Home     Boris Sidis Archives Menu     Table of Contents     Next Chapter

 

 

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF SUGGESTION

Boris Sidis, Ph.D.

1898. New York, D. Appleton and Company.

 

CHAPTER XII

THE DOUBLE SELF

        IN the last chapter we came to the conclusion that the subconsciousness is not a mere unconscious physiological automatism, but a consciousness, a self in possession of memory, and even intelligence. Experiments and observations, however, go further to prove that this hidden intelligence may be of still higher organization; it may possess even some degree of self-consciousness, which may grow and develop. By means of the so-called method of distraction Prof. Janet entered into direct communication with the secondary self of his subject, Louise.

        " Do you hear me ?" asked Prof. Janet.1

        "Ans. No.

        "J. But, in order to answer, one must hear." Ans. Certainly.

        "J. Then how do you manage?

        "Ans. I do not know.

        "J. There must be somebody who hears me.

        " Ans. Yes.

        "J. Who is it ?

        " Ans. Not Louise.

        "J. Oh, some one else. Shall we call her Blanche?"

        "Ans. Yes, Blanche.

        "J. Well, then, Blanche, do you hear me?"

        "Ans. Yes."

        This name, however, had soon to be given up, as it happened to have very disagreeable associations in Louise's mind; and when Louise was shown the paper with the name Blanche, which she had unconsciously written, she was angry and wanted to tear it up. Another name had to be chosen.

        "J. What name will you have?

        "Ans. No name.

        "J. You must; it will be more convenient.

        "Ans. Well, then, Adrienne."

        Now it proved that Adrienne knew of things of which Louise was entirely ignorant. Louise's special terror, which recurred in wild exclamation in her hysterical fits, was somehow connected with hidden men. She could not, however, recollect the incident. But Adrienne, when questioned, was able to describe all the details.

        Louise was thrown into catalepsy; then M. Janet clinched her left hand (she began at once to strike out), put a pencil in her right hand, and said, "Adrienne, what are you doing?" The left hand continued to strike and the face to bear the look of rage, while the right hand wrote, "l am furious!" "With whom?" "With F." "Why ?" "I do not know, but I am very angry." M. Janet then unclinched the subject's left hand and put it gently to her lips. It began to blow kisses," and the face smiled. "Adrienne, are you still angry?" "No, that is over." "And now?" "Oh, I am happy." "And Louise?" "She knows nothing; she is asleep."

        This case is extremely interesting as indicating at first the lack of self-consciousness in the hypnotic subwaking self, but acquiring it in the course of communication with the external world. Under favourable conditions the subwaking self wakes from the deep trance in which it is immersed, raises its head, becomes completely conscious, and rises at times even to the plane of personality.

        When Leonie B. (a subject of M. Janet) is hypnotized her personal character undergoes a radical change. She assumes a different name, that of Leontine. Now Leontine (that is Leonie hypnotized) was told by Prof. Janet that after the trance was over and Leonie had resumed her ordinary life she, Leontine, was to take off her apron and then to tie it on again. Leonie was then awakened and conducted by Prof. Janet to the door, talking with her usual respectful gravity. Meantime her hands untied the apron and took it off. Prof. Janet called Leonie's attention to the loosened apron. "Why, my apron is coming off!" Leonie exclaimed, and with full consciousness (waking consciousness) she tied the apron on again. She then continued the talk. At Leontine's prompting the hands once more 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. Only then Leontine was fully satisfied and became quiet. Next day Prof. Richet hypnotized Leonie again, and presently Leontine as usual emerged. "Well," she said, "I did what you told me yesterday. How stupid the other one looked while I took off her apron! Why did you tell her that the apron was falling off? I was obliged to begin the job all over again."

