« PreviousContinue »
and however slow that waste may to have lived without food or drink,
From these general considerations, as the original weight is reduced to
survived thus long, because in mistakable emaciation. The face is abstaining from solid food, they did always lividly pale, the cheeks are not also abstain from liquid. Life is sunken, the eyes-oh! what an exconsiderably prolonged if liquid be pression in the eyes ! never to be taken. Redi found that birds kept forgotten by those who have once without water as well as food lived seen it : all the vitality of the body only nine days; those to whom he seems centred there, in feverish gave water lived twenty days.* I brightness; the pupil is dilated, and cannot, however, agree with those the eye is fixed in a wild stare which physiologists who, like Burdach and is never veiled by the winking lids. Bérard, attribute this sustaining All movements of the body are slow power of water to the organic and difficult : the hand trembles ; the particles suspended in it; because voice is feeble ; intelligence seems such an amount must necessarily be gone; the wretched sufferers, when quite inadequate to supply the loss asked what they feel, have but one of an organism whose waste is rapid; answer, “We are hungry.” and we must remember that an ani- There is one remarkable fact with mal dies of Thirst even more rapidly reference to starvation which may than of Hunger ; so that when water here be noted, and that is the resistis withheld, the death ha ened by ance opposed by the nervous subthe complication of two causes. Now stance to the effects of emaciation. Janet M'Leod, and other persons said Instead of being the first to suffer
* REDI : Osservazioni intorno agli animali virenti.
from deficient food, as its complexity on his nutritive system is disengaged, and the lateness of its appearance in and as his feebleness diminishes his the animal series would lead us to muscular activity, the amount of suppose, the nervous tissue is the nervous influence usually expended last affected. From the experiments on locomotion is reduced, leaving the of Chossat we learn that, in 100 brain, with all this surplus activity, parts, 93 are lost of fat, 52 of the to prey upon itself: sleeplessness and liver, 42 of the muscles, 16 of the madness naturally result. bones, and only 2 of the nerve-sub- Respecting the agonies endured by stance, by the time starvation has starving men, we have little accurate terminated in death. The idea of information. When those who have our solid bones, principally composed undergone the horrors of starvation of inorganic matter, losing eight times are preserved, and attempt to recount as much as our semi-liquid nerves, them, they cannot do more than give which are so predominantly organic vague indications; for there is nothing in their structure, will seem very pa- more difficult to describe than the radoxical ; and the paradox is in- sensations of the alimentary canal, creased when we learn that, in spite even during the continuance of the of fat being beyond all proportion the sensation ; and how difficult it is to most destructible tissue in the body, describe them when past, may be Von Bibra finds the fat in the brain conceived by any one who attempts scarcely affected in starvation, al- to do so in his own case. Most of though the fat in the muscles has the narratives we have, are recorded been greatly wasted.* It is this by men little accustomed to analyse which enables us to explain the their sensations, and we must be consleeplessness of men and animals tent to fix our attention on the general suffering from hunger. A starving characteristics of these narratives. man has been known to remain From these cases two may be seseven days and nights without sleep. lected. This nervous excitability, which often Goldsmith says that the captain of manifests itself as delirium, probably a wrecked vessel told him that “he arises from the disengagement of the was the only person who had not lost brain from those organic activities his senses when they received acci. which in the normal state call so dental relief. He assured me his largely on its energies ; for, as I have pains at first were so great as to be elsewhere endeavoured to show, the often tempted to eat a part of the energies of the brain are not expend- men who died, and which the rest of ed only on intelligence and emotion, his crew actually lived upon. He but likewise, and to a great extent, said that, during the continuance of on the functions of nutrition and lo- this paroxysm, he found his pains comotion. Considering the brain as insupportable, and was desirous at a centre or fountain of influence, we one time of anticipating that death may detect three streams in which which he thought inevitable. But the influence flows –
- a nutritive his pains gradually ceased after the stream, a locomotive stream, and a sixth day (for they had water in the sensitive stream. If the demand ship, which kept them alive so long), from the nutritive stream be large, and then he was in a state rather of the supply to the sensitive and loco- languor than desire ; nor did he much motive streams will be proportion- wish for food except when he saw ately reduced.
Deep thought or others eating. The latter part of anxiety disturbs the digestion and the time when his health was almost circulation ; violent and protracted destroyed, a thousand strange images exercise amounting to fatigue, incapa- rose upon his mind, and every one of citates for thinking; the habitually his senses began to bring him wrong trained athlete is nearly an idiot, the information. When he was presented over-eater little better. When, there- with food by the ship's company that fore, man is starving, the amount took him up, he could not helplooking of nervous activity usually expended at it with loathing instead of desire ;
* CANSTATT: Jahresbericht, 1854, p. 119.
and it was not till after four days “ Sept. 23.— Yesterday I could scarcely that his stomach was brought to its move, much less write. To-day thirst natural tone, when the violence of made me go to the pump; the water his appetite returned with a sort of was icy cold, and made me sick. I had canine eagerness.".
convulsions until evening ; nevertheless, The next case is peculiarly valu- I returned to the pump.
