Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/466

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as she recovered, exhibited, among other things, the following remarkable powers:

"After lying for a considerable time quiet, she would in an instant throw her whole body into a kind of convulsive spring, by which she was thrown entirely out of bed; and in the same manner, while sitting or lying on the floor, she would throw herself into bed, or leap on the top of a wardrobe fully five feet high. During the whole of these symptoms her mind continued entire, and the only account she could give of her extravagance was, a secret impulse which she could not resist."[1]

This case cannot be disposed of by saying that the movements were convulsive, because it is evident that they were definitely combined and adjusted to the production of a well-defined result—the landing of the patient's body either upon the floor, the bed, or the wardrobe—so that a certain amount of mentality or volition accompanied the result; this she herself was aware of, and called it a "secret impulse." It is also evident that the movements were very complex, and required a special and peculiar coördination of a great many muscles; in-fact, nearly every voluntary muscle of the body. The only conclusion at which we can arrive is, that the patient, in the abnormal state into which disease had thrown her, was able to draw upon an inheritance of muscular capacity to which she had matured, but which she had not been called upon to use before.

Dr. Abercrombie also relates the following case: A young lady, fifteen years of age, was subject to attacks of catalepsy, in consequence of a fall from a horse.

"On one occasion, she was playing from a book a piece of music which was new to her, and had played a part of it, when she was seized with a cataleptic attack. During the paroxysm she continued to play this part, and repeated it five or six times in the most correct manner; but, when she recovered from the attack, she could not play it without the book."[2]

In this case the young lady was able to execute, in the cataleptic state, what she apparently had not learned and could not execute when out of that state. From this and similar cases it would seem that much of our inherited voluntary command over our muscles is ordinarily disguised or marked, as it were—held in abeyance—how or why we know not, and we are enabled to get glimpses of it during those states of mental and organic spontaneity and mobility which, for want of a better name, we call abnormal, and which often seem temporarily to put the individual en rapport with the secret chambers of his own boundless wealth—the countless treasures of ages of accumulation.

The following case, taken from the Globe-Democrat, of St. Louis, Missouri, is as remarkable, perhaps, as any of a similar character on record:

  1. Abercrombie, "Diseasse of the Brain and Spinal Cord," p. 292.
  2. Ibid., pp. 293-295.