Графични страници
PDF файл
ePub

124

PHASES OF SLEEP WHICH

Another argument in this connection is the fact, of which almost every one, probably, has taken frequent note, that we seldom awake from brief sleep, no matter how sound and tranquil it may have been, without a consciousness of time elapsed since we fell asleep. But time, or rather human perception of it, can exist only in connection with a series of thoughts or sensations. Hence the probability that such, even during that deep and motionless slumber, affected the mind.

Upon the whole, though we cannot disprove the theory put forth by Locke and other maintainers of dreamless sleep, the probabilities seem to me against it. Since numerous indications assure us that in a thousand cases in which sleep seems dreamless, and even insensibility complete, there exists a constant succession of thoughts and sensations, I think there is sufficient reason to agree, with Brodie, that “not to dream seems to be not the rule, but the exception to the rule ;"* and, if it be, how many of the phenomena of sleep may have hitherto escaped our observation! How many more may be covered by a vail that will forever remain impenetrable to mortal eyes!

That large class of phenomena occurring during sleep, of which we retain no recollection after sleep, and which are thus disconnected from waking consciousness, have attracted, as they eminently deserve, much more attention in modern times, particularly during the last seventy years, than at any former period. Seventy-five years ago somnambulism (artificially induced) was unknown. But coma, somnambulism, trance, ecstasy, may be properly regarded as but phases of sleep; abnormal, indeed, and therefore varying widely in some respects from natural sleep, yet all strictly hypnotic states;

clared that till he had a fever, in his twenty-sixth year, he had nover dreamed in his life.

* Psychological Inquiries,” by Sir B. Brodie, 3d ed.,

p. 149.

HAVE MUCH IN COMMON.

125

which we do well to study in their connection with each other.

We shall find that they have much in common. The same insensibility which often supervenes during somnambulism and during coma presents itself in a degree during ordinary sleep. Children, especially, are often roused from sleep with difficulty; and sound sleepers of adult age frequently remain unconscious of loud noises or other serious disturbances. It has not unfrequently occurred to myself to hear nothing, or at least to retain no recollection of having heard any thing, of a longcontinued and violent thunder-storm, that disturbed and alarmed my neighbors; and in the year 1856, being then in Naples, I slept quietly through an earthquake, the shock of which filled the streets with terrified thousands, imploring the compassion of the Madonna.

Some even of the most remarkable phenomena of somnambulism and ecstasy appear in modified form during natural sleep. That exaltation of the mental powers which forms one of the chief features of the above-named states is to be met with, in numerous examples, during simple dreaming. We read that Cabanis, in dreams, often saw clearly the bearings of political events which had bafiled him when awake; and that Condorcet, when engaged in some deep and complicated calculations, was frequently obliged to leave them in an unfinished state and retire to rest, when the results to which they led were unfolded to him in dreams.* Brodie mentions the case of a friend of his, a distinguished chemist and natural philosopher, who assured him that he had more than once contrived in a dream an apparatus for an experiment he proposed to make; and that of another friend, a mathematician and a man of extensive general information, who has solved

* Macnish's “Philosophy of Sleep," p. 79.

126

THE SLEEPING POWERS MAY

problems when asleep which baffled him in his waking state. The same author mentions the case of an acquaintance of his, a solicitor, who, being perplexed as to the legal management of a case, imagined, in a dream, a mode of proceeding which had not occurred to him when awake, and which he adopted with success.

