To whatever conclusions it may lead us, there is no mistaking the fact that now more than ever before is the public interested in matters relating to the "New Psychology." Scarcely a day passes that notice of some unusual psychical experience or startling phenomenon does not appear in popular literature. The newspaper, the magazine, and the novel vie with each other in their efforts to excite interest and attract attention by the display of these strange incidents, presented sometimes with intelligence and taste, but oftener with a culpable disregard of both taste and truth.
The general reader is not yet critical regarding these matters, but he is at least interested, and desires to know what can be relied upon as established truth amongst these various reports. There is inquiry concerning Telepathy or Thought-Transference - is it a fact or is it a delusion? Has
In the following papers intelligent readers, both in and out of the medical profession, will find these subjects fairly stated and discussed, and to some of the questions asked, fair and reasonable answers given. It is with the hope of aiding somewhat in the efforts now being made to rescue from an uncertain and unreasoning supernatural-ism some of the most valuable facts in nature, and some of the most interesting and beautiful psychical phenomena in human experience, that this book is offered to the public.
To such studies, however, it is objected by some that the principles involved in these unusual mental actions are too vague and the facts too new and unsubstantiated to be deserving of serious consideration; but it should be remembered that all our knowledge, even that which is now reckoned as science, was once vague and tentative; it is absurd, therefore, to ignore newly-found facts simply because they are new and their laws unknown; nevertheless, in psychical matters especially, this is the tendency of the age.
But even if upon the practical side these studies should be deemed unsatisfactory, it would not follow that they are without use or interest. It is a truism that our western civilization is over-intense and practical; it is materialistic, hard, mechanical; it values nothing, it believes in nothing that cannot be weighed, measured, analyzed, labelled and appraised; - feeling, intuition, aspiration, monitions, glimpses of knowledge that are from within - not external nor distinctly cognizable, - these are all slighted, despised, trampled upon by a supercilious dilettanteism on the one hand and an uninstructed philistinism on the other, and the result has been a development that is abnormal, unsymmetrical, deformed, and tending to disintegration.
To a few, oriental mysticism, to others the hasty deductions of spiritualism, and to many more the supernaturalism of the various religious systems, offer at least a partial, though often exaggerated, antidote to this inherent vice, because they all contemplate a spiritual or at least a transcendental aspect of man's nature in contrast to that which is purely material. But even these partial remedies are not available to all, and they are unsatisfactory to many.
As a basis to a more symmetrical and permanent development, some generally recognized facts relative to the constitution and action of these more subtle forces in our being must be certified ; and as an introduction to that work, it is hoped that these studies in the outlying fields of psychology will not be found valueless.
A portion of the papers here presented are republished, much revised, by courtesy of The
New York Times,
New York, October, 1896.