Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/499

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POISONS OF THE INTELLIGENCE.

very difficult to find out any more concerning the Oriental modes of preparing hasheesh; still, though our pharmaceutical information be insufficient, we are pretty familiar with the psychic effects of the drug. I have taken it myself again and again in various doses, and have administered it to many of my friends, and whatever I shall have to say concerning its properties will be based upon my own observations. Taken in moderate doses, it produces a kind of intoxication that is very pleasant, highly advantageous for a correct knowledge of intellectual phenomena, and at the same time free from serious consequences. The worst that is to be expected when one takes either dawamesk or hafioun in suitable quantities is slight disorder of the digestion, and a little sense of heaviness and of cerebral excitation.

If one has not been told what to expect, the first effects of hasheesh pass by unnoticed; these consist of a certain motor and sensor excitability of the spinal cord. There is a twitching in the nape of the neck, the back and the legs, and a shivering that extends over the whole body. It is as though there were puffs of hot and cold air rising to the head; but withal there is a vague sense of comfortableness, and one finds himself in a state of great good-humor, as is the case of most persons after the absorption of a certain amount of alcohol. By degrees the excitation of the spinal cord produces effects that are more characteristic, as muscular exertion of every kind, walking, stretching, dancing, lifting heavy weights; but meantime the mind is calm. Suddenly, however, on hearing some chance remark, the patient is seized with a fit of laughing without any apparent cause, and this continues for a length of time. This having passed, he comes to himself again, and recognizes the first effects of the poison.

Ideas now come crowding on his brain, one following another with bewildering rapidity. Thoughts come and go without any apparent law of succession or concomitance, but in reality they are governed by the immutable laws of the association of ideas and impressions. The patient thinks the persons he sees around him very slow and dull. Language is not swift enough to give expression to his rapid thoughts. There is, as it were, an hypertrophy of ideas. What in the normal state would cause very trifling discomfort, now becomes an unbearable evil, and the patient cries and begs for commiseration. With the air of a tragic actor he will tell you that it rains, or that the wind blows. One's self-esteem is magnified, and he looks down with scorn upon the ignorance of others.

Thus, then, to say nothing as yet of the change in sensation, the moral person is entirely transformed. I am not aware that the resemblance of these phenomena to those of hysteria has ever been noticed. In general, hysterical women are very intelligent, with brilliant ideas and a lively imagination; but their mental activity labors under two defects, namely, the exaggeration of the feelings and the absence of will. The same thing is seen in the use of hasheesh.