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The Public Library



-OF THE-



CITY OF LAWRENCE.



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1.— No person shall be allowed more than one
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From the collection of the
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library
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San Francisco, California
2007



THE



POPTJLAE SCIENCE



MONTHLY.



CONDUCTED BY K L. AND W. J, YOUMANS.



VOL. XXVI.

NOVEMBER, 1884, TO APRIL, 1885.




KEW TOEK :
D. APPLETON AND COMPANY,

1, 3, AND 5 BOND STREET.
1885.



COPYEIGHT, 18S5,

bt d. appleton aud company.




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JAMES HALL.




THE

POPULAR SCIENCE
MONTHLY.



NOVEMBER, 1884.



THE EELATIONS BETWEEIT THE MIISTD AND THE

NEKYOUS SYSTEM.*

By WILLIAM A. HAMMOND, M.D.

IN" order that one person may know what another person is talking
about, there must be an agreement in regard to the meaning of
the terms employed. Without this there can be no common ground on
which those engaged in a discussion as speakers and listeners can stand.
For it is obvious that if by a word one of the disputants means one
thing and another by the same word means quite another thing, they
will both talk of different things, and that hence their statements
and arguments will be worse than useless, for they will not only have
been of no avail in convincing an adversary or in instructing a pupil,
but they will in all probability have been potent agencies in stirring
up the bad blood that so often shows itself where, least of all, it ought
to appear — in efforts to arrive at the truth.

It is especially necessary that there should be no misunderstanding
in regard to one's terminology when we come to discuss those subjects
in regard to which our knowledge is not full and precise, and which,
consequently, have been studied from different stand-points by differ-
ent inquirers, and by the light that their own minds have thrown upon
them rather than by that of other minds. Suppose, for instance, that
a doctor of music should go into the turpentine-regions of North Caro-
lina to give a lecture on "pitch " to the dwellers in the pine-forests, and
should talk of the elevation of the voice or of an instrument — is it not
quite within the range of probability that some one of the audience
would rise in indignation and tell the learned gentleman that he did
not know what he was talking about, and that every man, woman, and

* An address delivered at the Lehigh University, on " Founder's Day," October 9,
1884.

VOL. XXTI. — 1



2 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

child in the State knew that pitch was a "thick, black, sticky substance
obtained by boiling down tar," and not only that, but he and the great-
er part of those present would feel as though their attendance had been
obtained by false pretenses, and that the money they had paid for ad-
mission should be returned to them ?

Or, if I should go out among the sturdy farmers of Northampton
County and gather them together to hear a lecture on "ducks," and
should confine my remarks to pets and darlings of the female part of
the human species, is it not very certain that though the young agri-
culturists in search of wives would listen with eagerness to what I
had to say (and it would be interesting, I think), the more sedate would
feel as though I had played them a trick ? Neither the young nor the
old would have got what they came for, and yet there would be am-
ple authority for the meaning given to the word.

And when I come before an educated assemblage such as this, com-
posed to a great extent of persons of both sexes, who have been in the
habit of thinking deeply on subjects of vast importance, and who have
formed clear ideas of what meanings are to be given to the words
they meet in their studies or use in their conversation, it is indispen-
sable that if I wish to make myself understood and to speak with that
force so essential in obtaining assent, I should do all in my power to
avoid ambiguity of signification.

It would be very easy to bring before you many subjects in regard
to which you have your own ideas, formed after much study and re-
flection, and to which, therefore, you would have a right to cling,
and I should be obliged to start out by attempting to define accurately
the terms to be employed. I doubt, however, if it would be possible
to select one in which such a course would be more necessary than in
that of which I am to speak to-day. The word " mind " is a little
one, but it means a great deal, and if we strive for accuracy, as of
course we should do, it means a great many different things. In fact,
it is probable that, were I to send a canvasser among you, 1 should
receive a hundred different explanations of the term, and nowhere
would the variations be more numerous or more transcendental than
among the eminent gentlemen — president, professors, and trustees —
who constitute the governing body of this university ; for I think I
have observed that, the higher we go in mental development, the more
numerous and refined are the differences as to what the mind is. No
two metaphysicians ever yet exactly agreed in regard to the significa-
tion to be attached to the word mind.

