Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 13.djvu/717

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CONSCIOUSNESS UNDER CHLOROFORM.

the higher consciousness seems not to have been wholly abolished; since there remained certain emotions and certain most general ideas of relation to objective agents. On the other hand, it is to be doubted whether the partial consciousness which the narrator had during anæsthesia is not, in the description, eked out in some measure by the ideas of his recovered consciousness carried back to them. Be this as it may, however, it is clear that certain components of consciousness disappeared and others became extremely vague, while a remainder continued tolerably distinct. And there is much significance in the relations among them: 1. There ceased earliest the sensations derived from the special senses; then the impression of force acting on the body from without; and, simultaneously, there ceased the consciousness of external space-relations. 2. There remained a vague sense of relative position within the body; which, gradually fading, left at last only a sense of those space-relations implied by consciousness of the heart's pulsations. 3. And this cluster of related sensations produced by the heart's action finally constituted the only remaining distinct portion of the ego. 4. In the returning consciousness we note first a sense of pressure somewhere; there was no consciousness of space-relations within the body. 5. The consciousness of this was not a cognition proper. In an accompanying letter my correspondent says of it: "'Recognition' seems to imply installation in some previously-formed concept (talking in the Kantian way), and this is just what was not the case:" that is, consciousness was reduced to a state in which there was not that classing of states which constitutes thought. 6. The pain into which the pressure was transformed was similarly universal instead of local. 7. When the pain became localized, its position in space was vague: it was "up on the right." 8. Concerning the apparition of "the girl," which, as my correspondent remarks, seems to have occurred somewhat out of the probable order, he says, in a letter: "I did not recognize her 'under any concept'—what I saw seemed to be almost unassisted intuition in the Kantian sense." 9. The localization of the pain was at first the least possible—the consciousness was of that part versus all other parts unlocalized.

These experiences furnish remarkable verifications of certain doctrines set forth in the "Principles of Psychology." This degradation of consciousness by chloroform, abolishing first the higher faculties and descending gradually to the lowest, may be considered as reversing that ascending genesis of consciousness which has taken place in the course of evolution; and the stages of descent may be taken as showing, in opposite order, the stages of ascent. It is significant, therefore, that impressions from the special senses ceasing early, leave behind, as the last impression derived from without, the sense of outer force conceived as opposed by inner resistance; for this we have seen to be the primordial element of consciousness. Again, the fact that the consciousness of external space disappeared simultaneously with the conscious-