Carpenter admits that “the reasoning processes may be carried on during sleep with unusual vigor and success," and cites, as an example, the case of Condillac, who tells us that, when engaged in his “Cours d'Étude," he frequently developed a subject in his dreams which he bad broken off before retiring to rest. Carpenter supposes this to occur “in consequence of the freedom from distraction resulting from the suspension of external influences."'*

Abercrombie, in this connection, adduces the case of Dr. Gregory, who had thoughts occurring to him in dreams, and even the very expressions in which they were conveyed, which appeared to him afterward, when awake, so just in point of reasoning and illustration, and so happily worded, that he used them in his lectures and in his lucubrations. Even our own practical and unimaginative Franklin appears to have furnished an example of this exaltation of the intellect during sleep. “Dr. Franklin informed Cabanis," says Abercrombie, “that the bearings and issue of political events which had puzzled him when awake were not unfrequently unfolded to him in his dreams." +

A still nearer approach to some of the phenomena of artificial somnambulism and ecstasy, and to the involuntary writing of modern mediums, is made when the sleeping man produces an actual record of his dreaming thoughts. Of this a remarkable example is adduced by

.*Principles of Human Physiology," p. 643.
† Abercrombie's “Intellectual Powers," 15th ed., p. 221.

[ocr errors]

EXCEED THE WAKING.

127

Abercrombie, in the case of a distinguished lawyer of the last century, in whose family records all the particulars are preserved. They are as follows :

“ This eminent person had been consulted respecting a case of great importance and much difficulty, and he had been studying it with intense anxiety and attention. After several days had been occupied in this manner, he was observed by his wife to rise from his bed in the night and go to a writing-desk which stood in the bedroom. He then sat down and wrote a long paper, which he carefully put by in the desk, and returned to bed. The following morning he told his wife he had had a most interesting dream; that he had dreamed of delivering a clear and luminous opinion respecting a case which had exceedingly perplexed him, and he would give any thing to recover the train of thought which had passed before him in his sleep. She then directed him to the writing-desk, where he found the opinion clearly and fully written out. It was afterward found to be perfectly correct."*

Carpenter admits, during certain phases of sleep, the exaltation not only of the mental powers, but of the senses. Speaking of what Mr. Braid calls hypnotism, t

.

* Abercrombie, Work cited, p. 222.

It is scarcely necessary to remind the reader that the cases above ad. duced, though numerous, are exceptional. As a general rule, the reasoning powers are enfeebled during sleep. “Sometimes,” says Müller, (Physiology, Baly's translation, p. 1417,) “we reason more or less accurately in our dreams. We reflect on problems, and rejoice in their solution. But on awaking from such dreams the seeming reasoning is found to be no reasoning at all, and the solution over which we had rejoiced to be mere nonsense.'

This, also, is not without its analogy in somnambulism and ecstasy. The opinions expressed and the statements made during these states are often altogether untrustworthy.

+ Neurypnology; or, The Rationale of Sleep,” by James Braid, M.R.C.S.E., London, 1843.

128

CARPENTER'S OBSERVATIONS.

which is, in fact, only sleep artificially induced by gazing fixedly on any near object,-he mentions some cases that have come under his observation, thus :

« The author has witnessed a case in which such an exaltation of the sense of smell was manifested, that the subject of it discovered, without difficulty, the owner of a glove placed in his hands in an assemblage of fifty or sixty persons; and in the same case, as in many others, there was a similar exaltation of the sense of temperature. The exaltation of the muscular sense, by which various actions that ordinarily require the guidance of vision are directed independently of it, is a phenomenon common to the mesmeric, with various other forms of artificial as well as natural somnambulism.

“ The author has repeatedly seen Mr. Braid's hypnotized subjects write with the most perfect regularity, when an opaque screen was interposed between their eyes and the paper, the lines being equidistant and parallel; and it is not uncommon for the writer to carry back his pencil or pen to dot an i, or cross a t, or make some other correction in a letter or word. Mr. B. had one patient who would thus go back and correct with accuracy the writing on a whole sheet of note-paper; but, if the paper was moved from the position it had previously occupied on the table, all the corrections were on the wrong points of the paper as regarded the actual place of the writing, though on the right points as regarded its previous place. Sometimes, however, he would take a fresh departure, by feeling for the upper left-hand corner of the paper; and all his corrections were then made in their right positions, notwithstanding the displacement of the paper."*

Again, Dr. Carpenter informs us that when the atten

* Principles of Human Physiology," p. 616.

« ПредишнаНапред »