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Boris Sidis, Ph.D.

Simon P. Goodhart, M.D.

© 1904




OF a somewhat different nature is the case reported by Dr. Osgood Mason in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Diseases, September, 1893. The disaggregation is deep and clear, and the dissociated personalities are well defined.

            “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 at school, peculiar physical 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 remain only a few hours, but occasionally her stay was prolonged to several days; and then her normal self—the 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 only 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 qualities which she recognized, 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 dialect—very 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 treatment—change of scene and air and the use of animal magnetism and hypnotism—health 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 behavior 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. 1—the Latin, mathematics, and philosophy acquired at school—were entirely wanting in the new personality; the extensive knowledge of general literature—the 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 Bible—all of 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 intelligent, and the judgment was keen and sound. She took the greatest delight in every kind of amusement—the theatre and literary and musical entertainments—and her criticisms of performances and 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 had 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 prevision, 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 their having 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 period—weeks, for instance, at a time, as it has sometimes done—the 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 leaned 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 recognized 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 favorite 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.”

            The case is certainly very interesting, and in many respects similar to that of Felida. The two shed light on each other. The patient is of a psychopathic disposition, and cerebral overwork brought about a weakening of the principal controlling constellations of neurons with its concomitant leading synthetic moment consciousness. Some strong emotion or some kind of trouble was probably the exciting cause that brought about a total disintegration, or a disaggregation of the constellation into its constituent or subordinate systems and clusters with their correlative moments.

            The relation of No. 1 to “Twoey” is somewhat like that of the primary to the secondary state in Felida. No. 1 does not know “Twoey,” but the latter knows the experiences of the former, knows them as those of “another,” as not belonging to herself, to “Twoey.” The content of the No. 1 personality is in some respects superior and wider than that of the “Twoey” personality. Much of the content of one personality is also present in the other, such as the natural instincts of life, many of the simple acquirements, such as walking, dressing, using different utensils for eating, talking and understanding speech, knowing articles, and soon. Still, the change is great. In the “Twoey” state the patient seemed to have lost her ability of writing and all her higher acquirements in literature and in music. There was a change in the patient's language; agrammatism was observed. Her pains and sufferings were gone. The change in character seemed to have been profound, from a cultivated, thoughtful, dignified young lady there was a change to a child-personality, shrewd, bright and sprightly, with a limited vocabulary, decidedly Indian in character. All the states belonging to the personality No. 1 were synthetized in one synthetic moment, and so were also all the states of “Twoey.” Two moments were thus formed within the patient's mind, each having a distinct synthesis for series of mental states; in other words, the two organized synthetic moments kept on alternating periodically. This case, like that of Felida., is one of periodical multiple consciousness.

            The two crystallized, independent moments became weakened, could not maintain themselves long, and another synthetic moment consciousness, “The Boy,” got formed and temporarily became the leading one in the patient’s mental life. This was preceded by an attack of syncope lasting several hours. “The Boy” personality differed both from “Twoey” and from No. 1. It possessed far more of the content belonging to the No. 1 personality. The behavior of the new personality was consistent with its name and lacked the book-knowledge of the normal state. In this state the sense of hearing was sometimes entirely lost, and still she could carry on conversations with guests, could attend to the reading of a book and enjoy it heartily, although “she could not have heard a pistol-shot near her head.” The writer ascribes this to a new faculty peculiar to this state only, perception of speech by watching the movements of the speaker's lips. No such new faculty is really required as an explanation for the patient’s perception of words to which she was seemingly deaf. Her deafness was not of an organic, but of a functional psychopathic nature. It can be fully demonstrated by experiment that in such states the patient, though seemingly not perceiving, really does perceive. The dissociated moments in the subconscious perceive and transmit the experience to the dominating, functioning synthetic moment consciousness. The patient did hear, and not the sounds, but the meaning of the words were transmitted to her functioning moment, “The Boy” personality.

            In passing from one personality to another the patient seemed to have had a brief intermediary sleeping state termed by me the hypnoleptic state; especially was this so in passing from No. 1 into one of the other states. The author omitted to describe it, but that such a state really existed one can judge from the author's statement that, when he was with the patient in the theatre, the No. 1 personality appeared. “A few minutes later,” writes Dr. Osgood Mason, “her eyes closed; presently she drew two or three short, quick respirations, and No. 3 was back again.”

            In this interesting case we find a weakening by disease of the upper controlling personality- the subconscious 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 individualized manifestations of the same underlying reality—the subconsciousness. It was from the depth of the subconscious that those bubble personalities rose to the surface of conscious life.

            The following case1 gives a well-defined picture of manifold personality:

            “The subject, V. L., is a young man of seventeen years, affected with hysterical epilepsy, who entirely lost the memory of one year of his existence, and during the period of forgetfulness totally changed his character.

