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one of them to which this article especially relates, we can only say, that the name has been given, by common consent, to a certain set of cases, having certain, but not very defined, attributes in common, coming on in paroxysms, and which, throughout their duration, or at some period of it, are characterized by mental aberrations or irregularities; which irregularities are made manifest by muscular activity, partial or general ;* which paroxysms are preceded by sleep, or the usual precursors of sleep, such as drowsiness, yawning, closing of the eye-lids, nodding of the head, interrupted loss of consciousness, etc., or are succeeded and terminated by a period of natural sleep. In addition to these characterizing circumstances, we may add, that the occurrences of the paroxysm are forgotten, or imperfectly remembered, during the interval, or are remembered only as a dream. It will be perceived by this, that the term somnambulism has a far more comprehensive meaning than is indicated by its derivation, being applied to a variety of cases of disordered sleep, in which there is bodily or mental activity.

We have said, that our dreams are characterized by the irregular action of all the faculties, more than by the activity of some, and the torpitude of others. This we have asserted, and made some attempts to prove, though perhaps the reader may desire more arguments and illustrations than bave yet been offered. We shall endeavor to gratify this desire, so far as our limits will allow ; yet we have other objects in view, in the subsequent part of this article, than the proving of this single point. We shall take a comprehensive survey of our subject, so far as we proceed in it, embracing, under a few heads, as many of the phenomena which belong to it, as time, and the discovered relations of a great variety of widely separated topics, will admit. We shall consider the state of some of our faculties in dreaming, at considerable length. Other faculties we shall be obliged to neglect, or only allude to.

In reference to the state of the will in sleep and dreaming, the learned Dr. Good makes the following remarks, after mentioning, that the external senses are the first to fall asleep:

• The first of the internal senses that becomes thus influenced,


Somnambulism and ordinary dreaming are essentially the same affection, so far as the mind is concerned. If we abstract from the former those various mnscular acts, such as speaking, walking, and the various hodily movements which are conceived necessary to it, and which are purely mechanical, serving only to make mind visible, so lo speak, it will be difficult to point out any difference between them which is not one of degree. We have, therefore, throughout this article, considered them as degrees, or mere modifications of the same general thing, and (provided no circumstance in which they truly differ were involved,) have adduced the phenomena of each, indiscriminately, in the illustration of our subject, whether we have been endeavoring to prove a point or to refute a theory.

by the torpor of sleep,) is the will itself.” “It gives way first of all, and sleeps along with the exterior organs, while the other faculties of the mind remain awake.” “In what may be called our own times, there are many valuable writers, who have turned their attention to this curious subject, (dreaming,) and who concur in the two following important positions : First, that the faculty, or at least the action of the will, is suspended during the influence of sleep; and, secondly, that in consequence of this suspension or discontinuance, the trains of ideas which persevere in rushing over the mind, are produced and catenated by that general habit of association which catenates them while we are awake. The power of the will, it is contended, is not necessary to the existence of ideas, which, therefore, may continue whilst such power is in a state of abeyance ; but which, if they continue at all, must take the general order and succession imprinted upon them by the law of association, excepting in cases in which such law is broken in upon by a variety of incidental circumstances, as uneasiness, arising from a surcharged stomach, or other bodily sensations."*

Now, as it regards the influence of the principle of association, in regulating the current of our sleeping thoughts, we do not feel disposed to quarrel with Dr. Good and many valuable writers” in the opinion here expressed ; though the idea, that this principle is the sole regulator of such thoughts, is undoubtedly erroneous, provided association means the same as habit, implying antecedent connection. Ideas are linked together so that they suggest one another, naturally, as well as by the effect of custom, etc. That the principle of association is powerful in governing the trains of ideas in our dreams, is unquestionably true: but that it is, uniformly and as a general thing, more powerful than in our waking hours, We see no good reason to believe.t But upon this point we cannot dwell.

As it relates to another point and another opinion,—that which regards the will as suspended in our dreams,—we cannot be so brief. We cannot but believe, that this opinion, which has figured so largely in most of the attempted explanations of dreaming, is without foundation. It is true, the approach of sleep is characterized by the difficult and imperfect exercise of some of those functions which are supposed especially dependent upon the will. Voluntary motion, for instance, ceases. The muscles, which have been

The Book of Nature, Lecture VII. + The principle of association is deranged in its exercise in dreaming, as it would be easy to show; thus exemplifying the irregularity of action, which is so conspicuous a circumstance in relation to all the mental operations in this state. Certain ideas which are usually linked together in our waking hours, are separated in sleep, and new combinations formed. Thus the train of thought takes a new direction, and novel products and novel creations are the result, etc.

kept in a certain state of tension, by the stimulus of the will, be come relaxed, the head and trunk incline forward, and every member of the body shows a tendency to obey the laws of gravity, a to fall into the position most favored by its weight. Attention, too, which is considered a voluntary power, is but faintly and imperfectly exercised. We regard things with little emotion or inierest; therefore they make little impression, incite to no investiga. tion, and give rise to no reflections. All this happens during the approach of sleep; but it is unfair to infer from this circumstance. that the like happens in our dreams, when the feebleness which characterized all the mental operations at the accession of sleep has disappeared and given place to the ordinary and perhaps energetic action of at least some of the faculties. But this infer ence seems to have been made, as illegitimate as it is. A fact oc curring in one state and under one set of circumstances,

is assu. med to occur in a different state and under a very different set al circumstances.

