Page images


case we shall find that one or other of these criteria is a distinguishing feature. 1 First, we find a certain order of cases, distinguished by arrested mental development, generally shown as idiocy or imbecility. Secondly, we find a certain order of cases, easily distinguishable by physical disease or decay: these may conveniently be described under the general heading of dementia.3 Thirdly, we find a general order of cases, distinguishable by indications of (a) deflected intellection, (b) perverted feeling, (c) misdirected will, to which the general term mania may be most aptly applied. The cases falling under the first and second orders do not often present much difficulty on account of the marked pathological symptoms which attend these mental states. It is the third order of cases to which we have here to devote special attention on account of the difficulty that has been experienced, by the medical and legal professions alike, in finding a common test by which they may be marked off from cases of ordinary depravity.

The difficulty has arisen from not perceiving that insanity, as an abnormal mental condition, is owing to the inharmonious action of the higher and lower faculties, and that it may have its origin not only in the impairment of the lower but in the dispossession or perversion of the higher. There is a moral and spiritual side to insanity as well as a physical and mental: it may originate by way of certain predisposing physical conditions; it may develop by a gradual weakening of moral control. The tragedies of life come through the cherishing of inordinate affections. The history of many cases of insanity is to be read in the growth of insistent ideas:here we come upon signs of a divided personality—the evil in the heart of man warring against the good; the evidence goes to prove that the character of the man has changed and the warring elements have become conspicuous. In such cases, the evidence will show not the progress of a physical disease so much as the growth of morbid ideas acting upon a system weakened by nervous shock or suffering under hereditary taint. In this way the control of the true self may suffer eclipse.

1 Taylor, Medical Jurisprudence, Vol. II, 484, 4th ed.
2 Ibid., 502-4.
3 Ibid., 501-2.

4 Ibid., 484-93. Insanity of Doubt,” by P. C. Knapp, M.D. (The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. III, p. 1)

The process of disintegration may have made considerable advance without having attracted much notice; but it may generally be traced back to some congenital weakness or inherited tendency, or it may be to some actual cerebral lesion. In this view, the unifying power of the spirit over the organism has given way to instability and doubt, and " the persistence of an uncontrolled and unmodifiable group of thoughts or emotions . . . . become alien and obtrusive,

... so that some special idea or image presses into consciousness with undue and painful frequency":? and thus arises the fixed idea and other phases of possession. When the disintegrating process has arrived at this stage, the personality is split up and the subject may come under the control of alien powers. It has already been shown how immeasurable is the spiritual power that resides in Faith. It includes the sum of knowledge and belief; “but it must also include all the spiritual energies of the human soul. To say the least, it must be the mental condition precedent to enable the soul to exercise any of its powers." When Faith is lost, what is there to put in its place? When the soul is unmoved by faith, the organism becomes the creature of suggestion : when the spirit, the true self, has ceased to exercise its powers, suggestion from within or from without-self or alien-usurps its place. We may follow out the process artificially under the phenomena of hypnotism.

| Myers, Human Personality, Vol. I, 39, 40. 2 Ibid., 40. P. C. Knapp, M.D., “ Insanity of Doubt" (The American Journal of Psychology, Vol. III, January, 1890, Art. 1). 3 T. G. Hudson, D. Ph., The Law of Mental Medicine, 18, 19. Toid., 23, 25, 26-7.




Let us consider for a moment what takes place under hypnotism-what is the condition of the hypnotised subject and how far hypnotic states may resemble certain phases of insanity.

We have already seen how power resides in the spirit of man through faith-trust in the unseen:1 even now the organism of each man is passing and must pass increasingly under the control of his spirit . his spirit indraws from the metetherial environment an energy limited only by the intensity of its own appeal: in things physical as well as in things spiritual, ‘by grace we are saved through faith.?” 2 When faith has given place to instability and doubt, the mind lies open (as has been seen) to insistent ideas--come from what source they may: the spirit having lost control, the organism lies a prey to alien influences—ready from the material or metetherial environment to enter into possession.