            “Born of an unmarried mother, who was ‘addicted to an open life of debauchery, and of an unknown father, he began to roam and beg on the streets as soon as he could walk. Later he became a thief, was arrested, and sent to the reformatory of Saint-Urbain, where he did some field work.’ One day, being occupied in a vineyard, he happened to lay his hands upon a serpent, hidden in a fagot of twigs. The boy was terribly frightened, and in the evening, on returning to the reformatory, became unconscious. These crises were repeated from time to time, his legs grew weak, finally a paralysis of the lower limbs set in, his intellect remaining unimpaired. He was thereupon transferred to the asylum of Bonneval. There it was reported ‘that the patient has an open and sympathetic expression, that his character is amiable and that he shows himself grateful for the care that is bestowed upon him. He tells the history of his life in all its minutest details, even his thefts, which he deplores, of which he is ashamed, and which he attributes to his forsaken condition and his comrades who led him into evil ways. He regrets very much what has happened, and declares that in the future he will be more honest. It was then decided to teach him a trade compatible with his infirmity. He can read, and is learning to write. He is taken every morning to the tailor’s shop, where he is placed upon a table and assumes, naturally, the classical position owing to the condition of his lower limbs, which are atrophied and contracted. In two months’ time he learned to sew pretty well. He works with enthusiasm, and everybody is satisfied with his progress.’

            “At this stage he is seized with an attack of hysteroepilepsy, which, after fifty hours, ends in a tranquil sleep. It is then that his old personality reappears.

            “On awakening, V. wants to get up. He asks for his clothes, and is able to dress himself, but performs the operation in a very bungling manner; he then takes a few steps through the hall, his paraplegia having disappeared. His legs totter and with difficulty support the body because of the atrophy of the muscles. . . . When once dressed, he asks to go to his comrades into the vineyards to work. . . . We quickly perceive that our subject still believes himself at Saint-Urbain, and wishes to resume his habitual occupations. In fact, he has no recollection of his crisis and recognizes nobody, the physicians and attendants no more than his companions of the ward. He does not admit having been paralyzed, and accuses those about him of teasing him. We thought of temporary insanity, which was very likely after so severe an attack of hysteria, but time passes and still his memory does not return. V. remembers very distinctly that he had been sent to Saint-Urbain; he knows that ‘the other day’ he was frightened by a serpent; but from that time all is oblivion. He remembers nothing more, and has not even the feeling of the time elapsed.

            “It was thought that he might be simulating, as hysterical patients often do, and we employed all means to make V. contradict himself, but without success. Thus, without letting him know where he is going, we have taken him to the tailor’s workshop. We walk by his side, and take care not to influence him as to the direction to be taken. V. does not know whither he is going. On arriving at the shop he has every appearance of a person who does not know where he is, and he declares that he has never been there before. He is given a needle and asked to sew. He sets about the task as awkwardly as a man who performs a job of this kind for the first time. They show him some clothes, the seams of which had been sewn by him during the time he was paralyzed. He laughs and seems to doubt, but finally inclines to our observations. After a month of experiment and trials of all kinds, we are convinced that V, really remembers nothing.”

            One of the most interesting points of this case is the modification that the character of the patient underwent, which was a return to his early life and to his hereditary antecedents: “He is no longer the same subject; he has become quarrelsome and is a glutton; he answers impolitely. Formerly he did not like wine, and usually gave his share to his companions; but now he steals theirs. When they tell him that he once committed thefts, and caution him not to begin again, he becomes arrogant, and will say, ‘if he did steal, he paid for it, as they put him into prison.’ They employ him in the garden. One day he escapes, taking with him sixty francs and the effects of an attendant of the infirmary. He is recaptured five miles from Bonneval, at the moment when, after selling his clothes to purchase others, he is on the point of boarding the railway train for Paris. He resists arrest, and strikes and bites at the wardens sent in search of him. Brought back to the asylum, he becomes furious, cries, rolls on the ground; finally it is necessary to confine him in a solitary cell.”

            Dismissed from the asylum, after many peregrinations, he is taken to Bicetre, escapes, and enlists in the Marine Corps at Rochefort. Convicted of stealing, he is confined, at the end of a violent attack of hystero-epilepsy, to the care of Messrs. Bourru and Burot, who have studied him with great care and obtained in their subject the six following states:

        First state. Hemiplegia and hemianaesthesia of the right side. Ordinary state of the subject.

           “V. is talkative, violent, and arrogant in look and manner; his language is correct, but rude; he addresses everyone in the second person singular, and gives to each a disrespectful surname. He smokes from morning till night, and besieges everyone with his demand for tobacco, etc. Still, he is intelligent. He keeps himself au courant with all the events of the day, great and small, affects the most antireligious views in religion and the most ultraradical opinions in politics. Incapable of discipline, he wishes to slay all his superiors, or anyone even who would exact from him a mark of respect. His speech is embarrassed; his defective pronunciation permits only the endings of his words to be heard. He can read, but this vice of pronunciation renders his reading aloud unintelligible. He cannot write, his right hand being paralyzed. His memory, very precise for the slightest details, present or recent (he recites whole columns from the newspapers), is very limited in point of time. It is impossible for him to carry back his memory beyond his present sojourn in Rochefort and the last part of his stay at Bicetre in the service of M. Voisin. Nevertheless, he has preserved the memory of the second part of his stay at Bonneval, when he worked in the garden. Between Bonneval and Bicetre a great gap yawns in his memory. Beyond this, his birth, his childhood, his sojourn in Saint-Urbain, the trade of tailoring, which he learned upon his arrival at Bonneval, are a total blank to him.”

