This section is from the book "Faith - Healing. Christian Science And Kindred Phenomena", by James Monroe Buckley. Also available from Amazon: Faith-Healing, Christian Science and Kindred Phenomena.
The influence of hashish has received much attention, and has been outlined in scientific works and literary compositions. The most striking account of its effects is that of M. Theophile Gautier, originally published in " La Presse" and quoted in many works. Under the influence of hashish his eyelashes seemed to lengthen indefinitely, twisting themselves like golden threads around little ivory wheels. Millions of butterflies, whose wings rustled like fans, flew about in the midst of a confused kind of light. More than five hundred clocks chimed the hour with their flute-like voices. Goatsuckers, storks, striped geese, unicorns, griffins, nightmares, all the menagerie of monstrous dreams, trotted, jumped, flew, or glided through the room. According to his calculation this state, of which the above quotations give but a feeble representation, must have lasted three hundred years; for the sensations succeeded each other so numerously and powerfully that the relative appreciation of time was impossible. When the attack was over, he found that it had occupied about a quarter of an hour.
These drugs operate only upon the circulation, the nervous system, and the brain. They are physical agents, operating upon a physical basis, and yet they produce phenomena resembling those of dreams, with the exception that they do not in every case divorce the motor and sensory nerves from the sensorium as perfectly as in ordinary dreaming sleep.
Delirium is analogous in most respects to the conditions produced by these drugs. Its stages are often very similar to those of intoxication; so that it requires a skilled physician to determine whether the patient is under the influence of delirium, insanity, or intoxication. Delirium results from change in the circulation, or a defective condition of the blood; and in most instances there is no difficulty, when the disease is understood, in assigning the approximate cause of the delirium. The partial recollection or for-getfulness of what was thought, felt, said, or done in the delirium, and similar recollection or forgetful-ness of dream-images, is well known by all who have experienced both, or closely observed them. The analogy between delirium and intoxication loses nothing in value from the fact that the drug is administered. Disease in the human system can engender intoxicating poisons as well as others.
Revery is a natural condition, so common to children that they are hardly able to distinguish between reports from the external world and images presented by their imagination. But revery is a common experience of the human race in all stages of development. It differs from abstraction in the fact that the latter is the intense pursuit of a train of reasoning or observation, which absorbs the mind to such an extent that there is no attention left for the reports of the senses. Hence the abstracted man neither looks nor listens, and a noise or an impulse, far greater than would suffice to awaken the same man if asleep, may be insufficient to divert him from the train of thought which he pursues. Revery is literally day-dreaming. It is not reasoning. The image-making faculty is set free and it runs on. The mind is scarcely attentive, hardly conscious, and the tear may come to the eye, or the smile to the lip, so that in a crowded street-car, or even in an assembly, attention may be attracted to one who is wholly unconscious of the same. A person may imagine himself other than he is, derive pleasure from the change, and thus pass an hour or morning. In revery we frequently become practical somnambulists; that is, speak audible words that we would not have uttered on any account, strike blows, move articles, gesticulate, and do many other things, sometimes with the effect of immediately recalling us to a knowledge of the situation, when we, as well as others, are amused, but often without being aware of being noticed. In extreme cases the only distinctions between revery and dreaming sleep are regular breathing and the suspension of the senses which accompany the latter.
The passage from revery into dreaming sleep is to be scrutinized, as the line of demarcation is less than the diameter of a hair. When persons lie down to sleep, their thoughts take on the dream character before they can lose consciousness. "Look," says Sir Henry Holland, "to the passage from waking to sleeping, and see with what rapidity and facility these states often alternate with each other." Abstract reason gives place to images that begin to move at random before the mind's eye; if they are identified and considered, wakefulness continues. But at last they become vague, attention relaxes, and we sleep. It is possible to realize that one is sleeping, and to make an effort to awake and seize the mental train. But the would-be sleeper resumes the favorable position, the head drops, the senses lose their receptivity, and he who spent the last hour of the evening in revery in a darkened room has undergone but a very slight change when he passes into sleep. The images still run on while the body reposes, until, according to his temperament and habits, the brain becomes calm, and the soporific influence penetrates, we cannot tell how far, into the higher regions of the sensorium.
In considering the passing from the dream state into the weaking state, several analogies are to be noted. Sometimes an amusing sense of the last dream occupies the attention deliciously for a few moments. Again, it is not uncommon to pass out of a dream into a perception of the hour of the night and of the situation, sink back into sleep, and take up the thread of the dream where it had been left at the moment of returning consciousness. More frequently the dream, if resumed, will be modified by physical conditions. At other times the painful consciousness of a frightful dream remains.
From these analogies the conclusion is reasonable that dreaming is a phenomenon of the mind, dependent upon changes in the circulation of the blood, and in the condition of the brain and nervous system, whereby the higher powers of the mind, including judgment, conscience, and will, are prevented from exercising their usual jurisdiction, the senses from reporting events of the external world by which to a great extent time is measured and space relations determined, while the image-making faculty and animal instincts are to a less degree affected; and that the images constructed in dreams are the working up of the raw material of sensations, experiences, and ideas stored in the mind.