dutch courage drove from many a man the inferiority

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Unformatted text preview: oon as he reached a stage in school where compulsory training was dropped, he discontinued athletics, with much inward relief. In fact, pride, fear of being considered a coward, was mainly responsible for his efforts in this direction. In college he fell under the influence of Omar Khayam and the epicurean reaction to death. He feverishly entered pleasure and swung easily from religious fervor to a complete agnosticism. He became a first-nighter, knew all the chorus girls it was possible for him to become acquainted with, learned to drink but never learned to enjoy it. In fact, after each sensual indulgence his reaction against himself led him to a despair which might have terminated in suicide were it not that he feared death more than the reproaches of his conscience. Then CHAPTER XVII. 142 he fell under the influence of a group of men and women in his college town, philanthropists and social reformers, whose enthusiasm and energy seemed to him miraculous, and as he grew to know them he realized with a something like ecstasy and yet governed by intelligence, that in such work was a compensation for death that might satisfy both his emotions and his intelligence. Again to the surprise of his parents, and in the face of their prediction that he would soon "tire" of this fad, he entered into their activities and proved himself a devoted worker. Too devoted, for now and then he needs medical attention, and it was in one of these "neurasthenic" periods that I met him. I learned that the spur that kept him going, that made him energetic, was the fear that death would overtake him before he achieved anything worth while; that he hated to die and was appalled by the thought of death, but that he could forget all this in work of a socially useful kind. F. might almost stand for mankind in his reactions to death. He seemed to me almost too good to be true as a demonstration of a pet thesis of mine, namely, that the fear of death is behind an enormous amount of men's deeds and beliefs. His reaction was of the compensatory typ...
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