and self-preservation, as well as antagonistic principles of worldly prudence, religion, and morality, that are occasionally happily seen to retain a mastery, and exercise a controlling influence over the mind, goaded on by disease, to self-destruction.
In the morbid mental affections included under the heads of, aberration and impairment, are observed various gradations(blending almost imperceptibly with each other) of psychical disorder, and weakness, extending from
. It is a fallacy to suppose, a state of ennui to be one of brain rest, and psychical inactivity. It is, in many cases, an active condition of the mind, unaccompanied by the pleasurable, and, consequently, healthy gratifimtion, usually associated with ordinary phases of intellectual labour, and emotional excitement. “ In life," says Pascal, “ we always believe that we are seeking repose, while, in reality, all that we seek is agitation." “ Is," says Sir W. Hamilton, " the ‘far niente'—is that doing nothing in which so many find so sincere a gratification, in reality a negation of activity, and not in truth itself an activity intense and varied? To do nothing in this sense is simply to do nothing irksomc, nothing difiicult, nothing fatiguing, especially to do no outward work. But is the mind internally the while unoccupied and inert? This, on the contrary, may be vividly alive; may be intently engaged in the spontaneous play of imagination; and so far, therefore, in this case, from pleasure being the concomitant of inactivity, the activity is, on the contrary, at once vigorous and unimpeded. * ‘ ¥ * Ennui is a state in which we find nothing on which to exercise our powers; but ennui is a state of pain. All energy, all occupation, is either play or labour. In the former, the energy appears as free and spontaneous ; in the latter, as either compulsorin put forth, or its exertion so impeded by difficulties that it is only continued by a forced and painful efl'ort, in order to accomplish certain ulterior ends. Under certain circumstances, play may become a labour, and labour may become play."
A mind en-nuyed, may unconsciously be occupied in the contemplation of mentally distressing, and physically laborious and depressing thoughts. Let us, therefore, not flatter ourselves with the illusion, that a life of idleness and inactivity is necessarily one of repose, rest, and freedom from painfully-perturbed thoughts. How true it is—
“ A want of occupation gives no rest;