        Once this secondary self attains self-consciousness and gets crystallized into a new and independent personality, it now and then rises to the surface and assumes control over the current of life. he secondary personality may blame, dislike, ridicule, the primary personality. Thus Leontine calls Leonie "that stupid woman." Sometimes the secondary personality may treat the primary with great animosity, and may even threaten to destroy it. Prof. Janet received from Madame B. a very curious letter. "On the first page," he says,2 "was a short note, written in a serious and respectful style. She was unwell, she saidworse on some days than on othersand she signed her true name, Madame B. But over the page began another in a quite different style. 'My deal' sir,' thus the letter ran, 'I must tell you that B. really makes me suffer much; she can not 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.' "

        Dr. Osgood Mason reports the following interesting case:3 "Alma Z. has been under my observation during the past ten years. In childhood she was remarkable for her intelligence and unusual endowments. Up to her eighteenth year she was in robust health, excelling all her companions not only in intellectual attainments but also in physical culture, being expert in gymnastic exercises, skating, and athletic sports generally. At that time, owing to overwork in school, . . .peculiar psychical conditions made their appearance. Instead of the educated, thoughtful, dignified, womanly personality, worn with illness and pain, there appeared a bright, sprightly child personality, with a limited vocabulary, ungrammatical and peculiar dialect, decidedly Indian in character, but, as used by her, most fascinating and amusing. The intellect was bright and shrewd, her manner lively and good-natured, and her intuitions were remarkably correct and quick; but, strangest of all, she was free from pain, could take food, and had comparatively a good degree of strength. She called herself 'Twoey,' and the normal or usual personality she always referred to as 'No. 1.' She possessed none of the acquired knowledge of the primary personality, but was bright and greatly interested in matters going on about her in family affairs, and everything which pertained to the comfort and well-being of No. 1.

        "The new personality would usually remain only a few hours, but, occasionally, her stay was prolonged to several days; and then the normal selfthe No. 1 of 'Twoey'returned with all her intelligence, patience, and womanly qualities, but also with the weakness and suffering which characterized her illness.

        "No.1 and No.2 were apparently in every respect separate and distinct personalities. Each had her own distinct consciousness and distinct train of thought and memories.

        "When No.1 was absent and 'Twoey' took her place, on resuming her consciousness she commenced at the place where her own personality had been interrupted and resumed her ordinary life exactly at that point. To No. 1 the existence of any second personality was entirely unknown by any conscious experience, and the time which 'Twoey' occupied was to her a blank. If 'Twoey' appeared at noon on Tuesday and remained until Thursday night, when she disappeared and No. 1 resumed her own consciousness and life, she would commence at Tuesday noon where that consciousness was interrupted. The intervening time to her was a blank. No. 2, however, while having her own distinct life, knew also the life of No. 1, but as a distinct personality, entirely separate from herself. No. 1 also came to know' Twoey' by the description given by others, and by the change in her own personal belongings and affairs which she saw had been effected during her absence. The two personalities became great friends. No. 2 admired No. 1 for her superior knowledge, her patience in suffering, and the lovely qualifies which she recognised, and she willingly took her place in order to give her rest, and, as it seemed, the possibility of living at all. No. 1 also became fond of Twoey on account of the loving care which she bestowed upon her and her affairs, and for the witty sayings and sprightly and pertinent conversations which were reported to her, and which she greatly enjoyed.

        "'Twoey' seemed to have the power of going and coming at will. She often left communications to No. 1, mostly written (for she became able to write in her peculiar dialectvery difficult to decipher), telling her what had been done in her absence, where she would find certain things, or advising her when she deemed it necessary; and her advice was always sound and to the point.

        "Under an entire change in medical treatmentchange of scene and air and the use of animal magnetism and hypnotismhealth and normal conditions were restored, and Twoey's visits became only occasional, under circumstances of extreme fatigue or mental excitement, when they were welcome to the patient and enjoyed by her friends. Two years later the patient married, and became a most admirable wife and intelligent and efficient mistress of the household.

        "Later on, however, the No. 2 condition or personality began to return with greater frequency, but at length one night 'Twoey' announced that she would soon take her departure, but that another visitor would come to take her place. Presently an alarming attack of syncope occurred, lasting several hours; and when consciousness did at last return, it was represented by a third personality, entirely new and entirely distinct, both from the primary self and also from the 'Twoey' with whom we were so well acquainted. The new personality at once announced itself as 'The Boy,' and that it had come in the place of 'Twoey' for the special aid of No. 1; and for several weeks, whenever this third personality was present, all its behaviour was entirely consistent with that announcement.