It will be instructive now to follow out one or two instances of hypnotic trance and to notice how similar are the manifestations artificially induced in the hypnotised subject to those which we are familiar with in alleged cases of insanity—that perchance we may in hypnotic phenomena find an explanation of cases of possession and of the various forms of mania.3 We may observe in these hypnotic phenomena the control of an alien power, the subdivision of the self, the action of the organism even against the will of the complete self, self-hypnotisation — allowing oneself to become possessed, self-induced delusions. “ The difference" between hypnotic phenomena and ordinary subliminal functioning “is that what we have seen done spontaneously we now see done in response to our appeal.”5 A marked

1 Hebrews, xi, 1. 2 Myers, Human Personalily, Vol. I, 155, 193; 119, 123, 215; Ephesians, ii, 8. 3 Ibid., 168–169.

Ibid., 444–50 (S. 5181–522b). 6 lbid., 170.


feature of the hypnotic state, in common with certain insane states, is liability to delusion-producible from self, or alien, suggestion. In either case the subject, having no faith to rest upon, is in a condition of almost complete receptivity to suggestion-of the operator in the one case, and of the possessing influence or insistent course of ideas in the other. Here we have alternating states of consciousness, and the essential characteristic of one at least of the states of a divided personality is the invasion of an alien power.

This assumption will not meet with a ready assent; but the cases in mental pathology are very numerous to which no other hypothesis will afford a more satisfactory explanation. By way of illustration, one may cite a couple of cases from the public prints. In the first of the two cases the full particulars, as published in the daily journal, are given.” “ Lying on the grass in a walled-in garden of which the door was locked, a girl of sixteen was, found unconscious and in night attire early on Sunday morning near Wellington, Shropshire. A blanket, a pair of slippers, eyeglasses and a skirt were found beside her, while she clasped a shilling in her hand. She was taken to a house and revived, being then driven to her home three miles away. She rernembers absolutely nothing of how she came to be where she was found. She seemed to be in good health on the Saturday night, but was gone from her room when the maid went to call her in the morning. It appears that she walked no fewer than three miles while fast asleep. How she got out of the house is a mystery, as the door was found locked in the morning. She was very short-sighted, yet must in her sleep have climbed a wall which she would have found difficult to scale in the daytime and in possession of every faculty. Her mind is a complete blank from the time she went to bed until she awoke to find herself in the house

[ocr errors]

1 Myers, Human Personality', Vol. I, 189; 447, 449.

Daily Mail, 31st March, 1908, Sleeper Walks 3 miles.”

three miles away. “In this girl's case,' a medical corre

' spondent writes, the walking movements she went through are so common-place that it would take a very slight brain impulse to start them. A vivid dream might have been a sufficient stimulus. The climbing of the wall is a much more intricate act, demanding an accurate sense of touch and appreciation of distance; and this sort of act, like the recent case in which a sleep-walker shot his wife, is a mystery which brain specialists cannot elucidate.'' This case is instructive: the medical correspondent quoted admits that it cannot be explained on physiological or apparently on psychological grounds—that, in fact, it and other cases of a like order are an unsolved mystery to brain specialists. The reason is not far to seek : the mystery lies deeper than what an inquiry into the functioning of the brain is ever likely to reach. What have we here? The motor-centres of the brain truly are active, but sensibility and consciousness are asleep; yet we have more to account for in this case (as the brain specialist admits) than mere brain action under the impulse of a dream. We may, however, have light thrown on the subject by comparing cases of spontaneous somnabulism with those artificially induced in hypnotism:1 and we may find that “the spontaneous sleep-waking state itself is manifestly akin to hypnosis, we shall find in fact " that the perceptive power within us precedes and is independent of the specialised sense-organs.

This should explain half the difficulty: it affords an adequate explanation of how the young lady was enabled to overcome all obstacles in her path, but it does not explain how her own personality came to direct her movements so as to play a trick upon her during cerebral unconsciousness. To take a step furtherthe organism may be subject to alternating states of consciousness : “somnambulism often starts as an exaggerated

[ocr errors]

1 Myers, Human Personality, Vol. I, 203, 59.

? Ibid., 203, 66. 3 Ibid., 191 ; Hudson, The Law of Mental Medicine, 23, 29, 92.

« PreviousContinue »