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Observations placeholder

Hack Tuke, Daniel – Sickness - Ageing and death induced by powerful emotions – Fear, remorse and shock



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.,


Bichat (writing in 1800) recalls and contrasts the time when Fear, Sadness, and the desire of revenge seemed to hover over France, with that in which security and abundance excited the gayety so natural to his countrymen, and points to the difference in the exterior aspect of their bodies in proof of the influence of the emotions …. I know several interesting examples of the same influence as the results of the late war in France.

A lady informs me that at Tours many lost their health, and some died from fright. A young lady was standing with her father at the window when the Prussian soldiers came down the tranchee, and was seized with shivering; her father who could feel her trembling, said, "You need not be frightened, they will not hurt you;" but she had received a shock from which she became quite blanched, and lost her sleep and flesh. She has not yet fully recovered her strength, and remarks that she has never been able to keep her feet warm since that day.

Dr. Boggs, in a letter to the " Lancet," dated June 21, 1871, writes :

" The only hope of the Parisians which they fondly cherished, and which in a great measure, kept them alive during the siege, was most cruelly blighted, and you may imagine their disappointment when the capitulation of the city was announced ; the mental shock to some was such that they almost lost their reason But the most remarkable effect of the siege was the aged appearance of some of the inhabitants ; men and women alike seemed to have passed over at least ten years of their existence in half as many months. A friend of mine, a distinguished practitioner in this city, nearly fifty years of age, has become so gray and wrinkled, and such other changes have taken place in his constitution, as to give him the appearance of a man of sixty."

The influence of a violent and painful emotion .. is well shown in the following well-told case:

" Returning from a professional visit late one evening, I was met by a medical friend who begged me to see with him a gentleman whom we both had previously well known, stating that he was in a deplorable state and wished to see me. I at once consented, and we walked on together.
'You have, of course’ said he, 'heard of his unfortunate accident.'
I said I had heard some vague reports of his having shot some gentleman accidentally.
'Alas’ said he, ' that was not all. You must remember him, one of the handsomest young men in the University.'
I said, 'Yes.'
'Wait until you see him now; he is truly a victim to mental distress; his form is reduced to a skeleton, and his strength scarce that of an infant's. The circumstances are these : He was spending the shooting season at his uncle's in shire, when his cousin, to whom he was much attached, about his own age, and an only child, irritated him by some frivolous remarks while on a shooting excursion; words ran high on both sides, and they being only attended by a little boy of ten years old, who could not interfere, a struggle ensued, in which the poor victim we are going to see, shot his cousin on the spot. He then returned, scarce conscious that he did so, to his uncle's house, detailed the events, from the effect of which within a month he saw his uncle and aunt carried to their graves, while he exists a miserable wreck, soon to follow them.'

"Such as he was described I found him: his hand was hot and feverish; the cheek pale and withered, and his frame a perfect skeleton ; his voice was deep and hollow, and his expression agonized and wretched, yet he complained of nothing. It was clear that his nervous circulation was suspended ; yet his thinking principle was awake, and consciousness alive. The mental or nervous stimulant was withdrawn, having by the shock of the accident been directed into another channel, which was necessary to keep in activity the animal functions, and a general stagnation ensued, until exhausted nature sunk from inanition" (Medical Essays. By Mr. J. H. Sealy. 1837, p. 50).

The source of the experience

Hack Tuke, Daniel

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Types of hurt and organs

Activities and commonsteps