Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/94

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fying his amative desires, but like him who hears tidings which fill him with joy, like the miser counting his treasures, the gambler who is successful at play, or the ambitious man who is intoxicated with success."

Our special object, however, in noting the effects of opium and hasheesh, is rather to note how the mental processes or faculties observed during certain states of disease may be produced artificially, than to enter into the considerations discussed by Dr. Moreau. It is singular that while the Mohammedan order of Hachischin (or Assassins) bring about by the use of their favorite drug such visions as accompany the progress of certain forms of disease, the Hindoo devotees called the Yogi are able to produce artificially the state of mind and body recognized in cataleptic patients. The less advanced Yogi can only enter the state of abstraction called reverie; but the higher orders can simulate absolute inanition, the heart apparently ceasing to beat, the lungs to act, and the nerves to convey impressions to the brain, even though the body be subjected to processes which would cause extreme torture under ordinary conditions. "When in this state," says Carpenter, "the Yogi are supposed to be completely possessed by Brahma, 'the supreme soul,' and to be incapable of sin in thought, word, or deed." It has been supposed that this was the state into which those entered who in old times were resorted to as oracles. But it has happened that in certain stages of disease the power of assuming the death-like state has been possessed for a time. Thus Colonel Townsend, who died in 1797, we read, had in his last sickness the extraordinary power of apparently dying and returning to life again at will. "I found his pulse sink gradually," says Dr. Cheyne, who attended him, "so that I could not feel it by the most exact or nice touch. Dr. Raymond could not detect the least motion of the heart, nor Dr. Skrine the least soil of the breath upon the bright mirror held to the mouth. We began to fear he was actually dead. He then began to breathe softly." Colonel Townsend repeated the experiment several times during his illness, and could always render himself insensible at will.

Lastly, we may mention a case, which, however, though illustrating in some degree the influence of bodily illness on the mind, shows still more strikingly how the mind may influence the body—that of Louise Lateau, the Belgian peasant. This girl had been prostrated by a long and exhausting illness, from which she recovered rapidly after receiving the sacrament. This circumstance made a strong impression on her mind. Her thoughts dwelt constantly on the circumstances attending the death of Christ. At length she noticed that, on every Friday, blood came from a spot in her left side. "In the course of a few months similar bleeding spots established themselves on the front and back of each hand, and on the upper surface of each foot, while a circle of small spots formed in the forehead, and the hæmorrhage from these recurred every Friday, sometimes to a considerable amount. About the same time, fits of ecstasy began to occur, commencing every Friday between eight and