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SOME EFFECTS OF UNNOTICED INSANITY.
To the feeling and reflecting there be regarded as comparatively uns cannot be a subject of more profound cessful in his attempts to reach to any interest than insanity. The man of precise knowledge of its intellectual quickest sensibility and of the most principle. elevated and concentrated intellect The hallucinations of delirium and will frequently be compelled to reflect the dim phantoms of dreaming have how near he may in possibility stand been traced into an affinity with the to its blighted and fearful verge. He phenomena of mental aberration by will most fully and sensibly appreciate many writers upon this latter subject. the whole extent of the most fatal inci. They are all, it is not to be denied, dent within the compass of mortal ap- reducible to some mode of organic afprehension; the living separation from fection, of which mind is the part the pursuits of life and the sympathies affected of our compound nature. All, of kind; the morbid fears and haunting too, present many similar indications phantoms of the brain; the embittering and results. They are, nevertheless, passions; the perverted perceptions perfectly distinct, and in their principal and reasonings, and the moral death. indications wholly different. "That a These consequences which we here class of affections, the operation of which enumerate as attendant upon the milder is probably confined to one small organ, forms of this dreadful disease render it should not only exhibit many common superfluous to dwell upon the more characters, but even in some of their revolting but not more truly afflicting various forms closely approximate, or forms which retain no trace of humanity even become identical, may be quite but a frightful outward semblance. consistent with this position. And we
Of late years insanity has become do not deny that if of these any one is the subject of much humane and en more open to experimental investigalightened consideration. Its treatment tion than the rest, the kindred tribe is become more rational and humane, of affections may (within due limits) be and a merciful limit has been placed legitimately concluded upon from the to the legal construction of lunacy. facts thus derived. But we suspect that The saner capabilities of the person merely theoretical inquirers are often thus unhappily visited are allowed for, misdirected by the light of this ingeand no one is now liable to be on the nious analogy: and, if we may use the slightest foundation deprived of any phrase, we think that the morals and legal or natural privilege consistent metaphysics of insanity might be both with his own welfare and the safety of more successfully and usefully explored others.
in a different direction. The connexion The physiologist and the metaphy- between the mind and its diseased sical inquirer have also not been idle, operations might (one should suppose) nor have their labours been altogether be more successfully traced in those fruitless. The first has, from a large cases in which the ordinary operations induction of well-considered cases, as of the intellect are still discernible in certained all that is likely to be known combination with derangement, than of the forms and indications of this where it can scarcely be said to exist disease, and arrived at the probable in its natural condition. Nothing, ioinference as to its organic nature: while deed, can apparently be more remotely the precise description of organic dis- different from each other than many of order, or the precise organ affected, these disorders to which the term inremains to exert the industry and per- sanity is applied. The ferocious maseverance of future inquirers.
niac, whose looks and actions, as well With more ingenuity, but far less as utterances, are below the level of success, the metaphysical student, pro- the wild beast, the moping idiot, at secuting his researches, sometimes in whose foul resemblance humanity shudconjunction with the former, some- ders—how broadly are they separated, times apart, has traced to a considerable in every feature, from the refined and extent the moral and intellectual cha- exquisitely subtle mono-maniac whose racters of insanity, while he is still to intellect is manifested on every topic,
with more than natural activity and in When we undertake to comment upon telligence, while he is affected by some the moral and social effects of insanity, apparently slight error upon one sub- it will be understood that the objects ject. On this slight error depend re- of our notice must be chiefly found besults, curious, melancholy, and most im- yond the ordinary scope of professional portant, under whatever aspect they experience. And although correct are viewed: not because they are the reasoning requires that the slightest workings of disease; but because they modification of disease must be stated are the results of sane intellect go- as such, yet we shall be best understood yerned and guided by diseased intel- by considering these effects as reducilect.
