Can we prevent ourselves from sneezing?

Either because days of extreme rain have resulted in a profusive growth of mold, or because days of extreme heat have caused temperature-shocked trees to exhale bushels of pollen, their branches like so many grain shovels, I’ve at last gotten the opportunity to test many times concurrently what a customer told me was certainly true and would swear by — that one could prevent oneself from sneezing.

And I really have been made a perfect test subject for this investigation; for it happened that a sneeze early on in this period had been so intense as to provoke an acute disorder in my lung such that, whenever I sneezed just a little, or even half-sneezed, it would hurt my chest a lot; so there was this powerful incentive of pain aversion to avoid sneezing if I possibly could.

The results of my examination, which were both conclusive and ambiguous, were as follows: that one can and one cannot prevent oneself from sneezing.

One can in the sense that one can prevent anything from exiting one’s nose through exterior points or entering ones nose through interior points. One can in the sense that one can stop in the nose the tingling that will excite the first tensing or clenching of the stomach or full-on pulmonary push-out of the air. One can not however, in the sense that one can not always prevent the latter, particularly the tensing of stomach; they simply come on to quickly without warning and while one mind is fixed elsewhere.

And yet, in conclusion, I would say that, though one can not entirely control one’s sneezing– unless one is exceptionally practiced and perceptive about it– one probably has a great deal more control over it than one might imagine or would care to report, owing to how pleasant it is to complete one’s sneeze once the process has begun.

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