Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/362

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Or, take a case of developing melancholia, where again the physical and the mental seem to vie with each other in the slide downward into abject misery. Here the defective metabolism, the choked secretory and excretory functions, the muscular weakness, and all the rest, are sufficient in a way to explain the mental condition as represented by its own peculiar slowness, weakness and distress. But however much and clearly these may "explain" to the observer, they most certainly do not constitute the pain which is really suffered—the morbid self-consciousness, the overwhelming depression, the fear of self-destruction, the dissociation from the rest of humanity—in fact, the poignant psychalgia, for which only personal experience can afford correct knowledge or provide the data for anything like a correct description. To all such, psychalgia is a definite, horrid fact, not to be mistaken for any other fact in the universe.

Take again the perplexing development and especially the slow systematization of the inner experiences of the youthful hebephrenic, or paranoid. Beginning with scarcely recognized perversions of one or more sense functionings, or with weakening or perversion of the more elaborate perceptional or ideational activities, the victim duly comes to the point where everything persistently clusters about his inner self, progressively to lead on to perplexity or danger or failure, with all the poignant mental distress that naturally belongs therewith; so great distress in fact, that long before such a state of self-monopolizing is reached, there is a period during which mental pain is so predominant that often some sort of real physical pain may be welcomed as chiefly beneficent. Surely, no one can suppose that the weakness, the muddlings, the suspicions, the fears, the antipathies and antagonisms, the imperative insistences and explosions of such an one, can be confounded with any sort of physical pain whatever. Here, as before, psychalgia is felt to be a fact, distinctive, dominating and determinative.

This leads logically to the consideration of the by far largest group of psychalgias, those derived from the so-called "border-land" cases on the one hand, and from the great number of persons who in no ordinary sense are "cases" at all, on the other.

Abnormal psychology has yet an imperative need to be studied as never before, and this notwithstanding the far-reaching revelations and suggestions of more recent investigators. In this undertaking, introspective psychology, prosecuted by the right kind of self-observers, can become of such profound use, that almost everything as yet discovered may turn out to have been introductory, to say the most. Probably, there is no one who has been trained to properly look in upon himself, who does not have more or less frequent attacks of psychalgia so clearly defined, that were they accurately observed and recorded, a key would be furnished whereby not only the problem of his own morbidity could