“But Dr. Elam thinks otherwise. On page 194 of his book, A Physician’s Problems, he says that the cause of the rapid spread of certain epidemics of disease which he is noticing “remains a mystery”; but as regards the incendiarism he remarks that “in all this we find nothing mysterious”, though the epidemic is strongly developed. Strange contradiction!
De Quincey, in his paper, entitled Murdered Considered as One of the Fine Arts, treats of the epidemic of assassination, between 1588 and 1635, by which seven of the most distinguished characters of the time lost their lives at the hands of assassins, and neither he, nor any other commentator has been able to explain the mysterious cause of this homicidal mania.
If we press these gentlemen for an explanation, which as pretended philosophers they are bound to give us, we are answered that it is a great deal more scientific to assign for such epidemics “agitation of the mind”, “…a time of political excitement (1830)” “…imitation and impulse”, “…excitable and idle boys”, and “hysterical girls”, than to be absurdly seeking for the verification of superstitious traditions in a hypothetical astral light.
It seems to us that if, by some providential fatality, hysteria were to disappear entirely from the human system, the medical fraternity would be entirely at a loss for explanations of a large class of phenomena now conveniently classified under the head of “normal symptoms of certain pathological conditions of the nervous centres.” Hysteria has been hitherto the sheet-anchor of skeptical pathologists.
Does a dirty peasant-girl begin suddenly to speak with fluency different foreign languages hitherto unfamiliar to her, and to write poetry – “hysterics!” Is a medium levitated, in full view of a dozen of witnesses, and carried out of one third-story window and brought back through another – “disturbance of the nervous centres, followed by a collective hysterical delusion.”
A Scotch terrier, caught in the room during a manifestation, is hurled by an invisible hand across the room, breaks to pieces, in his salto mortali, a chandelier, under a ceiling eighteen feet high, to fall down killed – canine hallucination!””
H. P. Blavatsky