When matter alone is concerned we know exactly how it will act under given conditions. When life is added, the problem becomes more complex. The general law of evolution and the special law of natural selection in the development of species are accepted facts, although we cannot with success apply to them mathematical formulae. When mind is added to life, the problem becomes still more complicated and mathematical exactness still less likely to be attained. Many facts, however, are being ascertained in psychical science, and some principles are being established which help to bring order out of confusion and shed light on some dark places.
The recognition of a subliminal self as forming a part of the psychical organization of man will throw light upon many obscure mental phenomena and bring order out of seemingly hopeless confusion. Placed before us as a working hypothesis, many other facts, before errant and unclassified, group themselves about it in wonderful clearness and harmony.
Granting, then, provisionally at least, the reality of the secondary self, what are its relations to the primary self and their common physical organization, and how came it to occupy these relations? Mr. Frederick W. H. Myers, to whom I have already referred, whose acute intellect and scholarly attainments have been of the highest value to the society in every department of its investigations, has also taken up this subject with his 10 usual skill and judgment. He looks upon it from the standpoint of evolution, commencing with the earliest period of animal life. He compares the whole psychical organization, together with its manifesting physical organization, to the thousand looms of a vast manufactory.
The looms are complex and of varying patterns, for turning out different sorts of work. They are also used in various combinations, and there are various driving bands and connecting machinery by which they may severally be connected or disconnected, but the motive power which drives the whole is constant for all, and all works automatically to turn out the styles of goods that are needed.
"Now, how did I come to have my looms and driving-gear arranged in this particular way? Not, certainly, through any deliberate choice of my own. My ancestor, the ascidian, in fact, inherited the business when it consisted of little more than a single spindle; since his day my nearer ancestors have added loom after loom."
Changes have been going on continually; some of the looms are now quite out of date, have long been unused, and are quite out of repair or fallen to pieces. Others are kept in order because the style of goods which they turn out is still useful and necessary. But the class of goods called for has greatly changed of late. For instance, the machinery at present in operation is best adapted to turning out goods of a decidedly egoistic style, for self-preservation, persistence in the struggle for life, and for self-gratification; but a style is beginning to be called for of the altruistic pattern. For this kind of goods the machinery is not well adapted. It is old-fashioned, and changes are necessary. If there are any looms in the establishment unknown and unused which can be turned to account, or any way of modifying such as we have to meet the demand, it is for our interest to know it.
But the methods of adjustment, and arrangements for bringing new looms into operation are hidden and difficult of access, so we observe factories where spontaneous readjustments are going on and new looms, not known to have been in the establishment, are being brought automatically into action and are found to work fairly well. Such instances are found in the establishment of Felida X. or Louis V., from which valuable hints are obtained regarding changes and readjustments.
Furthermore, in hypnotism, we find a safe and, at the same time, powerful lever, for readjustment, by means of which in some establishments new looms can be brought into play and shut off again almost at will; and often while the new looms are at work doing good service we are able to get at the old ones, repair and modernize them so as to make them useful, and the immense value of hypnotism in this educational and reformatory work has hardly begun to be known or appreciated. A single instance out of many must suffice for illustration.
. In the summer of 1884 there was at the Salpe-triere a young woman of a deplorable type, Jeanne S., who was a criminal lunatic, filthy, violent, and with a life history of impurity and crime. M. Auguste Voisin, one of the physicians of the staff, undertook to hypnotize her May 31st. At that time she was so violent that she could only be kept quiet by a strait-jacket and the constant cold douche to her head. She would not look at M. Voisin, but raved and spat at him. He persisted, kept his face near and opposite to hers, and his eyes following hers constantly. In ten minutes she was in a sound sleep, and soon passed into the somnambulistic condition. The process was repeated many days, and gradually she became sane while in the hypnotic condition, but still raved when she awoke.
Gradually, then, she began to accept hypnotic suggestion, and would obey trivial orders given her while asleep, such as to sweep her room, etc.; then suggestions regarding her general behavior. then, in her hypnotic condition, she began to express regret for her past life and form resolutions of amendment, which she fully adhered to when she awoke. Two years later she was a nurse in one of the Paris hospitals, and her conduct was irreproachable. M. Voisin has followed up this case by others equally striking.
Such is an imperfect sketch of the discoveries, experiments, and studies which have been made in the domain of human personality. It is merely a sketch, and certainly it is in no spirit of dogmatism that it is presented; but as a collection of facts relating to human nature and the constitution and action of the human mind, it is at least curious.
It need not destroy our convictions regarding the essential unity of personality, but it must necessarily enlarge our conceptions of what constitutes an individual, and how under various circumstances that individual may act.
From many points of view, and in relation to many departments of study and of human development - legal, moral, social, and educational
- the subject presents important bearings; and, furthermore, in the solution of other psychological problems it will be found to possess the greatest possible interest and value.