James Hyslop

Prof. James Hyslop

The Borderland of Psychical Research
Publisher: G. B. Putnam's Sons
Published: 1906
Pages: 425

Chapter 4: Memory

 - James Hyslop -

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          I HAVE assumed in previous discussions that the functions of memory in our knowledge were sufficiently clear not to need explanation for the purposes of those analyses of elementary processes. In one type of the classifying judgment memory is indispensable as a factor of it, but a technical knowledge of this part which it plays was not necessary for the comprehension of the process concerned. Hence I have postponed all examination of its nature and scope until the present chapter.

In common usage memory is a very comprehensive term, and so comprises all those phenomena which are associated with the preservation, the recall, and the recognition of past experience. It is sometimes used to name the one or the other of these functions, according as the emergency requires it. Sometimes, in the more technical discussions of psychology, it stands only for the fact of recognizing the past after its recall. Probably the reason for this technical limitation of the term is the fact that this recognition is the only thing of which we are directly conscious in our relation to past experience. But however this may be, I mean here to accept its wider common import and so to use the term to include and describe all the mental and possibly other phenomena connected with the retention, the reproduction, and the recognition of past experience. It would only confuse matters in a general discussion to insist upon limiting the import of the term to direct consciousness of the past when recalled, as this would not only require us to deviate fundamentally from general usage, but would also apparently lead to the omission of phenomena quite as important to abnormal, or even to normal, psychology as the more circumscribed fact of recognition.

Memory in this broad sense is the faculty for conserving, recalling, and identifying past experience in the service of judgment. It conditions that act of judgment which compares the past and present and determines the measure of unity and persistence which various phenomena have. But it has also a separate interest for the present work in the nature and range of its capacity for supplying material in various abnormal phenomena of the mind and for its relation to the problems of residual psychology. In our ordinary experience we seem to think it much more limited in its functions and productions than is actually the fact. The reason for this probably is that we disregard, and hence easily forget, that part of its action and reproductions that have no special interest for the chief object of attention. We easily forget what we are not interested in, and hence many things lie in the fringe of consciousness, recalled by memory, which we neglect as without importance to the main thesis of thought. Consequently memory seems to have that limited range expressed by the contents of what is relevant to the present object of consciousness. But its range of action is much larger, and this fact makes it imperative to examine it with this fact in view, as a means of throwing light on questions that are unnecessarily mysterious to many persons.

As indicated, however, this general meaning is so comprehensive that it does not clearly appear in the term what its several functions are. We must analyze it to find them. Consequently I find it convenient to divide the field ordinarily covered by the term memory into (1) Retention or Conservation, (2) Reproduction or Recall, generally named Association, (3) Representation or Imagination, and (4) Recognition or Identification. Each of these comprises a distinct class of phenomena or functions, though related in all cases to the same fundamental material of experience. I shall take up each of these in its order.

1. Retention

Retention does not represent any known act or process of mental agency. It is only a name for the fact that in some way past experience is kept for recall or within the reach of consciousness under the appropriate laws of association. It has an analogy in the persistence of physical impressions on objects, but only an analogy. It is a purely conjectured fact from the circumstance that we can consciously command past experience by recall, and retention is merely a name for the condition of past experience in the interval between its original occurrence and its recall.

How retention takes place we do not know. There are plenty of physiological theories which endeavor to explain it, but they are perfectly futile, owing to our complete ignorance of the manner in which the brain is supposed to behave itself in the recording of experience. Antiquity compared the memory in this respect to a wax tablet or a roll on which was written the thoughts of a writer. Such a roll was folded up and opened for reading. This is a very pretty analogy, but it cannot seriously represent anything more. It is the same with physiological theories representing retention as "impressions" on the brain or its cells. This is only a little more obscure analogy than the ordinary wax tablet instance. But we know absolutely nothing about the manner in which impressions on sense affect the brain. 'The molecular activity of which we speak so glibly in reference to the brain is purely conjectural. I do not question it as a fact, but we do not know what it is, and all talk about its explanation of retention is only the result of the demand to offer an explanatory theory of the phenomenon instead of confessing our complete ignorance in the case. It is not necessary to question such theories, but to ask for the evidence for them and for the grounds of their explanatory character. I reject them, there fore, not as necessarily false, but as useless, if true, and as insufficiently supported to make them intelligible. I simply prefer to say that I know absolutely nothing about how retention is possible, and that I am content with the fact, in so far as the term describes or names a conjectured circumstance. Did we know more about what the fact is we might indulge in theoretical explanations, but we are quite as ignorant of what retention is as a fact as we can be about the neural conditions supposed to explain it.

