Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/62

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52
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

ate constipation. The most powerful medicines in exceptionally large doses failed to produce more than the most meager effects, until at last her condition became alarming. At this juncture they put her under my direct professional care. But nothing that I could do seemed to have the slightest effect on her in ameliorating her condition. As she lived in my family, I had every opportunity to observe her, and after a while my attention was attracted to the fact that, in making my inquiries as to how she felt, she never seemed to know anything about it. In fact, she would deny having any sensations of any kind whatever. I would sometimes see her, while in the family circle, put her hand to her back or to some other part of her body, acting as if she had a sharp pain there. But, even when I made immediate inquiries, she would invariably deny that she had felt any pain whatever. At length circumstances supervened which made me positive that conditions existed which, in any ordinary person, would cause the sensation of pain. But she denied any such sensation. At last, after three months of fruitless effort to relieve her, I made up my mind that this was a case the reverse of the more common result of civilized existence. Her mind, instead of being too firmly centered on some organ or function, was too much withdrawn from the ordinary phenomena connected with existence. In a word, she was suffering from not perceiving, and thus not knowing and heeding, the natural monitions. Having come to a correct diagnosis of the case, I explained very carefully all the facts, and gave her minute directions calculated to assist her in fixing and keeping her attention upon her bodily functions till they should respond to the mental stimulus thus restored to them. The result was that, within two days, by the mere change of sentiment regarding a certain function, that function, which during not less than fifteen years had been wellnigh suspended, was immediately stimulated to full activity. I impressed her mind with the belief that certain results would happen by following the directions which I gave her for the purpose. This was eleven years ago, and this lady told me only a few months ago that she has remained in perfect health, so far as the function in question is concerned, during the whole time.

Heretofore I have adduced such cases only as were clearly uncomplicated with organic disease, and generally where there had been some exciting cause to determine the special location of the mental interference.

When I say "exciting cause," I mean, of course, some circumstance or event which is calculated to fix the attention and make a mental impression. But, in the majority of instances, no such "exciting cause" is traceable. It generally simply happens that the subject finds himself with certain abridgments or apparent exaltations of the purturbed function, without being able to trace the event which determined the character and location of the mental influence. It is highly probable that in most cases there have been circumstances which have