Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 4.djvu/573

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PHYSIOLOGY OF THE PASSIONS.

that have given rise to these phrases and gestures. It is evident that anger accelerates the circulatory movement, and that joy has the same effect, while grief and fear produce the opposite results. Extreme emotions are sometimes followed by fatal syncope. Profound grief causes a difficulty of respiration. Sudden fright checks the secretion of bile. Independently of these palpable phenomena, the passions modify profoundly the nutritive processes, and give rise to disordered conditions, of a more or less grave nature. Here, again, language accords with physiology. To pine away with envy, or with remorse, to waste away with grief, are expressions that attest the influence of the passions on the organic life. Again, Bichat ingeniously notes the relation subsisting between the passions and the temperament. The individual whose lungs are highly developed, and whose circulatory system is specially vigorous, will naturally be of very impetuous disposition, choleric, passionate, and courageous. Where the biliary system predominates, enviousness and hate seem to be more habitual. The lymphatic temperament gives to the passions a quiet and indolent character. Thus every thing, according to Bichat, goes to show that the organic life is the terminus to which the passions tend, and the centre from which they start, and that the animal life only suffers from the rebound consecutively. If the focus of the animal life is the brain, then what is the focus of the organic life? What is the apparatus specially concerned in producing emotions and passional manifestations? Bichat holds that there is no one organ on which this office devolves exclusively, and he localizes the passions in what he calls the epigastric centre; that is to say, in the heart, the lungs, the liver, the gall-bladder, and the ganglionic nerve-system, distributed throughout these organs. Each of these is, according to him, the seat of a distinct passion, and the movements that are determined by this passion are perfectly involuntary.

Such is Bichat's doctrine of the passions; it is the ancient doctrine, only developed and elucidated, reasoned out with greater precision, and fortified with fresh proofs. It is correct in its analysis of the visceral disturbances produced by the passions, but erroneous in that it regards the viscera as their main-spring and origin. To Gall belongs the honor of having proved that the passions primarily affect the brain, and not the viscera. It was the experiments made by that great man which showed that the brain is the organ of sentiments no less than of ideas. His argument against Bichat's theory may be reduced to these fundamental observations: The heart and the diaphragm are only muscles, the stomach and the liver only secretory apparatus, the kidneys only an excretory apparatus, and the spleen only a sanguineous gland. Several of these organs may suffer lesion or be removed and still the passions remain; hence we cannot localize the passions in them. Gall, in the next place, examines all the parts of the nervous system outside of the brain, viz., the plexuses, the ganglia, the nerves, and the sensory