For our part, we do not see why the will is not as truly active in our dreams as at other times. Those specific mental acts which are the invariable antecedents or causes of muscular motion, and which, more appropriately than any other class of mental opera tions, come under the appellation of will

, are undoubtedly and indeed almost continually put forth in the dreaming state. We use our hands, (or seem to do so,) we walk, we run, we speak, we are even busy actors in the scenes in which we conceive ourselves to be engaged. It is true, all this time we are perfectly motionless, lying prostrate upon our beds; but we will, nevertheless, all these muscular acts. That is, we go through all the mental part of the process which is concerned in such acts, though the mechanical part of it,--that which properly constitutes motion, — does not follow. This is the general fact; though there is the long list of cases, occurring in every variety of form, which come under the head of somnambulism and its modifications, in which there is not only will, but obedience to will, or motion. In such cases, we execute the various bodily movements just as we do when awake, evincing to all the entire possession of the power in question, and also, that the relation between this power and the muscular motion is unbroken.

Attention, too, is very evidently exercised in our dreams. We certainly often observe intently and with a lively interest or emotion. The whole energies of the mind seem to be concentrated and fixed, not unfrequently, upon some object, or train of objects, which is supposed present to the mind. We often compare, too, and reason, (sometimes correctly, but oftener the contrary,) which, in the broader sense, are voluntary processes. Somnambulists carry on an argument, etc., involving the exercise of all the intel

lectual powers which can be supposed under the control of the will. They seem, at times, 10 arrest the current of thought, select certain ideas for special consideration, place them side by side, in order to notice their agreement or disagreement, draw inferences, &c. They are even sometimes conscious of making efforts at recollection.

It may be said, that the exercise of the faculties in this way is : a very rare thing in our dreams, and contrasts very strongly with

their common and irregular mode of operation. This is true. In

our ordinary dreams, we certainly do not stop to weigh, to com· pare or contrast, to reason, etc., but give ourselves up to the na

tural current of our ideas, suffering ourselves to be carried along passively, as it were, down the stream of thought. And precisely the same happens to us in our ordinary waking hours. It is only occasionally, that we are engaged in serious argument or close vestigation, pausing, now and then, 10 survey the ground we have passed over, and to examine minutely and critically, that which is before the mind. Indeed, we have sometimes thought, that the great mass of men (ourselves not included of course!) never investigate, or argue with themselves, in this way, at all. At any rate, the waking existence of a majority of mankind, is principally spent in a kind of reverie,-a state not very different from that of a dreaming, if we except the reality which there seems to be about the latter,—a state in which the mind, roving and wandering lawlessly about from object to object over the whole field of thought, seems to be given up to its own spontaneous movements and direction. It has often appeared to us, that if the train of ideas, as it actually passes through the brain in one of our musing moods, could be accurately and vividly represented to the mind, in its retrospective glances, it would be found little less wild, incoherent, strangely catenated, and amusingly linked together, than the trains of our ordinary dreams; and if, in addition to this circumstance, the seeming reality which is the accompaniment of our sleeping visions could be the attendant of our waking reveries, it might not, perhaps, be easy to distinguish the difference.

Among all the faculties which are disordered in dreaming, that which is called memory seems as curiously and profoundly affected as any. We very rarely, in our dreams, recur to the events of our former lives, recognizing, at the same time, such events as past, or referring them to their

true position in respect to time. We do, however, sometimes thus recur to our former experience, as most will be able to satisfy themselves, by examining their own sleeping history. We probably still more rarely refer in one part of a dream to the occurrences of another part, recognizing clearly the distinction between the present and the past ; but we occasionally do even this. We have now in mind a striking instance, drawn from Vol. VII.


our own experience. We dreamed of seeing men fighting with carpenters' axes. We afterwards (in the same dream) dreamed of relating from memory, all the circumstances of the fight, the place of its occurrence, etc., to certain acquaintances; and what is equally singular, thought, during the relation, that we were telling a dream, which we endeavored to trace to its cause and explain, and of which, in fact, we gave a very rational account. We traced it to an impression made upon the ear, by the shouting, in the night, of a number of men in the neighborhood.

We frequently have a kind of false memory in our dreams; that is, we refer an event to our past experience, which has actually never occurred. We suppose certain acts of the mind to be acis of memory, which are, in truth, nothing more than simple conceptions or imaginations.

There is a curious and interesting set of phenomena which is developed in certain cases of somnambulism, mania, etc., and designated by the term double consciousness, which it may be worth our while to examine. Many instances are on record, of somnambulists and others, who, while in the paroxysm, forget all that has occurred in the previous life, and in the intervals, while there is a perfect recollection of all that bas happened in the former parosysms; and who again in the intervals forget whatever bas transpired in the paroxysms, but retain a perfect knowledge of all that has taken place in previous intervals. Dr. Abercrombie quotes from Dr. Prichard the case of a lady, “who was liable to sudden attacks of delirium, which, after continuing for various periods, went off as suddenly, leaving her at once perfectly rational. The attack was often so sudden, that it commenced while she was engaged in interesting conversation ; and on such occasions it happened, that on her recovery from the state of delirium, she instantly recurred to the conversation she had been engaged in at the time of the attack, though she had never referred to it during the continuance of the affection. To such a degree was this carried, that she would even complete an unfinished sentence. During the subsequent paroxysm, again she would pursue the train of ideas which had occupied her mind in the former.”

We find mentioned, by Mr. George Combe, the case of a girl* of sixteen, of whom an account has been given by Dr. Dyce, of Aberdeen. On the first appearance of her disease, (for so we call it) she manifested an uncommon propensity to fall asleep in the evenings, which was soon followed by the habit of talking on these

* It is worthy of remark, that nearly all the extraordinary instances of this and a similar kind, occur in young women, characterized by great sensibility and mobility of the nervous system, and who, at the same time, in nearly every 10stance, will be found, op inquiry, to be laboring under some of the peculiar diseases of their sex.

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