ble to a place among the ordinary Of such cases the common indication moral and social causes of which the is, preeminently acute perception of operation is or might be similar. That all that passes, mingled with and inter- peculiar effect to which we have appreted according to some perverted per- plied the term social, has indeed no ception : with this is often combined the essential connection with its cause ; as most subtle, and exactest logic, deducing it is the influence which the aberrations rigidly the most fallacious and revolting of one may be sometimes observed to conclusions, from the most nonsensical have on others. The moral may siassumptions. Such persons we have milarly be traced to processes, which, frequently conversed with on almost however originated, yet lie strictly every topic within the range of or- within the natural and saner workings dinary information ; and always had of the mind. occasion to admire the prompt in It is also of some importance to telligence and sound judgment which premise, that the application of the mostly accompanied their opinions— term, insanity, would be disputed in so long as the one dark thought could most of the particular instances which be kept in abeyance. So remarkable, fall within our notice; as they are outindeed, are the intellectual qualifica- side the limit of legal, or even, for the tions, thus dwelling as it were on the most part, of medical cognizance. But borders of insanity, that we have known the actual phenomena of nature are not one instance of very aggravated mono- limited by those arbitrary distinctions, mania, the subject of which was the which are best understood as containadviser to whom most of his friends ing rules of application ; and as fixing and neighbours resorted for counsel in those lines of demarcation which are all matters of difficulty and delicacy; required to govern the uncertainty of and this even long after the influence human knowledge. of a single error had so perverted his There is nothing more important to views, that in all things relative to his the friends of one affected with, or liable own concerns he was nearly childish. to this disease, than to be distinctly acSuch is the class of cases to which we quainted with the circumstances of its are desirous to call attention, and this treacherous growth and progress, which, not for the sake of any new light we in many cases, baffle all observation, can expect to add to professional until it is past the power of all remeknowledge or opinion, but because dial means. In many instances, neither we think that the phenomena of which the mental or bodily symptoms are we shall speak have not been suffi- such as even remotely to suggest the ciently observed, and are in some re- melancholy truth. The slight disorders spects important.
of the stomach and bowels, which so
On a subject so deeply interesting and so little understood, it is impossible to resist the temptations of a theory. Neither is it easy to find distinct language quite free from the adulteration of some professional system. Opinion is so closely related to language, that we cannot use the latter without being involved in the assumptions which it seems to convey, unless by having recourse to the cautious definitions and circumlocutions of a formal treatise. In a summary sketch like the present, we can only throw ourself upon the charities of liberal construction. Our remarks are independent of any creed; and we only notice certain opinions to show that they do not (necessarily) lessen the truth of our own.
often accompany the earlier stages of their nature, and from the feelings, and mental derangement are such as to be re- even reputations they involve, be ferable to many causes, but mostly too dragged into the full daylight of public slight to be thought worthy of medical discussion ; we cannot dissect, the assistance. Should it, however, be living, even though they may be insenresorted to, there is seldom anything to sible to the knife; nor can we even have guide the attention of the physician to the benefit of accurately. stating an the fact The indications of mental anonymous case, because the facts of derangement having been not recognised such cases are, in their nature, too as such, are omitted both by the pa- special to escape personal application. tient and his friends; and the physician What secms indeed to be a strange has nothing before him but a very com- phenomenon of insanity is, the wondermon dyspeptic case, for which, as it is ful uniformity of the illusions to which but symptomatic of concealed disorder, it gives birth. It seems to be unache prescribes with little, and that not countable that two persons in quite permanent, success. Even when these different stations, and having no intersymptoms have assumed a more decided course with each other should agree in character, it seldom occurs to resort to entertaining fancies, founded altogether medical aid. The resources of domes- upon the accidents of society, or upon tic quackery still appear to be sufficient the seemingly accidental errors of theofor the commonest and least fearful of retical reasoning. Of such a nature is, human ailments ; and the hypochon for instance, the fancy of being haunted driacal symptoms, though more decided- by a ventriloquist, or of being poisoned ly perceptible, are not yet referred in food. Yet such is not merely a to their true character. In this stage common case, but, we have some reason also, by a very common perversion, to believe, among the most common the state of mental depression, and the class of cases. constant recurrence of complaint, are That class of cases to which we shall explained into what is called hippish- now give our entire attention, is by ness, and appealed to as a kind of proof, far the most usual in life ; yet least that there is no disease-thus finding studied by the professional; as it a treacherous security in the most ag- must, for the most part, appear in a gravated proofs of danger.
