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Sleep Talking – Godey’s Lady’s Book May 1832

This is merely a modification of somnambulism, and proceeds from similar causes, namely, a distribution of sensorial power to the organs of speech, by which means they do not sympathize in the general slumber, but remain in a state fit for being called into action by particular trains of ideas.

If, for instance, we dream that we are talking to some one, and if these organs are endowed with their waking share of sensorial power, we are sure to speak. Again, the mere dream, without a waking state of the organs, will never produce speech; and we only suppose we are carrying on conversation, although, at the time, we are completely silent. To produce sleep talking, therefore, the mind, in some of its functions, must be awake and the organs of speech must be so also. The conversation, in this state, is of such subjects as our thoughts are most immediately occupied with; and its consistency or incongruity depends upon that of the prevailing ideas being sometimes perfectly rational and coherent: at other times full of absurdity.

The voice is seldom the same as in the waking state. This I would impute to the organs of hearing being mostly dormant, and consequently unable to guide the modulations of sound. The same fact is observable in very deaf persons, whose speech is usually harsh, unvaried, and monotonous. Sometimes the faculties are so far awake, that we can manage to carry on a conversation with the individual, and extract from him the most hidden secrets of his soul. By such means things have been detected, which would otherwise have remained in perpetual obscurity.

Persons have been known who delivered sermons and prayers during sleep; among others an American lady is spoken of, who did so for many years. The same was the case with Richard Haycock, professor of medicine in Oxford: he would give out a text in his sleep, and deliver a good sermon upon it, and all the pinching and pulling of his friends could not prevent him.

Somnambulists frequently talk while on their expedition. Indeed, sleep talking is one of the most common accompaniments of this affection, and bears so close a resemblance to it in most of its circumstances, that it may be regarded as merely a modification of somnambulism. – All that can be done for the cure of sleep talking, is to remove such causes as we may suppose has given rise to it. It is, however, in most cases, of such a trivial nature as not to require any treatment whatever; and, when it proceeds from idiosyncrasy, or becomes habitual, I believe no means which can be adopted will be, of much avail.

The state of the digestive apparatus should invariably be attended to, and, if disordered, they must be put to rights by suitable medicines. And should the affection proceed, or be supposed to proceed from hypochondria, hysteria, or the prevalence of any strong mental emotion, these states must be treated according to general principles.

Macnish’s Philosophy of Sleep

Godey’s Lady’s Book— Louis Antoine Godey began publishing Godey’s Lady’s Book in 1830. He designed his monthly magazine specifically to attract the growing audience of literate American women. The magazine was intended to entertain, inform, and educate the women of America.

Source: Godey’s Lady’s Book, May  1832

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