Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 12.djvu/328

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314
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

parts of the body. This is further shown in the unequal distribution of the circulation, the head being often hot while the feet are cold, or the extremities are cold while the body maintains a nearly febrile temperature. The heart beats more rapidly than in other temperaments, or is attended with nervous irregularity in its action. Functionally the nervous temperament is liable to serious complications; the liver is one of the organs more liable to acute derangement—not, however, in the direction of over but rather that of under action. Digestion is a delicate function, the merest trifles interfering with its proper performance. A leading trait of the nervous temperament is the mutual reaction between it and the vital glandular functions; thus sudden mental or nervous impressions will upset the whole glandular machinery, or serious mental or nervous disturbances result from causes acting in the opposite direction.

If we were to select any one quality as the leading trait of the mental constitution of this type, it would be the great emotional tension. The emotions often usurp the place of higher faculties, and reason, judgment, and the sense of right or wrong, are biased or replaced by emotional qualities. They have an acute sense of right or wrong, but they are disposed to give it a personal rather than a vicarious application. They have an extraordinary capacity for both pleasure and misery, and the nervous man may be said to be undergoing one or the other through life, never knowing what it is to be in the happy mean of negation. They are never contented with their surroundings for any great length of time, but chafe and fret against their fate, no matter how happy it may seem. They have great fixity of opinion, and but little respect for that of others; and are prone to find a particular antagonism in persons of their own temperament, The sexual emotions are unduly developed, oftentimes giving tone to the character, or acting with explosive violence. Persons of this type are not among those who form the grand aggregate of the conservative opinion of society, the inflexible and implacable character of which we all know, and which upon the emotional tension of the nervous man often reacts harmfully rather than well. Typical instances of this temperament are confined to the male sex, the other sex usually showing a cross with the sanguine or bilious.

This temperament does not show a liability to any class of disease, but gives its own characteristic reaction upon the disease itself. From the ascendency of the nervous system in the physical and mental composition, diseases of the nerves are very liable to appear, but not as a primary derangement any more than as a complication grafted upon some previously-existing disease. Nervous headache, neuralgia, epilepsy, insomnia, and hysteria, are among the nervous affections most liable to appear, either as primary or secondary derangements. With this class it is difficult to give an opinion as to the result in any serious disease (prognosis), as they often die of diseases that in other