Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/501

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POISONS OF THE INTELLIGENCE.

ghost, he has an illusion. Illusion presupposes an actual sensation, the perception of which is exaggerated and erroneous, whereas hallucination comes spontaneously without requiring a sensation to give rise to it. Now, under the hasheesh influence, the sensations are exaggerated so as to produce endless illusions. The slightest sound becomes a crash, and we hear the fall of waters, the roar of cataracts, the blare of trumpets, or brilliant harmonies. I have seen persons, naturally almost insensible to music, lifted by a few musical notes into an ecstasy such as we read of in the lives of saints. But, for a description of all these sensations, I would refer the reader to the brilliant pages of Théophile Gautier's "Club des Hachichins."

I will not go over ground trod by Gautier, but will content myself with touching upon another point of psychological interest. We will suppose the illusion to be stronger than anything noticed in the foregoing instances; that instead of being a simple disorder of the perceptive faculties, it affects the conceptive powers. Under normal conditions, external impressions awaken manifold ideas in our minds; besides the association of ideas, there is association of impressions with ideas. For instance, a certain taste, smell, or sound, gives rise to a multitude of conceptions that follow one another according to the direction we may be pleased to give them. The faculty of attention enables us to check the uprising of the conceptions called forth by the taste, smell, or sound. Often, while attention is fixed on an object, we neither hear nor see what is passing without. In reality we do see and hear, but these sensations are obliterated, and pass out of the mind without leaving a trace behind. In the use of hasheesh, in virtue of the loss of will, the intensity of the perceptions, and the excitation of the brain, every external impression calls forth a series of delirious conceptions, and there is no check.

Dr. Moreau lays great stress on the resemblance subsisting between these hasheesh illusions and the systematic delirium of the insane. In most lunatics the delirious idea has its origin in fact, in a sensation, a pain, an impression from without. This forms for them the logical basis of a system of erroneous judgments. If, for instance, they suffer from nausea or gastric pains, they say they have been poisoned; that their enemies have mixed poison with their food. Precisely the same thing is found in the use of hasheesh. Every sensation immediately calls forth an insane thought, or rather a thousand such thoughts. Hence it really appears as though the veil were rent in twain, and that by the use of this drug we are enabled to witness the mind itself at its work. The mysterious and silent travail which in the normal state produces our thoughts and judgments is no longer either mysterious or silent: we can see how the whole is connected, and can look on while ideas are being evolved. But, unfortunately, under the hasheesh influence one is no longer master of his own thoughts, and must, perforce, follow them in their disorderly course. Here we observe close resemblance between