I do not mean by this profession of ignorance, which I wish to extend to all others, physiologists and psychologists alike, that the phenomenon is not explicable by brain facts. I would even go farther and agree that retention must have some relation to neural laws just as consciousness has. But while I grant that retention is as much a brain phenomenon as all other mental facts, I am not impressed by that consideration to admit that I know how it effects such a result. I am merely contending that there is no use to press an explanation that does not explain as we wish the phenomenon to be explained. The reason that we do not like to admit ignorance in such matters is the fact that the admission is interpreted as granting any one the right to put forward any other hypothesis with impunity. This right, however, I do not concede. We have to ask of all hypotheses of explanation, whether physical or mental, physiological or psychological, how the fact supposed can explain the phenomena, or whether we are familiar with such a causal agency in other phenomena than those in mind. When we press theories of explanation we must first know that the conception used is a fact for our experience in some form, and it must present some intelligible and familiar fact suggestive of an intelligible relation between it and the phenomenon to be explained. Otherwise it is a gratuitous assumption, and is advanced to escape the reproach of an ignorance which the common man does not perceive. But there is no legitimate excuse for checking the inclination to abuse that profession of ignorance in theories quite as absurd as that which actually conceals this want of knowledge. In other words, there is no reason for revenging the impunity of other persons by the pretence of knowledge in ourselves. Hence I do not hesitate to say that I think we have no rational explanation of retention as a phenomenon of memory, and I repeat also that I think we do not even know exactly what the fact is which has to be explained.

Nor is it necessary to have any explanation of it. The importance of retention in the scheme of knowledge does not consist in explaining it or in having a theory about it, but in another circumstance associated with it and which affects its relation to the problem of supernormal capacities of the mind. I refer to its compass, or the extent to which the mind conserves its original impressions. If we retain in the mind only what we recall, the compass of retention or memory is very small, and is limited to such facts as we actually use in our mental life. But there is evidence that the compass of retention extends far beyond what we actually recall and use. In fact, the probability is that absolutely every impression ever made upon the sensorium is recorded and available for conscious or unconscious recall. Most of them cannot be recalled at will, but they may recur in delirium or abnormal states to show that they are there, though not recognizable. I shall quote instances that go to prove the measure of this compass. They show such remarkable powers of retention that they would he incredible were they not so common and some other conception of them so necessary, unless this of an unlimited retention be admitted.

The first instance is the classical one mentioned by Sir William Hamilton and quoted from Coleridge's Literaria Biographia. "A young woman of four or five and twenty, who could neither read nor write, was seized with a nervous fever; during which, according to the asseverations of all the priests and monks of the neighborhood, she became possessed, and, as it appeared, by a very learned devil. She continued incessantly talking Latin, Greek, and Hebrew, in very pompous tones, and with most distinct enunciation. Sheets full of her ravings were taken down from her own mouth, and were found to consist of sentences, coherent and intelligible each for itself, but with little or no connection with each other. Of the Hebrew, a small portion only could be traced to the Bible, the remainder seemed to be in the Rabbinical dialect." A careful investigation of the case by a physician, who had much difficulty in ascertaining the girl's antecedents, revealed the fact that in another city the girl had been charitably cared for by a Protestant pastor from the time she was nine years old until his death, a few years later. It was also found that this pastor was in the habit "for years of walking up and down a passage of his house into which the kitchen door opened, and of reading to himself with a loud voice, from his favorite books. A considerable number of these were still in the niece's possession. She stated that he was a very learned man, and a great Hebraist. Among the books were found a collection of Rabbinical writings, together with several of the Greek and Latin fathers; and the physician succeeded in identifying so many passages with those taken down at the young woman's bedside that no doubt could remain in any rational mind concerning the true origin of the impressions made on her nervous system."

Usually we remember what is intelligible to us, but here is an instance of retaining sentences and passages which were wholly unintelligible and which were indirectly heard in the midst of other duties.

Dr. Abercrombie relates a number of cases in which these latent and submerged memories were brought to the surface by a sort of accident, and that showed there is no definite correlation between what is retained and what is recalled. "A man, mentioned by Mr. Abernethy, had been born in France, but had spent the greater part of his life in England, and, for many years, had entirely lost the habit of speaking French. But when under the care of Mr. Abernethy, on account of the effects of an injury of the head, he always spoke French. A similar case occurred in St. Thomas's Hospital, of a man who was in a state of stupor in consequence of an injury of the head. On his partial recovery, he spoke a language which nobody in the hospital understood, but which was soon ascertained to be Welsh. It was then discovered that he had been thirty years absent from Wales, and, before the accident, had entirely forgotten his native language. On his perfect recovery, he completely forgot his Welsh again, and recovered the English language. A lady mentioned by Dr. Pritchard, when in a state of delirium, spoke a language which nobody about her understood, but which was also discovered to be Welsh. None of her friends could form any conception of the manner in which she had become acquainted with that language; but, after much inquiry, it was discovered that in her childhood she had a nurse, a native of a district on the coast of Brittany, the dialect of which is closely analogous to Welsh. The lady at that time learnt a good deal of this dialect, but had entirely forgotten it for many years before this attack of fever."

