« ΠροηγούμενηΣυνέχεια »
although the subjects discussed and the conclusions deduced from them are, it is hoped, of no inconsiderable value in a devotional point of view, the treatise itself is rather argumentative than sentimental, and more concerned with the foundation of evangelical religion than with its superstructure. The fact is not indeed now announced for the first time, having been more or less correctly anticipated by several pious and excellent writers during the last century; but, as in matters of such solemn import conjecture and probability are not a sufficient ground for conviction, the author has laboured to supply a demonstration of the fact, which he trusts will be found both new and satisfactory. He has accordingly been careful not to assume anything which is not generally acknowledged ; and has supported every point of the argument with proofs and evidences so combined, as apparently to leave no other alternative than that which is here maintained. Should the attempt have been successful, it will furnish a fresh proof of the value of inductive reasoning ; which, like a sounding-line let down into the ocean of time, has thus, from the depth of eighteen hundred years, brought up to the surface a pearl of great price.”—Preface, p. vi.
As the argument and its illustrations are almost entirely of a Physiological nature, and as medical men must therefore be better able to estimate their value and their force than others, we can have no hesitation in inviting the attention of our readers to the consideration of a volume that, in our judgment, is so creditable to its author, not less as an enlightened physician than as a sincere Christian. The reasoning indeed is mainly physiological, but its application is essentially spiritual; the data on which it rests are drawn from medical science, but the great lesson which the whole is designed to teach is to impress the mind with a deeper and a more devout sense of that divine love that moved the Saviour to endure the mysterious agonies of the garden and of the cross, in working out the Redemption of the human race. As a matter of course, it is the medical argument that will almost exclusively engage our attention. And here we would remark that, whatever opinion may be formed of the reasonings advanced in the volume before us, and whether its conclusions be adopted or not, no one, we feel assured, will rise from its perusal without having the utmost esteem for its pious and talented author. In his hands, Medicine becomes the handmaid of Religion; the discoveries of physical Science are consecrated by being laid on the altar of heavenly Truth. And is not the example worthy of imitation? Are medical men always to shrink from even so much as making any allusion to the blessed pages of the Bible ? Is every branch of learning to be studiously examined and discussed, and may not a word be ever said of one great end and object of all instruction ; viz. the elevation of the heart, the spiritualising of the affection? Might it not be well if our thoughts and feelings were, at times, withdrawn from the incessant attention that is paid in the present age to the merely material portion of our professional pursuits, and occasionally directed to the contemplation of subjects which interest us, in common with our fellow-creatures, as sojourners in a world where every thing proclaims that we are but as links of a mighty chain whose ends are hid in impenetrable darkness, and that the great object of our lives is for purposes, the fulfilment of which reaches on to another state of existence ?
No set of men, it must be obvious, have so many advantages, derivable from their education and from the nature of their engagements, in following out the study of many questions appertaining to the moral happiness and welfare 1847) Influence of strong Emotions on the Heart, 8c. 455 of mankind, as the members of the medical profession. To them, more frequently than to others, it is given to observe the mutual relationship between mind and matter, between spirit and body; and to witness the effects of this relationship either for good or for evil, for happiness or for misery to the individual. They have peculiar facilities of watching, if not of explaining, the reciprocal actings and re-actings of the corporeal and psychical portions of our compound nature ; for their aid is as often in. voked to " minister to a mind diseased,” as to relieve the sufferings of the body, and they are frequently called upon to soothe “ the troubles of the brain,” though they cannot « cleanse the foul bosom of that perilous stuff which weighs upon the heart.”
May the following remarks be made profitable to some readers by awakening their attention, more than perhaps it has yet been, to a class of subjects that well deserve to be thought upon and pondered by all ! The first part of our observations is intended to illustrate the effects of certain strong passions on the bodily frame ; in the second, we shall point out the application which Dr. Stroud has made of this enquiry, to explain what he terms “ the physical cause" of the death of the Redeemer.
The influence of intense mental emotions, whether of an exciting or of a depressing nature, on the actions of the Heart and blood-vessels and on the vital fluid that permeates through them, has been recognised by medical writers in all ages. A few authorities will suffice :
“ It is observed by Baron Haller, the father of modern physiology, that excessive grief occasions palpitation, and sometimes sudden death; that the corporeal effects of anger and terror are nearly alike, including increased strength, and violent motions both in the heart and throughout the body, and producing bloody sweats, and other kinds of hæmorrhage. *— Anger'-says Senac— has in certain cases torn torn the fibres of the heart, and even opened the ventricles. It is not therefore extraordinary that it should be followed by palpitation, and accordingly, various physicians have observed such a result...... But fear and terror are not less powerful causes, especially when they seize suddenly. In that case the nerves act with violence on the heart, and derange the order of its movements. The blood is at the same time propelled in these passions by a general shock, or commotion of all the parts of the body : it therefore necessarily accumulates in the two trunks of the venæ cavæ, rushes into the auricles, and overcharges them, as well as the ventricles. Here then are two causes, one the consequence of the other, which, as is proved by numerous examples, produce palpitation. Dilatations are, as we have already stated, frequent results of fits of passion. Grief and sadness do not act so suddenly, nor with equal force; but, as we have said, these secret and silent passions induce similar disorder.'t
If any one'-remarks Corvisart—' can seriously deny, or even doubt the fatal physical influence of the passions on the heart, let it suffice him to know that a fit of anger may produce rupture of the heart, and cause sudden death...... Complete rupture of the heart has rarely been observed in the sound state of this organ: some examples may however be cited of this lesion, in consequence of a violent effort, a fit of anger, an epileptic paroxysm, &c......... But of all the causes capable of producing organic diseases in general, and more especially those of the heart, the most powerful beyond dispute are mental affections..., No mental affection can indeed be experienced without the movement of the
* “ Haller, Element. Physiog. Corp. Human., vol. v., pp. 50, 583, 586,587.” † “ Senac, Traite du Coeur, vol. ii., p. 515."