But, before explaining to you my understanding of the term, it is
necessary, in order to avoid all ground for misconception, to tell you
what I do not mean. I do not mean the soul, although it and the mind
are by a large and influential class of philosophers regarded as consti-
tuting one essence — as being, in fact, identical. With it, however, I
conceive that we have nothing to do, so far as science goes. Its very



MINB AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEM. 3

existence is a matter of faith in which, probably, most of us believe,
but which is altogether beyond the limits of proof, or even of investi-
gation. There is nothing tangible about it. We should not know
how to proceed to ascertain the existence of the souh No one could
go into a court of justice and demonstrate by the rules of evidence
that he himself, or his neighbor, has, as an integral part of his organi-
zation, a never-dying principle responsible to God for the deeds done
in the body. He could not say that life is the soul, for, if he did, he
would have to accord souls to all living beings, vegetables as well as
animals. And, if he were to declare that the mind and the soul are
identical, he would be obliged to admit that the " beasts that perish,"
and even the vine that creeps up the side of his house and finds out
where the supports are situated around which it sends out its tendrils,
have souls which, if not as perfect as his own, are none the less real.
No, his belief in the existence of his soul rests upon higher principles
than those that govern earthly tribunals or scientific investigation. He
believes through the faith that is in him, not through the impressions
that have reached his central nervous organs through his eyes or ears
or nostrils or tongue or fingers — the only mediums by which actual
knowledge can be obtained.

But with the mind it is very different. Its existence, its powers,
its aberrations, are proved in courts every day, and we are constantly
demonstrating its reality in our physiological and pathological labo-
ratories, and in our hospitals and in the practice of our physicians.
In fact, it is being shown every instant, in the person of every man,
woman, and child, and in every living being throughout the earth,
that mind exists and is a power. We see it exhibited in all its vai'ie-
ties. We are all of us familiar with good and bad minds, and some
of us see human beings with minds so degraded and undeveloped
that they are lower, so far as regards intelligence, than dogs or canary-
birds. They do not know enough to reach out their hands and take
the food that is placed before them, whereas we have all seen canary-
birds haul up with their beaks whenever they were hungry the little
wagons of seed on the outside of their cashes.

But, though the minds of these poor beings are many of them in-
ferior to those of our domestic animals, it would be presumption in
us to say that the soul of the veriest idiot that breathes is not as pure
and as high in the scale of souls as that of a Plato or a Newton. If
the mind and the soul are identical, all those predisposing causes in-
herent in the parents, and which are capable of causing imbecility
and idiocy in the offspring, are also capable of damaging the immortal
soul that we believe God has given to every human being. The little
piece of bone of a fractured skull that, pressing upon the brain, stu-
pefies the mind, at the same time damages the soul ; the congestion or
inflammation of the brain that converts a man of giant intellect into
a maniac or a dement beyond the hope of cure, also irreparably ruins



4 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

the soul, which, we are told, never dies, and which, if it exists, is
doubtless far removed from the influence of bodily diseases or injuries.
Therefore I beg you to understand that what I have to say relates
solely to the mind. Your souls are, doubtless, cared for by those
whose qualifications for instructing you in their management are
greater than any that I can claim.

Now, what is mind ? Those of you who have thought much upon
the subject will not be surprised when I say that I do not know. There
may be others, however, who, though too polite to say so, may think
it a piece of impertinence for me to come here to speak of something
of the nature of which I am obliged at the very beginning of my dis-
course to confess my ignorance. But, if they thought thus, they
would be doing me great injustice, and it would be easy for me to
retaliate by asking them what a piece of wood is. Could they tell ?
Does any one know ? Does any one know what anything is ? There
are sixty-four elementary bodies of which the earth is composed, but
does any one know what a single one of them is ? Take one with
which you may be presumed to be especially familiar — iron. What
is it ? You do not know. You can describe it to me. You can point
out its properties. You can tell me where it comes from. Yes, and I
can do the same with the mind. I can tell you where it comes from,
describe its properties, point out its manifestations, and you will
recognize mind as clearly as I should recognize the iron, the qualities
of which you should portray ; but, as to telling you what mind is, I
can not do it any more than you can tell me what iron is.

Some of you are students of physics. If you were to present
yourselves in the class-room and ask your distinguished professor of
that branch of science to tell you what heat, light, electricity, magnet-
ism are, he would be obliged to tell you that he does not know, just
as I am forced to tell you that I do not know what mind is. But,
though he is ignorant of their essential natures, think of the vast
fields of knowledge he is able to open up to you by putting jow in
possession of what is known of these forces !

Go into the chemical laboratory of your own noble university — in
honor of whose founder we are here to-day — and touch the two poles
of a galvanic battery. What is it that thrills through your bodies,
and perhaps even burns the skin of your fingers ; or, even, if the cur-
rent be strong enough, strikes you dead on the instant ? Galvanism.
What is galvanism? A force. Yes, and so is light a force, and
heat, and gravitation. But, when I am told this, I am just as far
from knowing what any one of the forces is as I Avas before. All
tliat you could do, if I persisted in asking for a fuller explanation,
would be to tell me something of the origin and properties of the
force in question, and in this way I should obtain some idea of its
characteristics, and should be in no danger of mistaking it for any
other force. That is what your Professor of Physics does for you,



MIND AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEM. 5

and, if you have only profited by the instruction you have received,
you have a store of facts at your command that will enable you to
recognize heat, light, electricity, gravitation, magnetism, whenever you
see them manifested. When, therefore, you ask me what mind is, I
answer that it is a force possessing peculiar properties, and developed
by a substance constituting a part of the nervous organism of man
and other animals, and known to anatomists and physiologists as gray
nerve-tissue. This is similar in all essential respects, so far as its
terms are concerned, to the definition that you would give me of any
other force. Of course, it can be made more precise and extensive,
but no enlargement would change its character.