Here we have the resurrection of experiences which would have appeared to have been wholly obliterated but for the accident of disease, but which, when recalled as they were, indicate the retention of much that is not normally recallable. The following instance is also narrated by Dr. Abercrombie, but he is unable to give the authority for it. The recall in this case is not due to accident of any kind, but to the associative influence of a place.

"A lady, in the last stage of a chronic disease, was carried from London to a lodging in the country; there her infant daughter was taken to visit her, and, after a short interview, carried back to town.. The lady died a few days after, and the daughter grew up without any recollection of her mother till she was of mature age. At this time she happened to be taken into the room in which her mother died, without knowing it to have been so; she started on entering it, and, when a friend who was along with her asked the cause of her agitation, replied, 'I have a distinct impression of having been in this room before, and that a lady, who lay in that corner, and seemed very ill, leaned over me and wept.'"

Dr. Carpenter, in his "Mental Physiology," mentions a most interesting case similar to that of Dr. Abercrombie in that it was local influences that recalled a long-forgotten incident. Dr. Carpenter stands sponsor for the incident as given him by an acquaintance.

"Several years ago, the Rev. S. Hansard, now rector of Bethnal Green, was doing clerical duty for a time at Hurstmonceaux in Sussex; and while there he one day went over with a party of friends to Pevensey Castle, which he did not remember to have ever previously visited. As he approached the gateway, he became conscious of a very vivid impression of having seen it before; and he 'seemed to himself to see' not only the gateway itself, but donkeys beneath the arch, and people on the top of it. His conviction that he must have visited the castle on some former occasion - although he had neither the slightest remembrance of such a visit, nor any knowledge of having ever been in the neighborhood previously to his residence at Hurstmonceaux - made him inquire from his mother if she could throw any light on the matter. She at once informed him that, being in that part of the country when he was about eighteen months old, she had gone over with a large party, and had taken him in the pannier of a donkey; that the elders of the party, having brought lunch with 'them, had eaten it on the roof of the gateway, where they would have been seen from below, whilst he had been left on the ground with the attendants and donkeys."

I have myself had a somewhat similar experience. I had often recalled a picture of standing in the barn-yard of my home and looking through a shed and corn-crib. But I had never happened to mention the fact until we were building a new barn when I was twenty-three years of age. I began one day at this work to say that I remembered when this shed and crib were built, and mentioned the incidents which I have just indicated above. My father stopped his work and watched me tell the story, and when I had finished, recognizing that I was correct as to the main fact, which was that of seeing the carpenters nailing on the laths, he named the year in which the building took place, and this was when I was but two years old. There had been no opportunity for any similar incident after the date of building the shed.

Of the same type as the incidents given by Dr. Abercrombie are some narrated by Dr. Rush of Philadelphia and quoted by Dr. Carpenter. "An Italian gentleman," says Dr. Rush, "who died of yellow fever in New York, in the beginning of his illness spoke English, in the middle of it French, but on the day of his death only Italian. A Lutheran clergyman of Philadelphia informed Dr. R. that Germans and Swedes, of whom he had a considerable number in his congregation, when near death always prayed in their native languages, though some of them, he was confident, had not spoken these languages for fifty or sixty years."

Crystal vision often serves as a stimulus in certain cases of peculiar temperament to the resurgence of long-forgotten memories. Miss Goodrich-Freer, known in the Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research as Miss X., has recounted a large number of incidents in which the crystal was the instrument of such recall. They illustrate the latency of the most trivial incidents of experience. I quote the following statements from her own account of them.

"Some friends coolly sent me a letter addressed 'Dr. Henderson' (I do not give the real name), with orders to look for the rest in the crystal. I looked and was rather staggered to read, 'Dr. Henderson. Taunton Gaol.' I could assign no grounds for such a libel, but on consulting a relative as to what Hendersons we had ever known, she remembered that amongst others 'there was a chaplain of that name at Taunton Gaol, but long before your time.' In my pre-crystal days I would have sworn that I had never heard of this chaplain."

"I saw in the crystal a pool of blood (as it seemed to me) lying on the pavement at the corner of a terrace close to my home. This suggested nothing to me. Then I remembered that I had passed over that spot in the course of a walk of a few hundred yards home from the circulating library; and that, the street being empty, I had been looking into the books as I walked. Afterwards I found that my boots and the bottom of my dress were stained with red paint, which I must have walked through unobservingly during the short trajet just described. I cannot tell which part of me it was that mistook paint for blood, - whether it was my misinterpretation of the crystal picture, or a mistake in the picture itself."