heart being either augmented, accelerated, retarded, weakened, or disturbed, without its force in fact being increased, enfeebled, or almost annihilated. Pleasure, pain, fear, anger, in short all the powerful passions, cause the heart to palpitate, to beat more or less frequently, strongly, slowly, or regularly, or to suspend its action momentarily, sometimes even mortally.
P. 78. The effects of Terror on the organs of circulation, &c. are thus described by Dr. Alex. Chrichton.t-" The heart is thrown into greater and more violent action than usual, but the arterial system, so far from corresponding with it in a general sense, is either rendered torpid at its extremities, or else is affected with a spasm; a sudden paleness spreads itself over the countenance, the lips lose the coral tint, and the whole body of the man seems to shrink into a smaller compass, a tremor agitates his whole frame, and he feels as if he had suffered a great diminution of strength... ...... It happens now and then, when the whole play of the mental faculties is as it were destroyed by the impression of the dreadful object, and no possibility of escape appears, that, volition being then without a stimulus, a person drops down on the earth, as if suddenly bereft of all his animal powers."
The same writer has well depicted the effects of Grief and Sorrow :
“ The general corporeal effect of all the modifications of grief and sorrow is a torpor in every irritable part, especially in the circulating and absorbent system : hence the paleness of the countenance, the coldness of the extremities, the contraction and shrinking of the skin and general surface of the body, the smallness and slowness of the pulse, the want of appetite, the deficiency of muscular force, and the sense of general languor which overspreads the whole frame. As the action of the extreme branches of the arterial system is greatly diminished, the heart, and aorta and its larger vessels, and the whole system of the pulmonary artery become loaded and distended with blood. The painful sense of fulness which this occasions gives rise to a common expression, which is in some degree descriptive of what really exists. In sorrow the heart is said to be full, and in deep sorrow it is often said to be like to burst. A sense of oppression and anxiety, a laborious and slow respiration, and the remarkable phenomena of sobbing and sighing, naturally arise from this state of torpor and retarded circulation.”
P. 82. It is rather the suddenness and violence, than the nature or kind, of the mental emotion that is apt to produce the consequences now described. Death has been known to be produced by excess of unexpected joy, as well as by overpowering grief or terror. We read that Sophocles died from elation, at his triumph in a contest of honour. Aulus Gellius tells us of a man, who suddenly expired on hearing of his three sons being crowned as victors on the same day; and Livy mentions the case of an aged matron who, having been in the depth of distress from the tidings of her son's being slain in battle, died in his arms from the excess of joy at his safe return. In these and such-like cases, the death is, as our author observes, probably owing to some sudden lesion, functional or organic, of the heart. Zimmerman says that Philip V. died suddenly on being told that the Spaniards had been defeated; on opening his body the heart was found ruptured. I
* “ Corvisart, Sur les Maladies du Cœur, &c.; Discours Preliminaire, p. xli. pp: 259, 369, 370." it On Mental Derangement. Vol. II., pp. 119-121, &c.
On Experience in Physic. Vol. II., p. 268.
Instances of Sanguineous Perspiration.
But, before we examine this subject more minutely, let us turn our attention to that rare certainly, but nevertheless perfectly well-authenticated, effect of strong mental emotion upon the secretion of the skin ; we allude to the remarkable phenomenon of bloody sweat. The following instances are adduced by Dr. Stroud, in the way of illustration.
