Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 23.djvu/647

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INSANITY.

ally reanimated human bodies after death; and this fancy I must have got from a dramatic work by Bishop Coxe, entitled "Saul," in which the evil spirit sent to trouble that unfortunate monarch reanimated and took possession of the body of a priest whom Saul had slain. I mention these instances as serving to show the dream-like character of insanity.

I was confined in an asylum, and during the first part of the time I thought I was unjustly imprisoned, I knew not why, and that my friends were not far off, doing all they could to liberate me. I could hear them, as I thought, talking to me from some place not far distant. Many insane patients, with whom I have conversed, while they and I were convalescing, have told me that they also had heard similar voices, and been deceived much in the same way. This is called "false-hearing." Since my recovery I have had several attacks of it, but not to such an extent as to create any delusion. Sometimes after a day's hard work, or after reading or writing too long, I have heard voices that sounded as though they were out-doors, or in an adjoining room, or in the air. I have experimented with them for the purpose of finding out, if possible, how the brain is affected to produce them. They have led me to believe that there is a great deal more "unconscious cerebration" going on in every man's brain than any one is aware of. While listening to these voices, and conscious all the while of the fact that they were purely imaginary, I have heard remarks that astonished me! What was this but the mind surprising itself by its own communications? I have heard long conversations at such times, and when, for the sake of experiment, I have for the moment treated them as realities, I have received replies that staggered me for the time being, and almost led me to believe some intelligent being was talking to me. There can be no doubt that there have been many people who, without knowing it, have been victims of false hearing, and have honestly thought they were hearing the voices of their disembodied friends, while in fact they were being deceived by an unconscious mental action going on in a disordered brain.

The question, "What is insanity?" will probably never be fully and satisfactorily answered; and one reason for this may be because there are so many different kinds. One kind makes the patient lively and hopeful: he believes himself a king, or immensely wealthy; and he is full of the wildest projects. Another kind of insanity is directly the reverse in its characteristics; it is called melancholia, and often sinks the patient in the depths of despair. Then there is softening of the brain, that ends in dementia, or total absence of intelligence, so that the patient does not know enough to eat or drink, although his body may be apparently in a healthy condition. But, generally speaking, insanity may be said to be a state of delusion in which the mental faculties, to which it would be necessary to appeal in order to