THERE IS another type of phenomena, and this time they are psychological in their character, that often claim to be spiritistic in their origin. They were little known until the last quarter of a century. Hints of their nature were noted before this date, but little systematic knowledge of them was accepted until comparatively recent times. In their more highly organized form they have been denominated "secondary personality." But as this more highly developed form of the phenomena is preceded by various unconscious or subconscious mental phenomena, it will be necessary to approach the discussion of secondary personality through these. It will be best, however, to clearly define what we mean by secondary personality, and to do this it will be necessary to define and explain what we mean by
personality in general and psychological usage.
Many people confuse the meanings of the terms "person" and "personality," assuming that they mean substantially the same thing. This is in fact not the case. They originally had the same etymological import, but the exigencies of intellectual and philosophical development gave them a somewhat different meaning. It is lack of familiarity with this development that leads to the confusion of these terms. I shall briefly state the history of the terms, and then define their import for present thought.
"Person" is from the Latin "persona," a mask used in the theatres to represent an impersonation. Then it came to denote the character so represented, and finally to denote a human being, which is its meaning to-day. The Greek "Prosopon" at first denoted the face or visage, and later became the term for mask, as
"persona" in Latin. When the term came to denote a human being it did so according to the intellectual interests served by it. In social and political matters it denoted the whole living being, physical and mental, and in law it so applies still. In theology and philosophy it often meant the subject of consciousness and abstracted from the body. But the term as denoting this subject was adjustable to any philosophy, and so with the materialist would mean the physical organism associated with its functions. With the opposite school it would be more or less identical with the soul, though not setting aside its common application to the organism as well. But in all philosophic schools "person" rather implied some sort of unity or singleness of the thing which manifested functions. This unity or singleness may be nothing more than
space-wholeness, or apparent oneness of the subject, though analysis might show it composed of elements. But physically it was one thing, and philosophically and theologically it came to denote a simple subject, though there were differences of opinion about even this. Through all phases of belief, however,
oneness, in so far as space-occupation was concerned, was the implication of the term.
The term "personality" is what we call an abstract term. It is derived from the idea of a quality describing a person, and so denotes what characterizes a person. In philosophy this characteristic was consciousness, or the stream of consciousness which was supposed to attest the need of a soul to explain it. But in the course of its development it assumed three rather distinct meanings, though they are closely related to each other. (1) It was often used as synonymous with "person." (2) It is often used to denote the group of mental states which constitute our normal mental activity, and which indicate that we are "persons" rather than machines. (3) It often denotes those peculiar characteristics by which we distinguish one "person" from another. The true meaning which it has for psychology is the
second, at least when dealing with the problem affecting this chapter.
The confusion of most people about the term comes from its application in "secondary personality," which seems to them to imply a second
person in connection with the same physical organism, and hence they actually often suppose that the psychologist means to recognize the presence of another and independent "person" in connection with certain phenomena, and then wonder why we do not call it spirit! The fact is that the psychologist uses the term to eliminate the supposition of an independent "person" in connection with the assumed phenomena.
The distinction between "primary" and "secondary personality" was adopted to distinguish between certain normal mental activities and certain abnormal activities which simulated the presence and influence of another "person" than the one properly associated with a given organism. With the confusion between "person" and "personality" it was natural to suppose that "secondary personality" implied another "person," and as this was not physical the meaning was not clear. But this can be explained, and the illusion about it easily removed.
Without regard to the distinction between "primary" and "secondary," personality in psychology denotes a stream of consciousness kept continuous, or in some way associated as a whole in its units, by memory. We know it as our normal consciousness and its associated states constituting a stream, so to speak. Memory is the fact which holds these states together and enables us to think of ourselves as one subject or being. "Personality" is thus a group of mental states or experiences which constitute a unity of some kind and is what we imply by a "person," psychologically speaking. But certain facts have been observed in mental experience which seem to show the existence of activities that are not known or remembered by this normal consciousness, and when this independent group of mental states assumes the semblance of another "person," we call it "secondary personality," to denote both that it belongs to the same "person" or organism as the normal or primary consciousness and that it simulates the reality of an independent "person." But it is only a separate group of mental states not connected by memory with the primary personality, though it may show a memory of its own. The important point in the definition of it, however, is its relation to the same subject or organism as the primary personality, and its apparent independence. It may exhibit many or all the traits of another "person" or human being than the one exhibited by the primary personality, and yet be a functional activity of this same subject or "person." In this way the term denotes a class of phenomena which exclude the spiritistic interpretation instead of implying it.
As the primary personality is what we recognize as the normal consciousness, we have to regard the secondary personality as unconscious. The mental activity in secondary personality may be essentially like that of the primary personality, and may even be called a consciousness, but owing to the fact that it has no necessary memory connection with the primary personality or consciousness, it must be regarded, relatively at least, as unconscious. This way of viewing it, however, tends to produce confusion in our conception of it. To say that it is essentially like the primary consciousness, and yet to refuse it the name of consciousness, is to make it appear that it should be given the name of another consciousness, and this is often done in the term "subliminal consciousness," thus distinguishing the primary as the supraliminal consciousness. This is all very well when we are using the term "consciousness" merely as an abstract term for mental activity in general, 'but in so using it we do not identify it with the ordinary conception of the term, which involves normal memory of experience. But whether we shall use the term in its narrower or wider import will not affect the actual distinction between primary and secondary personality as determined by the absence of the primary memory of the secondary states, and sometimes or always
vice versa. The main point is not what we shall call it, but how we shall conceive its relation to the primary personality, and that is, one in which we are not normally conscious of the events occurring in subliminal states. This fact enables us to approach the functional activities of secondary personality through our ordinarily unconscious action or what is sometimes called subconscious phenomena. Secondary personality is but a more highly organized system of subliminal events, while the ordinary subconscious activities are less imitative of independent personality, if they do it at all, or are in harmony with the functions of the normal consciousness, while secondary personality is dissociated from it, and so exhibits the systematic action of dissociation where the normally subconscious functions are associated with the primary personality. They afford, however, the proper means of approach to the dissociated phenomena of secondary personality.
There is a whole group of unconscious functions which we treat as physiological and not mental. They are such as digestion, circulation, secretion, and the reflexes. With these we have nothing to do in illustrating what we mean by unconscious mental actions terminating in the organization of secondary personality. In approaching these secondary phenomena we must begin with those functions which began in acts of normal consciousness and finally developed into unconscious or involuntary actions.
The first simple illustration of such actions is that of walking or using the limbs, with the development of which we
are all familiar. In infancy, for instance, we have to learn to walk by hard work. The first efforts in this direction require the most careful attention and deliberate volitions. The irregular motor action of the child has to be overcome by the slow and hardly won control of the muscles in a desired direction. Gradually the child learns to do this more easily, and finally the act becomes apparently involuntary, until we can control our walking without thinking about it. It is the same with the hands or other muscular activities. All of them are gradually learned and become unconscious, although they are capable of being initiated or interrupted at will at any time in our normal condition, showing that the relation of consciousness to them is not wholly lost in these circumstances. But they may be carried on by subliminal activities after the voluntary and deliberate influence of consciousness has been withdrawn. If the influence of normal consciousness were at any time dissociated from these automatic results of habit, we should discover a discoordinated set of actions which would be referred to subliminal action entirely, and so be regarded as abnormal. We refer these normally unconscious acts to habit, and this can mean only that the system acquires automatic tendencies to act along the lines of frequent voluntary action, and in proportion as the actions become unconscious they represent agencies bordering on what we call secondary personality; and if they become, as they perhaps do at times, dissociated from the functions of the normal consciousness, they take on the systematic character of secondary personality.