        "Gradually, however, she became accustomed and reconciled to her new role and new surroundings, and adapted herself with most astonishing grace to the duties of wife, mother, and mistress of the house, though always when closely questioned she persisted seriously in her original declaration that she was 'The Boy.' The personality was of much more broad and serious type than that of the frolicsome 'Twoey,' and while entirely separate in consciousness and personality from No. 1, she was much nearer to her in general outline of character. The acquired book knowledge of No. 1the Latin, mathematics, and philosophy acquired at schoolwere entirely wanting in the new personality; the extensive knowledge of general literaturethe whole poems of Tennyson, Browning, and Scott which No. 1 could repeat by heart, also her perfect familiarity with the most beautiful and poetic portions of the Bibleall these were entirely lacking in this personality. In a general knowledge of affairs, however, in the news of the day from all over the world, and in current literature, she at once became thoroughly interested and thoroughly intelligent, and the judgment was keen and sound. She took the greatest delight in every kind of amusementthe theater and literary and musical entertainmentsand her criticisms of performances and of books were independent, acute, and reliable. At the same time her household affairs and her interest in them and all subjects pertaining to the family were conspicuous.

        "Of the preceding personalities she was fully cognizant, and had great admiration and affection for them both. She would listen to no disparaging remarks concerning 'Twoey,' and her admiration for No. 1 was unbounded. Neither 'Twoey' nor No. 3 ever seemed anxious to continue and prolong their visits, but, on the contrary, were always desirous that No. 1 should regain her health sufficiently to get on without them; and they referred with much feeling to the causes which prevented it.

        "The peculiar and interesting incidents which diversified these different states of consciousness would fill a volume. No. 1, when in her condition of greatest weakness, would occasionally astonish her listeners by announcing to them some event which they bad kept profoundly secret from her. For instance: 'You need not be so quiet about it; I have seen it all. Mrs. C. died the day before yesterday. She is to be buried to-morrow'; or, 'There has been a death over in such and such a street. 'Who is it that died?' Twoey's sagacity, amounting almost to prediction, was often noticed, and many a time the neglect to be guided by her premonitions was deeply regretted. 'The Boy,' or No. 3, frequently exhibited peculiar perceptive powers. At times the sense of hearing would be entirely lost, so that the most violent noises close to her ears and when perfectly unexpected failed to startle or disturb her in the slightest degree, although usually she was easily startled by even a slight, sudden, or unexpected noise. Under these circumstances she had a peculiar faculty of perceiving what was said by watching the lips of the speaker, though ordinarily neither she nor the primitive self had any such faculty.

        "In this condition she had often carried on conversations with entire strangers, and entertained guests at table without having it once suspected that all the while she could not hear a sound of any sort. I have myself seen her sit and attend to the reading of a new book simply by watching the lips of the reader, taking in every word and sentiment, and laughing heartily at the funny passages, when I am perfectly sure she could not have heard a pistol shot from her head.

        "When the No. 3 personality had persisted for a considerable periodweeks, for instance, at a time, as it has sometimes donethe temporary return of No. 1 under the influence of some soothing condition or pleasing sentiment or emotion has been beautiful to witness. I saw this transformation once while sitting with her in a box at the Metropolitan Opera House. Beethoven's concerto in C Major was on the programme; in the midst of the performance I saw the expression of her countenance change; a clear, calm, softened look came into the face as she fell; back in her chair and listened to the music with the most intense enjoyment. I spoke a few words to her at the close of the number, and she replied in the soft and musical tones peculiar to her own normal condition, and I recognised without the slightest doubt the presence of No. 1. A few minutes later her eyes closed; presently she drew two or three short, quick respirations; again her countenance changed, and No. 3 was back again. She turned to me and said, 'So No. 1 came to hear her favourite concerto?' I replied, 'Yes; how did you know it?', Oh, I was here and listened to it too.' 'Where were you?' I asked. 'I sat on the front of the box. I saw you speaking to her. How greatly she enjoyed the music!' and then she went on listening to the music and commenting upon the programme in the usual discriminating manner of No. 3."

