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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 56.djvu/613

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THE MORBID "SENSE OF INJURY."

give and take injuries. But there remains a large excess of this "injured" feeling which can not be so explained, or which is disproportionate to its cause or entirely gratuitous, and is thus shifted into the field of morbid psychology. This only is here treated—the morbid sense of injury.

It seems to find an easy entrance to the mind from a mere feeling of being ill used or stinted in sympathy to the entertainment of serious grievances or persecutory ideas. In certain temperaments it is marked. On so-called "blue" days we are constantly moved to a "sense of injury" from fancied aloofness of our friends. Madam Lofty slights us, and our jaundiced imagination has it that she has heard something detrimental and dislikes us. But lo! to-day, when the liver is released, madam smiles sweetly, and never heard a thing.

So in suspicious people. They entertain a chronic state of mind, by which the acts of others are given an invidious construction. They anticipate ill will, carrying the chip on the shoulder. Of two constructions of a given situation, they leap to the more offending. Some take on the vindictive attitude as a result, approaching that type of insanity known as paranoia, of which Guiteau and Prendergast were conspicuous examples; others are humiliated, as a consequence approaching the melancholia type of insanity, each illustrating again how the sane and insane states are paralleled. Many come to bear the outward marks—the stigmata of this mental attitude, approaching sometimes the "asylum" face, like that of the insanely suspicious Rousseau. We all know such faces, with their hard, set expressions, as if forever sealed against any tender of good will.

By a curious fact, those who invite ill will seem often to get it. Society, based on a reciprocity of faith, seems to have no smiles to bestow upon the misanthrope. It bids him, "Laugh, and the world laughs with you." It so comes to pass that many of them acquire some real ground for their "sense of injury," and in the long run that real quarrels are precipitated from this atmosphere of suspiciousness. Indeed, this is the psychology of most quarrels. The effect of imaginary grievances comes in turn to be the cause of real ones. Thus into an incident between two persons, one of them mistakenly reads an affront to himself. He retaliates, and the other person, unconscious of having done anything to evoke any hostility, finds himself affronted, and in his turn retaliates. By this time real grievances have come, and the quarrel is on. Balzac, that master analyst, in alluding to friendship, in one of his stories, says: "It died" (the friendship) "like other great passions—by a misunderstanding. Both sides imagine treachery,