The acts of reading, writing, and playing music are the same as walking, and become automatic with experience. They are, of course, not purely automatic in the sense of being wholly unrelated to normal consciousness, but are not directed deliberately by the will. They are all associated with the normal or primary personality, though not directly and wholly controlled by it. If they became dissociated from this they would assume the character of another personality.
In the mental life, as distinct from its expression in muscular actions, the best illustration of subconscious activity is in Reproduction or Association. Reproduction we found in an earlier chapter to be the recalling of past events to consciousness. This act is always more or less subconscious, and is perhaps never a directly conscious act, though deliberate effort on the part of the conscious mind may have an influence upon the result. But the act of associative recall is subliminal, because it has first to do its work before the mind becomes conscious exactly of what it recalls. We may have a part of the past experience recalled, and then endeavor to recall more of it, aware that we have not reproduced the whole of it. But still we have to rely upon subconscious action to effect the specific recall. The fact, however, that it is subliminal is evident from two types of experience. The first is in the sudden recall of past events after having failed to voluntarily recall them, and the second is the sporadic and unconscious recall of the past while thinking about things wholly unconnected with the present state of consciousness. The two phenomena represent the same law of action, though one of them does not involve any relation to a previous intention. We are all familiar with the phenomenon of trying to recall some name or event and finding ourselves unable to do it. After various trials we give it up, and then the name or event will suddenly appear in consciousness without any warning or expectation, at a moment when we are not thinking about it. The mind has subconsciously been in pursuit of the desired incident, and finally succeeds in eliciting it. The second class to which I referred represents recall due to some associated state of the mind or body not noticed at the time. This is a very frequent phenomenon. For instance, we may be occupied with some work and a noise may occur and some memory will be evoked that is wholly unrelated to the thing we are thinking about. I remember once that a fine spring zephyr recalled a scene that I had witnessed a year before, though at the time of the recall I was occupied in reading a novel wholly unrelated to what I recalled. Any accidental emotion or sensation may divert the mind for a moment from the present state and reproduce past events to interrupt the main thread of consciousness. All this is subliminal and does not involve the voluntary effort of the subject.
Another illustration is a little different. In walking we are as much guided by what we do not specifically notice as we are by the objects that we consciously observe. In fact, we may be so occupied with our thoughts that we do not consciously notice objects at all. That is, we may not
apperceive them or directly think about them. Yet we may sufficiently regard them to avoid them. To do this we must have our life adjusted to many things which we do not directly will or observe. They produce their effect on the mind, but that effect is not a conscious one. That they have an influence is apparent if we close our eyes at any time that we are reflecting and walking about. The ordinary reflexes by which our movements are guided are thus cut off.
All these instances are such as are articulated with the normal acts of the mind, and reflect a definite adjustment of the various functions of the mind and body to each other. In them facts and experience seem properly associated. But I come next to a type of actions which represent the rise of dissociated functions. I have shown in an earlier chapter that the phenomena of dissociation are as frequent as those of association, and in their proper relations are just as necessary as the latter. We forget many things because they have no direct importance for the main object of our thoughts and plans. Things that we do not directly notice and hold in attention are easily forgotten. The regulation of our movements is handed over to functions that tend to lose their conscious connection with our present thoughts and interests. But in the normal state the connection is easily established again. When the abnormal arises the functions may act separately and with apparent reference to different ends. Thus in absent-mindedness we will do things which we had no previous intention of doing, and they are done under some sort of suggestion. A thought may occur to us, recalled unconsciously, and being in a more or less automatic condition, we at once perform the act involved, and either know nothing about it or do not observe it until it has been done. The best illustration, however, is found in such movements as are instigated by sensory impressions which we do not notice at the time but which come to consciousness the moment the acts take place. Thus I often resolve to do a certain thing, and then it occurs that I must first do something else. I start to do this second thing and suddenly find myself doing the first. This is a very frequent occurrence. The effect of the previous thought is not nullified by the second one, and it lingers in the subliminal state to emerge in an automatic action.
The dissociation becomes more complete in abnormal phenomena. One of the best illustrations of it is found in hysteria and other neuraesthenic difficulties. It is connected with the limitation of the field of vision. In patients of the type indicated the field of vision often becomes so limited that objects which would ordinarily be seen in the indirect field are not seen at all. Thus a pencil off at one side will not be seen when normally it would be clearly visible. The extent of this limitation varies much. In some only a small portion of the retina is sensitive to visible stimuli. But the interesting fact to be noted is that, if the person be asked in hypnosis to tell what he saw in this indirect field, he may be able to give as full an account of it as if he had seen it normally. He would say normally that he did not see the pencil or other object, but in hypnosis would tell that he had seen it, and he would tell this without suggestion, merely in response to the request to say what he saw. A similar phenomenon occurs in connection with hypnosis. We may produce anaesthesia by suggestion, and then institute a series of sensory impressions upon the sensorium and the subject will know nothing about it, but if told that he will tell all about it after awakening he will give a full account of it, showing that the mind has taken notice of the facts unconsciously. Let me give some illustrations of this from experiment.
Dr. Boris Sidis reports a case in which a hypnotic patient was told a number of things under hypnosis, such as that she would not see him when her eyes were opened; that she is a child of two years of age, etc. A hat is placed on his head and she sees this hanging in the air. She is told that she cannot see his spectacles, but when they are moved she answers that she does not see them, though she moves her eyes as the spectacles move. Doctor Sidis holds a newspaper before her and she cannot see it or his hand, but when his finger points to a word she can pronounce it. This she does, but immediately afterward she cannot recall the words. If asked to recall them and the finger points to the words, she repeats them. When the paper is removed she does not know what she has said.
Now comes the interesting feature of this case.
"On awakening at the end of this long series of experiments, the patient had no recollection of what had passed.
She was, then asked to shut her eyes, and a pen was given her. She was told to try to recollect what occurred when asleep, but she could not remember anything.
The pen meanwhile wrote without the patient's knowledge an account of what had
The italics are my own. But we have here evidence that the impressions were actually recorded and were accessible to automatic writing, though the normal consciousness had no recollection of them. As the sensory impression was not apparently perceived, we naturally expect no recall of the facts, but they actually are recalled and show traces of having been subliminally observed and subliminally reproduced.
Doctor White reports a case of a person not accustomed to drinking, but who accidentally drank too much on one occasion and had amnesia, or inability to remember events, for three hours. That is, after recovery of normal conditions he could not remember what he had done during these three hours. Under hypnosis he told the whole story, and it was confirmed. Here again the sensory impressions were subliminally perceived, though the normal consciousness was not aware of them. The functions of the mind were so dissociated that while one was occupied with its object the other was not connecting its experience with the first.
Another more striking case by Doctor Sidis and Dr. Morton Prince illustrates the phenomenon in a different form. It was a case of producing visual hallucinations by tactual stimuli. They occurred in a hysterical patient. I give their account verbatim. They were investigating
"The experiments which were made to determine the nature of the anaesthesia produced interesting results. These experiments are of a well-known class which have been frequently made use of to show that anaesthesia is not a true anaesthesia, but that impressions from the anaesthetic parts which seem not to be felt are really perceived subconsciously.
"They may be made in several ways. The method we made use of consisted in producing a visual hallucination whenever the anaesthetic hand was touched. That is to say, if the anaesthesia is functional, although the subject does not consciously perceive the tactile impression, he sees the image of a number which corresponds with the number of times the hand is pricked or touched. This was found to be the result in this case. Whenever the hand was pricked a certain number of times successively, he always saw that number as an hallucination. The number was always correct, and showed that subconsciously the pricks must have been felt.
"The details of the experiment were as follows: The anaesthetic hand was placed behind a screen and the patient was told to look in a glass of water and tell what he saw there. Impressions made on the anaesthetic hand gave rise to visual hallucinations symbolically representing the sensory stimuli. Thus, for example, when his hand was touched, very lightly, five times, he saw the figure five very vividly, and described it in detail. He saw the number written; it looked very large; and he saw it written on the back of a hand.
