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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 19.djvu/291

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POPULAR MISCELLANY.

ing from a quarter of a minute to five minutes, to a bath of water at 50°, in which he took notice of the temperature of the subject during the exposure and every five minutes in succeeding hours. During the application of the cold, while the subject showed every sign of very intense sensations, the temperature of the body hardly varied at all, or, at most, less than half a degree from that recorded in the beginning. It still varies but little after the application is over, if, having been dried and dressed, the subject remains perfectly still; but if he exert himself actively, either immediately or after a time of immobility, so as to bring on the external phenomena of cold reaction, the temperature suddenly falls. The reduction persists for several hours, and is more pronounced as the sensation of heat in the subject is stronger. On the other hand, if chill continue or reappear, the animal temperature either does not fall or begins to rise again. The pulse suddenly becomes very quick at the beginning of the cold application; its velocity diminishes after a few seconds, and by the end of the experiment returns to the original rate, or falls below it. The retardation stops or progresses slowly if the subject keeps quiet, but becomes more pronounced and persistent as he gives signs of energetic reaction and of a general sensation of heat.

 

The Reality of Hypnotic Phenomena.—The "Lancet" publishes an article of Dr. Charles Richet, considering the reality of the phenomena of hypnotism. It is impossible to fix upon a decisive test in this matter. We know that a fact is scientifically certain when the phenomenon, which is the evidence of it, can be reproduced at will by all persons who will use the same processes, as in the case of any chemical or physical manipulation. The phenomena of hypnotism are uncertain, intangible, and variable; different persons, even though employing identical processes, are liable to obtain very different results. The only absolute sign possible is one's own experience, and that is applicable only to himself. There are, however, certain arguments which bear upon the ease with almost, if not quite, the force of a demonstration. First, it is absurd to suppose that all hypnotized persons have simulated sleep. Friends, in whom we have absolute confidence, may be among them; it is not possible to believe that they have conspired all at once to deceive us. Second, a close agreement has prevailed among certain of the phenomena of the manifestations for sixty years. "That would be a very strange simulation to be reproduced so often, in so long a time, with the same appearances—closed eyelids, fibrillar movements in the muscles of the face, hallucinations of vision and hearing, catalepsy, contracture"—and this among persons strangers to each other and who may be wholly ignorant of hypnotism. Third, many of the phenomena can not be simulated without a profound knowledge of anatomy and physiology, which hardly any hypnotics possess. When the nerves of the hypnotized person are pressed, the muscles supplied by them contract. Who among them knows what muscles should act under the influence of a particular nerve? Yet no mistake is made. "With somnambulists one can, by direct incitation, cause contraction of the muscles (rudimentary in man) moving the auricle of the ear. Now, this contraction is impossible in the individual when awake." With a certain hysteric, who came under Dr. Richet's observation, "by opening the right eye aphasia was produced; while, by opening the left eye, no such effect was obtained. Certainly, if this be simulation, one must assume that the patient knows that speech is affected by the left cerebral hemisphere, and that the retina of the right eye is in relation with this hemisphere, while the right hemisphere is useless for speech." The hysterical contractures afford equally convincing evidence. "There is no individual strong enough to preserve voluntarily the contraction of a muscle during a quarter of an hour without one perceiving in it the slightest tendency to weakness or relaxation. Now, somnambulists maintain their contractures for many hours, and on waking they have no recollection of, no fatigue from, this prolonged and improbable effort." Again, insensibility may be feigned; "but how many persons are there who would have the courage to bear, without serious reason, pricks in the face, on the nostrils, or bands; to allow their hair