Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/500

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But there are other phenomena that are still more characteristic of hasheesh, especially its effects on our notions of time and space. Under its influence, time seems to be of interminable length. Between two clearly-conceived ideas the patient descries a host of others that are indeterminate and incomplete, and of which he is only dimly conscious; but he is filled with admiration at their number and vastness. Now we measure time by the memory of the ideas that have passed through the mind, and hence an instant appears immensely long to one under the hasheesh influence. Suppose, as is common enough in the use of this drug, that in the space of one second fifty different thoughts enter the brain; now, since in the normal state it requires several minutes to conceive fifty different thoughts, the inference will be that many minutes have gone by. Seconds become years, and minutes become ages.

This illusion has no parallel; yet in dreaming, or rather in that intermediate state which is neither sleeping nor waking, we experience something similar. I recollect having been at work one day with a friend, and, as I felt drowsy, asking him to let me sleep for a few minutes. On awaking, I was assured by him that I had slept hardly a second; and yet in that brief time I had had a very complicated dream, and, in consequence of the multiplicity of my thoughts, the time had appeared to be of considerable length. So, if a person be awakened by some sudden, loud noise, he will oftentimes, in the fraction of a second, pass in imagination through scenes and adventures of a very complicated nature. A like illusion may be procured at will by shutting the eyes while one is riding in a carriage: under such circumstances the journey will appear to have no end; on opening the eyes from time to time, and observing the landmarks, the progress will seem to be extremely slow.

But in dreaming and in sleep this illusion as to the lapse of time is vague and ill-defined. Under the influence of hasheesh, on the contrary, it becomes singularly definite. Nor is the illusion of the sight less astonishing, which causes inconsiderable distances to appear enormously great. I do not know whether this illusion has been observed under any other conditions than those of hasheesh-poisoning, nor can I offer any rational explanation of it. It is difficult even to describe it. It causes a bridge, an avenue, to stretch out to unheard-of lengths. On going up a ladder, the rounds appear to reach up to the sky. A river whose opposite bank is in sight becomes an arm of the sea. And, besides these two illusions of space and time, which by-the-way often persist twenty-four hours or more, there are other illusions of the strangest kind imaginable. Hallucinations, on the contrary, are infrequent, though one remarkable instance has been observed by Dr. Moreau, of Tours.

It is oftentimes very hard to draw the distinction between illusion and hallucination, but nevertheless there is a difference between these two manifestations of morbid psychic activity. When an insane patient sees at his elbow a walking, talking spectre, he has an hallucination. But if in a dark forest, at night, one takes some deformed trunk for a