It doesn’t help. Something’s got to be done. His jaw dropped, his forehead wrinkled, he gasped, and then went into a paroxysm of coughing. He coughed and weezed in a manner almost sickening to behold. You know how sensitive I am — there is no limit to the number of symptoms that can be called forth under those circumstances — even to satisfy a doctor’s curiosity. Secrete, secrete: saliva gushes, your mouth waters, salivary glands go to work. Your brain is only aware of printed words — that is your conditioned reflex — traces of printer’s ink. He got that way in childhood. From learning to spit whenever he was angry or crossed or worried. He decided to forget entirely. In fact he had completely forgotten what makes you go to work, punch the clock, lunch at noon, dine heavily at night, and wish you hadn’t by bedtime. He did not like to admit these things, even to himself. He knew it was silly to feel as he does, but he cannot help it. His intestines, his glands, his heart — you could see this for yourself if you had an x-ray machine — the salivary responses, the fear responses, including spams of the stomach, cowering, tension of the muscles, the cramping of his intestines, and the dryness of his mouth. His whole body substituted. He was no longer human. He was highly irritable, snapped at everyone.
It shouldn’t happen, he never knows where he stands. We feel our glands, our stomachs, intestines, blood vessels. All we know is that in a chance encounter predestination wins this external conflict between fear, love and hate — and he hasn’t looked far beneath the surface of things. This too is being overdone. All this is common knowledge. Whether he is accepted or rejected, each determined by the angle of approach, each of which is appropriate, that it’s often difficult to reconcile one with another. But he knows he isn’t a martyr. Emotional habit is at once so complex, so diverse, and so closely knitted together; coaxing the sleep that does not come there arises a sense of strain, a lack of fulfillment.
Perhaps you had a trade skill that has been replaced by an automatic machine. This lopping off of an activity is a common thing in life. You haven’t anything else to do, nothing to do except to plan another futile, empty day. They gave him a farewell dinner and a gold watch. You can instruct the blood vessels of your face to dilate, but they won’t listen.
skip reading of the first chapter of Release from Nervous Tension by Dr. Fink, published 1943