This is an instance of recalling an unobserved, that is, a consciously unobserved fact, and suggests that even our subliminal sensations may be as effectively recorded as our conscious sensations. The next two instances are remarkable in this same respect.

"I saw in the crystal an intimate friend waving to me from her carriage. I observed that her hair, which had hung down her back when I last saw her, was now put up in young lady fashion. Most certainly I had not consciously seen the carriage, the look of which I knew very well. But next day I called on my friend, was reproached by her for not observing her as she passed, and perceived that she had altered her hair in the way which the crystal had shown."

"It was suggested to me one day last September that I should look into the crystal with the intention of seeing words, which had at that time formed no part of my experience. I was immediately rewarded by the sight of what was obviously a newspaper announcement, in the type familiar to all in the first column of the Times. It reported the death of a lady, at one time a very frequent visitor in my circle, and very intimate with some of my nearest friends, an announcement, therefore, which, had I consciously seen it, would have interested me considerably. I related my vision at breakfast, quoting name, date, place, and an allusion to 'a long period of suffering' borne by the deceased lady, and added that I was sure that I had not heard any report of her illness, or even, for some months, any mention of her likely to suggest such an hallucination. I was, however, aware that I had the day before taken up the first sheet of the Times, but was interrupted before I had consciously read any announcement of death."

Accepting these incidents as properly reported, and not involving the intromission of elements afterward into the crystal picture, they necessitate the assumption of retaining subliminal impressions as the only alternative to much more remarkable hypotheses. Miss Goodrich-Freer narrates many other similar experiences with the crystal representing the resurrection of lost memories and in some cases of subliminal impressions, but I cannot quote more of them here. Readers may go to her records in the sources named above.

In illustration of this phenomenon of recalling subliminal impressions, I may refer to some experiments of Dr. Boris Sidis. He has found in cases of anaesthesia that impressions not consciously perceived may be made to appear in hallucinations, showing the memory of stimuli not apperceived at the time of their impression. The same experimenter, in a case of secondary personality due to an accident, found the patient's dreams unrecognized in his waking state, but recognized by the subject's parents, who said they were incidents in his earlier life in another and neighboring State. Similar phenomena appear to occur in dreams quite frequently.

Innumerable instances, such as I have quoted, could be supplied to show that retention seems to extend over the whole field of impressions, normal and subconscious. But such as I have indicated suffice to show what the probabilities are for such as happen not to be recalled. The instances quoted show this retention under circumstances so improbable to our ordinary experience that we can hardly question its extension over all impressions, and that once granted, we have a measure of those startling phenomena which present the appearance of an outside source in abnormal and supernormal mental phenomena, and also an explanation of the resourcefulness of subliminal reproductions of the past. I cannot make this matter clear at present, but I refer to it in order to anticipate the use to be made of so capacious a power as retention when facing the more complex phenomena of multiplex personality, and its material resources.

2. Reproduction

Retention is an unconscious affair. So also is Reproduction or Association, as it has often been called by psychologists. It is the process by which the past is recalled to consciousness and acts according to certain definite laws. The term "Association" has also the comprehensive meaning of connection in present consciousness, and for that reason is perhaps not so clear in its import as Reproduction, which better defines the actual process, while "Association" implies present synthesis. But as usage has sanctified the use of the term for Reproduction, I shall not distinguish between them here. The act, however, is one which mediates between retention and recognition, and so is the act by which facts of the past are brought up to present consciousness. There would be no occasion to take any account of it were it not that it represents certain important limitations of the mind in the control and management of experience. These will appear in the explanation of its laws.

A simple illustration of what is meant by reproduction will be found in such examples as the following. I see a friend whom I have not seen for years. At once some incident in our common lives springs into consciousness and may become the subject of conversation and additional reminiscences. I first think of the house in which we met. This recalls the topic of conversation which was, let us say, politics, and this again suggests forms of government, which might suggest the doctrine of Aristotle, and so on indefinitely. We are all familiar with this process, but are not so familiar with the laws which regulate the order of reproduction, and limit it to certain relevant data of memory. These will throw light upon the normal systematization of knowledge and upon the selection of material recalled to suit the situation.

There are certain general characteristics of the whole process which should be noticed, or if "characteristics" is not the right term, we may say conditions which serve as the basis upon which the several laws rest. They may be enumerated as (1) a quality about present states attracting the past and connecting it with the present, (2) a quality about past experiences making these revivable in a relevant relation, (3) relations of interest and attention between both classes of ideas, and (4) accompaniment of selection and dissociation in regard to certain elements of experience. These conditions are meant to note the fact that only certain types of recollections are orderly revivable in normal experience, and that there are special facts about them that make them so, and suggest the need of discovering the principles on which the process is based and by which it is regulated. I shall proceed to outline these and explain their influence on the normal stream of conscious recollection.