more aggravated form to arrive within A very similar, but much more se- their peculiar province of observation. rious, error takes place with respect to
We shall content ourselves with poputhe moral and intellectual changes, larly describing it as a state of morbid which are seldom slow in making their suspicion, which mostly begins with appearance, with more or less intensity, suspecting individuals, and ends with and produce consequences which, while suspecting mankind. The importance they destroy the happiness of their as well as the difficulty of this case is victim, extend on every side around owing to the fact of its similarity, both him, and but too often cloud the peace in its mode of exhibition and operation, of families with suspicions and resent as well as moral results, to the common meuts, of which they do not often dis- conduct of sane persons. He who cover the source, until the evil is done. imagines that he is made of glass,
This last is one of those prominent, or that his head is put on the wrong but little noticed, phenomena, to call way, stands at once separated, by a attention to which is the main object broad and well-marked line, from sanity. of this notice of the subject. We have, But it is different with respect to in the course of our own experience, the person who imagines his nearest had the opportunity of witnessing the friends, or the servants of his house, to curious, but most nielancholy and fatal be in some way leagued in enmity process, by which the utter ruin of the against him ;-the thing is not imposhappiness and union of whole families, sible, and he has reasons, which, if they as well as of the principal person, were not the result of illusion, might has been the consequence of an ig. be founded in fact, and are still probanorance of causes and a misconstruction ble. · His error, and particularly his of effects, which to those who judged first error, is inostly quite natural ; he more justly, wore the appearance of lights upon some object of suspicion infatuation. Such cascs cannot, from such as to afford very specious grounds ;
he assumes that his next heir desires to avail himself of an opportunity to his death—and is probably right ; but unburthen his mind ; and presently the cause of this suspicion is disease, informed him that another well-known and the grounds are false ; still they person in his own trade was anxious are natural grounds, and hypochondriac to supplant him with his customers, suspicion converts them into observed and employed persons for this purfacts. Every one is aware of this ten- pose to malign his character. of dency of the suspicious mind, even in this he was in the first instance conthe absence of disease. The soundest vinced by the hostility of his looks rninded man will seldom long entertain and manner on several late occasions ; an error, in which his feelings are in that he had watched also his interany way concerned, without soon find- course with many eminent
persons, ing abundant reasons to confirm the whose watches he had himselt
' made : notion. The slightest fact is enough these had also betrayed that they when interpreted by prepossession. were set against him, by the strangeThus, a suspicion engendered by in ness of their manner and by the quessanity will, besides the diseased per tions they asked him in his own shop. ception, be fomented and increased in Against all this, little could be replied; its action, by the natural process : and a for he stated a variety of minute facts, thousand minute observations of words, which, as he stated them, gave the looks, and actions, partly distorted, and strongest color to his story. His coupartly, or wholly, misinterpreted, will sin was completely imposed upon, and quickly afford grounds sufficient for the by confirming his story, led his wife serutiny of such reasoning as the sub and children also to believe him and to ject himself can apply, or his friends adopt his resentinent.
The first conoffer. These errors, when questioned sequence of this was, that they all in confidential intercourse, he can main- joined him in slandering and doing tain by facts, which no one can under various ill offices to this supposed take to deny, and by reasons which are enemy. After a little time he was perfectly consequent upon these facts ; observed to become much more gloomy, so that more or less, his friends are de- reserved, and capricious in his fits of ceived, and taking his facts upon his reserve; and one day assured his unimpeachable veracity, acquiesce in his cousin, that everywhere he went he reasons, and adopt bis conclusions. So was insulted by some one, and that far, we assume two facts : that the in there could no longer be the least sane person is in the first stage of in doubt that he was to become the tellectual aberration, and that he is victim of some horrid conspiracy against surrounded only by persons who are his life. Every one stared at him, not aware of the nature of insanity. he said, as if he were a monster ; and
The first ordinary indications of this he could hear some muttering frightful cuse, though various as to particulars- hints as they passed. His cousin, who because they are mostly colored and was a simple person, and quite unacformed out of the peculiar profession quainted with insanity, still had sense and habits of the individual—are yet enough to perceive that there was easily represented by a case, to which much in these stories not easily acall the rest will be found to bear the counted for, and hinted that he thought strictest relation of class.
