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Hack Tuke, Daniel – Sickness - Heart failure induced by powerful emotions – fury and anger



Type of spiritual experience

A description of the experience

As described in Illustrations Of The Influence Of The Mind Upon The Body In Health And Disease, Designed To Elucidate The Action Of The Imagination - Daniel Hack Tuke, M.D., M.R.C.P.,


The nerves supplying the heart may be so affected by emotion as to cause more violent contraction — tonic spasm — of the organ, which, from its occurrence in a vital part, is followed by death. Whether this results from muscular irritability taking place in consequence of the withdrawal of an antagonistic nerve-force, or from the direct action of nerve-force upon the muscle, it may be difficult to decide. Be this as it may, it seems clear, in cases of death like Hunter's, that the condition induced is one of spasmodic contraction of the walls of the heart. Let us refer to the record of his death and post mortem.

When the Governors of St. George's Hospital decided that no person should be admitted as a student without bringing certificates of having been educated in the profession (a regulation which appeared designed to exclude Hunter's countrymen), he advocated at the Board the admission of two young men, inadmissible under the new rule.

His biographer, Mr. Palmer, states that, before the meeting, he expressed his apprehensions to a friend " lest some unpleasant dispute might occur, and his conviction that, if it did, it would certainly prove fatal to him."

" Arrived at the hospital he found the Board already assembled, and entering the room, presented the memorial of the young men, and proceeded to urge the propriety of their being admitted. In the course of his remarks he made some observation, which one of his colleagues thought it necessary instantly and flatly to contradict. Hunter immediately ceased speaking, retired from the table, and struggling to suppress the tumult of his passion, hurried into the adjoining room, which he had scarcely reached when, with a deep groan, he fell lifeless into the arms of Dr. Robertson, one of the physicians of the hospital, who chanced to be present. . . .
Various attempts were made for upwards of an hour to restore animation, under the hope that the attack might prove to be a fainting- fit, such as he had before experienced ; but in vain ; life had fled, and all their efforts proved useless

The post mortem revealed a condition of the viscera such as might have been expected. The heart was found to be extensively diseased. It was small, appeared to have wasted, and was strongly contracted. On the left auricle and ventricle were two opaque white spots — the muscular tissue pale, and loose in texture. The coronary arteries were converted into long tubes, with difficulty cut across, and the mitral valves were much ossified. The aorta was somewhat dilated, and its valves thickened and wanting pliancy; the inner surface of the artery studded with opaque and elevated white spots. The pericardium was unusually thickened, and did not contain much fluid. The viscera of the abdomen and head were loaded with blood, and the carotid arteries within the skull, and their branches, were thickened and ossified (p. 132).

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image


Observation contributed by: Henry Ibberson