Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 79.djvu/363

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THE IMPORTANCE OF MENTAL PAIN

be solved, but also a standard could be established whereto similar morbid experiences of others could be profitably compared.

From cases of border-land psychalgia we often get descriptive phrases which throw light upon the intensity of the suffering, and leave no doubt as to its reality, as well. One of the most frequent of these phrases is, "Oh, I am so lonely—(or fearful, or depressed, or weak, etc.)—this unceasing, day after day, year after year, loneliness—etc." Here, as much as anything, for want of the simple instruction that as the "uniqueness" of any given individual must always carry with it a fundamental detachment from every other individuality, so must necessarily a natural loneliness reside forever in the substratum of every one's consciousness, and must normally or abnormally emerge only as endurable pathos, on the one hand, or as dire pain on the other, the sufferer necessarily goes on day by day accumulating a feeling of outof-the-world-ness which in time gets to be so painful, that the all of life may and often does come to be subordinated to it, entirely beyond self-emancipation. Surely, it were not humane, to say nothing of its not being good sense, or scientific, simply to ignore or scout the evidence of, or to jeer at, or malign, or to continue to misunderstand the distinctive importance of such a condition of suffering as this.

Again, there is the expression, "Just show me how I can have a little bit of happiness, even for an hour, and I'll bless you as never before," and all the changes rung on this, everywhere and everywhen. For purposes of truth it must be conceded that a reasonable amount of frequently recurring happiness together with the ever-present feeling that such experiences are truly prophetic of the future, is simply a basic necessity to the perpetuity of a reasonable state of well-being; and this in spite of Carlyle's demand: "By what act of Parliament was it decreed that Thou shouldst be Happy?" The simple fact is, that all energizing, all hoping, all accomplishing which does not have an inspiring element of happiness in more or less conscious suffusion, is not satisfactory, but the reverse; and this, notwithstanding so much seems directly to the contrary. Happiness of some kind—positively ecstatic, mildly expectant, a glowing interest, realistic energizing, comforting self-consciousness, vision of growing possessions, personal ease, enlargement of the family circle, faith that sees heavenly things—happiness of some kind, is the motive force of human life; and once let the enjoyable self-tone be lowered unduly for any length of time, or its rightful possessor be too frequently or too permanently cheated or denied, and he ceases at just this point to be fully what he ought to be either by divine right or by natural law. And the consciousness of all such cessation of fullwell-being—how many degrees of psychalgia are included therein! And how wide-spread too is just this same consciousness of every other form of unhappiness, with never a respite, and with no encouraging prospect.