The heart, as I have said, will be all the more readily affected through habitual associations, as it is not under the control of the will. A man when moderately angry, or even when enraged, may command the movements of his body, but he cannot prevent his heart from beating rapidly. His chest will perhaps give a few heaves, and his nostrils just quiver, for the movements of respiration are only in part voluntary. In like manner those muscles of the face which are least obedient to the will, will sometimes alone betray a slight and passing emotion. The glands again are wholly independent of the will, and a man suffering from grief may command his features, but cannot always prevent the tears from coming into his eyes. A hungry man, if tempting food is placed before him, may not show his hunger by any outward gesture, but he cannot check the secretion of saliva.

Under a transport of Joy or of vivid Pleasure, there is a strong tendency to various purposeless movements, and to the utterance of various sounds. We see this in our young children, in their loud laughter, clapping of hands, and jumping for joy; in the bounding and barking of a dog when going out to walk with his master; and in the frisking of a horse when turned out into an open field. Joy quickens the circulation, and this stimulates the brain, which again reacts on the whole body. The above purposeless movements and increased heart-action may be attributed in chief part to the excited state of the sensorium,[10] and to the consequent undirected overflow, as Mr. Herbert Spencer insists, of nerve-force. It deserves notice, that it is chiefly the anticipation of a pleasure, and not its actual enjoyment, which leads to purposeless and extravagant movements of the body, and to the utterance of various sounds. We see this in our children when they expect any great pleasure or treat; and dogs, which have been bounding about at

[10] How powerfully intense joy excites the brain, and how the brain reacts on the body, is well shown in the rare cases of Psychical Intoxication. Dr. J. Crichton Browne (`Medical Mirror,' 1865) records the case of a young man of strongly nervous temperament, who, on hearing by a telegram that a fortune had been bequeathed him, first became pale, then exhilarated, and soon in the highest spirits, but flushed and very restless. He then took a walk with a friend for the sake of tranquillising himself, but returned staggering in his gait, uproariously laughing, yet irritable in temper, incessantly talking, and singing loudly in the public streets. It was positively ascertained that he had not touched any spirituous liquor, though every one thought that he was intoxicated. Vomiting after a time came on, and the half-digested contents of his stomach were examined, but no odour of alcohol could be detected. He then slept heavily, and on awaking was well, except that he suffered from headache, nausea, and prostration of strength. the sight of a plate of food, when they get it do not show their delight by any outward sign, not even by wagging their tails. Now with animals of all kinds, the acquirement of almost all their pleasures, with the exception of those of warmth and rest, are associated, and have long been associated with active movements, as in the hunting or search for food, and in their courtship. Moreover, the mere exertion of the muscles after long rest or confinement is in itself a pleasure, as we ourselves feel, and as we see in the play of young animals. Therefore on this latter principle alone we might perhaps expect, that vivid pleasure would be apt to show itself conversely in muscular movements.

With all or almost all animals, even with birds, Terror causes the body to tremble. The skin becomes pale, sweat breaks out, and the hair bristles. The secretions of the alimentary canal and of the kidneys are increased, and they are involuntarily voided, owing to the relaxation of the sphincter muscles, as is known to be the case with man, and as I have seen with cattle, dogs, cats, and monkeys.

The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals Page 32

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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