"Where amI?" said Mr. Brown.
"You are all right," replied Mr. Earl.
"I'm all wrong, and my name is not Brown. Where am I?"
"You are in Norristown."
"Where is Norristown? "
"In Pennsylvania, about seventeen miles west of Philadelphia."
"What day of the month is it?" inquired Mr. Brown.
"The 14th," replied Mr. Earl.
"Does time run backward here? When I left home it was the 17th."
"Seventeenth of what ? " said Mr. Earl.
" Seventeenth of January."
" Now it is the 14th of March," said Mr. Earl.
Mr. Earl thought Mr. Brown was out of his mind, and sent for a physician. To the doctor he said his name was Ansel Bourne; that he remembered seeing the Adams Express wagons on Dorrance Street in Providence on Jan. 17th, and remembered nothing since, until he awoke here this morning, March 14th.
"These people," said he, "tell me that I have been here six weeks, and have been living with them all this time; I have no recollection of ever having seen one of them, until this morning."
His nephew, Mr. H., was telegraphed to in Providence.
"Do you know Ansel Bourne? "
Reply: "He is my uncle; wire me where he is, and if well."
Mr. H., went on to Norristown, took charge of his uncle and his affairs, sold out his store property, and Mr. A. J. Brown went back and resumed his life in Rhode Island as Ansel Bourne, but the time from Jan. 17th to March 14th was to him a blank.
Prof. James of Harvard and Dr. Hodgson, Secretary of the American Branch of the Society for Psychical Research, who reported this case to the society, now became interested in the matter. They went to see Ansel Bourne and learned the above history; but of the journey from Providence to Norristown in January no account of any kind could be obtained. Finally, he was put into the hypnotic condition, when he was again A. J. Brown, and gave a connected account of his journey to Boston, New York, Philadelphia, and of his stay in each of these cities; of his arrival at Norristown, and of his experience there up to the morning of March 14th, when everything was again confused. As A. J. Brown he knew of Ansel Bourne and of his remarkable history, but could not state positively that he had ever met him.
This transition was repeatedly made. Immediately on being put in the hypnotic trance and aroused to somnambulism he was A. J. Brown, a distinct personality, perfectly sane, and with a full appreciation of the relation of things as relating to that personality, and with a distinct chain of memories, beliefs, and affections; but, when introduced to the wife of Ansel Bourne, he entirely repudiated the idea of her ever having been his wife, though he might some time have seen her.
Immediately on being awakened from this hypnotic condition he was Ansel Bourne, with his usual consciousness, beliefs, affections, and chain of memories; but the primary Ansel Bourne personality had no knowledge whatever of the secondary, or A. J. Brown, personality, and for any act, either criminal or righteous, committed by the person A. J. Brown, the person Ansel Bourne had no more knowledge and consequently no more responsibility than for any good or bad action committed by a person in Australia and of whose existence he was ignorant.
A few other cases quite similar and in every respect of equal interest have been observed, notably that known as Louis V., which was reported by Dr. Voisin of Paris and by several other well-known French physicians, under whose care from time to time he has been, and whose several reports have been summed up by Mr. Frederick W. H. Myers, the efficient London Secretary of the Society for Psychical Research.
Here the stability of personality was unsettled at the age of fourteen by a terrible fright from a viper. Four or five distinct personalities were represented.
(1) In his childhood, previous to his fright by the viper, he had good health and was an ordinary, quiet, obedient, well-behaved boy.
(2) A new personality, of which the primary self had no knowledge, was induced by the fright. This No. 2 personality had frequent epileptic attacks, but was able to work, learning the trade of a tailor.
(3) After one of these attacks of great violence, lasting fifty hours, another personality came to the surface - a greedy, violent, quarrelsome, drunken, thievish vagabond, paralyzed on one side, and with an impediment in his speech. He was an anarchist, an atheist, and a blackguard, always ranting and thrusting his opinions upon those about him, perpetrating bad jokes, and practicing disgusting familiarities with his physicians and attendants. In this state, he knows nothing of the tailor's business, but he is a private of marines.
(4) He is a quiet, sensible man, retiring in behavior and modest in speech. If he is asked his opinions upon politics or religion, he bashfully replies that he would rather leave such things to wiser heads than his. In this condition he is without paralysis and speaks distinctly.
(5) As a man forty years of age he returns to the condition of childhood previous to his fright- a child in intellect and knowledge, having no occupation; he is simply an ordinary, quiet, well-behaved, obedient boy.
Each of these personalities was distinct from all the others; the earlier ones had no knowledge of those which came after them ; the later ones had a knowledge of the earlier ones, but only as they might have knowledge of any other person.
A fourth typical case is that of Alma Z., recently reported by me for The Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, In this case, an unusually healthy, strongly intellectual girl, an expert in athletic sport and a leader wherever she might be, on account of overwork, and finally, of broken-down health, developed a second, and, later, a third personality. Each was widely different from the others, all were normal so far as a perfect knowledge of and adaptation to their surroundings were concerned, and all were of unusual intellectual force and brightness, as well as moral worth; but each was distinct, peculiar, and even in marked contrast to the others in many important characteristics. No. I had no knowledge of No. 2 nor of No. 3, except from circumstances and the report of others, and also from letters which passed between them giving information to No. I regarding changes which had occurred in her absence, as, for instance, of expected company or other engagement which it would be important for her to know.
Both of the later personalities were peculiarly fond of No. 1, and devoted to her welfare on account of her superior knowledge and admirable character. The case has been under my observation, both professionally and socially, for many years, and, in addition to its typical character, it presented an example of the singular fact of the persistence of the later personality, with the ability to observe, retain its chain of memories, and afterward report them, while the primary self was at the same time the dominant and active personality.
An instance of this occurred at one of the concerts of a distinguished pianist a few years since. No. 3 was the reigning personality, and she was herself a lover of music and an excellent critic. Beethoven's concerto in C major was on the programme, and was being performed in a most charming manner by soloist and orchestra. I was sitting near her in the box, when all at once I noticed a change in the expression of her face, which denoted the presence of No. 1. She listened with intense interest and pleasure to the performance, and at its close I spoke a few words to her, and she replied in her usual charming manner. It was No. 1 without doubt. Soon after, she leaned back in her chair, took two or three quick, short inspirations, and No. 3 was present again. She turned to me smiling and said:
"So No. 1 came for her favorite concerto; wasn't it splendid that she could hear it?"
I said: "Yes; but how did you know she was here? "
"Oh, I sat on the front of the box," she said. "I heard the music, too, and I saw you speaking to her."
The four cases here briefly outlined represent both sexes, two distinct nationalities, and widely-varying conditions in life. In each case one or more personalities crop out, so to speak, come to the surface, and become the conscious, active, ruling personality, distinct from the original self, having entirely different mental, moral, and even physical, characteristics; different tastes, and different sentiments and opinions; personalities entirely unknown to the original self, which no one acquainted with that original self had any reason to suppose existed in connection with that organization.
The cases present so many points of similarity in their history as to render it probable, if not certain, that some common principle, law, or mental state underlies them all - some law which, if clearly defined, would be valuable in reducing to order the seemingly lawless mass of phenomena which constantly meets us in this new and but little explored field of research.
It may be, also, that other mental states more frequently met with and more easily observed present points in common with these more striking and unusual ones; and that they also may assist us in finding the clue.