"The intensity of the hallucination was very well brought out when, projecting the hallucinatory hand on a screen instead of in the water, the patient outlined it with a pencil. When one of us placed his hand on the screen by the side of the hallucinatory hand and the patient was asked to tell which hand looked more real, he insisted that both hands looked equally real, except that the hallucinatory hand looked a little farther
The evidence of subconscious impressions is overwhelming in such instances, as they illustrate the phenomena of hallucinations which, as previously explained, are due to secondary stimuli. We might more easily dispute the real anaesthesia, if the subconscious image had been in the field of touch, but it matters not what we say or think about the tactual condition of the sensorium, the conversion of the stimulus into a visual hallucination shows subliminal processes of some kind, while the assurance of anaesthesia in touch doubly indicates this subconscious action.
Illustrations of this kind might be quoted indefinitely, but these suffice to prove the fact of subliminal mental action and to illustrate the source of secondary personality when it assumes a systematic or organized form. The instances quoted are sporadic illustrations, and do not show developed secondary personality in any form to simulate a real person. They indicate, however, the dissociation of functions and prepare us to understand the same phenomena in a more highly developed form. I come now to instances of this systematic type of secondary personality or subliminal action where we find the simulation of other than the normal person. It is in this last class of phenomena that we find another type of pseudo-spiritistic facts. The simulation of other than the normal person, however, does not always take the form of alleged spirits, and for that reason it affords us an admirable precaution against accepting such claims when they occur. I shall gradually lead up to the alleged spiritistic type and illustrate cases which make no pretence of this.
I shall begin with the historic case of Professor Janet. It was really a case of triple personality, but this only shows that the dissociation may extend to various groups of mental states which may subliminally group themselves in different ways. Dr. Janet calls the three separate personalities by the names of Leonie, Leontine, and Leonore to represent the dissociated personalities of Madame B. Leonie is the name for Madame B. in her normal or primary state. Leontine is the name for her secondary state. Leonore is the name for the ternary state, which is deeper than the other two. I now take Janet's own account of the case, translated into English in Mr. Myers'
Human Personality, etc.
"In these researches Mme. B. in her every-day condition is known by the name of Leonie. In the hypnotic trance she has chosen for herself the name of Leontine, which thus represents her secondary personality. Behind these two, this triple personality is completed by a mysterious Leonore, who may for the present be taken as non-existent. A post-hypnotic suggestion was given to Leontine, that is to say, Leonie was hypnotized and straightaway became Leontine, and Leontine was told by Professor Janet that after the trance was over, and Leonie had resumed her ordinary life, she, Leontine, was to take off her apron - the joint apron of Leonie and Leontine - and then to tie it on again. The trance was stopped, Leonie was awakened, and conducted Professor Janet to the door, talking with her usual respectful gravity on ordinary topics. Meantime, her hands
- the joint hands of Leonie and Leontine - untied her apron, the joint apron, and took it off. Professor Janet called Leonie's attention to the loosened apron. 'Why, my apron is coming off!' Leonie exclaimed, and, with full consciousness and intention, she tied it on again. She then continued to talk, and for her - Leonie - the incident was over. The apron, she supposed, had somehow come untied, and she had retied it. This, however, was not enough for Leontine. At Leontine's prompting, the joint hands again began their work, and the apron was taken off again and again replaced, this time without Leonie's attention having been directed to the matter at all.
"Next day Professor Janet hypnotized Leonie again, and presently Leontine, as usual, assumed control of the joint personality. 'Well,' she said, 'I did what you told me yesterday! How stupid the other one looked' - Leontine always calls, Leonie 'the other one' - 'while I took her apron off! Why did you tell her that her apron was falling off? I was obliged to begin the job over again.'
"Thus far we have dealt with a secondary personality summoned into being, so to say, by our own experiments, and taking its orders entirely from us. It seems, however, that, when once set up, this new personality can occasionally assume the initiative, and can say what it wants to say without any prompting. This is curiously illustrated by what may be termed a conjoint epistle addressed to Professor Janet by Mme. B. and her secondary personality, Leontine. She had left Havre more than two months when I received from her a very curious letter. On the first page was a curious note, written in a serious and respectful style. She was unwell, she said, worse on some days than on others, and she signed her true name, Mme. B. But over the page began another letter in a quite different style, and which I may quote as a curiosity. 'My dear good sir, I must tell you that B. really, really makes me suffer very much; she cannot sleep, she spits blood, she hurts me; I am going to demolish her, she bores me, I am ill also, this is from your devoted Leontine.' When Mme. B. returned to Havre I naturally questioned her about this singular missive. She remembered the
first letter very distinctly, but had not the slightest recollection of the
second. I at first thought that there must have been an attack of spontaneous somnambulism between the moment when she finished the first letter and the moment when she closed the envelope. But afterwards these unconscious, spontaneous letters became common, and I was better able to study their mode of production. I was fortunately able to watch Mme. B. on one occasion while she went through this curious performance. She was seated at a table, and held in her left hand the piece of knitting at which she had been working. Her face was calm, her eyes looked into space with a certain fixity, but she was not cataleptic, for she was humming a rustic air; her right hand wrote quickly, and, as it were, surreptitiously. I removed the paper without her noticing me, and then spoke to her; she turned around, wide awake, but surprised to see me, for in her state of distraction she had not noticed me approach. Of the letter which she was writing she knew nothing whatever.
"Leontine's independent action is not entirely confined to writing letters. She observed (apparently) that when her primary self, Leonie, discovered these letters, she (Leonie) tore them up. So Leontine hit on the plan of placing them in a photographic album into which Leonie could not look without falling into catalepsy (on account of an association of ideas with Dr. Gibert, whose portrait had been in the album). In order to accomplish an act like this Leontine has to wait for a moment when Leonie is distracted, or, as we say, absent-minded. If she can catch her in this state Leontine can direct Leonie's walks, for instance, or make her start on a railway journey without luggage, in order to get to Havre as quickly as possible.
"We now come to consider the third personality, Leonore. Although Leonie's unconscious acts are sometimes (not always) coincident with Leontine's conscious ones, Leontine's unconscious acts are never included in Leonie's memory, any more than in Leontine's own. They belong to some other, to some profounder manifestation of personality, to which M. Janet has given the name of Leonore. And observe that just as Leontine can sometimes by her own motion and without suggestion write a letter during Leonie's waking state and give advice which Leonie might do well to follow, so also Leonore can occasionally intervene of her own motion during Leontine's dominance, and give advice which Leontine might with advantage obey.
"'The spontaneous acts of the unconscious self,' says M. Janet, here meaning by l'inconscient the entity to which he has given the name of Leonore, 'may also assume a very reasonable form, a form which, were it better understood, might perhaps serve to explain certain cases of insanity. Mme. B. during her somnambulism (i.e. Leontine) had had a sort of hysterical crisis; she was restless and noisy, and I could not calm her. Suddenly she stopped and said to me with terror, 'Oh, who is talking to me like that? It frightens me.' 'No one is talking to you.' 'Yes! there on the the left.' And she got up and tried to open a wardrobe on her left hand, to see if some one was hidden there. 'What is it that you hear?' I asked. 'I hear on the left a voice which repeats, "Enough! enough! be quiet; you are a nuisance." 'Assuredly the voice which thus spoke was a reasonable one, for Leontine was insupportable; but I had suggested nothing of the kind, and had had no idea of inspiring a hallucination of hearing. Another day Leontine was quite calm, but obstinately refused to answer a question which I asked. Again she heard with terror the same voice to her left, saying: 'Come, be sensible, you must answer.' Thus the unconscious sometimes gave her excellent advice.
