IMPULSIVE MADNESS. The approaches of mental disease are generally slow and perceptible; but iustances occur where, without announcement, without any preliminary stage of disease or disturbance, an individual, apparently hitherto of sound mind, is suddenly seized with mania, presents symptoms of incontrollable violence, perpetrates acts of atrocity or absurdity, altogether inconsistent with his previous disposition and deportment; and then, nearly as quickly, subsides into his ordinary state and habits, retaining no, or a very imperfect, recollection of the events which occurred during the paroxysm. It is not, however, in the suddenness or shortness of the paroxysm that the essential characteristic consists. During the continuance of such an affection, three mental conditions are distinctly traced: 1. The sudden birth and irresistible dominion of a propensity ; 2. The abolition or impairment of the apprehension of the real and ordinary relations of the individual; and 3. The suspension of the powers by which such propulsions are prevented from arising, or ruled and regulated when they do arise.
Alienation of this kind has been chiefly recognized when the instincts are involved; and the most striking illustrations are derived from cases of homicidal or sanguinary tendency, simply because the results may convulse society, or come under the notice of courts of law. But many examples exist of brief periods of aberration which could not be institrated by passion, and involved nothing criminal. A lady is mentioned who never entered church but she was impelled to shriek, or saw plate-glass but she was impelled to break it; and the incongruous laughter, the grotesque gesticulations, and the involuntary and repulsive associations to which good and great men have been sub ject, must all be placed under this category.
Marc, De la Foltz consideree clans ses Bapports avec les Questions Medico Judiciaires, t. i. p. 219, and t. ii. p. 473. '