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mously with constitution; but it is generally appropriated to the peculiar disposition, which causes an individual to be affected by extraneous bodies, in a way in which mankind in general are not acted upon by the same agents. In all cases, perhaps, these peculiarities are dependent upon inappreciable structure, either of the organ concerned, or in the nervous branches distributed to it; at times, derived from progenitors; at others acquired, often by association,—in the course of existence. Hence arise many of the antipathies to particular animate and inanimate objects, which we occasionally meet with, and of which Broussais relates a singular instance in a Prussian captain, whom he saw at Paris in 1815. He could not bear the sight of a cat, a thimble, or an old woman, without becoming convulsed, and making frightful grimaces. The associations must have been singularly complicated to occasion an antipathy to objects differing so signally from each other. Wagner, of Vienna, has collected a multitude of cases of idiosyncrasy; and the observation of every individual, whether of the medical profession or not, must have made him acquainted with those peculiarities, that render a particular article of diet, which is innoxious, and oven agreeable and wholesome to the generality of individuals, productive, in some, of the most unpleasant effects.
Haller knew a person who was always violently purged by the syrup of roses. A friend of the author is purged by opium, which has an opposite effect on the generality of individuals. Dr. Paris says he knew two cases, in which the odour of ipecacuanha always produced most distressing dyspnoea. The author knew a young apothecary, who could never powder this drug without the supervention of the most violent catarrh. A friend of Tissot could not take sugar without its exciting violent vomiting. Urticaria or nettle-rash is very frequently occasioned, in particular constitutions, by taking shell-fish. The same effect is induced on two young female friends of the author by eating strawberries; and similar cases are given by Roose. M. Chevalier relates the case of a lady, who could not take powdered rhubarb without an erysipelatous efflorescence showing itself, almost immediately, on the skin; yet she could take it in the form of infusion with perfect impunity.
The above idiosyncrasies apply only to the digestive function. We find equal anomalies in that of the circulation. In some, the pulse is remarkably quick, upwards of one hundred in the minute; in others, it is under thirty. That of Napoleon is said to have beaten only forty-four times In a minute. It may also be unequal, and intermittent, and yet the individual be in a state of health.
The senses offer us some of the most striking cases of this kind of peculiarity. Many strong individuals cannot bear the smell of the apple, cherry, strawberry, or that of musk, peppermint, &c. Pope Pius VII. had such an antipathy to musk, that on one occasion of presentation, an individual of the company having been
scented with it, his holiness was obliged to dismiss the party almost immediately.
The idiosyncrasies of taste are also numerous: some of these cases of singular and depraved sense we have described under the sense of taste. Dejean gives the case of an individual of distinguished rank who was fond of eating excrement.
Certain animals, again, as the turkey, have an antipathy to the colour of red; and Von Buechner and Tissot cite the case of a boy who was subject to epileptic fits whenever he saw any thing of a red colour.
Occasionally, we meet with similar idiosyncrasies of audition. Sauvages relates the case of a young man, labouring under intense head-ache and fever, which could not be assuaged by any other means than the sound of the drum. Rousseau asserts, that a young Gascon was affected with incontinence of urine whenever he heard the sound of the bagpipe; and the noise of water issuing from a pipe threw Bayle into convulsions. The author has a singular peculiarity of this kind, derived from some accidental association in early life. If a piece of thin biscuit be broken in his presence,nay, the idea alone is sufficient,—the muscles that raise the left angle of the mouth, are contracted, and this irresistibly.
The sense of tact is not free from idiosyncrasies. Wagner cites the case of a person, who felt a sensation of cold along the back, whenever he touched the down of a peach with the point of his finger; or when the down came in contact with any part of his skin. He was remarkably fond of the fruit, yet was unable to indulge his appetite unless a second person previously removed the skin. Prochaska relates the case of a person, who was affected with nausea whenever he touched this fruit.
It is, of course, all important that the practitioner should be acquainted with these idiosyncrasies, and so far the notion of "knowing the constitution,"—which is apt to be used to the prejudice of the young practitioner or of any except the accustomed medical attendant, has some reason in it. It is the duty, however, of the patient to put the practitioner in possession of the fact of such peculiarities, so that he may be enabled to guard against them, and not take that for morbid which is the effect of simple idiosyncrasy.
Sect. III. Of Natural and Acquired Differences.
The temperaments, constitutions, and idiosyncrasies may, as we have seen, either be dependent upon original conformation, or they may be produced by external influences; hence they have been divided into the natural and acquired. Under the former head are included all those individual differences, derived from progenitors, which impress upon the individual, more or less of resemblance to one or both parents. It has been properly observed by a recent writer, that the individuality of any human being that ever existed, was absolutely dependent on the union of one particu
lar man with one particular woman; and if either the husband or the wife had been different, a different being would have been ushered into existence. For the production of Shakespeare, or Milton, or Newton, it was necessary that the father should marry the identical woman he did marry. If he had selected any other wife, there would have been no Shakespeare, no Milton, no Newton. Sons might have been born of other women, but they would not have been the same, either in mental or physical qualities. All this, however, enters into the question of the effects of the influence of both parents on the fœtus in utero, which we have considered elsewhere. It was there shown, that the influence exerted by the father is limited to the material which he furnishes at a fecundating copulation, and that, it is probable, no material modification is wrought by the mother after the union of the two substances,—maternal and paternal,--which compose the new being.
Amongst the natural differences, those that relate to sex are the most striking. In a previous part of this volume we have described the peculiarities of the sexual function in both male and female, but the other important differences have not been detailed. All the descriptions, when not otherwise specified, were presumed to apply to the adult male. At present, it will be only necessary to advert to the peculiarities of the female.
