Confirmed by Hypnotic Phenomena. - Opinions of Psychologists. - Sir William Hamilton's Views. - Observations of Dr. Rush. - Talent for Poetry and Music developed by Abnormal Conditions. - Talent for Drawing evolved by Madness. - Resuscitation of Knowledge in the Insane. - Extraordinary Feats of Memory during Illness. - A Forgotten Language recovered. - Whole Pages of Greek and Hebrew remembered by an Illiterate Servant Girl. - Speaking in Unknown Tongues explained. - The Result of the Operations of Natural Law.

ONE of the most striking and important peculiarities of the subjective mind, as distinguished from the objective, consists in its prodigious memory. It would perhaps be hazardous to say that the memory of the subjective mind is perfect, but there is good ground for believing that such a proposition would be substantially true. It must be understood that this remark applies only to the most profoundly subjective state and to the most favorable conditions. In all degrees of hypnotic sleep, however, the exaltation of the memory is one of the most pronounced of the attendant phenomena. This has been observed by all hypnotists, especially by those who make their experiments with a view of studying the mental action of the subject. Psychologists of all shades of belief have recognized the phenomena, and many have declared their conviction that the minutest details of acquired knowledge are recorded upon the tablets of the mind, and that they only require favorable conditions to reveal their treasures.

Sir William Hamilton, in his "Lectures on Metaphysics," page 236, designates the phenomenon as "latent memory." He says:-

"The evidence on this point shows that the mind frequently contains whole systems of knowledge, which, though in our normal state they have faded into absolute oblivion, may, in certain abnormal states - as madness, febrile delirium, somnambulism, catalepsy, etc. - flash out into luminous consciousness, and even throw into the shade of unconsciousness those other systems by which they had, for a long period, been eclipsed, and even extinguished. For example, there are cases in which the extinct memory of whole languages was suddenly restored; and, what is even still more remarkable, in which the faculty was exhibited of accurately repeating, in known or un-known tongues, passages which were never within the grasp of conscious memory in the normal state".

Sir William then proceeds to quote, with approval, a few cases which illustrate the general principle. The first is on the authority of Dr. Rush, a celebrated American physician:

"The records of the wit and cunning of madmen," says the doctor, "are numerous in every country. Talents for eloquence, poetry, music, and painting, and uncommon ingenuity in several of the mechanical arts, are often evolved in this state of madness. A gentleman whom I attended in an hospital in the year 1810, often delighted as well as astonished the patients and officers of our hospital by his displays of oratory in preaching from a table in the hospital yard every Sunday. A female patient of mine who became insane, after parturition, in the year 1807, sang hymns and songs of her own composition during the latter stage of her illness, with a tone of voice so soft and pleasant that I hung upon it with delight every time I visited her. She had never discovered a talent for poetry or music in any previous part of her life. Two instances of a talent for drawing, evolved by madness, have occurred within my knowledge. And where is the hospital for mad people in which elegant and completely rigged ships and curious pieces of machinery have not been exhibited by persons who never discovered the least turn for a mechanical art previous to their derangement ?

"Sometimes we observe in mad people an unexpected resuscitation of knowledge; hence we hear them describe past events, and speak in ancient or modern languages, or repeat long and interesting passages from books, none of which, we are sure, they were capable of recollecting in the natural and healthy state of their mind."1

It must be remembered that when these events occurred, the profession knew little of the phenomena of hypnotism. In the light of present knowledge on that subject it is easy to understand that the phenomena here recorded are referable to one common origin, whatever may have been the proximate cause of their manifestation. There are many ways by which the subjective mind may be caused to become active and dominant besides deliberately producing hypnotic sleep. Diseases of various kinds, particularly those of the brain or nervous system, and intense febrile excitement, are frequently causes of the total or partial suspension of the functions of the objective mind, and of exciting the subjective mind to intense activity.

The next case quoted by Sir William is from "Recollections of the Valley of the Mississippi," by an American clergyman named Flint: -

"I am aware," he remarks, "that every sufferer in this way is apt to think his own case extraordinary. My physicians agreed with all who saw me that my case was so. As very few live to record the issue of a sickness like mine, and as you have requested me, and as I have promised, to be particular, I will relate some of the circumstances of this disease. And it is in my view desirable, in the bitter agony of such diseases, that more of the symptoms, sensations, and sufferings should have been recorded than have been; and that others in similar predicaments may know that some before them have had sufferings like theirs, and have survived them. I had had a fever before, and had risen, and been dressed every day. But in this, with the first day I was prostrated to infantine weakness, and felt, with its first attack, that it was a thing very different from what I had yet experienced.

"Paroxysms of derangement occurred the third day, and this was to me a new state of mind. That state of disease in which partial derangement is mixed with a consciousness generally sound, and sensibility preternaturally excited, I should suppose the most distressing of all its forms. At the same time that I was unable to recognize my friends, I was informed that my memory was more than ordinarily exact and retentive, and that I repeated whole passages in the different languages which I knew, with entire accuracy. I recited, without losing or misplacing a word, a passage of poetry which I could not so repeat after I recovered my health".

1 Beasley on the Mind, p. 474.