In any discussion of the influence of mind over body, favorable and

unfavorable, too much emphasis cannot be placed on the hold that

dreads have over a great many people and how much they mean, not alone

for the mental state, but also for the physical sense of well-being or

of ill-feeling in the individual. The expression attributed to the old

hermit who had lived to the age of one hundred and had spent some

sixty year
of existence in the solitude of the desert, with all the

opportunities for introspection that this afforded, is the best

illustration even in our day of what dreads signify in life: "I am an

old man," he said to the young solitary who came to him for advice,

"and I have had many troubles, but most of them never happened." We

are nearly all of us, or at least those of us who spend most of our

time in sedentary mental occupations, prone to fear that something

untoward is preparing for us and in many cases to dread lest some

serious ailment or other is just ahead of us. We are afraid that

certain feelings, though we like to call them symptoms, due to some

trivial cause or other as a rule that deserves no notice, may mean the

insidious inroads of a constitutional disease destined to shorten

existence. A little fatigue, over-tiredness of particular muscles, the

straining of joints, the discomforts due to overeating and

undersleeping, that are meant as passing warnings of nature for the

necessity of a little more care in life, are exaggerated into symptoms

that have a more or less serious significance.