The stature of the female is somewhat less than that of the male, the difference being estimated at about a twelfth. The chief parts of the body have not the same mutual proportions. The head is smaller and rounder; the face shorter; the trunk longer, especially the lumbar portion, and the chest more convex. The lower extremities, especially the thighs, are shorter, so that the half of the body does not fall about the pubes as in man, but higher. The neck is longer; the abdomen is broader, larger, and more prominent; the pelvis has a greater capacity to adapt it for gestation and parturition. The long diameter of the brim is from side to side, whilst, in the male, it is from before to behind; the arch of the pubis is larger, and the tuberosities of the ischia more widely separated, so that the outlet of the pelvis is larger than in the male; the hips are broader, and, consequently, the spaces between the heads of the thigh-bone are greater; the knees are more turned in, and larger than in the male; the legs are shorter, and the feet smaller. The shoulders are round, but the width across them, compared with that of the hips, is not so great as in man; the arms are shorter, but fatter, and more rounded; the same is the case with the forearm; the hand is smaller, and softer, and the fingers are more delicate.
The whole frame of the female is more slender; the bones are smaller, their tissue is less compact, and the prominences and corresponding depressions are less marked; the subcutaneous cellular tissue is more abundant, and filled with a whiter and firmer fat; a similar adipous tissue fills up the intervals between the muscles, so
that the whole surface is rounder, and more equable, than that of the male; the skin is more delicate, whiter, better supplied with capillary vessels, and less covered with hair; the hair of the head, on the other hand, is longer, finer, and more flexible; the nails are softer and of a redder hue; the muscles of the countenance are less distinctly marked, so that the expression of the eye, and the emotions which occasion elevation or depression of the angles of the mouth, laughing and weeping, for example, are more strongly marked. On the whole, the general texture of the organs is looser and softer.
The above observations, however, apply to what may be termed the standard female,—one whose natural formation has not been interfered with by employments which are usually assigned to the other sex. It can be readily understood, that if the female has been accustomed to the laborious exercise of her muscles, they may become more and more prominent, the interstices between them more and more marked, the projections and depressions of the bones. on which they move more distinct; the whole of the delicacy of structure may be lost; and the skeleton of the female, thus circumstanced, may be scarcely distinguishable from that of the inactive male, except in the proportions of the pelvis, in which the sexual differences are chiefly and characteristically situated.
Many of the functions of the female are no less distinctive than the structure. The senses, as a general principle, are more acute, whether from original delicacy of organization, or from habit, is not certain;—probably both agencies are concerned. The intellectual and moral faculties are also widely different, and this, doubtless, from original conformation; although education may satisfactorily account for many of the differences observable between the sexes. Gall is one of the few anatomists who have attended to the comparative state of the cerebral system in the sexes; and the results of his investigations lead him to affirm, that there is a striking difference in the development of different parts of the encephalon in the two sexes, which he thinks may account for the difference observable in their mental and moral manifestations. In the male, the anterior and superior part of the encephalon is more developed; in the female, the posterior and inferior; the former of these he conceives to be the seat of the intellectual faculties; the latter of those feelings of love and affection, which seem to preponderate in the character of the female. We have elsewhere said, however, that the views of Gall, on this subject, are not yet received as confirmed truths, and that we must wait until farther experience and multitudinous observations shall have exhibited their accuracy, or want of foundation. Independently, however, of all considerations deduced from organization, observation shows, that the female exhibits intellectual and moral differences which are by no means equivocal. The softer feelings predominate in her, whilst the intellectual faculties have the preponderance in man. The evidences and
character of the various shades of feeling and susceptibility, and the influence of education and circumstances on these developments, are interesting topics for the consideration of the moral philosopher, but admit of little elucidation from the labours of Ne physiologist. The only inference, to which he can arrive, is, that the causes of the diversity are laid in organization, and become unfolded and distinctive by education. The precise organization he is unable to depict, and the influence of circumstances on the mind it is scarcely his province to consider.
The function of muscular motion is, owing to organization, more feebly executed. We have already remarked, that the bones are comparatively small, and the muscles more delicately formed. The energy of the nervous system is also less; so that all the elements for strong muscular contraction are by no means in the most favourable condition; and, accordingly, the power the female is capable of developing by muscular contraction is much less than in the male. Her locomotion is somewhat peculiar,—the wide separation of the hip-joints, owing to the greater width of the pelvis, giving her a characteristic gait. The vocal organs exhibit differences which account for the difference in the voice. The chest and the lungs arc of smaller dimensions; the trachea is of less diameter; the larynx smaller; the glottis shorter and narrower; and the cavities, communicating with the nose, are of smaller size. This arrangement causes the female voice to be weaker, softer, and more acute. The muscles of the glottis, and the ligaments of the glottis themselves, are apparently more supple, so as to admit of the production of a greater number of tones, and to favour singing. The phenomena of expression, as we have often remarked, keep pace with the condition of the intellectual and moral faculties, and with the susceptibility of the nervous system. As this last is generally great in the female, the language of the passions, especially of the softer kind, are more marked in her.
The functions of nutrition present, also, some peculiarities. With regard to digestion, less food is generally required; the stomach is less ample; the liver smaller, and frequently, at least more frequently than in the male,—the dentes sapientiæ do not appear. The desire for food at the stated periods is not so powerful; and it is generally for light and agreeable articles of diet rather than for the very nutritious; but the appetite returns more frequently, and is more fastidious, owing to the greater sensibility of the digestive apparatus. This, however, is greatly an affair of habit, and we have more instances of prolonged abstinence in the female than in the male. The circulation is generally more rapid, the pulse being less full, but quicker. Of the secretions, that of the fat alone requires mention, which is usually more abundant and the product firmer. The cutaneous transpiration is less active, and the humour has a more acidulous odour. The urine is said, by some writers, to be less abundant, and less charged with salts; whence, it is asserted,