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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/525

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EMOTIONS VERSUS HEALTH IN WOMEN.

we generally find either a lack of will-power or a deficiency in reason and judgment, and our common expression for that condition is that such an individual is not well balanced.

It is possible that some of us have heard it suggested that woman is a less reasonable being than man. It has, indeed, been whispered that she—regarding her as a type, not as an individual—is less logical, less temperate in her judgments, more easily controlled by appeals to the feelings. In the recent article by Ouida in the "North American Review," speaking of the character of a woman's mind, she says: "The female mind has a radical weakness, which is often also its peculiar charm; it is intensely subjective; it is only reluctantly forced to be impersonal." Such opinions are not entirely unfamiliar to any of us.

We are in no wise concerned for the final judgment of mankind upon the mind of woman, nor do we imagine that it requires championship. But it is easily apparent that this very grace of her nature may be turned to bad account through undue stimulation, and that, through inheritance and the influences we have briefly suggested, she may acquire a tendency toward an unduly subjective type of mind—a tendency which threatens the loss of a just intellectual sense of proportion, and which, therefore, can not conduce to sound mentality.

The old meaning of the word emotion—commotion—is opposed to the best mental growth and health. In repose, in the quiet harmonious performance of its functions, the mind grows into vigorous maturity, and the constant unrest and commotion of nerve-elements, which accompany violent emotional disturbances, and repeated strain upon other than its reasoning faculties, can not fail to disturb the quiet, natural evolution of its powers. Can this tendency in woman's training be shown to affect her bodily health? Physicians and metaphysicians answer. Yes!

The intimate relation which exists between the mind and the body is a matter of familiar knowledge to us all. The tear that starts from the eye when grief disturbs the mind is a common instance of the effect which an intangible mental emotion has upon the physical basis of the lachrymal gland. The loss of consciousness and the heart-failure which may follow great mental shock, and the deleterious effect which mental anxiety may exercise upon digestion, are, unfortunately, matters of common experience. Even the poetical allusion to the hair which grows white in a single night has its basis in physiological fact. The miracles claimed by the faith-curers are in the same Hue of argument, for they indicate how far sedation of the mind may be an adjuvant to the cure of the body.

Says Maudsley: "It may be questioned whether there is a single act of nutrition which emotion may not affect, infecting it with feebleness, inspiring it with energy, and so aiding or hindering recovery from disease. It is certain that joy or hope exerts an animating effect