The peculiar functions of the physical brain are therefore no more entitled to be considered as an immortal entity, or as any necessary part or function of an immortal entity, than are the physical functions of deglutition or digestion, or the physical power of pedal locomotion.
It is not for man to question the wisdom of God in se ordaining the relations of the soul to the body as to subordinate the eternal to the perishable. But it is man's duty so to exercise his powers of induction as to ascertain those relations; and, having done so according to his best lights, so to order his conduct as to do his whole duty to himself and his Creator. As we find those relations exist, the whole responsibility rests upon the objective man. He is a free moral agent, and has it in his power to train his soul for weal or woe, for this life and for eternity.
It is of the relations which exist between objective and subjective man in this life that I propose to offer a few practical suggestions at this time. I have already shown that the normal functions of the subjective mind are apparently limited to the preservation of human life and the perpetuation of the human race. These functions are manifested in what are known as instincts. The first is the instinct of self-preservation; the second is the instinct of reproduction; and the third pertains to the preservation of the offspring. In the last may be included the instinctive desire to preserve human life generally. Outside of these limits all phenomenal subjective mental activity appears to be abnormal. I say appears to be abnormal, for the reason that we have no means of judging, except from a consensus of facts. The facts which pertain to the subject can be found in the greatest abundance in spiritistic circles, for the reason that it is there that subjective activity is greatest in modern times. I venture to say that no one of the better class of spiritists will deny the fact that most professional mediums eventually become physical wrecks; many are overtaken by mental derangement, and some by a moral degradation too loathsome to be described.
Few, if any, escape serious physical trouble. This, of itself, is sufficient evidence of abnormality, and should serve as a warning against the too frequent exercise of subjective power. The majority of spiritistic mediums are more or less afflicted with nervous disorders, and many of them are hysterical to the last degree. Most of them complain of extreme nervous exhaustion after a seance, and many require days to recover from the effects of a prolonged exercise of subjective power. It may be said that I mistake the cause for the effect; that is, that it may be only weak and nervous physical organisms that are capable of exercising subjective power. I am aware that the question is not free from difficulty, and that one is liable to fall into error in discussing a subject that is so little understood. The fact remains, nevertheless, that nervous disorders and mediumship are generally associated, and that fact alone is indicative of abnormality. Whether we are to regard the exercise of subjective power as productive of abnormal physical conditions, or are to suppose that it requires an abnormal physical organism to produce subjective phenomena, matters little.
The conclusion must be the same, - that the exercise of subjective power is abnormal, and should be avoided until more is known of the proper conditions of its exercise than has yet been discovered.
There is a further difficulty attending the consideration of this subject which must not be lost sight of, and that is the question how far suggestion may enter as a factor in the case. It is well known that some mesmeric healers fancy that "they take on the conditions of the patient," as they phrase it. That is, they feel the symptoms which afflict the patient. There is no question of the fact that those who enter upon the treatment of a case with that idea firmly fixed in their minds will experience the anticipated sensations, often to a marked degree. But late scientific experiments disclose the fact that such phenomena are always the effect of suggestion. The physical exhaustion which some healers feel after the treatment of a case is also largely due to suggestion. These effects may always be counteracted by a vigorous auto-suggestion; and, moreover, the same means may be effectively employed to produce exactly the opposite effects upon the operator. That is to say, the mental healer, by whatever method he does his work, may always cause his treatment of a patient to redound to his own benefit, as well as to that of the patient, by the exercise of the power of auto-suggestion. It is therefore impossible to say just how far suggestion enters as a factor in the production of untoward physical results from the exercise of mediumistic power.
It is certainly traditional among the fraternity that nervous exhaustion ensues from its exercise, and the results are appalling. How far the effects may be counteracted by intelligent auto-suggestion, remains to be settled by the process of evolution. There is, however, little hope of any change for the better so long as the spiritistic medium believes himself to be under the domination of an extraneous force which is beyond his control, and the effects of which he is powerless to mitigate.
This phase of the subject is, however, of little importance compared with the mental effects produced by the too persistent exercise of the subjective faculties in the production of phenomena. Again we must draw our illustrations from spiritistic circles. It is undeniable that the tendency of mediumship is to unhinge the mind, to destroy the mental balance, and often to produce the worst forms of insanity. And it is noticeable that the more thoroughly sincere the medium is in his belief in the genuineness of his power to evoke the spirits of the dead, the greater is the tendency to insanity. The reason is obvious. If he sincerely believes himself to be under the control of an extraneous power, he yields implicit obedience to that power; especially if it assumes to be a superior mentality, as it generally does. Instead of assuming control of the power, he allows it to control him. As a matter of course, he is ignorant of the laws pertaining to it. He is ignorant of the fact that the force which controls him resides within himself, and is not a superior being commissioned from Heaven to convey a message from the Source of all knowledge. He is dazed by its wonderful exhibitions of superior intelligence, is captivated by its eloquence, and awed by its assumption of authority.