“Sept. 26.—My legs seem dead. For able, as being the daily record of a
three days I have been unable to go to man who voluntarily starved himself.
the pump. Thirst increases. My weakHe was a merchant, whose losses so
ness is such that I could scarcely trace preyed upon his mind that he re- these lines to-day. solved on suicide ; and after roam- “ Sept. 29.—I have been upable to ing about the country from the 12th
It has rained. My clothes are to the 15th of September 1818, dug not dry. No one would believe how himself a grave in the wood, and re
much I suffer. During the rain some mained there till the 3d of October, drops fell into my mouth, which did not when he was found, still living, by quench my thirst. Yesterday I saw a
I an innkeeper. Hufeland, who records peasant about ten yards from me.
bowed to him. He returned my salutathe case, says that, after an absti
tion. nence of eighteen days, the man still
It is with great regret I die.
Weakness and convulsions prevent my breathed, but expired immediately writing more. I feel this is the last after a little bouillon had been forced time down his throat. On his person they found a diary, written in pencil, from indeed all other cases do, the truth
This pathetic case illustrates, as which the following are extracts :
that Thirst is far more terrible than “ Sept. 16.— The generous philanthro- Hunger. His resolution was not pist who may find my corpse is requested to bury it, and to repay himself drink, yet he never seems to have
strong enough to resist the desire for for the trouble by my clothes, my purse, faltered in his determination to remy pocket-book, and knife. I have not
frain from food. It will be further committed suicide, but I die of starvation because bad men have deprived me
noticed that he ceases to complain of of my fortune, and I do not choose to be
the cold when thirst sets in fiercely, a burden on my friends. It is unneces
because then fever had also supersary to open my body, since I have said vened. I die of starvation.
The sensation of Hunger is at first “ Sept. 17.—What a night I have rather agreeable, but it quickly bepassed! It has rained; I am wet through. comes unpleasant if prolonged. The I have been so cold,
sense of keen appetite is delightful, Sept. 18.-The cold and rain forced but that “sinking in the stomach me to get up and walk; my walk was very feeble. Thirst made me lick up
which ensues, soon passes from an the water which still rested on the mush
uneasy sensation into positive pain. rooms. How nasty that water was !
The pain soon becomes acute; and if Sept. 19.- The cold, the length of food be still withheld, we feel as if the nights, the slightness of my clothing, the stomach were being torn by which makes me feel the cold more pincers. A state of general exhauskeenly, have given me great suffering. tion, feverishness, headache, light
“ Sept. 20.- In my stomach there is headedness, often flaming into madterrible commotion; hunger, and, above ness, follows. The whole being seems all
, thirst, become more and more fright- possessed by one desire, before which ful. For three days there has been no rain. Would that I could lick up the
even the energetic instinct of materwater from the mushrooms now !
nity has been known to give way, Sept, 21.-Unable to endure the tor
and mothers have disputed with their tures of thirst, I crawled with great
companions for the flesh of their labour to an ind, where I bought a bottle
dead children. of beer, which did not quench my thirst.
But let us avert our eyes from In the evening I drank some water from such scenes, and turn them on that the pump, near the ind where I bought of the eight colliers, who were shut the beer.
up in a pit for one hundred and
* History of the Earth, vol. ii. p. 126.
thirty - six hours.* The first day to our accepting it, namely, that the they shared between them half a fact on which the explanation rests pound of bread, a morsel of cheese, is unfortunately a fiction; the gasand two mugs of wine, which one of tric juice does not accumulate in the them had brought into the mine, and empty stomach, but is only secreted refused to keep for himself alone. after the stimulus of food. Two of the men had eaten before A more ingenious explanation has descending into the mine, and they been propounded by Dr Beaumont, generously declared that they should whose name is always cited when not die sooner than the others, and Digestion is under discussion, because would not share the small supply of he was enabled to enrich science food. It is very remarkable that with many valuable observations, these men, who for five days had made on a patient who had a hole no nourishment whatever, declared, in his stomach, produced by a gunwhen they were rescued, that their shot wound. " During the hours abstinence had not greatly incon- of fasting,” says Dr Beaumont,“ the venienced them. If we knew more gastric juice is slowly being secreted of the circumstances we might ex- in the follicles and retained in their plain this now inexplicable fact. tubes, thereby distending them ; this
Having considered the subject of distension, when moderate, produces Hunger under these general aspects, the sensation of Appetite, when more we may now endeavour to answer the powerful, of Hunger.” There are question-What causes the sensation several analogies which give colour of Hunger
to this explanation. Thus, milk is It has been seen that the absence slowly accumulated in the breast, of food needed to repair the waste of and the sense of fulness, if unrelieved, tissue is the primary cause ; but it soon passes into that of pain. But has also been seen that this primary ingenious as the explanation is, a cause may exist without the exist- closer scrutiny causes us to reject it. ence of that sensation known to us Out of many arguments which might as Hunger. All animals need food, be urged, I will mention only twobut we have no ground for supposing one anatomical, and one physiologithat polypes, jelly-fish, and other cal. If the gastric juice were accusimpler animals destitute of a nerv- mulated in the tubes, there is no ous system, feel the sensation of anatomical obstruction to its immeHunger; we must therefore seek diate passage into the stomach, and for some more proximate cause of the distension would be obviated. this sensation. The popular notion Nor have we any good ground for is that Hunger arises from empti- supposing that an accumulation does ness of the stomach, which, according take place; for Dr Beaumont's arguto some physiologists, allows the ment that it must take place, because walls of the stomach to rub against it flows so abundantly on the introeach other, and the friction causes duction of food into the stomach, the sensation. It is easy to show the would equally prove that tears must inaccuracy of this hypothesis, but be accumulated in advance, because two facts will suffice here : first, the they gush forth so copiously on the stomach is always empty some time first stimulus of grief, and that saliva before Hunger is felt; secondly, it must be accumulated, because it may be empty for days together-in flows so freely whenever a stimuillness-without the slightest sensa- lus is presented. While, therefore, tion of Hunger being felt.
