The dejection afflicting John Stuart Mill in his twentieth year was alleviated by two important events. He read Wordsworth, and he discoved for himself a view of life resembling the "anti-self-consciousness theory" of Carlyle. Mill describes this stangely named theory in his Autobiography:

"Ask yourself whether you are happy, and you cease to be so. The only chance is to treat, not happiness, but some end external to it as the purpose of life. Let your self-consciousness, your scrutiny, your self-interrogation exhaust themselves on that."


Thought as a disease is an open as well as submerged metaphor among the Romantics. There are many hints in Novalis; Schelling pronounces naked reflection to be a spiritual sickness of man. The metaphor is explicit in Carlyle's Characteristics and commonplace by the time that E. S. Dallas in The Gay Science in 1866 lays the modern disease to "excessive civilization and overstrained consciousness.