The one general law regulating reproduction or reproductive association has been called the Law of Redintegration by Sir William Hamilton. In our present experience, sensation, judgment, and inference, there is a complex whole before consciousness. Suppose I am looking at a landscape. It consists of a number of points of interest, the hills and valleys, houses, trees, rocks, animal life, streams, etc. The association of these together in the present consciousness I have called a synthesis, and I may also call it integration as indication of the fact that the mind looks at such an experience as a whole, as a collective group of incidents or related facts constituting a single and organic totality. A sound, touch, smell, or other sensation may represent also a more or less complexus of incidents, though perhaps less miscellaneous and less numerous than vision, until after mnemonic association has added to its contents. But a measure of integration is involved in all of them, a complexity that will increase with the added elements of reproduction in later experience. Redintegration then will be the restoration of this whole to consciousness through its recall. Thus, if any part of a past experience comes to consciousness, say the perception of a friend, the whole of the incidents associated with any particular experience involving the presence of that friend will tend to be recalled. Hence I shall define the Law of Redintegration as follows: Redintegration is the reproductive tendency of the mind to restore the past collective experience in its totality. Hamilton's formulation of it is: 

"Those thoughts suggest each other which had previously constituted parts of the same entire or total act of cognition. Now to the same entire or total act belong, as integral or constituent parts, in the first place, those thoughts which arose at the same time, or in immediate consecution; and in the second, those thoughts which are bound up into one by their mutual affinity."

I do not mean by this law that there is any tendency for the whole of the past to be recalled, but only the whole of that part which constituted a separate and individual whole of its own. If any tendency existed for the whole stream of the past to be reproduced, thought would be intolerable. But it happens that, in the formation of individual wholes in thought, there is an economic tendency of the mind to select those groups of facts which belong together for some reason, whether this association is one of time, place, or interest. The concentration of attention is the selective agency or influence in determining what facts of sensation shall constitute the whole likely to be recalled. What is called the compass of attention is the measure of this integration, and so determines the liabilities of redintegration. By the compass of attention we mean the number of objects which it can distinctly cognize at a time, the definite instant of perception, and without using any memory or movement of attention to increase that compass. The effect of this on what we remember and recall will be seen again. For the present I am interested only in asserting the fact that it limits the total that will naturally be recalled. Attention varies with interest, and interest selects those facts of experience which receive special notice, and so tend to obtain fixity in memory and recall. It serves as the agency for breaking the connection between some part of a present experience and that which is of importance to the mind, either transiently or permanently. The consequence is that interest and attention divide up the complex mass or stream of conscious experiences into classified wholes, according to their relation to the main end of thought and action, and redintegration will tend to resort those which have a bearing upon those ends. Hence there is no special tendency in the normal mind to recall the total mass of events in the stream, but only the total which was an object of attention or of interest.

The law which is the complement of Redintegration, and which represents this tendency to separate certain experiences from the stream of consciousness that are not needed in the main interests of the mind may be called that of Disintegration or Dissociation. This will require separate treatment, and it is referred to here only for the purpose of recognizing a contrary tendency to that of Redintegration, or perhaps better, a limiting influence on this redintegration, an economic device in mental development for selecting appropriate matter of thought and action.

The Law of Redintegration can be divided into a number of subordinate laws which explain individual associations, and to understand the peculiar tendency of the mind in recalling the past it will be necessary to notice these divisions briefly. The first general division of redintegration is into Primary and Secondary Laws of Association. Each of these has its own subdivisions. The Primary Laws I divide into those of Similarity and Contiguity. The Secondary Laws I divide into Frequency, Intensity, and Interest. I take up each class separately.

The Primary Laws are those which represent the most frequent and natural influences in determining association in our systematic life and consciousness and are embodied, as said, in Similarity and Contiguity. The Law of Similarity is: Resemblance between mental states or real objects tend to recall or associate the experiences previously had of them. This similarity, implied in the form of the definition, takes two types, subjective and objective. For Objective Similarity the law is: Objects that resemble each other tend to be associated in the process of experience. If this resemblance be in essential qualities the process is most intimately connected with scientific classification and the more philosophic views of the world; if it be in accidental qualities, it gives rise to the unsystematic conceptions of unreflective life, and especially in its humorous and witty aspects.

For Subjective Similarity the law is: Mental states, intellectual or emotional, resembling each other, tend to be associated, and with them the objects or events that produce them. This law explains the apparently capricious character of many associations when measured by the scientific criterion and objectively essential qualities upon which this criterion depends. It especially explains the association of things and events related to personal interests of the individual.

It is possible to make the law of subjective similarity the universal one in associations based upon resemblances, since similar objects must produce similar mental states and conditions. But as the mind depends more upon the known resemblances in the objects for its associations than upon any known likeness in its sensations or conditions, it is best to distinguish between the influence of objective resemblances on the mind and those subjective resemblances and similarities which have no correlates in the qualities of the object, except the power to produce this effect. Let me illustrate both types of association.