Dr Beaumont's explanation wants an Another notion is that the gastric anatomical basis, it is still more juice accumulates in the stomach, directly at variance with the physioand attacks its walls. Such a causé logical fact, that when food is injectwould certainly be ample for the ed into the veins or the intestines, effect, and I know but of one objection the sensation of Hunger disappears,
* This case is quoted by LONGEt in his Traité de Physiologie, 1857.
although the stomach is as empty as of the system which causes the it was before, and the tubes as dis- stomach to produce the sensation of tended as they were before.
hunger, are equally the origins of the The fact last named would dispose two : and as in sleepiness we may us to believe that want of food was, relieve the sensation by bathing the after all, the proximate as well as the eyes with cold water, yet this will primary cause of Hunger, did we not not relieve the general exhaustion ; know that tobacco, opium, and even so in hunger, we may relieve thé inorganic substances, introduced into sensation by opium, or even clay, but the stomach will remove the sensa- this will not relieve the general state tion. Humboldt tells us of savages of the system which produced the who eat clay to allay their hunger; sensation. and we all know how the first mouth- Although it is evident that the ful of food takes away the sharpness general state of the system must be of the sensation, although two or felt, and to it we owe those daily three hours must elapse before the variations in comfort which we exfood will really have entered the press in the terms vigour,” “gladbody. For we must remember that ness,” “ lassitude,” “depression," &c., food in the stomach is as much out physiologists have not assigned a side the organism as if it were in the name to such sensations. The time hand. The alimentary canal is no- will come when it will be found thing but a folding-in of the general necessary to distinguish the Sysenvelope, like the inverted finger of temic Sensations (or those arising
in a glove; and until the absorbent the system in general), from the vessels carry the food from the Organic Sensations (or those arising stomach into the circulating system, in the separate organs), as these the food remains outside.
latter are distinguished from those Here, then, are two noticeable of the five special Senses of Hearing, facts: we may relieve the sensation Sight, &c. In a popular exposition, of Hunger without directly acting on such as I am now employed on, the the stomach, the mere supply of food current terms must be accepted ; to the blood sufficing; and we may and although, therefore, strict acrelieve the sensation simply by acting curacy would lead us to say that on the stomach, the want of food Hunger, as a Systemic Sensation, is being as great as before. Do not caused by want of food to repair the these facts indicate that Hunger must waste of tissue, and as an Organic be related to the general state of the Sensation, it is caused by a specific system, and to the particular state condition of the stomach; yet, folof the stomach ? If we once regard lowing popular language, we must the subject in this light, we shall be say that Hunger is a sensation easily led to perceive that although having its seat in the stomach ; and the general state of the system, under all the arguments or experiments deficiency of food, is the primary which attempt to prove that its seat cause of Hunger, it is only the cause must be elsewhere, have reference to of it in as far as it produces a certain the general state of the system, but condition of the stomach ; and this not to the specific sensation known condition of the stomach is the proxi- to us as Hunger. mate cause of the sensation. I think If we examine the stomach of a this mode of viewing it will extricate fasting animal, we shall find it pale, us from the difficulties which have and in a condition of obvious atony. been brought forward in the many The blood has retreated from the discussions as to whether the stomach, smaller vessels, and circulates only or one part of the nervous system, is in the larger channels. the seat of Hunger. The stomach is sooner is the organ stimulated by the seat of the sensation, just as the the introduction of food, or any eyes are the seat of the sensation of irritant substance, than this pale sleepiness ; the general state of ex- surface becomes visibly congested, haustion which causes the eyes to turgescent, and its secretions pour droop heavily, and the general state forth abundantly. With this rush