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Boris Sidis, Ph.D.
Simon P. Goodhart, M.D.
LAPSES AND THE SUBCONSCIOUS
DISAGGREGATlON of moments becomes clearly manifested in the phenomena of amnesia. When a moment becomes dissociated from the principal functioning constellation, the life of the moment is degraded, falling into the subconscious region of mental life. If the content of the moment has not become completely disintegrated, but has only fallen to lower and lower types, it may by different methods be evoked from these obscure regions of mental activity.
Among these different methods those of hypnotization and of hypnoidization are of the utmost importance. The different methods of hypnotization have been so often discussed that there is no need to describe them here. The method of hypnoidization, however, is not so well known, and a short description given in a former work of mine will answer the purpose.1
The difference between the method of hypnoidization, and that of hypnotization is the manifestation of the submerged moment. In hypnotization, the submerging moment stands revealed as a whole; in hypnoidization, the moment appears in parts and synthesis is effected in the functioning moment consciousness. Hypnotization has the great drawback that the patient is not always willing to be put into hypnosis, nor is it easy with all cases to reach that deep level of subconsciousness to which the dissociated moment has fallen. Hypnoidization, on the other hand, though having the drawback of breaking up the moment’s content and laying bare fragments of it, has the great advantage of dispensing with the state of hypnosis; the method can be used while the patient is in his waking state.
Hypnoidization, in fact, often proves to be superior and far more effective than hypnosis. The synthesis effected through the intermediary states which are closely allied to the hypdnoidal, proves to be more stable than that brought about through hypnotization. In the case of D. F., the dissociated states synthetized in hypnosis became once more disaggregated in the waking state and fell again into the subconscious regions and could only attain permanent stability when the synthesis was effected through those intermediary states, of which the hypnoidal states constitute one variety. The H. case, one of double consciousness; the M. case, which would be characterized as “psychic epilepsy”; the P. case, one of alcoholic amnesia, and many other minor cases, have been worked far more successfully through intermediary states, and especially through hypnoidal states.2
As an illustration of the dissolution of moments and the discovery of their presence in the lower levels of consciousness, or in the subconsciousness, the following case may be cited:
In the “Arch. de Neurol.” for 1894, J. Seglas and Bonnus report an interesting case of amnesia which may be considered as typical and of which we give here a brief account:
The patient is 19 years old. In her sixteenth year she had nervous attacks. On the 5th of June, 1894, she was brought to Salpêtrière for great disturbances of memory. Examination revealed the following symptoms: Total anaesthesia of the skin and of the mucous membranes, limitation of the field of vision, disturbances of the color-sense. As to the disturbances of memory, the patient lost all reminiscences for all that she had lived through since the 26th of May, 1894. Patient remembers, however, that she has had a violent emotion on this day; a gendarme came to her and served her official summons. From this point of time she remembers nothing at all. She lost all capacity for synthetizing new experiences in her narrowed moment of self-consciousness. Now, when the patient’s eyes and ears were closed, she rapidly fell into a sleep-like state; it was not the normal sleep; it was rather a somnambulic state. In this state the lost memories and sensibilities returned. This we should expect from the stand-point of our theory of dissociation; the lost sensibility and experiences were present to the subconscious moments.
To take another example: In one of my cases, in that of R. C., the dissociated memories were brought out in hypnoidal states. The patient, otherwise a strong and healthy man, but extremely sensitive and nervous, used to fall into subconscious states preceded by what may be termed a sensory aura, this being uniformly a sensation of green. The subconscious state lasted from about half an hour to an hour and more, the patient often becoming violent, having hallucinations, making attempts to assault his sister-in-law in the presence of his wife and bystanders; fighting people, beating cruelly his best friends, and even attempting in a fit of violent anger to throw out through the window his own little baby, whom in his normal state he greatly loves and adores. When the subconscious state works itself off and gradually approaches its termination, the patient becomes exhausted and falls into a deep sleep, which sometimes lasts as long as fifteen hours or more. On emerging from this sleep, the patient remembers nothing of what had taken place during the subconscious state. The memories, however, were not lost; they were present subconsciously and were brought to light by the induction of hypnoidal states. A full history of the patient's actions and doings during some of his subconscious states was given by his relatives, who watched him closely. This history helped to verify the patient’s own account given by him in his hypnoidal states. Sometimes a cue had to be given to the patient and then memories emerged slowly in bits and fragments, finally becoming synthetized, the patient’s consciousness of the sequence of events being reconstructed and fully recollected. Once the dissociated states became synthetized in the patient's principal moment consciousness, they were reduced both in content and intensity of activity. The interest lies in the fact that disaggregation of moments gives rise to certain forms of what may be called psychopathic amnesia and may be found present in the subconscious, from which, under certain conditions, they may emerge and become synthetized in the principal moment consciousness.
Another case of mine, that of F., is very similar to that of R. C., the chief difference being the absence of aura, of violence, and of prolonged sleep after the emergence from the subconscious states. The subconscious state does not set in suddenly, develops gradually, is not violent, and lasts for a few days. On the return to the normal state the memories of the subconscious state are found to be missing and are apparently obliterated. This obliteration, however, is more apparent than real. The memories could be recalled in hypnoidal states. Experiences passed through during states of disaggregation are present only in the synthesis of the simpler systems. With the reinstatement, therefore, of the higher or more complex disaggregated systems, events and actions passed through during the state of disaggregation will not belong to the experiences constituting the content of the higher moment consciousness. The higher moments, on account of their absence during the state of disaggregation, have no memory for the experiences of lower moments. A dissociated moment consciousness can remember only its own experiences.
When the higher moment of self-consciousness becomes disaggregated and a lower type of moment takes its place, a break occurs between the two moments, the experiences of the lower moment is not transmitted to the higher moment. The higher moment lacks the experience passed through by the lower moment, and the result is amnesia. This is well illustrated by the amnesic states that often accompany intense emotional states, great exhaustion, toxic conditions, epileptic attacks and intense stimulations in general.
1 See Sidis, Psychology of
2 See Sidis, Psychopathological Researches.
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