"And in effect, so soon as Leonore, in her turn, was summoned into communication, she accepted the responsibility of this counsel. 'What was it that happened,' asked M. Janet, 'when Leontine was so frightened?' 'Oh, nothing; it was I who told her to keep quiet; I saw she was annoying you; I don't know why she was so frightened.'
"Just as Mme. B. was sent by passes into a state of lethargy from which she emerged as Leontine, so also Leontine in her turn was reduced by renewed passes to a state of lethargy from which she emerged no longer as Leontine, but as Leonore. This second awakening is slow and gradual, but the personality which emerges is in one most important point superior to either Leonie or Leontine. Alone among the subject's phases this phase possesses the memory of
every phase. Leonore, like Leontine, knows the normal life of Leonie, but distinguishes herself from Leonie, in whom, it must be said, these subjacent personalities appear to take little interest. But Leonore also remembers the life of Leontine, condemns her as noisy and frivolous, and is anxious not to be confounded with either.
"Yet one further variation, and I end my brief resume of this complex history. Leonore is liable to pass into a state which does not, indeed, interrupt her chain of memory, but which removes her for a time from the possibility of communicating with other minds. She grows pale, she ceases to speak or hear, her eyes, though still shut, are turned heavenwards, her mouth smiles, and her face takes an expression of beatitude.
"This is plainly a state of so-called ecstasy; but it differs from the ecstasy common in hysterical attacks in one capital point. Not only is it remembered - indistinctly, perhaps - by Leonore, who describes herself as having been dazzled by a light on the left side, but also brings with it the most complex of all the chains of memory, supplementing even Leonore's recollection on certain acts which have been accomplished by Leonore
The chief psychological interest in this case lies in the apparent independence of the three personalities in which different groups of mental states or memories are associated and held, in such a group, apart from other groups. The apparent communication between them, limited it is true, but yet at least through memory in one direction and by means of hallucination in the other, illustrates this apparent independence very clearly, and shows the secondary and ternary personalities highly organized and perfectly simulative of realities other than the normal or primary consciousness. In fact, it might be said that we have no positive assurance for selecting one of them rather than the other as the normal, save that what is called the primary in the case seems that condition best adjusted to the normal environment. This criterion is sufficient, and it reveals subliminal states as distinct from the supraliminal as any objective person can show, except perhaps in the fact that there is a mnemonic connection in
one direction at least, which indicates an identity of subject for all the personalities, if our ordinary standard of such things is to be accepted.
Some will notice a semblance to spiritistic phenomena, or at least they will allege this semblance, and in the past many have explained all such instances as cases of "possession," sometimes as demoniac possession. But the connection between the personalities, though not a conscious one and only by means of memory, as well as common language and style, indubitably show that any theory of supernormal phenomena in them must be cast out of court. The superficial resemblance is there, but the real similarity is not. There is only a perplexity for that older psychology which limited the capacities of mental action to the normal consciousness and referred everything else either to cerebral functions or to spirits. The assurance of subliminal actions, however, has eliminated an appeal to the supernormal for all but that type of specific knowledge which is represented in telepathic phenomena and other incidents really or apparently transcending it. One important point, however, is that there is no pretence on the surface of any source for the phenomena but the apparent one, namely, that of the subject's own mind, and without any other claim it is folly to assert or suppose it. I selected the case for precisely this characteristic. The personalities show sufficient independence to take the phenomena beyond ordinary healthy or normal dissociation and to place them in a field by themselves. Once understood, they will limit the claims of transcendental manifestations very decidedly.
I take next another case which will be historical for the psychological care with which it was investigated by Prof. William James and Dr. Richard Hodgson. I refer to that of Ansel Bourne, mentioned previously under "Dissociation," and reported in the
Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research (Vol. VII).
Mr. Ansel Bourne lived in Providence, Rhode Island, and earlier in life had had some interesting mental experiences bordering on epilepsy. He seemed to have recovered from these years before the occurrence of the incident which is of interest here. They are mentioned, however, as of importance to the physician and medical student of similar cases likely to recur from such antecedent experiences. They probably explain Mr. Bourne's liability to the attack which proved of so much psychological interest. Mr. Bourne disappeared from his home in Providence on January 17, 1887. In January notice was published in the papers of his disappearance. No trace of the man could be found, and his family gave him up for lost. He was sixty years of age. Eight weeks later he awakened up, as it were, from a sustained trance, if we may so call it, in Norristown, Pa., and through inquiries of the physician who was called in at the time was returned to his home in charge of his nephew. This eight weeks of his life was a blank in his memory. The thought occurred to Professor James that possibly under hypnosis the man might give up the memory of his life during this trance period, and with Dr. Hodgson the experiment
was made. It was successful, and the results were verified, showing that his statements in the hypnotic state were true. The details of his awakening and the experiments are briefly summarized in the following account.
The evidence of people in Norristown, Pa., showed that Mr. Bourne had arrived in this place about two weeks after he left Providence. He rented a storeroom and divided it into two apartments by a curtain. In the front part he kept a little store for toys, confectionery, etc., going to and from Philadelphia to purchase his goods when necessary. In the back part of the room he slept and did his own cooking. He fastened a sign to his window which read
"A. J. Brown." The room which he rented was part of a house in which another family was living. He was regular in his habits, and went to church on Sundays, as it had been his wont in his normal state. No one noticed any indications of abnormal actions.
On the morning of March 14th, about five o'clock, he heard an explosion something like a pistol-shot, and awakening found himself in a strange place which he could not recognize. He lay for about two hours in fear that he might be arrested as a burglar. The last thing of his normal life which he could remember was the express wagons at the corner of Dorrance and Broad Streets in Providence. Finally he mustered up courage to open his door, and hearing some one in the next room, he rapped on its door and was answered by the man of the house, whose name was Mr. Earle. He asked Mr. Earle where he was, and Mr. Earle replied that he was all right,. and addressed Mr. Bourne as Mr. Brown. Mr. Bourne said his name was not Brown, and asked again where he was. He was told, and had to ask further what part of the country it was. When told this, he asked what time of the month it was, and, receiving the reply that it was the 14th, he wanted to know if time went backward in this part of the country, as it was the 17th when he left home, and was astonished to find that it was the 14th of March instead of January, on the 17th of which he had left home. Mr. Earle thought the man was out of his mind, and sent for a physician, and the result of inquiry was that a telegram was sent to Mr. Bourne's nephew in response to Mr. Bourne's request and giving of that person's address. The nephew soon arrived, disposed of the contents of the store, and took the man home. As said above, Mr. Bourne had no recollection of the events during this eight weeks, and what I have told was gathered either from others who knew him at the time, or from his own statements under hypnosis, save two or three incidents which were common to the memory of his primary and secondary states.
When he was hypnotized at the suggestion of Professor James, Mr. Bourne gave his name as "A. J. Brown," and told the history of his travels and actions subsequent to his leaving Providence. He had gone to New York, thence to Philadelphia, telling where he had stopped in the latter place, and finally to Norristown. He remembered the date of his first marriage, but not the name of his wife; his recollection about his children was not clear, and, in fact, very few incidents in his normal life could be recalled in his hypnotic state. In the latter state he claimed to have been born in Newton, N. H. But in fact he was born in New York, though he gave the date of his birth rightly when claiming that it was in Newton, and it was proved that he had never been in Newton. He stated that he had never heard of an "A. J. Brown." Many of the incidents of the hypnotic state were verified, and a few of his normal experiences were confirmed after their mention in the secondary state. But he seemed in this secondary state never to have heard of Ansel Bourne, and in the normal state he knew nothing of "A. J. Brown." All efforts to fuse the two personalities into one failed, and no clear association of the two personalities could be suggested.
