Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/733

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HALLUCINATIONS OF THE SENSES.

kind of assault upon them. Over and over again the experiment has been tried of proving to the hallucinated patient in every possible way, and by every imaginable device, that his perceptions are false, but in vain:

". . . . You may as well

Forbid the sea for to obey the moon
As or by oath or counsel shake
The fabric of his folly, whose foundation is
Piled upon his faith, and will continue
The standing of his body."

There is more to be done to prevent hallucinations, I think, than to cure them; that is to say, by prudent care of the body and wise culture of the mind. Looking to their mode of origin, it is obviously of the first importance, trite maxim as it may seem, to keep the body in good health; for not only will bodily disorder directly occasion hallucinations by disturbance of the sensory centres, but by its depressing influence on the entire nervous system it hinders sound, and predisposes to unsound, thought and feeling. Every one knows how hard a matter it is to perceive accurately, to feel calmly, and to think clearly, when the liver is out of order; there is then a good foundation for hallucination. It has so long been the habit to exalt the mind as the noble, spiritual, and immortal part of man, at the expense of the body, as the vile, material, and mortal part, that, while it is not thought at all strange that every possible care and attention should be given to mental cultivation, a person who should give the same sort of careful attention to his body would be thought somewhat meanly of. And yet I am sure that a wise man, who would ease best the burden of life, cannot do better than watchfully to keep undefiled and holy—that is, healthy—the noble temple of his body. Is it not a glaring inconsistency that men should pretend to fall into ecstasies of admiration of the temples which they have built with their own hands, and to claim reverence for their ruins, and, at the same time, should have no reverence for, or should actually speak contemptuously of, that most complex, ingenious, and admirable structure which the human body is? However, if they really neglect it, it is secure of its revenge; no one will come to much by his most strenuous mental exercises, except upon the basis of a good organization—for a sound body is assuredly the foundation of a sound mind.

In respect of the mental cultivation to be adopted, in order to guard against hallucination, I can now only briefly and vaguely enforce one important principle—namely, the closest, most exact, and sincere converse with nature, physical and human. Habitual contact with realities in thought and deed is a strong defense against illusions of all sorts. We must strive to make our observation of men and things so exact and true, must so inform our minds with true perceptions, that there shall be no room for false perceptions. Calling to mind what has been said concerning the nature of perception—how the most complete