The other frankly acknowledged An eminent watchmaker was ob that it was unaccountable to himself, served by his near relations to fall into but that the evidence of his
and a sullen, reserved, and brooding habit ; ears was not to be set aside. He could his anxiety about his trade perceptibly scarcely believe that he, or any one, dimiuished, and he took very much to without having committed some dreadsolitary walks in the suburbs of D ful crime, could thus become the object He had a cousin, to whom he had of universal execration and espionage. always been much attached. This He added that he had sure reason to person, at the instance of his wife, know that some of his most intimate deavoured to discover the occasion of friends were concerned in it; as this his seeming dejection, and songht an alone could account for the certainty opportunity of confidential talk with and rapidity with which all his motions his relation. The other seemed gladly became known to the public ; nor
could he conceive why none of his improbable incidents, he went on to family took any step in his defence, incidents which were impossible. And unless they were, for some iniquitous after setting whole families by the ears reason, become accessory to the plot. together, he was discovered to be far He then told, as facts, some occur- gone in madness by all. rences which strongly heightened this This case is an accurate sketch of suspicion ; and although they were half a dozen which have taken place quite inconsistent with the known within our immediate observation, and characters and babits of the persons probably of hundreds which existconcerned, they were yet so speciously traceable only by the extensive misand circumstantially told, that the chief they have occasioned. The cousin, knowing his character for ve- effects which we have loosely menracity, could not deny or explain them tioned are, indeed, but a small part of away.
those which actually take place. Some The next stage of this malady took of them we shall presently notice. place elsewhere. One morning early These illusions, together with the he was missing at the breakfast-table; moral influence they exert upon the but a note was left for his mother, say- mind, increase often with great rapidity. ing that he was obliged to travel upon Their advances are, as in the above commercial business, and could not case, concealed by the spirit of distrust return for some weeks. The next ac- and reserve so often consequent upon count was a visit from a very low per- insanity. The action of the intelson, who had attended him for some lectual faculties becomes more intense ; time in his walks, to say that he had observation becomes morbidly acute, a letter desiring him immediately to and suspicion distorts all that is heard have his entire stock of watches sold or seen into assumed intents—the off at the highest bidding, and to remit perceptions of sense become subject the amount to himself. Upon the to the illusions of the mind--the cun. annoyance and suffering of his wife, ning is quickened, and the power children, and mother, it forms no part of specious misrepresentation grows of our intent to speak : that they were almost irresistible. There mostly too very great may be well conceived.
increased intelligence Some of his relations were living in upon such general subjects as the city of B-- To these he went, within the usual scope of the obserand made his hapless story known with vation or knowledge. The conduct of great fulness of detail, mentioning new acquaintances and neighbours is disparticulars, which he had concealed cussed with so much clearness and from his own family at D--. They plausibility, and everything that prewere shocked to learn that his mother sents itself to the mind, so well underand wife had joined in a plot with his stood, that there is much added cousin to take away his life by a slow difficulty in suspecting a disease, the poison ; and that ihey had circulated nature of which is commonly, but reports of his conduct and character erroneously, supposed at variance with for the purpose of preventing the re- all this. Hence, when the turn of the sentment of the town. They whis. insane person's mind is misanthropic, pered about that he was a monster, and another cause of mischief arises. We had contrived to produce a general can recollect, in one unhappy case abhorrence against him. All this was which came within our notice, eight so avouched by strong facts, that it or ten persons, who were the acquaintwas impossible to doubt his account; ances of an hypochondriac-each firmly and he was immediately joined in persuaded that all the rest were the measures of an exceedingly cruel and greatest scoundrels breathing. Until vindictive nature against his own family the course of circumstances and the at D
accidental comparison of notes, undeSome time further elapsed—and the ceived one or two of them entirely, same series of observations and com- and the rest partially, and but partially, plaints which had taken place in for it requires more than ordinary D -, began at B-:but with such attention to disentangle a web of true manifest exaggeration, as to cause and fictitious facts, such as the ingesuspicions of the truth. From telling nuity and the poisoned fancy of