From the November 1957 magazine.

The History of Tension

TENSION IS A FORM OF DISEASE; and diseases, as such, are beyond the scope of history. There is no such thing, for example, as a medieval stomache-ache, no such thing as a specifically neolithic focal infection, a characteristically Victorian neuralgia, or a New Deal epilepsy. So far as the patient is concerned, the symptoms of his illness are a completely personal experience, an experience to which the public life of nations, the events recorded in the headlines or discussed in scientific journals and literary reviews are totally irrelevant. Politics, culture, the march of civilization, all the marvels of nature, all the triumphs of art and science and technology--these things exist for the healthy, not for the sick. The sick are aware only of their private pains and miseries, only of what goes on within the four walls of the sick room. For them the infinite universe has contracted almost to a point; nothing remains of it but their own suffering bodies, their own numbed or tormented minds. Disease as an actual experience is more or less completely independent of time and place. . . .

While tension, as a psychosomatic illness, has no history, at least some of the causes of tension lie within the public domain and can be made the subject of historical study. The same is true of the procedures sanctioned by various societies for the prevention and relief of tension. . . .

-- Aldous Huxley

This is a preview. To view the full article, use the link below to begin a free 7-day trial!

Subscribe