“ The eminent French historian De Thou mentions the case of an Italian officer who commanded at Monte-Maro, a fortress of Piedmont, during the warfare in 1552, between Henry II. of France and the emperor Charles V. This officer, having been treacherously seized by order of the hostile general, and threatened with public execution unless he surrendered the place, was so agitated at the prospect of an ignominious death, that he sweated blood from every part of his body.”—The same writer relates a similar occurrence in the person of a young Florentine at Rome, unjustly put to death by order of Pope Sixtus V. in the beginning of his reign, and concludes the narrative as follows. “When the youth was led forth to execution, he excited the commiseration of many, and through excess of grief, was observed to shed bloody tears, and to discharge blood instead of sweat from his whole body; a circumstance which many regarded as a certain proof that nature condemned the severity of a sentence so cruelly hastened, and invoked vengeance against the magistrate himself, as therein guilty of murder.' Amongst several other examples given in the Ephemerides, of bloody tears and bloody sweat occasioned by extreme fear, more especially the fear of death, may be mentioned that of—' a young boy who, having taken part in a crime for which two of his elder brothers were hanged, was exposed to public view under the gallows on which they were executed, and was thereupon observed to sweat blood from his whole body.? – In his Commentaries on the four Gospels, Maldonato refers to-' a robust and healthy man at Paris who, on hearing sentence of death passed on him, was covered with a bloody sweat.'-Zacchias mentions a young man who was similarly affected on being condemned to the flames. Schenck cites from a martyrology the case of—'a nun who fell into the hands of soldiers; and, on seeing herself encompassed with swords and daggers threatening instant death, was so terrified and agitated, that she discharged blood from every part of her body, and died of hemorrhage in the sight of her assailants ;'*—and Tissot reports from a respectable journal that of - a sailor who was so alarmed by a storm, that through fear he fell down, and his face sweated blood, which during the whole continuance of the storm returned like ordinary sweat, as fast as it was wiped away.'”+ P. 88.
Haller, in more than one passage of his physiological writings, has alluded to the exsudation of a bloody fluid from the cutaneous vessels. “ Mental emotions,” says he in one place, “have been known to produce extraordinary changes in the secretions, so that blood and bile have been forced out from the vessels of the skin.”! Perhaps one of the most striking instances on record of the oozing of a sanguineous fluid from the surface
Ephemerid. Acad. Natur. Curios. Ann. 2, p. 34;-Dec. ii. Ann. 10, p. 354 ;-Dec. iii. Ann. 1, Append. pp. 124, 125;—Ann. 7 and 8, Append. p. 124;—Ibid. edit. 2da, vol. i. p. 84 ;-vol. viii. p. 184 :- Thuanus, Hist. sui Temp. vol. i. p. 373; vol. iv. p. 300; Joannes Maidonatus, Comment. in quatuor Evangelist. p. 601;-Paulus Zacchias, Quæstiones Medico-legales, lib. ii. p. 154;--Joannes Schenck à Grafenberg, Observ. Medic. &c. lib. iii. p. 458."
+ Tissot, Traité des Nerfs, &c. pp. 279, 280. Elementa Physiologiæ Corp. Hum. vol. v., p. 50.--Primæ Lineæ Physiologiæ, p. 126.
occurred in the person of Charles IX. of France, who died in the 25th year of his age. We read in De Mezeray, the historian, that, “after the vigour of his youth and the energy of his courage had long struggled against his disease, he was at length reduced by it to his bed at the castle of Vincennes, about the 8th of May (1574). During the last two weeks of his life, his constitution made strange efforts. He was affected with spasms and convulsions of extreme violence. He tossed and agitated him. self continually, and his blood gushed from all the outlets of his body, even from the pores of his skin ; so that, on one occasion, he was found bathed in a bloody sweat.” Voltaire, in alluding to this narrative, adds :“ This malady, of which there are some examples, is the result either of excessive fear, furious rage, or of a violent and melancholic temperament.”* Besides this, and other cases already mentioned, Dr. Stroud quotes the following one, related in the French “Transactions Medicales" from a former number of this Journal. It stands thus :
“ A young woman aged twenty-one years, irregular in menstruation, and of indolent habits, and obstinate temper, had been much irritated by some reflections made by her parents, on account of her abjuring the Protestant religion. She left her paternal roof, and after wandering about for some time, took up her residence in an hospital. She was then suffering violent attacks of hysteria, attended with general convulsions, and exquisite sensibility in the pubic and hypogastrie regions. After paroxysms of hysteria, which sometimes lasted twenty-four or thirty-six hours, this female fell into a kind of ecstacy, in which she lay with her eyes fixed, sensibility and motion suspended. Sometimes she muttered a prayer, but the most remarkable phenomenon was an exudation of blood from the cheeks and the epigastrium in the form of perspiration. The blood exuded in drops, and tinged the linen. The cutaneous surface appeared injected in those parts whence the blood escaped, being red, and showing a network of arborescent vessels. This bloody perspiration took place whenever the hysteric paroxysm lasted a considerable time. This state continued for three months, and ultimately gave way, it is said, to local bleeding,
together with strong revulsive measures. T P. 382.
This case will probably call to the recollection of many of our readers the strange stories about certain "estaticas,” who were, a few years ago, (and perhaps still are) exhibited in some nunnery in Italy to the edification of the credulous. We gave a short account of the phenomena alleged to be witnessed in these deluded young women, in our number for October 1845. It is worthy of remark that they were all subject to violent convulsive attacks, and were evidently labouring, at the same time, under the influence of intense mental excitement. Their malady was doubtless one of the most distressing forms of Hysterical disease, just as in the instance of the girl whose case has been related above.
We now proceed to shew, as already intimated, that intense mental emotion, more especially when it is of an exciting nature, may suddenly induce a mortal lesion of the Heart, and that this lesion has been, in some cases at least, an actual rupture of this vital organ. The following extracts
• De Mezeray, Histoire de France, vol. ii.-Voltaire, Euvres completes, vol. xviii.
+ Medico-chirurgical Review for Oct. 1831, p. 496.