Outwitting Our Nerves eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 270 pages of information about Outwitting Our Nerves.

There is another factor; painful emotions make us fall to pieces, while pleasant emotions bind us together.  We can see why this is so when we remember that powerful emotions like fear and anger tend to dissociate all but themselves, to split up the mind into separate parts and to force out of consciousness everything but their own impulse.  Morton Prince in his elaborate studies of the cases of multiple personality, Miss Beauchamp and B.C.A., found repeatedly that he had only to hypnotize the patient and replace painful, depressing complexes by healthy, happy ones to change her from a weak, worn-out person, complaining of fatigue, insomnia, and innumerable aches and pains, into a vigorous woman, for the time being completely well.  On this point he says: 

Exalting emotions have an intense synthesizing effect, while depressing emotions have a disintegrating effect.  With the inrushing of depressive memories or ideas ... there is suddenly developed a condition of fatigue, ill-being and disintegration, followed after waking by a return or accentuation of all the neurasthenic symptoms.  If on the other hand, exalting ideas and memories are introduced and brought into the limelight of attention, there is almost a magical reversal of processes.  The patient feels strong and energetic, the neurasthenic symptoms disappear and he exhibits a capacity for sustained effort.  He becomes re-vitalized, so to speak.[29]

[Footnote 29:  Prince:  Psycho-therapeutics, Chap.  I.]

In cases like this the needed strength and energy are not lost; they are merely side-tracked, but the person feels as weak as though he were physically ill.

BODILY RESPONSE TO EMOTIONAL STATES

=Secretions.= Let us look more carefully into some of the physiological processes involved in emotional changes.  Among the most apparent of bodily responses are the various external secretions.  Tears, the secretion of the lachrymal glands in response to an emotion, are too common a phenomenon to arouse comment.  It is common knowledge that clammy hands and a dry mouth betray emotion.  Every nursing mother knows that she dares not become too disturbed lest her milk should dry up or change in character.  Most people have experienced an increase in urine in times of excitement; recently physiologists have discovered the presence of sugar in the urine of students at the time of athletic contests and difficult examinations.[30] We have seen what an important role the various internal secretions, such as the adrenal and thyroid secretions play in fitting the body for flight and combat, and how large a part fear and anger have in their production.  Constant over-production of these secretions through chronic states of worry is responsible for many a distressing symptom.

[Footnote 30:  Cannon.]

Most graphic evidence of the disturbance of secretions by emotion is found in the response of the salivary and gastric glands to painful or pleasurable thinking.  As these are the secretions which play the largest part in the digestive processes, they lead us naturally to our next heading.

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Outwitting Our Nerves from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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