The gray nerve-tissue exists in the form of aggregations of minute
cells in various parts of the nervous system. In man, by far the largest
collections are found in the brain, and especially on the outside of it,
covering it as the rind covers an orange, and hence called the cor-
tex, or the cortical substance. Besides this large mass, spread out to
the thickness of the twelfth of an inch or more over the exterior of
the brain, there are masses of gray nerve-tissue in other parts, varying
in size from that of a walnut to that of a small pea. In this diagram
the situations of the masses of gray tissue existing in the brain are
shown. You will observe a very beautiful arrangement for increasing
the extent of the cortical substance without at the same time increas-
ing the size of the brain, and thus making it heavier than it would be
comfortable to carry. The surface is convoluted, and the gray matter,
following the convolutions, is hence doubled over and over again on
itself. If the cortex were spread out smoothly, like the skin on an
apple, it would cover a body more than four times the size of the aver-
age human brain. We should, then, in order to get as much mind-
producing substance as we have now, require heads four times the
volume of those that we now carry on our shoulders. Gray nerve-
tissue is found also in the spinal cord, and some animals, as the frog
and the alligator, have more of it in this organ than they have in the
brain. It also exists in connection with what is called the sympathetic
nerve, in the form of masses called ganglia, and generally placed in
intimate relation with the several vital organs of the body — as the
heart, stomach, lungs, liver, etc.

Besides the gray nerve-tissue, there is another kind of nerve-sub-
stance called the white, and which, instead of consisting of granular
forms or cells, is made up of tubes or fibers. The white nerve-sub-
stance has nothing to do with the evolution of nerve-force or mind.
Its oflice is to transmit the nerve-force from the places where it is
formed to other parts of the body. The great mass of the brain and
of the spinal cord, and the whole of the nerves that ramify through the
body, consist of white nerve-tissue. You will understand, therefore,
that this substance is analogous to the wires of the telegraph, while
the gray substance corresponds to the batteries.



6 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

And just as a particular arrangement, for instance, of zinc and
carbon and sulphuric acid, leads to the evolution of galvanism, so a
particular arrangement of nerve-cells leads to the evolution of the
force that we call mind. We can not explain why or how the galvan-
ism comes from the zinc, carbon, and sulphuric acid ; neither can we
tell why or how mind comes from the nerve-cells. Both are ultimate
facts beyond which we can not go, and may never be enabled to go.

Now, as by their properties we recognize any of the other forces of
Nature that I have mentioned, so by its properties we recognize mind.
An object is perceived, and it is the mind that perceives it ; an idea
is formed, and it is the mind that forms it ; an emotion is felt, and it
is the mind that feels it ; an act is willed, and it is the mind that wills
it. Hence, there are these four groups of mental faculties, to one
of which every possible manifestation of mind belongs — perception,
intellect, emotion, and will.

The many interesting points concerned with these categories of
mental faculties do not come within the scope of the present remarks,
the chief object of which is to discuss the subject of the relations ex-
isting between the mind and the nervous system.

In the very earliest times of which we have any record, and even
at the present day among barbarous nations, the idea existed that the
brain was not the only organ concerned in the production of mind.
Thus, the emotions were, many of them, supposed to have their seat
in the heart, the liver, the spleen, the bowels. Love, for instance, was
conceived by the heart, as were also several other tender or compas-
sionate feelings. The liver was supposed to be intimately connected
with the depressing emotions, the s^Dleen with spite or revenge, and
the bowels with pity. So strongly was this idea implanted, and so
universally did it prevail, that it has influenced the forms of speech
among all nations that are not so low in the scale as not to have emo-
tions. Thus we say that a person has " a good heart," the lover tells
his lady-love that he " loves her with all his heart," and the sinner
when he turns away from his wickedness is said to have undergone a
" change of heart." The influence ascribed to the liver is shown by
our expressions " melancholic," " choleric," and by one that I heard
used a short time since by a man who was complaining of an insult
that had been put upon him, and who said that it made " his bile flow."
Then we say of a disagreeable or quarrelsome person that he is "sple-
netic," or that he " vents his spleen," and we speak of a pitiless person
by asserting that he has " no bowels of compassion."

