Started, as a rule, through suggestion or imitation, insomnia is sometimes kept up as a means of making ourselves seem important,—to ourselves and to others. It at least provides an excuse for thinking and talking about ourselves, and furnishes a certain feeling of distinction. If something within us craves attention, even staying awake may not be too dear a price to pay for that attention. Strange to say, there are other times when the insomnia is chosen by the primitive subconscious mind with the idea of doing penance for supposed sins whose evil effects might possibly be avoided by this kind of expiation. Analysis shows that motives like this are not so uncommon as might be supposed. In other cases insomnia is chosen for the chance it gives for phantasy-building. A person denied the right kind of outlet for his instincts may so enjoy the day-dreaming habit that he prolongs it into the night, really preferring it to sleep. Such a state of affairs is not at all incompatible with an intense conscious desire to sleep and a real fear of insomnia. So strange may be the motives hidden away within the depths of the most prosaic individual!
Nervous insomnia is something which a part of us makes use of and another part fears. It is a mistake on both sides. Although not in the least dangerous, the habit can hardly be considered a satisfactory form of amusement. Nature has provided a better way to spend the night, a way to which she speedily brings us when we choose to let her do it.
We do not have to ask for sleep as for a special boon which may be denied. We simply have to lie down in trust, expecting to be carried away like a child. If our expectation is not at once realized we can still trust, as with relaxed mind and body we lie in calm content, knowing that Nature is, minute by minute, restoring us for another day.
In which we raise our thresholds
FINELY STRUNG VIOLINS
The young girl had been telling me about her symptoms. “You know, Doctor,” she said. “I am a very sensitive person. In fact, I have always been told that I am like a finely strung violin.” There was pride in every tone of her voice,—pride and satisfaction over possessing an organization so superior to the common clay of the average person. It was a typical remark, and showed clearly that this girl belonged among the nervous folk. For the nervous person is not only over-sensitive, but he accepts his condition with a secret and half-conscious pride as a token of superiority.