Again we have a case which showed no superficial claim to supernormal phenomena and no apparent suggestion of the spiritistic. The independence of the two personalities is no evidence of this suggestion. To the psychiatrist this goes without saying, but the layman has not yet realized the fact that his mental action extends beyond the limits of his normal consciousness, or that there may even be a concomitant consciousness carrying on its activity simultaneously with the primary states, and capable of simulating the nature and actions of a wholly different person. This is why I emphasize cases of this kind which exhibit so clearly the appearance of another than the real person and yet supply no evidence of being any other. The incidents which were common to the memories of the two personalities, Ansel Bourne and A. J. Brown, are distinct evidence of a deeper unity than the subject's actions superficially indicate. The abnormal state in which the two lives appear as dissociated is somewhat like the dream-life. Dissociation takes place in this to some extent, sometimes to a very large extent, and yet may be united in the memory of the normal condition. So here we have phenomena which suggest to the natural mind an interpretation which will not bear investigation, and having once ascertained this fact, we have a decided limitation to the claims of transcendental agencies. Our own unconscious life may simulate these to any extent within the boundaries of the supernormal, and what it may do beyond this has not been determined with perfect accuracy.
The case of Dr. Morton Prince, of which brief mention has already been made, is probably the most remarkable on record. This characteristic of it, however, may be due more to the thorough way in which it was investigated and reported than to anything more astonishing than in other cases. This case had the good fortune to have the supervision of one versed in psychology, and hence important facts were observed that would have been undiscovered in other instances. It is a case of quadruple or multiple personality, exhibiting four clearly developed personalities, with traces of other incipient personalities. The four developed instances are the only ones that will interest us here.
I shall not go into the history of this case, as it would be too long. Readers at all interested in such phenomena beyond the most superficial notice should read Dr. Prince's report,
The Dissociation of a Personality. It is plainly intelligible to general readers, and is not solely for technical students of morbid psychology.
The case is that of a lady whom he calls Miss Beauchamp (pronounced Beecham). Dr. Prince names the personalities BI, BII, BIII, and BIV. The first, BI, is the normal Miss Beauchamp. BII is BI hypnotized. BIII was thought at first to be the result of deeper hypnosis, and so BII hypnotized, but was soon found to be a distinct personality of a very interesting character, and not at all the result of any hypnosis, and with a wider knowledge than either BI or BII. The last developed was BIV. In accordance with the usage of Dr. Prince, BIII will be called Sally, which is apparently the name which BIII gave herself, after first using Chris, the nickname of the normal Miss Beauchamp, or BI.
These personalities alternated at various intervals. Sometimes Miss Beauchamp would be all four within an hour. Sometimes one of them would dominate for a considerable period. This question does not interest us here, as we are concerned with the features which illustrate apparent independent persons. The characteristic which enables us to distinguish their separate nature is that of memory. BI has a certain range of memory natural to the normal state. BII has a wider memory, including the experience of BI and the experiences acquired in this secondary state BIII, or Sally, has a still wider memory, including all that occurs in BI and BII, except BIVs thoughts and all that occurs while she herself, Sally, dominates BIV knows practically nothing of the other three personalities save scattered memories, while Sally possesses a peculiar relation to BIV. Sally, or BIII knew the acts of BIV, but not her thoughts at first and only obtained a knowledge of her thoughts after a long effort. BI knew nothing of the other three
BII also knew nothing of BIII and BIV, but had the memories of BI. BIV knew nothing of the other three except what she got by inference. She knew nothing directly, and hated BIII with all the malignity of an evil spirit. BIII, or Sally, hated BI and in a different way BIV. She called BI the "Saint," and BIV the "Idiot."
I cannot expect the reader to form any clear conception of these complicated personalities, and I have not outlined their characteristics and relations with any such expectations in view. Dr. Prince's book will have to be read and reread to understand them. But I have made this brief statement for the purpose of indicating the complexity of the case, and to show what the mind is capable of doing in its secondary functions. Its interest and importance will he still more apparent when we examine some of the principal phenomena of the several personalities.
The personality which excites most interest psychologically in the case is Sally. The others seemed to be in the way of Sally's development, and were the object of her various efforts to dispel or dispossess. The alternation from one to another kept Sally from obtaining complete control of the bodily organism and its life. BI, as indicated, was demure and religious. BII seemed more natural, but BIII, or Sally, was a rollicking, mischievous young girl, who wanted to have a good time, and had no patience with the restraints of a religious life, modelled after the Roman Church, with its penances and meditations. Hence Sally wanted to eliminate all that interfered with her plans to control.
BI had an antipathy to snakes, spiders, insects, etc., and BIII, or Sally, would collect spiders and enclose them in a box for BI to discover when she appeared, and the result would be to frighten BI, in which Sally would take great delight. Besides tricks of this sort, Sally would go far into the country on the last car at night, and then waken BI up and leave her to walk home, which would result in a sick spell for BI, Sally never being sick!
An interesting feature in the development of Sally is the following: When BI was hypnotized, BII, who was simply BI hypnotized, as explained before, had her eyes closed. When Sally appeared she complained that her eyes were shut, and the fact interfered with her personality. It was only after a long and laborious effort that she managed to get "her eyes open."
When she did, she had more power. A curious incident of it was that, while the eyes were shut, Sally had no sense of touch. That is, she was anaesthetic in that sense. But as soon as she got her eyes open that sense was apparently sensible, and Sally could do things which she could not do when the eyes were closed. I quote Dr.
"With her eyes closed she can feel nothing. The tactile, pain, thermic, and muscular senses are involved. You may stroke, prick, or burn any part of her skin and she does not feel it. You may place a limb in any posture without her being able to recognize the position which has been assumed. But let her open her eyes and look at what you are doing, let her join the visual with the tactile or other senses, and the lost senses
It was the opening of BII's eyes that gave Sally her power, and she used it with a vengeance. When she was not in control, automatic writing was the only resource she had for expressing her wishes. But when she was in control she resorted to all sorts of devices to keep it and to foil the efforts of Dr. Prince to eliminate her personality and cure Miss Beauchamp. She would write letters to certain friends, making engagements which Miss Beanchamp did not wish to keep. She would write letters to Dr. Prince, to dissuade him from further efforts to treat Miss Beauchamp, who would find what had been done only when Dr. Prince had informed her of it. Sometimes Sally would write a letter to Miss Beauchamp herself, trying to persuade her to take certain courses agreeable to Sally, or would cajole and threaten her in all sorts of ways. At times Sally would become frightened at the results of her own conduct. She feared that Miss Beauchamp might die, and this created anxiety as to what would become of herself, that is, Sally. She tried to deceive Dr. Prince in a variety of ways. She would simulate Miss Beauchamp, or BI, whenever she could, but was always easily detected by her character and manner. The letters which she wrote are psychological treasures in secondary phenomena, and no less so are the efforts to, obtain complete control of the life of the organism from whose actions she was generally excluded. Finally, in order to gain the desired control, Sally began to torment Miss Beauchamp in various ways, such as putting her on an allowance of ten cents a day, hiding her money, unravelling her work, threatening to cut off her hair, making her lie awake all night, etc. All this BI or Miss Beauchamp would learn through others or by the letters sent to Dr. Prince, or statements made by Sally herself to Dr. Prince when BI was unconscious or not dominant. Miss Beauchamp was kept in perfect terror by it.
When BIV appeared a stronger antipathy than ever arose between her and Sally, or BIII. For BIV had more strength of will and character than BI, and was determined, more determined than BI, to get rid of Sally. The struggle that went on between them has no rival in the annals of secondary personality. The two fought against each other for possession of Miss Beauchamp's body. The final prevention of this by Dr. Prince was the fusion of BII and BIV into one personality, more or less. He succeeded in getting their memories to be the same, as he had supposed that BIV was in reality the normal Miss Beauchamp, though BI had at least superficially appeared to be this. But apparently, and at least for the present, Sally was suppressed with the fusion of two or more of the personalities into one.