            Second state. Hemiplegia of the left side (face and limbs) with hemianaesthesia.

            “On waking, V. is at Bicetre (ward Cabanis, No. II); the second of January, 1884; age twenty-one; saw M. Voisin yesterday. He is reserved in his bearing; his expression is gentle; his language is correct and respectful; he now addresses no one in the second person singular, but calls each of us ‘Monsieur.’ He smokes, but not passionately. He has no opinions in politics or in religion; these questions, he seems to say, do not concern an ignorant man like him. He shows himself respectful and orderly. His speech is easy and his pronunciation remarkably clear. He reads perfectly well, and writes a tolerable hand.

            “He knows nothing whatever of the events that have taken place since the second of January, 1884; he does not know where he is, nor any of the persons who surround him. He never came to Rochefort. He never heard of the Marine Corps or of the war with Tonquin.

            “In evoking his prior memories he recounts that before entering Bicetre he had stayed for a while at Sainte-Anne; beyond that point in his life no memory subsists.”

            Third state. Hemiplegia of the left side (the limbs alone) with general hemianaesthesia.

            “The patient awakes at the asylum of Saint-Georges de Bourg, August, 1882; he is nineteen years old. France is at war with Tunis. M. Grévy is President of the Republic; Leo XIII. is Pope. His character, his affective faculties, his language, his physiognomy, his tastes are like those of the second state. As to his memory, he is limited to a prior epoch. He comes from Chartres to his mother, whence he has been sent to Macon with a large landed proprietor, where he was put to work in the vineyards. Having been taken sick several times he was cared for in the hospital of Macon, then at the asylum of Bourg, where he is at present. All that precedes, all that follows this short period of his life is totally foreign to him.”

            Fourth state. Paraplegia.

            “He has just seen several persons of the asylum of Bonneval. He is decorous, timid, even sad. His pronunciation is distinct, but his language is incorrect, impersonal, childish. He has forgotten how to read and write. His intelligence is very obtuse; his confused memory knows nothing of the events of the personages of that epoch. He knows only two places: Bonneval, where he believes he now is, and Saint-Urbain, whence he has come, where he was, he says, paralyzed, stricken down. The whole prior part of his life, from his birth to the accident with the viper, which brought on his malady, all that followed the attack and the spontaneous alteration of his condition at Bonneval, are absolutely unknown to him. He does not recognize the place he is in, nor has he ever seen us who are about him. His ordinary occupation is work in the tailor’s shop. He sews like one long in the business.”

            Fifth state. Neither paralysis nor anaesthesia.

            “He regains consciousness at Saint-Urbain in 1877; he is fourteen years old. Marshal McMahon is President of the Republic; Pius IX. is Pope. Timid as a child, his expression, language, and attitude accord perfectly. He can read perfectly well and writes tolerably. He knows his whole childhood, the bad treatment he received at Luysant, etc.

            “He remembers having been arrested and condemned to imprisonment in a house of correction. He is at the reformatory directed by M. Pasquier. He learns to read at the school of Mlle. Breuille. He is employed in agricultural work. His memory is arrested exactly at the accident of the viper, the mention of which brings on a terrible crisis of hystero-epilepsy.”

            Sixth state. Neither paralysis nor anaesthesia.

            “He comes to consciousness on the sixth of March, 1885; is twenty-two years of age; he knows the events of the times and personages in power; but Victor Hugo, the great poet and senator, is still living. He is no longer the timid child of a moment ago. He is a proper young man, neither pusillanimous nor arrogant; he is a soldier of the Marine Corps. His language is correct; his pronunciation is distinct. He reads very well and writes passably. His memory embraces his whole life with the exception of one epoch, that during which he was afflicted with paraplegia at Saint-Urbain and Bonneval. Also he does not remember having been a tailor and does not know how to sew.

            “These, then, are the six different states of consciousness, the ensemble of which embraces the whole life of the subject.

            “To act on the psychic state we have no other means except suggestion in somnambulism. We make, therefore, the following suggestion: ‘V., you are to wake up at Bicetre, ward Cabanis.’ V. obeys. On awaking from provoked somnambulism he believes it is the second of January, 1884; his intelligence and affective qualities are exactly what we have seen described in the second state. At the same time he is afflicted with hemiplegia and hemianaesthesia of the left side; the force exerted upon the dynamometer, the hysterogenic zone, all are transferred as in the second state.

            “In another suggestion we command him to awake at Bonneval when he was a tailor. The psychic state obtained is similar to that described in the fourth state, and simultaneously with it the paraplegia appeared with contracture and insensibility of the lower parts of the body.”



1 See Ribot, Diseases of Personality.


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