The wildcat would suggest the domestic animal of the same genus, or even the tiger. The buffalo would suggest the ox, the beaver the rat, the mastodon the elephant; the cliffs a mountain, the prairie an ocean, the sun the moon, the Madeleine the Parthenon, the Columbia Library the Pantheon, Napoleon Alexander or Caesar, etc. The streets and houses of one city may suggest those of another, the mountains of one country those of another, and for each individual certain buildings will suggest certain other buildings, even though the association may not be a, common one, as in the examples which I have previously chosen. The points of similarity are not always the same for different observers, and hence all sorts of associations may be excited in one that are not excitable in another by the same objects. Thus to one, Bismarck might suggest Cavour, to another he might suggest Metternich or Richelieu. To one Homer would suggest Vergil, and to another Milton. To one, storm-clouds might suggest mountains, and to another angry power. And so with any comparisons that the reader may choose to select for himself. It is difficult to illustrate this peculiarity of objective similarity in terms appreciable by all persons, because the resemblances remarked are not always the same for every person. Individual differences of interest and taste lead to the recognition of different resembling characteristics as the basis of association. But in many of our associations, perhaps by far the majority, an objective similarity of some kind is the first influence in association, even though other laws cooperate to bring about the same associated incident. Much, of course, depends upon the point of view from which we are regarding any given experience. One similarity may affect me now in a way that it will not to-morrow or did not yesterday. The similarities in two pictures may involve their association in one mood of mind and their dissociation in another, or, if not dependent on my moods, I may have one interest in a picture to-day and another interest in it the next day. This, of course, is neglecting the ordinary similarities and attending to other characteristics, but it suffices to prevent associations that might otherwise be most natural. But in all cases the resemblances instinctively selected will be those which most interest our temperament. The philosopher and scientist will select one type of quality, the artist another, the moralist another, and the religious mind perhaps still another.

But along with objective similarities the subjective will operate either to supplant the former or to strengthen their influence. By the subjective I mean simply those states of mind or feeling which objects may arouse without having any essential resemblances to the objects thus associated in recall. Thus a rose may suggest to me a certain piece of music; a piece of music may suggest a rose. Another type of music may suggest a religious service. A mountain might suggest Paradise Lost; a poem might suggest a painting; an intense pleasure at a drama might suggest a scene in nature. To illustrate by more trivial matters and absurd associations, the taste of a strawberry might suggest a symphony, a fine-sounding word might suggest a church, the metre of a poem, a dance, the pleasure of wine, as with the old Greek, a long throat to prolong the taste, the beauty of a river the meaning of life, etc. I remember one instance in which the physical pleasure of an afternoon breeze suggested the Falls of the Rhine to me, the emotion being the same in both instances.

There is no end to the caprice in these subjective influences in similarity of feeling excited. They give rise to the strange associations in many instances which strike us as absurd or amusing. Quite as often they represent the subjective usefulness of objects to our lives, and in some instances mark the personal interest and its relation to objects. But it is objective similarity that indicates most distinctly, and perhaps most healthily, our adjustment to environment. We shall see later that any weakness of our emotional reactions may lead to the wrong associations, and thus to the maladjustment of our actions in the physical world. But even in our healthiest conditions their influence on the images recalled is a most striking fact, and it only happens that usually the objective influences either absorb the prominent interest of the mind or subordinate the subjective to their rule, making the unimportant mental interests only indirect objects of consciousness and action.

The Law of Contiguity is: Phenomena that are in some way contiguous to each other, either in space or time, tend to be recalled together. This influence does not involve any similarity of nature or causal agency whatever to stimulate recall. The redintegration is simply that of space and time wholes. A landscape, a house, a river, a city, a street have a tendency to recall the objects previously remarked in their proximity. Any reproduced memory almost will illustrate this phenomena, and it is too familiar a law to require elaborate illustration. Contiguity in time is not so easily illustrated. But the events of the present hour recall those of the last more easily than those of the day before, with exceptions due to the predominance of other primary and secondary laws. There requires no similarity, subjective or objective, in the events that make temporal contiguity influential in reproduction. The only condition is that they shall constitute the same part of a present total in consciousness that any part of a space total represents in it. Hence the events in England to-day may influence reproduction in my mind more easily than the events of my childhood. This contiguity, however, is most especially noticeable in its subjective form. This means that, whatever the real time in history of any set of events, their association in consciousness at any time tends to have them associated again when any part of them is recalled, as the law of redintegration requires. Events, too, that have no objective association whatever, if temporarily associated in consciousness, tend to be recalled together. I may be reading Roman history and be interrupted by a beggar, only to have Roman history suggested by the next sight of a beggar, or I may be eating oranges at a concert, only to have a concert suggested by eating oranges again. The reader may introspect his own experience for better illustrations. But contiguity in time and space are perhaps as powerful suggestives as similarity. They account for those associations which represent that part of reminiscent wholes which is not suggested by similarity alone or by secondary laws.

