Mental Chemistry: The Laboratory
The art of chemistry cannot proceed without a plant, or work-shop, and one of the most interesting features of the human system is its series of manufacturing plants in which are produced the chemical agents necessary to mobilize the constituents of food. And it is a part of the fine natural economy that the secretions containing these chemical agents should serve several other purposes also. In general, each may be said to have an alterative effect upon the others, or at least upon the activities of the other plants; also they act upon the inward bound nerve paths as exciters of effects in both the conscious and the subconscious activities.
Radiant energy, whether consciously or subconsciously released from the body, becomes the medium of sensory impressions that flash back to the perceptive centers and there set up reactions which are interpreted by these centers according to their stage of development of self, and therefore they interpret these messages exactly as they are received, without attempt to think about them, or to analyze them. The process is as mechanical as an impression made by the actinic rays of the sun on a photographic plate.
The general principle by which an idea is preserved is vibratory like all other phenomena of nature. Every thought causes vibration that will continue to expand and contract in wave circles, like the waves started by a stone dropped in a pool of water. Waves from other thoughts may countered it, or it may finally succumb of its own inanition.
Thought will instantly set in motion the finest of spiritual magnetism, and this motion will be communicated to the heavier and coarser densities, and will eventually affect the physical matter of the body.
Life is not created--it simply IS. All nature is animate with this force we call life. The phenomena of life on this physical plane, with which we are chiefly concerned, are produced by the involution of energy into matter, and matter is, itself, an involution of energy.
But when the stage of matter is reached in the process of Natures involution, matter then begins to evolve forms under the action upon it and within it. So that growth and life are the results of a simultaneous integration of matter and energy. Evolution starts with the lowest form of matter, and works upward through refining processes to serve as a matrix of energy.
The internal secretions constitute and determine much of the inherited powers of the individual and their development. They control physical and mental growth, and all metabolic processes of fundamental importance. They dominate all the vital functions of man. they co-operate in an intimate relationship which may be compared to an interlocking directorate. A derangement of their functions, causing an insufficiency of them, an excess or an abnormality upsets the entire equilibrium of the body, with transformed effect upon the mind and the organs. Blood chemistry of our time is a marvel undreamed of a generation ago.
These achievements are a perfect example of accomplished fact contradicting all former prediction and criticism. One of the greatest advances of modern medicine has been the study of the processes and secretions of the hitherto obscure ductless glands; endocrinology, as this study is called, has thrown much valuable light upon certain abnormal physical conditions about which science had until now been in the dark. We now know that most of the freaks of nature we see on exhibition are such owing to endocrine disturbance--the disturbance of the ductless glands. The bearded lady, a victim of pogoniasis; the victims of obesity and of skeletonization; of acromegalis, or giantism; of micromegalie or liliputianism--all such evolutional deviations are due to subnormalities or abnormalities of the chemical elements which the glands produce and send into the bloodstream.
These are no mere theories, for they have been rigorously tested in the laboratories of science. As Sir William Osler, one of the worlds most illustrious luminaries of knowledge, has said: For mans body, too, is a humming hive of working cells, each with its specific function, all under central control of the brain and heart, and all dependent on materials called hormones (secreted by small, even insignificant looking structures) which lubricate the wheels of life. For example, remove the thyroid gland just below the adams apple, and you deprive man of the lubricants which enable his thought-engines to work. It is as if you cut off the oil-supply of a motor, and gradually the stored acquisitions of his mind cease to be available, and within a year he sinks into dementia. The normal processes of the skin cease, the hair falls, the features bloat, and the paragon of animals is transformed into a shapeless caricature of humanity.
These essential lubricators, of which a number are now known, are called hormones--you will recognize from its derivation how appropriate is the term. The name is derived from the he Greek verb meaning to rouse or set in motion. The name was given by Starling and Bayliss, two great Englishmen noted for their research work in endocrinology. Cretins--dwarfed imbeciles--can be cured by the administration, internally, of the thyroid glands of sheep, with truly miraculous results; because cretinism is caused by the lack or absence of thyroid gland secretions.
As an instance of the fascination of these studies, consider the conception that the thyroid played a fundamental part in the change of sea creatures into land animals. Feeding the Mexican axolotl, a purely aquatic newt, breathing through gills, on thyroid, quickly changes it into the ambystoma, a terrestrial salamander, breathing by means of lungs.
The endocrine glands produce secretions which enter the blood-stream and vitally affect the bodily structure and functions. The pituitary is a small gland, located near the center of the head, directly under the third ventricle of the brain, where it rests in a depression in the bony floor-plate of the skull. Its secretions have an important part in the mobilizing of carbohydrates, maintaining blood-pressure, stimulating other glands, and maintaining the tonicity of the sympathetic nerve system. Its under, or over, activity during childhood, will produce marked characteristics in the body structure, and what concerns us more, equally marked characteristics of mental development and function.
The thyroid gland is located at the frontal base of the neck, extending upward in a sort of semicircle on both sides, with the parathyroids near the tips. The thyroid secretion is important in mobilizing both proteins and carbohydrates; it stimulates other glands, helps resist infections, affects the hair growth, and influences the organs of digestion and elimination. It is a strongly determining factor in the all-around physical development, and also in the mental functioning. A well-balanced thyroid goes a long way toward insuring an active, efficient, smoothly co-ordinated mind and body.
The adrenal glands are located just above the small of the back. These organs have been called by some writers the decorative glands, since one of their functions appears to be that of keeping the pigments of the body in proper solution and distribution. But of greater importance is the agency of the adrenal secretion in other directions. It contains a most valuable blood-pressure agent; it is a tonic to the sympathetic nerve system, hence to the involuntary muscles, heart, arteries, intestines, and so on; as well as to the perceptive paths. It responds to certain emotional excitements by an immediate increase in volume of secretion, thus increasing the energy of the whole system, and preparing it for effective response.
The cerebro-spinal nervous system is the telephone system of the conscious mind; it is a very complete wiring system for communication from the brain to every part of the body, especially the terminals. It is the intelligence department of self-conscious man.
The sympathetic nervous system is the system of the subconscious mind. Behind the stomach, and in front of the spine, is the center of the system known as the Solar Plexus. It is composed of two masses of brain substance, each in the shape of a crescent. They surround an artery whose function it is to equalize the blood pressure of all the abdominal organs.
Just as the brain and the voluntary nervous system constitute the apparatus of self-conscious man, in like manner the solar plexus and the sympathetic system comprise the special apparatus of the subconscious mind.
The function of the sympathetic nervous system is to maintain the equilibrium of the body, to act as a balance wheel, to prevent over or under action of the cerebro-spinal system. As it is directly affected by emotional states such as fear, anger, jealousy or hatred, these may easily throw out of gear the operation of the automatic functions of the body. That is to say, that emotional states such as joy, fear, anger and hatred may upset such functions of the body as digestion, blood circulation, general nutrition, and so forth.
Nerves, and all the unpleasant experiences that follow in the way of bodily discomfort and ill health, are caused by negative emotions, such as fear, anger, hatred and the like; they break down the resistance which has been offered by the various plexii which, when in normal working order, have a definite capacity to inhibit the effect of such emotions.
The sympathetic system is the apparatus whose function it is to maintain the body in normal and healthy working order and to replace the wastage due to ordinary wear and tear, both emotional and physical. The kind of emotions which we entertain is therefore of great importance; if positive, they are constructive; if negative, they are destructive.
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