Catalepsy. Trance. Ecstasy.
CATALEPTIC fits are simply what is known to all the world under the name of trance; and ecstasy is a modification of the same nervous disorder. It is a state in which the mind becomes so intensely absorbed in something outside of its earthly tenement, that it withdraws all control over the body, and all apparent connection with it, leaving it as if dead. There is a very light ticking of the heart, just perceptible to a cultivated ear, but the breast does not rise and fall with breathing, the features are all inexpressive and still, the eyes are wide open and motionless, apparently staring after the departed intellect; and the body and limbs are entirely passive, remaining unmoved where they are placed by others, however tiresome and uncomfortable the position. In a word, a person in catalepsy is, in appearance, no a marble statue, or like a human body suddenly turned to stone, or, like Lot's wife, to a pillar of salt. There is as little feeling, or thought, or consciousness, as if the bowl had been instantaneously broken at the cistern, and the apparent death were real.
It is a peculiarity in this dib ease that the patient, on recovery from a fit, takes up the thread of conscious life just where it was broken by the attack. Thus, if she were lifting a cup of water to the mouth, she would hold it steadily, with the mouth open, till the return of consciousness, and then place it to the lips, as if no interruption had occurred; or, if conversing, and in the midst of a sentence, the unfinished words would be uttered at the end of the even though it should last many days.
Persons in a cataleptic fit have much the appearance of one in the mesmeric state; and the statue like position in which an attack fixes a patient, reminds one of the manner in which the psychologists, so called, will arrest a man under their influence, and make him immovable, with one foot raised in the act of stepping.
The disease attacks females much more often than males.
The premonitory symptoms are much Eke those of epilepsy, and the treatment should be about the same.
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