        In this interesting case, communicated by Dr. Osgood Mason, we find a weakening by disease of the upper controlling personality, the subconscious self gained mastery, rose to the plane of conscious individuality and became a person, a "Twoey." The" Twoey" personality, however, seemed to have been unstable, and a new personality, that of "The Boy," emerged. Both "Twoey" and "The Boy" were but two different expressions, two different particular, individualized manifestations of the same underlying realitythe subconsciousness. It was from the depth of the subconscious self that those bubble personalities rose to the surface of conscious life.

        As a rule, the stream of sub waking consciousness is broader than that of waking consciousness, so that the submerged subwaking self knows the life of the upper, primary, waking self, but the latter does not know the former. There are, however, cases on record that show that the two streams may flow in two separate channels, that the two selves may be totally ignorant of each other. The subwaking self, in attaining self-consciousness, personality, may become so much individualized as to lead a perfectly independent life from that of the waking self. And when the lower new person rises to the surface and assumes control of the current of life, he shows no signs of having once known the old master, the old person. An interesting case of this kind is given by Prof. W. James in his Psychology, and fully described by Mr. Hodgson in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research for the year 1891. I quote from Prof. W. James's book:4

        "On January 17, 1887, Rev. Ansel Bourne, of Greene, R. I., an itinerant preacher, drew five hundred and fifty-one dollars from a bank in Providence with which to pay for a certain lot of land in Greene, paid certain bills, and got into a Pawtucket horse car. This is the last incident which he remembers. He did not f return home that day: He was published in the papers as missing, and, foul play being suspected, the police sought in vain his whereabouts. On the morning of March 14th, however, at Norristown, Pa., a man calling himself A. J. Brown, who had rented a small shop six weeks previously, stocked it with stationery, confectionery, fruit, and small articles, and carried on this quaint trade without seeming to anyone unnatural or eccentric, woke up in a fright and called in the people of the house to tell him where he was. He said that his name was Ansel Bourne, that he was entirely ignorant of Norristown, that he knew nothing of shopkeeping, and that the last thing he rememberedit seemed only yesterday was drawing money from the bank in Providence. He would not believe that two months had elapsed. The people of the house thought him insane. Soon his nephew came and took him home. He had such a horror of the candy store that he refused to set foot in it again.

        "The first two weeks of the period remained unaccounted for, as he had no memory, after he had resumed his normal personality, of any part of the time, and no one who knew him seems to have seen him after he left home. The remarkable part of the change is, of course, the peculiar occupation which the so-called Brown indulged in. Mr. Bourne has never in his life had the slightest contact with trade. Brown was described by the neighbours as taciturn, orderly in his habits, and in no way queer. He went to Philadelphia several times; replenished his stock; cooked for himself in the back shop, where he also slept; went regularly to church; and once at a. prayer-meeting made what was considered by the hearers a good address, in the course of which he related an incident he had witnessed in his natural state of Bourne.

        "This was all that was known of the case up to June 1, 1890, when I induced Mr. Bourne to submit to hypnotism, so as to see whether in the hypnotic trance his Brown memory (Brown self-consciousness) would not come back. It did so with surprising readinessso much so, indeed, that it proved quite impossible to wake him while in hypnosis remember any of the facts of his normal life. He had heard of Ansel Bourne, 'but did not know as he had ever met the man.' When confronted with Mrs. Bourne, he said that he had never seen the woman before. On the other hand, he told us of his peregrinations during the last fortnight, and gave all sorts of details during the Norristown episode. . . . I had hoped by suggestion to run the two personalities into one, and make the memories continuous, but no artifice would avail to accomplish this, and Mr. Bourne's skull to-day still covers two distinct personal selves."

 

_________

1.  L'Automatisme psychologique, 129.
2.  P. Janet, L' Antomatisme psychologique.
3.  The Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, September, 1893.
4.  W. James, Psychology, vol. i.

Boris Menu      Next