Sally's superior knowledge as compared with that of the other personalities made her a most convenient source of information to Dr. Prince. He tested her regarding her claims to know what the other personalities did or thought, and he found her quite reliable, though the others did not know a thing about Sally, except what Dr. Prince told them or what they learned indirectly by letter and inference. As examples of what Sally claimed to know and seems to have known correctly are Miss Beauchamp's dreams. Dr. Prince got Miss Beauchamp to tell him her dreams, which she did. Sally repeated them and told a great many more which Miss Beauchamp could not remember. Sally said that there was no difference whatever between those that Miss Beauchamp told and those which she did not know. Sally said that she did not understand why Dr. Prince called one class of them dreams and the other not, as they were all alike, and could not be distinguished by herself. Finally Sally hypnotized BIV, following the idea which she had caught from Dr. Prince's actions in the case of BI, and Sally also succeeded, as we have already indicated, in producing hallucinations in BIV. All this was more or less verified by the reported experiences of the other personalities.
Sally had made certain claims about the extent of her knowledge, and he conceived the plan of having her write out an autobiography of herself. This she attempted to do, but BIV would discover the written manuscript and destroy it. Finally Dr. Prince got an account of her life. She claimed to have a memory of events when she was in the cradle (that is, when Miss Beauchamp was in the cradle). She told of Miss Beauchamp's learning to walk and talk, and of her playing with objects on the floor. Sally, however, insisted that she herself was not the same as Miss Beauchamp, and that her own consciousness was distinct from that of Miss Beauchamp. Let me quote at some length from Sally's
"She was a very little girl just learning to walk, and kept taking hold of chairs and wanting to go ahead. She didn't go ahead, but was all shaking in her feet. I remember her thoughts distinctly as separate from mine. Now they are long thoughts that go round and round, but then they were little dashes. Our thoughts then went along the same lines because we had the same experiences. Now they are different; our interests are different. Then she was interested in walking, and I was too, only I was very much more interested, more excited, wildly enthusiastic. I remember thinking distinctly differently from her; that is, when she tried to walk she would be distracted by a chair or a person or a picture or anything, but I wanted only to walk. This happened lots of times.
"Learning to walk was the first experience of separate thoughts. I remember before this there wasn't anything but myself, only one person. I don't know which came first. I remember when I was there farther back than she can, and therefore why wasn't I the person?
"I remember lots of little things. When she was a little bit of a thing (so small that she couldn't walk very well) she had visions very often.
I didn't, but I was conscious of her having them. Her visions didn't represent real things as they do now. I thought they were interesting and enjoyed her having them. During all her childhood I remember enjoying many of the things she did. She was awfully fond of out-of-door things, - climbing, running, etc. I enjoyed them and wanted to go farther than she did. Some people she liked I didn't. Some people she went to see and talked with
I didn't want to see, but couldn't help it.
"I suggested things to her sometimes by thinking hard. I didn't really do them; she did them, but I enjoyed it. I don't know that I made her; I thought about them very hard. I didn't deliberately try to make her, but I wanted to do the things, and occasionally she carried out my thought. Most times she didn't when my thoughts were entirely different from her own. Sometimes she was punished for doing what I wanted; for example, I didn't like going to school; I wanted to play 'hookey.' I thought it would be awfully exciting, because the boys did it and were always telling about it. She liked going to school. One day she stayed away all day after I had been thinking about it for a long time. She didn't want to do it, but she did. She was punished and put to bed in a dark room, and scolded in school and made to sit on one end of the platform; she was shy and felt conspicuous.
"I always knew her thoughts; I knew what she was thinking about on the platform. She was thinking partly of being penitent and partly of fairytales, so as not to be conscious of the scholars and teacher, and she was hungry. I was chuckling, and thought it amusing. I did not think of anything else except that her fairy-tales were silly. She believed in fairies, that they were very real. I didn't and don't. At this time she was a little
Sally claims that she never sleeps, and Dr. Prince found that she knew nothing of time. She could not distinguish between ten seconds and five minutes. As real or apparent evidence of her constant waking state is the fact that she could tell both the remembered and the unremembered, the conscious and unconscious dreams. The autobiography implies the same fact as well as a concomitant or parallel state of consciousness with the others, and Dr. Prince seems to have obtained independent evidence of this simultaneous consciousness.
There is no superficial claim made in this remarkable case that any outside intelligence is responsible for the apparent independent personalities. Yet in so far as distinction between personalities is concerned and in respect of the peculiar character of "Sally," who is apparently so distinct from the ordinary life and experience of Miss Beauchamp and claims never to sleep and knows nothing of time, the case is one which offers a rare opportunity to those who do not know the capacities of secondary personality to set up the hypothesis of external intelligence in the case. The old belief in the possibility of "possession" lends support to such an interpretation, and I can well understand it from the point of view of those who accept the Cartesian philosophy or suppose that the mind has no capacity for consciousness or intelligent action beyond the limits of its normal or primary states. But the proved fact of subliminal action creates a difficulty for the older theories of "possession" that throws the burden of proof upon them. Besides it cannot be too strongly emphasized that, in this case, there is no evidence whatever of supernormal knowledge, and none that would go toward proving that the intelligence displayed is beyond or transcends the experience of the normal Miss Beauchamp, unless we accept the autobiographic account of Sally extending back to infancy. But there is nothing to prove this, and even if it were proved there is no evidence that such a memory would be supernormal in the sense which psychical research uses the term. Moreover, as the claim of spiritistic intelligence is not made for Sally, or other personalities, by themselves in the account of them, there can be no excuse for so considering them, and the absence of the kind of evidence that would be necessary to establish a presumption for such a view suffices to throw the hypothesis out of court.
This view does not require to be mentioned to the student of psychiatry or to the psychic researcher who understands abnormal psychology, but the layman still requires knowledge of the standard for discriminating between subconscious mental action and the agency of transcendental influences. It is not enough that a phenomenon should he involuntary or unconsciously produced. It must be much more to obtain the credentials of the supernormal. It must bear the stamp of knowledge acquired by some other process than sensory experience. It must also show evidence of more than the imagination may produce in its subliminal creations, and we have at present no criterion for determining the limits of this function. It matters not what characteristics of independent personality are exhibited by secondary states or by the subject of the phenomena claimed to have an external source, if they do not show evidences of personal identity of deceased persons they are referable to subliminal action. Hence secondary personality explains many phenomena that formerly received another explanation, and the criterion for the belief in spirits is made far more stringent.
Such cases as I have briefly summarized could he indefinitely illustrated, but they suffice to show what the psychologist has to consider in the study of the claims for the supernormal. The illustrations which
I have just given show no claim on the part of the secondary personalities to be transcendental. But there are instances in which this claim is made, and they are the next
in order to consider. The first type of them represents the next step after such as
I have quoted. I quote an instance given by Mr. Myers from the Proceedings of the Society for Psychic Research.
