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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 81.djvu/304

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and so on, for ten minutes longer. Again in this relation, the intermittent and periodic character of hunger would require, on the theory under examination, that the bodily supplies be intermittently and periodically insufficient. During one moment the absence of hunger would imply an abundance of nutriment in the organism, ten seconds later the presence of hunger would imply that the stores had been suddenly reduced, ten seconds later still the absence of hunger would imply a sudden renewal of plenty. Such zig-zag shifts of the general bodily state may not be impossible, but from all that is known of the course of metabolism, such quick changes are highly improbable. The periodicity of hunger, therefore, is further evidence against the theory that the sensation has a general basis in the body.

The Theory that Hunger is of General Origin does not Explain the Local Reference.—The last objection to this theory is that it does not account for the most common feature of hunger—namely, the reference of the sensation to the region of the stomach. Schiff and others who have supported the theory[1] have met this objection by two contentions. First they have pointed out that the sensation is not always referred to the stomach. Schiff interrogated ignorant soldiers regarding the local reference; several indicated the neck or chest, twenty-three the sternum, four were uncertain of any region, and two only designated the stomach. In other words, the stomach region was most rarely mentioned.

The second contention against the importance of local reference is that such evidence is fallacious. An armless man may feel tinglings which seem to arise in fingers which have long since ceased to be a portion of his body. The fact that he experiences such tinglings and ascribes them to dissevered parts, does not prove that the sensation originates in those parts. And similarly the assignment of the ache of hunger to any special region of the body does not demonstrate that the ache arises from that region. Such are the arguments against a local origin of hunger.

Concerning these arguments we may recall, first, Schiff s admission that the soldiers he questioned were too few to give conclusive evidence. Further, the testimony of most of them that hunger seemed to originate in the chest or region of the sternum can not be claimed as unfavorable to a peripheral source of the sensation. The description of feelings which develop from disturbances within the body is almost always indefinite. As Head and others have shown, conditions in a viscus which give rise to sensation are likely not to be attributed to the viscus,

  1. See Schiff, loc. cit., p. 31; Bardier, loc. cit., p. 16.