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Boris Sidis, M. A., Ph.D.,
SUBCONSCIOUS RETENTION―AUTOMATIC WRITING AND ANĘSTHESIA
THE patient was awakened, and by the method of automatic handwriting it was endeavored to discover whether all the experiences which the patient did not remember were really retained in, the memory of the subconscious self.
Experiments were then made on the patient by means of automatic writing, The hand in its automatic writing revealed experiences which were not known to the patient herself. During the automatic writing, the sensibility of the writing hand and arm was greatly lessened, merging into anęsthesia. This probably depends on the fact that during the writing the consciousness of the sensory-motor systems related to the activity of the hand is dissociated from the principal consciousness and associated with the active subconscious systems lying outside the range of the patient's personal life.
Some examples of the patient's automatic handwritings, with eyes shut trying to recall what happened during hypnosis, are reproduced in Figures 4, 5, 6, 7, and 8.
During the writing, the hand was being pricked by Dr. S., but when the patient was questioned she claimed she had not felt it.
Automatic handwriting at dictation from Dr. W., while being distracted by Dr. G. talking to her. The writing hand was being pricked by Dr. S. At one time, entire writing arm was anęsthetic to the shoulder, so that she had no knowledge of the pricking. At another time the pricking of either arm or hand disturbed her, and she recollected it on being questioned about it later. Pricking the writing arm was recollected when the pricking was in the intervals of the writing. The disturbance of arm and hand by pricking was much more noticeable when the writing was not continuous, when there were many intervals.
Experiments in automatic handwriting and distraction were continued and the sensibility of the writing hand and arm tested with the following results:
Under distraction; right hand. At beginning the sensibility to electricity during writing was dulled especially in the hand, but later the hand became very sensitive, and reacted at once, feeling the stimulus every time she was touched by the electrode during the writing. The same results occurred in the left hand.
Instead of electricity, a pin-point was then used and she mistook the prick for electricity. When the prick was repeated and she was asked if that w; what she had felt, she said: "No, it was electricity."
Dr. S. then gave suggestions during distraction, but later she stopped taking his suggestions; at first when her eyes were closed and later when they were open.
The patient afterwards continued to react to pricking, although she said she did not feel it. When pricked, she often said she did not feel it, but wrote in answer to questions by Dr. W. the number of times pricked. The written answer of one of these tests is reproduced on page 59, Figure 7. Link
The experiments carried on by automatic handwriting, and the anęsthesia manifested, seem to indicate that although the dissociation was more or less profound, it was rather of a transitory character, and under the influence of a strong stimulus―such, for instance, as electricity, when reaching a high intensity―the anęsthesia disappeared not only during the intervals when the patient did not write, but also during the process of writing itself. In short, we may say that functional anęsthesia, when slight and transitory, as is usually the case in automatic handwriting, can be made to disappear under the influence of strong painful or disagreeable stimuli. The anęsthesia recurs, however, more markedly than before with the cessation of the stimuli, and with the re-establishment of conditions favorable to it. This is probably analogous to the condition of negative hallucination, or systematic ansthesia, in which the patient is insensible to stimuli proceeding from a certain source. In this latter condition, we have pointed out before by experiment, that the negative hallucination, or anęsthesia, may disappear under the influence of a strong emotion, An intense or a strong emotion may call forth in the patient static energy,1 and thus enable her to carry on the particular functions lost, and with the removal of the stimuli and the drawing off of the static energy manifested, the patient may fall into a deeper psychopathic state.
1. See "Neuron Energy," Archives of Neurology and Psychopathology, vol. i., No. 1. link
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