Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 20.djvu/605

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587
NERVO-MUSCULAR EXPRESSION.

move the eyeballs. The action of the muscles about the angles of the mouth is affected by a very moderate amount of brain disturbance. The value of the study of the nerve-muscular conditions of the face is finely illustrated in the case of the passive, expressionless face which may be woke up, "lighted up," made to express the whole soul in the face simply by conditions of the tension of the facial muscles resulting from the mental state. Thus, often, great and pleasing beauty is seen in faces unattractive when at rest. Conversely, some faces are beautiful in their passive condition, but lack expression and interest when in action from mental work; women having such faces talk but little. Surely from these two conditions it is suggested that the passive form and color of a face are qualities not so great, not so mind-indicating, as the mobile expressions produced by muscular tension.

Probably the most expressive of the muscles of the upper extremity are those that move the fingers, or which produce the "finer movements," motions in small arcs, as distinguished from the "coarser movements," or those that are made from the shoulder or the elbow. It is, of course, in the free or disengaged hand that we must look for examples illustrating the condition of the brain which governs it. If the muscles be employed in some definite act, such as holding an object, or in an act of manipulation, such as sewing, then the movements are directed to accomplish the aim attempted, and are not simply indicative of the condition of the brain, as may be the case with the free hand when unconsciously expressing the mental condition by gesticulation. When, on the contrary, the hands are left free and disengaged, as the hand of the orator, which unconsciously expresses by its position or movement the general mental state of the speaker, we have in this muscular movement an expression of the man's mind. It is as unreasonable to look for the state of the mind to be expressed in the position and action of the hand engaged in definite, voluntary, purposive acts, as to look in the face when the sun is shining full in the eyes, or the lips are engaged in eating, or other movements affecting the regularity of the breathing. Still it is true that in either case the manner of performing the act may be indicative of the mental state, but the muscles of the face or hand are not engaged in expressing the mental state.

In art of the present day we but seldom see the hands represented as disengaged; usually they are painted or sculptured holding some object, or resting on some part of the figure; such are hands engaged or resting from labor, or performing some act of toil, not engaged in expressing some action of the mind.

When a very nervous child, or one convalescent from chorea, holds out its hands in front on a level with the shoulder, and with its fingers spread out, we commonly see the nervous hand. As the palms are turned down, the wrist droops slightly. The metacarpo-phalangeal joints are moderately extended, the first and second internodes being