When it comes to defining and explaining the secondary laws, we may perhaps allow them to explain themselves. They are simply the fact that greater frequency in the occurrence of the same experience, whether important or trivial, will give it a tendency to reproduction that it would not otherwise have; that greater intensity of an experience, trivial or not, tends to keep it in consciousness; and greater interest, whatever the object or event, has a like tendency. Frequency is one of the features of habit, whether it is connected with trivial or important matters. It is well illustrated in the automatic habits we adopt, for instance, biting our finger-nails, whistling when we work, twirling our fingers or moving the head in embarrassment. In these cases frequency supplements contiguity in time. Intensity means that the emphasis or intense painfulness or agreeableness of a sensation, emotion, or other mental state so affects its relation to others as to increase its liability to reproduction, as its associates are submerged and left out of notice by the very intensity or relative interest of the one fact. Interest, of course, is a most important influence in reproduction, as it represents that selectiveness which gives some sort of intensity for a given fact while suppressing the relative strength of others. It is probable that interest is the fundamental agency in all reproduction connected with the main objects of systematic thought and action. It means the concentration of attention and will upon one object or general aim, with which must be associated all the proper events of experience. This strain and stress of consciousness acts as a gravitating force upon all the incidents in the stream of consciousness, and enables association to select the particular law which it will predominantly follow. It is the secret of a good memory, which means that facts can be recalled with reference to a rationally chosen end instead of the capricious influence of various laws not naturally acting in cooperation toward the one end. Interest may have to rely upon similarity and contiguity, and even secondary laws of reproduction for its content, but it serves as the selective principle which organizes the relevant facts of experience while it disregards those which might otherwise intrude themselves into a place where they are irrelevant and unnecessary. Hence it is the power which assigns limitations to the operation of the other laws and makes them subserve a rational end.

It is probably very seldom that any one of these laws acts alone. It requires little observation of one's own experience to see that many reproductions are related to two or more of these laws at the same time; that any one of them might be sufficient to explain many or the most of our recalled experiences. When they cooperate in this result the recall is all the more likely, and, in fact, this is the secret of ready reproduction in all cases. If only one characteristic of the past is recalled, it is more difficult to recall all of it, to make the redintegration perfect, than it is when two or more of the incidents are reproduced. Any abstraction of a single incident will tend to produce some illusion of memory, and hence our ,security from error depends in some measure, more or less, upon the amount of redintegration occurring at the first instant of recall, and the more laws cooperating to enrich that recall, the better command we have over our past. Thus, suppose that I recall a conversation with Mr. A.; unless I also recall at the same time the special place at which it occurred I may find on further investigation that it was not A. at all with whom I had the conversation, but B. This is a very frequent mistake of people, and it leads to all sorts of errors of statement and action. We lean hardly read an interview in the newspaper on account of the known mistakes of this kind creeping into the story. But if we can recall with it a variety of concomitant or associated circumstances, we can better assure ourselves of the correctness of memory. The test of accuracy in such matters is the extent of the identity in the redintegration, and to obtain this in all its complexity a number of laws must combine to effect the reproduction.

This combination of laws to achieve the same result often gives rise in the psychologist to the recognition of other laws of reproduction, such as Convergent and Divergent Association, and Association by Contrast. But in fact these are but combinations of the simple or primary and secondary laws. I do not require here to enter into any analysis of them. I shall only point out that association by contrast is a combination of contiguity in time and frequency, with perhaps an element of subjective similarity. If this be true, we do not require to treat it as a separate law, though we might be tempted to do it from the relation of contrast to similarity. But this relation is itself one that suggests a difference which analysis does not support. Contrasted experiences would not be recalled except for their frequent association by contiguity in time and space. The content marks such a difference that we think a new law of association is necessary to explain their reproduction together, and the temptation is great in proportion to our recognition of similarity as fundamental. But when we once admit that similarity is no more fundamental than contiguity, we shall have no difficulty in admitting that contrast is a complex law. It may be raised in abnormal cases into an apparent simple law by the mere habit of noticing this contrast between certain objects, antithesis in things, and then setting it up as a mental interest by which to be controlled. In such cases the law is really one of similarity in a general and abstract quality with a decided difference in content of the more sensory kind.

