Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/298

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
292
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

basis appetite and hunger would differ only quantitatively. Another view, which seems more justifiable, is that the two experiences are fundamentally different.

Careful observation indicates that appetite is related to previous sensations of taste and smell of food. Delightful or disgusting tastes and odors, associated with this or that edible substance, determine the appetite. It has therefore important psychic elements in its composition, as the studies by Pawlow and his collaborators have so clearly shown. Thus, by taking thought, we can anticipate the odor of a delicious beefsteak or the taste of peaches and cream, and in that imagination we can find pleasure. In the realization, direct effects in the senses of taste and smell give still further delight. We now know from observations on experimental animals and on human beings, that the pleasures of both anticipation and realization, by stimulating the flow of saliva and gastric juice, play a highly significant rôle in the initiation of digestive processes.[1]

Among prosperous people, supplied with abundance of food, the appetite seems sufficient to ensure for bodily needs a proper supply of nutriment. We eat because dinner is announced, because by eating we avoid unpleasant consequences, and because food is placed before us in delectable form and with tempting tastes and odors. Under less easy circumstances, however, the body needs are supplied through the much stronger and more insistent demands of hunger.

The sensation of hunger is difficult to describe, but almost every one from childhood has felt at times that dull ache or gnawing pain referred to the lower mid-chest region and the epigastrium, which may take imperious control of human actions. As Sternberg has pointed out, hunger may be sufficiently insistent to force the taking of food which is so distasteful that it not only fails to rouse appetite, but may even produce nausea. The hungry being gulps his food with a rush. The pleasures of appetite are not for him—he wants quantity rather than quality, and he wants it at once.

Hunger and appetite are, therefore, widely different—in physiological basis, in localization and in psychic elements. Hunger may be satisfied while the appetite still calls. Who is still hungry when the tempting dessert is served, and yet are there any who refuse it, pleading they no longer need it? On the other hand, appetite may be in abeyance while hunger is goading.[2] What ravenous boy is critical of his food? Do we not all know that "hunger is the best sauce"? Although the two sensations may thus exist separately, they, nevertheless, have

  1. Pawlow, "The Work of the Digestive Glands," London, 1902, pp. 50, 71.
  2. See Sternberg, Zentralblatt für Physiologie, 1909, XXII., p. 653. Similar views were expressed by Bayle in a thesis presented to the Faculty of Medicine in Paris in 1816.