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Monomania

mind, disease, mental, external, observed and fear

MONOMANIA has loosely been made to represent every form of partial insanity; but has been more rigidly defined as that mental condition in which a single faculty, or class of faculties or associations, become diseased, the mind generally remaining healthy. Slight and solitary aberrations, such as where a savage antipathy to eats coexists with a love for human kind; where there appears to be an incontrollable tendency to steal, to squander, to drink, to destroy, are of common occurrence, and are supposed to be com patible with the exercise of intelligence, and with the discharge of many of the ordinary duties of life. By a more strict limitation, the term has been confined to such affections as involve the emotions and propensities alone. It is, however, held that. notwithstand. ing its apparent integrity, the whole mind is involved or influenced by the presence of such morbid conditions, at least while they are predominant. It is undoubtedly difficult to point out in what manner the belief, e.g., that a particular organ has been transmuted into glass, can interfere with or render the memory, or the power. of instituting compari sons, defective and untrustworthy; yet it is legitimate to receive with caution every mani festation of powers so constituted that they fail to detect the incongruities and absurdities with which they are associated; or, having detected the real character of these errors, are unable or unwilling to cast them out, or to disregard them. There is much counte nance given to this theory by facts which indicate that even trivial forms of mental obliquity are connected with an unsound organization; and that particularly and rarely recognized monomamas are invariably associated with the same structural alteration. The unhealthy elevation of the sentiment of cautiousness, for example, especially where it amounts to fear of death, panic, or panphobia, is a symptom of disease of the heart and large blood-vessels; while the monomania of ambition, or optimism, as it has been styled, is the concomitant of the general paralysis of the insane. It will be obvious, from

the definitions previously introduced, that the species or varieties of monomania must correspond to the faculties or phases of the human mind, and to their combinations. Several great divisions, however, have been signalized, both on account of their frequency and of their influence upon the individual and upon society. 1. Monomania of suspicion, comprehending doubts in the fidelity and honesty of friends and those around, belief in plots and conspiracies, the dread of poison; and where, as is often the case, it is con joined with cunning, the propensity to conceal, mystify, and deceive. This malady has frequently been observed in intimate connection with cancer and malignant growths. 2. Monomania of superstition and unseen agencies, where credulity, mingled with religious awe, peoples the external world with specters, omens, mysteries, magnetism; and the imagination with horrors or ecstatic reveries. Insensibility to pain, or indifference to external injuries, has been observed as a characteristic of individuals affected with this disease. 3. Monomania of vanity, or euphoria, where display and ostentation are indulged, without reference to the position and means of the patient. 4. Monomania of fear. 5. Monomania of pride and ambition. 6. Kleptomania (q.v.). 7. Dipsomania (q.v.). If it can be proved that such morbid tendencies, as have been here mentioned, and others still less prominent, are merely salient points of a great breadth and depth of mental disease, the plea of insanity may justifiably be employed more frequently in the consideration of criminal acts.—Esquirol, La Monomanie; Bayle, Maladies du Cerveau; Stephens's Criminal Law of England, p. 92.