Hack Tuke, Daniel – Sickness - Inducing Epilepsy as a consequence of suggestion only
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.,
PART I. THE INTELLECT.
CHAPTER III. INFLUENCE OF THE INTELLECT UPON THE VOLUNTARY MUSCLES.
SECTION II. — Irregular and excessive Muscular Contraction :
The confident assertion that a person subject to epileptic fits will have an attack, has frequently proved sufficient to produce one.
Madame De St. Amour attained great reputation in France, within the last half century, for the power she exercised over nervous diseases. It is related that on one occasion a young woman was brought to her, when she demanded, "What is your complaint?"
"Epilepsy," replied the girl.
"Then, in the name of the Lord, have a fit now !" exclaimed Madame De St. Amour.
The effect was instantaneous. The patient fell backwards, and had a violent attack of epileptic convulsions. Without Expectation, the simple thought or remembrance of previous attacks suffices with some epileptics to cause a recurrence of the fit ; and still more potent is the recollection of the cause, if the cause has been of an alarming character. Ideal Emotion simply takes the place of the original feeling.
In Van Swieten's Works is recorded a case of epilepsy which may be referred to this principle, that of a boy who, having been frightened into epileptic fits by a great dog, had a recurrence of the attacks whenever he heard a dog bark.
The mischievous influence of Sympathy or Imitation is exemplified in the following case which occurred at Lyons. The "Journal des Connaissances Medico-Chirurgicales " (16th February, 1851) treats such occurrences as "excessively rare in the annals of physiology." They certainly are not very frequently reported, but occur more frequently than would be supposed from this circumstance.
In a workshop where sixty women were at work, one of them, after a violent altercation with her husband, had a nervous attack. Her companions pressed round her to assist, but no sooner had they done so, than first one and then another fell a prey to the same kind of attack, until twenty were prostrated by it. The contagion appeared likely to spread through the company, but was checked by clearing the room. The reporter in the above journal, in adding that there are few precedents, remarks that history, in fact, scarcely presents more than two, the famous scenes in the Cemetery of St. Medard, and the occurrence in Boerhaave's practice which is so well known.