A gentleman tried automatic writing. This, as the reader may know, is unconscious writing, and often exhibits all the intelligence of the normal or primary consciousness, though this latter is not aware of the muscular action or of the thoughts that are in the course of expression. The gentleman alluded to tried this, and asked questions to see what the answers would be. After finding that his hand would unconsciously write, he proceeded to treat it as a person, and received replies as if from a person. The following is an instance of the results. The matter in parentheses represents the questions. The rest consists of the
"(Who art thou?) Clelia. (Thou art a woman?) Yes. (Hast thou ever lived upon the earth?) No. (Wilt thou?) Yes. (When?) Six years. (Wherefore dost thou speak with me?) E if Clelia e
This last answer was interpreted as a sort of anagram and to mean "I Clelia feel." The gentleman says in a note that he never knew any one by the name of Clelia and that as a young boy he had been much interested in anagrams. But we have in the instance a definite claim to be something apparently transcendental, and the evidence of the claim is absolutely nothing. The phenomena are like delirious replies to question where the mind is apparently almost delirious and having once imagined a personality, a condition perhaps occasioned by the very conception of the experiment as an ostensible attempt to communicate with transcendental intelligence, a secondary personality soon developed. Once suggested, the subliminal conscious continues to play the part, and we have the vague answers of a mental condition at a loss to do clear thinking, and in a condition of delirium or somnambulism.
There are very frequent cases of this phenomena in forms claiming to communicate a philosophy, ethical and spiritual advice, or the habits of life in another world. They very often reflect points of view quite distinct from the conceptions of the individual's normal experience, but when examined they are not beyond either the natural capacities of one's dreamlife or subliminal action idealizing the conceptions of the normal life. Illustrations of this kind are legion, but as they contain no evidence of the supernormal of any kind they are discredited in their claims, and so regarded as the products of secondary personality.
One of the most interesting and most important illustrations of the phenomena under consideration is that of Professor Flournoy, of Geneva, Switzerland. He is professor of psychology. in the college at that place. He had heard through a colleague, Professor Lemaitre, about a lady who was apparently a remarkable "medium" and whom he calls by the pseudonym Mlle. Helene Smith, and having an opportunity to witness some of the phenomena in her case, took them under investigation and published a volume regarding them. This he called "From India to the Planet Mars." This title was suggested by the variety of the phenomena purporting to characterize the lady's alleged supernormal powers. The phenomena took the form of alleged spirit communications. Some of them purported to come from a young man who claimed to have been reincarnated on the planet Mars. Others purported to come from Marie Antoinette. Still others from a Hindu princess who lived at the opening of the fifteenth century or thereabouts. The principal communicator claimed to be a famous European. The account of the phenomena reads like a romance, and Professor Flournoy has improved his opportunity to write on the subject as if it were a romance, though he also understands, and treats the matter as a scientific problem. The incidents should be given in a little more detail.
The four most striking personalities represented in this case of Mlle. Helene Smith have been indicated above. One gave the mythical name of Leopold. An accident of suggestion induced this personality to state that his real name was Joseph Balsamo, who was the famous juggler known as Count Cagliostro, who lived from 1743 to 1795. He was one of the most famous scoundrels of Europe. Nothing occurred to establish the identity of this personality, and the only interest it has is its simulation of a spirit without giving any facts adequate to the proof of such a claim. His presence was manifested in three ways: by speech, by visions, and by automatic writing. His communications had all the verisimilitude of reality. At times Mlle. Smith could see an apparition of him, and at others heard a voice claiming to be his. At still other times communications would be addressed to her or to others through automatic writing, with various directions in regard to the lady's health or conduct. Flournoy describes the phenomena as
"He presents himself," referring to Leopold or Cagliostro, " before her endowed with corporeality like that of other people, and hides objects which are behind him exactly as an ordinary individual of flesh and bone would do. He talks into her ears, generally into the left, in a characteristic voice, which appears to come from a variable distance, sometimes about six feet off, sometimes much farther. He jars the table on which she has placed her immobile arms, takes hold of her wrist and writes with her hand, holding the pen in a manner unlike her, and with a handwriting wholly different from hers. He puts her to sleep without her knowledge, and she is astonished to learn upon waking that he has gesticulated with her arms and spoken through her mouth in the deep bass voice of a man, with an Italian accent which has nothing in common with the clear and beautiful quality of her feminine voice.
"Moreover, he is not always on hand. He by no means answers Helene's appeals on all occasions; is not at her mercy; far from it. His conduct, his manifestations, his comings and goings cannot be predicted with any certainty, and testify to an autonomous being, endowed with free will, often otherwise occupied or absent on his own affairs, which do
not permit of his holding himself constantly at the disposal of Mlle. Smith. Sometimes he remains for weeks without revealing himself, in spite of her wishing for him, and calling upon him. Then, all at once, he makes his appearance when she least expects him. He speaks for her in a way she would have no idea of doing, he dictates to her poems of which she would be incapable. He replies to her oral or mental questions, converses with her, and discusses various questions. Like a wise friend, a rational mentor, and as one seeing things from a higher plane, he gives her advice, orders even sometimes directly opposite to her wishes and against which she rebels. He consoles her, exhorts her, soothes, encourages, and reprimands her; he undertakes against her the defence of persons she does not like, and pleads the cause of those who are antipathetic to her. In a word, it would be impossible to imagine a being more independent or more different from Mlle. Smith herself, having a more personal character, and individuality more marked, or a more certain actual
There is some evidence that the psychological origin of this personality, appearing now as an apparently independent voice or again as an apparition to the sense of sight, was a fright at a dog which attacked Mlle. Smith when ten years of age. The man who rescued her from the dog wore a long brown robe with flowing sleeves and a white cross on his breast. She supposed him to be a priest, but she was too much frightened to observe him carefully, and he disappeared so soon as not to be afterward identified. But this Leopold in her apparitions is dressed in a long dark robe, though he also has other disguises at times. But probably the early fright gave the impetus to subconscious action, which, when systematized, developed this personality, and the name was the result of an accident not now traceable. But as remarked, he assumes the role of an independent being, using a type of spelling in the automatic writing that was characteristic of the last century, and also employing words in a way not now used. The writing itself, however, does not resemble the script of the historical Cagliostro, of whom some letters survive. He undertakes, too, the services of a physician, diagnoses diseases, and prescribes for them. But throughout he does not seem to transcend the possible memory and capacities of Mlle. Smith. The reader interested will have to go to Flournoy's account to ascertain the incidents of most dramatic character, as they are too long to quote. We can here concern ourselves only with the most general incidents which represent the allegation of independent existence and spirit communication, but which will not bear examination and analysis in the light of such a supposition.
The Martian phenomena in the same case were more complex. They were developed in a gradual manner, and apparently in such a way as to illustrate the extremely delicate machinery of suggestion and subliminal association and synthesis. Professor Lemaitre had once incidentally remarked to Mlle. Smith that it would be delightful in these
sťances to hear from some of the planets. The first hint of any attempt at this representation was a long time afterward, as if the subconscious action of the mind had to take time to evolve its plans and systematic production of alleged messages from a planet. At a
sťance Lemaitre was present, and Mlle. Smith had the sensation of leaving her body, and described the experience as thus
"She felt a tremor which almost caused her heart to cease beating, after which it seemed to her as though her head were empty and as if she were no longer in the body. She found herself in a dense fog, which changed successively from blue to a vivid rose color, to gray, and then to black; she is floating, she says; and the table supporting itself on one leg, seemed to express a very curious floating movement. Then she sees a star growing larger, always larger, and becomes finally 'as large as our house.' Helene feels that she is ascending; then the table gives, by raps, 'Lemaitre, that which you have so long desired!' Mlle. Smith, who had been ill at ease, finds herself feeling better; she distinguishes three enormous globes, one of them very beautiful. 'On what am I walking?' she asks. And the table replies: 'On a
world - Mars.' Helene then began a description of all the strange things which presented themselves to her view, which caused her as much surprise as amusement. Carriages without horses or wheels, emitting sparks as they glided by; houses with fountains on the roof; a cradle having for curtains an angel made of iron with outstretched wings, etc. What seemed less strange, were people exactly like the inhabitants of our earth, save that both sexes wore the same costume, formed of trousers very ample, and a long blouse, drawn tight about the waist and decorated with various designs. The child in the cradle was exactly like our children, according to the sketch which Helene made from memory after the
Then followed an alleged message from a person who purported to be the son of a lady sitter, and who finally claimed to be reincarnated on the planet Mars. Some conversation was held with him, and Mlle. Smith returned to normal consciousness with the same experiences which she had as she went into the trance, except in the reverse order.
