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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/680

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

found depression whose effects, if oftentimes repeated, differ not from those of concentrated resentment or pent-up hate. The man who is given to outbursts of anger is sure to experience a rapid change of the organs, in case he does not die in a fit of rage.

Death under such circumstances is of frequent occurrence. Sylla, Valentinian, Nerva, Wenceslas, and Isabeau of Bavaria, all died in consequence of an access of passion. The medical annals of our own time recount many instances of fatal effects following the violent brain-disturbance caused by anger. The symptoms usually are pulmonary and cerebral congestions. Still such fatal accidents as these are exceptional: as a rule, the passions of hate and anger deteriorate the constitution by slow degrees, but surely.

How, then, do we explain those morbid phenomena which have their origin in misplaced affection, in disappointed ambition, in hatred, or in anger, and which culminate either in serious chronic maladies, or in death or suicide? They all seem to start from an impairment of the cerebro-spinal centres. The continual excitation of these by everpresent emotions determines a paralysis of the central nerve-substance, and thus affects its connections with the nerves extending out to the various organs. These nerves next degenerate by degrees, and soon the great functions are compromised. The heart and the lungs cease to act with their normal rhythm, the circulation grows irregular and languishing. Appetite disappears, the amount of carbonic acid exhaled decreases, and the hair grows white, owing to the interruption of the pigmentary secretion. This general disturbance in nutrition and secretion is attended with a fall of the body's temperature and anæmia. The flesh dries up and the organism becomes less and less capable of resisting morbific influences. At the same time, in consequence of the reaction of all these disturbances on the brain, the psychic faculties become dull or perverted, and the patient falls into a decline more or less complicated and aggravated by grave symptoms. Under these conditions he dies or makes away with himself.

Two organs, the stomach and the liver, are often affected in a peculiar and characteristic way in the course of this pathological evolution. The modifications produced in the innervation, under the influence of cephalic excitement, cause a disturbance of the blood-circulation in the liver. This disturbance is of such a nature that the bile, now secreted in larger quantity, is resorbed into the blood instead of passing into the biliary vesicle. Then appears what we call jaundice or icterus. The skin becomes pale, then yellow, owing to the

    also by cold. Darwin explains this horripilation—as it is called—by the action of the nervous system on certain minute involuntary muscles called arrectores pili, recently discovered by Kölliker, in connection with the capsules at the base of the separate hairs and feathers. The excitation of these little muscles, which are very numerous over the entire body, determines, by reflex contraction, the erection of which we speak, and affords one of the most characteristic signs of fright, rage, and anger, in animals.