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Leaves of Grass

Walt Whitman

The Count of Monte Cristo

Alexandre Dumas

Theory of Colours

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Mortal Coils

Aldous Huxley

Brain exhaustion, with some preliminary considerations on cerebral dynamics

by James Leonard Corning



An incredible amount of labor has already been bestowed npon the fundamental and minute questions of muscular dynamics.

Interesting as these investigations undoubtedly are in themselves, there is, nevertheless, another field of physiological research, which, according to my way of thinking, transcends all others in importance—I mean the economical questions involved in normal and morbid intellection.

The demands upon the thinking apparatus have never been greater than at present; but, at the same time, the factors which exert a prejudicial influence upon the cerebral mechanism have never been more numerous.

That these are indeed facts, and not assertions derived from mere empty hypothesis, is abundantly proven by the alarming increase of intellectual disorders in this country during the last few years.

In the following pages I have sought to consider, from as scientific a standpoint as possible, a group of symptoms the importance of which is sufficiently evident.

The opinions expressed have been formed from direct clinical observation, and from inferences derived from physiology and experimental pathology.

26 West 47th Street.

New Yobk, January 1,188Jf.


Pau XIV.—Of The Relation Of The Blood To Muscle And

Brain 187

XV.—Inductive And Deductive Considerations On The Relation Of Certain Kinds Of Food To The Evolution Of Mental Phenomena . .195

XVI.—Rest ...... 206

XVII.—Medication . . . . . .212

XVIII.—Electrization Of The Sympathetic Nerve, With Simultaneous Bilateral Compression Of The Carotids . . 222


The first distinct account of a case of cerebral exhaustion with which I am acquainted is contained in an article entitled " Mental Labor: its Effects on the Blood," by Theophilus Thompson, M. D., read before the Medical Society of London, in 1856.* After speaking of the unfavorable effect upon the mind induced by excessive competition, the author says: " Intellectual, like muscular action, probably involves an expenditure of living material, and introduces a changing series of particles—those which have been used giving place to others, which come with the energy of new life to perpetuate the action." " There may be decay from stagnation—there may be waste from persistency, undue haste, or intensity, especially in creative efforts." " It is only when the function is performed in a calm and equable manner that the equilibrium of expenditure and supply is maintained, and that power is preserved and increased." f These ideas, though not couched in technical terminology, are certainly the outgrowth of a very high order of physiological perceptiveness, and one which, if followed to its proper sequence, would certainly conduce to rational therapy and hygiene.

* The "Journal of Psychological Medicine." London, 1857.

f N. B.—Dr. Ray, in a lecture on the " Physical Health of the Brain," published in 1851, has referred to the prejudicial effects exercised upon the brain by excesses of various kinds. His recital of the symptomatology in these cases is, however, so imperfect that it is impossible to form a just estimate of the nature of the disorder which it ia intended to describe.

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