How could the notions that gave birth to such expressions arise in
the human mind ? Doubtless, the origin was due to the fact that,
under the influence of certain emotions, there are disturbances in the
organs with which they are associated. Thus, the passion of love pro-
duces a sensation of fullness in the region of the heart, and the action
of the organ is quickened. In mental depression, or as a consequence



MIND AND THE NERVOUS SYSTEM. 7

of fits of anger, the liver is so deranged that the bile ceases to be pro-
duced, and pain is felt in that part of the body in which the liver is
situated ; and, when the emotion of pity is strongly experienced, a
sensation of weakness, or, as it is sometimes called, a sinking feeling,
is felt at the pit of the stomach.

It has been customary with modern writers — and I have until quite
recently been of the like opinion — to regard these disturbances as being
the effects of emotions that originated in the brain, and not as indicat-
ing that the organs in which they are felt have anything to do with
the evolution of love or anger or fear or compassion, or any other
passion or feeling. The idea has become so widely spread among edu-
cated persons that the brain is the only organ of the body that has
any direct relation as a generator with the mind, that it seems like a
tremendous blow at the system of existing facts to attempt to take
from it any of its power. But it is only recently that physiologists
and pathologists are beginning to make a thorough investigation into
that great division of the nervous system consisting of the sympathetic
nerves and their ganglia. If you will look at this diagram, you will
obtain some idea of the situation and connections of these nerves. As
you see, they are situated on each side of the spine, and are in direct
connection with the brain, and their ramifications extend to every
one of the vital organs situated in the chest, the abdomen, and the
pelvis. These nerves differ from the other nerves — those that convey
impulses to and from the brain — in the remarkable fact that they have
at various parts of their course little swellings or enlargements called
ganglia, and which consist of gray matter. Now, gray nerve-tissue,
Avherever it exists, is a generator of nerve-force, or mind, and it is not
unreasonable to suppose, therefore, that these masses of the tissue in
question, that are placed around the heart, the liver, the spine, and
other organs, and in vast number in their substance, have some in-
fluence in causing the production of those emotions that make them-
selves felt in the parts of the body with which former universal
beliefs and our present forms of speech have associated them. TVe
find, too, as an additional fact in support of this view, that in certain
mental affections, characterized by great emotional disturbances, these
ganglia are in various parts of the body the seats of disease.

Therefore, there is some reason for the opinion that not to the
brain alone do we owe the evolution of mind, but that the sjTnpathetic
system of nerves is also concerned in its production.

But there is another part of the nervous system not generally re-
garded as a mind-producing organ, but which I am very sure is directly
concerned in the evolution of the force which so pre-eminently by its
presence distinguishes organic from inorganic bodies, and that is the
spinal cord.

The spinal cord is contained in the vertebral column, or, as it is
popularly called, the backbone. It extends from the brain to near the



8 THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

end of the trunk, and is at its thickest portion about the diameter of
the end of the little finger. It contains throughout its whole length
gray nerve-tissue arranged somewhat in the form of the letter H. The
diagram to which I direct your attention shows the arrangement on a
greatly magnified scale. More than nine years ago, in an address de-
livered before the New York Neurological Society, and entitled " The
Brain not the Sole Organ of the Mind," I called attention to the fact
that certain mental faculties are seated in the spinal cord. It will
probably not be out of place if I adduce here some of the facts and
arguments upon which I based that opinion, and which convince me
of its correctness.

As we have just seen, all the manifestations of which the mind is
capable in its fullest development are embraced in four groups — per-
ception, the intellect, the emotions, and the will. Either one of these
may be exercised independently of the others. Thus, an individual
may have a perception without any intellectual, emotional, or voli-
tional manifestation, and so the intellect, the emotions, or the will may
be brought into action without the necessary participation of each
other. It is, however, clearly established that all mental processes of
any kind have their origin in perception, and that an individual born
without the ability to perceive, either from defects in the external
organs of the senses, or of the central ganglia by which impressions
on these organs are converted into perceptions, would be devoid of in-
tellect, emotion, and will — would be, in fact, lower in mental develop-
ment than the most degraded types of animated beings. He would
not, in fact, be able to conceive of so simple an idea as that one and
one make two. How could he, unless he could see two objects, or hear
two sounds, or smell two odors, or taste two flavors, or feel two tactile
impressions ? There would be no means by which he could differen-
tiate one from two, for no knowledge on the subject could reach his
brain. Though he might have the intellectual potentiality of Socrates,
he would be an actual imbecile, without the slightest mental scintilla-
tion. The brain and other nerve-centers can only act from impressions
received from without.

Perception is, therefore, the primary manifestation of mind, and is



Online Library(S.J.) Publishing Company ClarkeThe Popular science monthly (Volume 26) → online text (page 1 of 118)