/ / Issue 1, Poetry

A cold flux of the humors can produce heaviness in the tissue, which leads to a blocked affection. The resulting fluids pool in the feet, causing sluggishness. The effect of spirits and devils on this disorder cannot be overlooked. Their natures are various, and their motives obscure. I had a spirit who gave me good dreams and stomach-worms.

A blocked affection makes a man tedious. He is driven to decode his friends’ addresses, convinced of the malice behind each ciphered word and look. A cache of innuendo shines in the light of his diseased fancy. Odd items become significant. Some patients can’t endure mention of a wet towel or a ribbon, from a secret antipathy.

Hooked on the barb of this distemper’s devil, the suffering man must heed its muttering. He shuns company and hoards his pleasures, fearing others’ mockery of his chosen amusements. He suspects even his doctor wishes him ill. He avoids medication on a pretext, being wary of arsenic.

The treatment shouldn’t fully clear the distempered humor. As in bloodletting, draining too much of its chill vitality will worsen the imbalance. Suspicion has sometime a good cause. (Wasn’t my friend a swindler after all?) Anyone may develop blocked affections. If you clasp someone’s hand and his fingers are cold, suspect him of it.


Listen to Sarah Johnson discuss “For Blocked Affections” below…

Sarah Johnson’s work was influenced by Robert Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy, published in 1621.


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