THE PRESENT volume is not intended for the scientific student of psychology, but for the layman who wishes to understand the difficulties that attend the conversion of the more educated world to the more recondite problems of psychic research. I have here written on the more conservative side of the general question, and so have taken pains to show why it is necessary to be cautious about admitting supernormal phenomena. The book is devoted mainly to normal and abnormal psychology, with philosophic reflections bearing upon the problems of both. It is intended, of course, that it shall be helpful to all who sympathize with the present movement to investigate the residual phenomena of mind, and yet do not understand how they may be connected with the accepted doctrines of traditional knowledge. To the present writer all new facts and theories must, in some way, find an assimilation with previous knowledge, and however great the departure involved in the discovery of the new, it must have some point of contact with the old. The present work, therefore, should serve as a preparation for the consideration of supernormal problems, especially upon the evidential side. It is not a sequel to "Science and a Future Life" and "Enigmas of Psychical Research." On the contrary, it rather leads up to them and may help to aid the understanding of them by indicating what the means of discrimination are between the normal and the abnormal, on the one hand, and between both of these and the supernormal on the other.
I have not tried in this to make any contribution to science. I am not trying anything new or sensational, but only to aid a little in the general enlightenment of those who are seeking some way of an intelligent understanding of the human mind in its less normal experiences. Hence the book must not be adjudged from the point of view of the trained psychologist as an effort to help scholars, but from the standpoint of public education as designed to do what text books can hardly undertake. I have been free with illustrations and striking incidents, both as a means of exhibiting the nature of the problems of psychic research and of creating interest and intelligence regarding them. If the work avails to serve any such purpose, I shall be satisfied. But it is designed as a conservative treatment of very perplexing questions, and any expectations that it will do more will mistake both its aim and its usefulness. It simply touches upon problems which yet await investigation, and, though it proceeds along the lines of well-established truths, it suggests what there may be beyond them.
James H. Hyslop.
New York, May 17, 1906.