Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/61

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51
BODILY CONDITIONS — MENTAL STATES.

her case and the treatment which he had pursued. I had pronounced the lameness mental before I knew of the circumstance which this physician related to me. A surgeon celebrated as a joint-doctor was consulted soon after the lameness was discovered, who pronounced it a case of hip-joint disease. She was treated by confinement and extension, the weight and pulley being used for the latter purpose. The limb, which had been drawn up very much, quickly came down to its natural position, and, after three months of this treatment, finding everything right, no pain on motion, the limb straight out, etc., the case was considered cured, and the doctor asked some of his friends, brother physicians, to see her put on to her feet and attest the remarkable cure. So, after they were assembled, the bandages were taken off and she was put on the floor and told to walk across the room. "You can imagine my surprise and disgust," said he, in telling me the story, "to see her go across the room with the leg drawn up precisely as it was before, and without any change whatever in the amount of deformity or her manner of walking." This child has been brought to me from time to time during the past twelve years, but I have always refused to accept the case as one of disease of the hip-joint. Just one year ago I examined her for the last time. She was then fourteen years old, and anxious to get her leg down. It had been drawn up since she was three years of age. The hip-joint was in perfect condition, and the only reason why she couldn't walk as other persons do was the shortening of the flexor muscles due to the persistent, drawn-up position. The growth had been retarded somewhat, because it had been used less forcibly. But no injury had been done to the hip-joint.

This child was so young when the affection first appeared that it was never made out what were the particular sensations which influenced the volition in the way they did.

It is necessarily more easy to get demonstrations and illustrations of the various influences of the mind over the sensations and the voluntary muscular actions than of the involuntary processes of life. But it must not be supposed that sensation and motion are alone influenced or dominated, as the case may be, by mental states, for it is possible that involuntary processes are even more under the same influence. To a certain and very positive extent they certainly are. To merely mention the phenomena of blushing, pallor, palpitation, shivering, sea-sickness, etc., suggests effects on the involuntary functions which are so common as to be almost overlooked in enumerations of kindred examples. But that the influence of certain sentiments on certain involuntary functions is very potent and positive is well illustrated in the following case:

A lady friend of mine had for some years been speaking to me, as I met her socially from time to time, with regard to the condition of one of her daughters. Otherwise a healthy young lady of about twenty-four years of age, she had had, all her adult life, the one trouble of inveter-