The hallucinatory character of these phenomena is apparent to any student of abnormal psychology, as there is nothing probably or verifiably supernormal in them. But soon afterward there began a vast system of communications, which consisted in giving a complete alphabet of the Martians and many samples of their language. The following is an illustration which accompanied the vision of a house on Mars:
Dode ne ci haudan te mess meche metiche Astane ke de me veche.
This was afterward translated into French which means in English: "This is the house of the great man Astane, whom thou hast seen."
Sometimes this language was given in automatic writing, and sometimes heard as if uttered, that is, it was an auditory hallucination. Examination of it shows great consistency in the use of the terms. The same terms were always used for the same ideas, though the work extended over long periods. But it is apparent in the critical examination of it that it has decided structural resemblances to the French language, a fact which makes it absurd to suppose that it is anything but a subliminal fabrication by the mind of Mlle. Smith. Leopold figured in some of these phenomena, but most of them purported to be influenced by the deceased and reincarnated son of the lady mentioned. But there had been no evidence of the supernormal in his impersonation. The suggestion of it came from the lady herself, who recognized certain resemblances in the manner of Mlle. Smith and that of her son, and the consequence was that this mimicking subliminal machinery took up the hint, and the claim was advanced that the communications were made by the deceased son. The impersonation, however, throughout is perfect in so far as the superficial characteristics are concerned.
The impersonation of Marie Antoinette was such as could easily have been done by any one familiar with the history of that unfortunate queen. Nothing bearing upon her identity was apparent in the phenomena save the mannerisms, which all who are familiar with her life and character might imagine, and they were of the slightest importance. The impersonation of the Hindu princess had more interest and presented some apparent evidence at least of the supernormal. But this would not bear close examination in the light of the fact that the few verifiable Hindu words written or spoken by Mlle. Smith and purporting to come from the princess might possibly have
been seen by her in a book in the library of her own town, which contained the facts in question.
Professor Flournoy makes it clear that there is no reason to suspect the phenomena of being conscious productions of Mlle. Smith's fancy or imagination, but purely the result of subliminal mental processes which will systematically follow, at times, the main mental interests of the normal consciousness. With this fact in view we have one of the finest illustrations extant of systematic simulation of spiritistic phenomena taking a more definite and plausible character in this case than the previous instance quoted. But it fails in the fundamental feature of the supernormal, and must be classified with secondary personality. Professor Flournoy thinks that there were supernormal phenomena associated with these impersonalizations. But he does not reproduce the evidence of it, and hence his opinion cannot count. He is very careful to give all the facts and evidence that he can obtain to prove the influence of secondary personality, but he has nothing but assertion for the supernormal. Some other incidents in the career of the lady undaubtedly suggest, though they may not prove, the existence of the supernormal. But
I do not have these in mind in my remarks at present regarding the supernormal. I would say also that if it were not for Professor Flournoy's evident thoroughness in his treatment of the psychological aspect of the case in regard to secondary personality, his allusions to supernormal accompaniments would have to be ridiculed. I am willing to accord them consideration in the light of his evident sobriety in treating the phenomena as subliminal, but, if he was satisfied that there were any incidents that were supernormal, and associated with these undoubted creations of secondary personality he should have been as careful to produce the evidence for his view. As it stands, one can only minimize his statements in regard to the supernormal, and praise him for his insight into secondary personality.
The reader of this short account, however, will obtain a very inadequate conception of its interest if he leaves Professor Flournoy's book unread. It represents a most instructing instance of phenomena which superficially indicate the influence of outside and transcendental agencies, but which vanish at the touch of scientific analysis, at least as evidence of supernormal influences. They make very clear what the rigid criteria must be for proving the influence of outside minds upon the organisms of the living.
I have also a case somewhat similar to that of Flournoy. It involves alleged communications from the planet Mars. It contains a description of a palace, with curtains that hang in it, gardens in front of it, mountains, cloud, and sky in the background, an air-ship, an embroidered dress with a description of the colors in it, and some account of the inhabitants with their hieroglyphic language. This was followed by alleged communications from a man calling himself Harrison Clarke, who gave a specific account of his life and his death at the battle of Shiloh. No trace of such a person could be found anywhere, or in the history of the battle with its list of dead. I shall not detail, however, the incidents of the case, as there have been unquestionably supernormal phenomena in the course of it. The Martian incidents are mentioned because they duplicate that interest in the planet which the public has always shown regarding its possible habitation. There is not the slightest evidence of the reality of the communications which, in spite of their superficial claims to spirit origin, are a warning to the student of such phenomena, and against hasty speculations regarding their causes. The evidence for the supernormal must be so stringent in its character and so exempt from the suspicion of subconscious action or origin in the mind of the subject through which it is manifested that no question of its outside agency can he raised. That seldom occurs. It is not enough to have either the honesty of the subject guaranteed or the fact that the phenomena are not consciously produced. Simulation of external influences is so common to the subconscious functions of the mind that only a peculiar type of phenomena will even suggest supernormal agency. The type of fact must be such as proves telepathy or that form of intelligence which would lead us at least to suspect discarnate agency. To suggest telepathy the phenomena must be a large number of specific coincidences between the thoughts of two living persons, so definite and complex that chance and guessing cannot be attributed to the agents. To suggest spiritistic agency the facts must be such as a living person would exact to prove the identity of a friend at the other end of a telegraph wire, and facts not known to the person who delivers them as having a "supernatural" source.
The instances which I have quoted do not answer to such demands. No matter what associated evidences of the supernormal may exist in the same or other cases, the phenomena illustrating the peculiar mental functions of the subject are not instances of that supernormal, and, whatever their explanation, exhibit the mental conditions through which all supernormal phenomena have probably to be produced. Means will have to be obtained for discriminating between what is the product of the subject's mind and what is instigated from without. Hence secondary personality must represent what the mind will evolve from its own resources when its subliminal or unconscious action is once set into motion. This conception of such phenomena will indicate how near to the supernormal secondary personality may come without actually being it, and hence while not constituting evidence of it, may show the subjective agencies for the revelation of the supernormal when the facts justify its supposition. But the gauntlet which the supernormal has to run is a severe one.
It will appear to one class of readers that I am disparaging the belief in spiritistic agency, and to another class that I am explaining alleged supernormal phenomena in a perfectly natural way. Perhaps both classes would agree as to the antagonistic tendencies of this discussion of secondary personality to the existence of the supernormal. But if this is the assumption I make haste to disillusion both of it. The skeptic has apparently still to learn that the phenomena of secondary personality, while they indicate decided limitations to the supernormal, do not exclude the use of subliminal conditions for the transmission of it; and the ready believer in spirits has still to learn that these agencies are not so frequently active as he imagines. I am here only insisting that we cannot afford to be fooled in so important a subject as modifying the long-standing laws of normal psychology or accepting transcendental influences when the evidence is not sufficient. The belief in them is too passionately interested in illusions to be permitted easy victory, and I, for one, welcome the difficulties and objections to such a belief as a means of restraining speculations that do more harm than good in human life. I know the good that may come from extending our views of the meaning of the universe, but this knowledge must not be extended at the expense of rational thinking. Reasons will be abundant in the sequel of scientific inquiry for thus limiting the claims of hasty theories, and they will all be in favor of the metaphysical significance of individuality and the ethical importance of restricted knowledge of the transcendental. In the meantime patience with scientific inquiry is the highest duty, though it deprives us of many an illusory conception of evidence.
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