The importance of reproduction or mnemonic association lies in its relation to Retention and Recognition. The value of retention depends wholly upon the recall of remembered incidents instead of leaving them latent in the mind or brain. Without reproduction the past would produce no recognizable or conscious influence on the present moment of consciousness. We should have nothing but a deposit of experience forever irrecoverable to consciousness and a present moment which is only the reaction of the mind on present stimulus. The past would not count in the present. It could not be recognized, and if it produced any effect at all on the contents of the present it would only be that influence which would represent the actual but not recognized presence of data, the momentum of past mental states, which would not be distinguished from the reaction of the mind on the existing stimulus. This undoubtedly occurs in all of us to some extent, and possibly to a larger extent than we are at all aware of. But it serves no special purpose in our conscious life unless it is recognizable as the past. It is the distinction between the present and the past that enables us to determine the order of nature which is to command our respect. In fact, the past would have no meaning for us whatever, and would not even be discoverable in its unconscious influence but for its reproduction in the present, to some extent at least, and hence the measure of our knowledge of things and of our ethical adjustment to them will be the extent of our conscious recognition of a reproduced past. Unconscious reproduction, that is, the unconscious influence of the past on the present, or perhaps better still, the unrecognizable influence of the past on the present, would be well enough in a world that is changeless, but in a world where change is the law of many things, it is important to have a measure of both the permanent and the transient in existence, as our actions will alter to suit this evolutionary process.

I have here been anticipating, in a measure, the function of recognition. But I did so to indicate what place reproduction of the past for present consciousness has in the ethical economy of life. Reproduction is, in fact, a wholly unconscious act, and we are not aware of it as a fact until we recognize the present content of consciousness as having at least some part of the past in it. The reproduction would otherwise be, if it occurred at all, only the latent influence of the present, which I have just said actually occurs at times. The function of primary importance after reproduction is recognition.

If retention were a much more limited capacity of the mind, less stress or importance could be placed on the working of reproduction, as, no matter how perfect its laws and action, the effect on present consciousness would be limited by the extent of retention. But when we have reason to believe that retention is absolute, that the mind or brain retains absolutely every impression it ever had, whether subliminal or supraliminal, unconscious or conscious, the whole responsibility for the utility of the past to the present will rest on the extent of its reproductibility and recognizability. If reproduction or association is good or can be educated up to the needs of the mind's life, the past will have some place in the present commensurate with the soul's capacity for retention. Otherwise the mental development will be proportionally defective. But in any case reproduction is the intermediate influence acting between retention and recognition, and its utility will be proportioned to that normal action which indicates the proper adjustment of the past to the present.

3. Imagination

I have called the Imagination by the name of Representation in order to indicate thereby, perhaps in an etymological sense, the relation of its functions to the original presentations of sense or intellection. With many the term means a constructive faculty of the mind, and hence its power to create certain ideas or ideals. But this import of the term loses sight of its real relation to past experience, though it does indicate one aspect of the mind in what is called the productive imagination. Representation distinctly. expresses its relation to the past and involves much the same function as the ordinary conception of the term imagination. I define Representation, therefore, as the act of re-imaging the past experience or reconstructing it in new forms. This conception of it describes two forms of it, the merely reproductive imagination and the productive or creative imagination. The reproductive imagination .simply pictures or repictures the past as it occurred in sensation, and is the consequence of recall. The productive imagination modifies past experience, taking its forms, and creates structures of thought out of the materials of the past.

But in both forms the principal interest is in the nature of its activity and in its relation to the sensory experiences which originated its data. The question for the psychologist is primarily the manner of its action and not its material content. The literary man may be interested in its education and use for practical life, but in this discussion of it we shall discard all questions of this kind, and concern ourselves with the relation of imagination to the problems of normal and abnormal psychology, and especially the latter, where we have to consider the relation of imagination to illusions and hallucinations. We shall find in discussing these phenomena that they more or less appear to represent real objects, and the question is whether the imagination plays any part in their production.

Whenever a past experience is recalled clearly we have what is termed a "memory picture" of it. This means that our minds represent to themselves the past in simulacra or like forms to those which were originally experienced. In vision we have a distinct picture before the mind's eye of what we have seen. In touch, hearing, taste, and smell, in varying degrees of clearness, we imagine or picture the past. The question is whether these pictures or images, or remembered forms, involve any of the sensory functions in their production. In most of us, I conceive, the memory picture can be easily distinguished from the real sensations from which they come. There is no judgment or illusion of reality in them. If I remember or imagine the mountain or valley that I have seen, I do not see it before me, in any proper sense of the term "see," but I think of it in its place, though I imagine or picture in the mind the form and appearance of it as it was seen in reality; but I do not in any way mistake what I thus picture for an object now presented to me, as I should do in an illusion or hallucination. But in spite of this we often talk of a "vivid imagination" as if things might thus be pictured as real. It will require very careful investigation in such cases to assure ourselves that a "vivid imagination" represents its objects as apparent realities. I have not yet found it evident in any cases of the perfectly normal type, and we may question whether the abnormal types, really or apparently so representing them, are instances of imagination. It would require some care to determine this, and we cannot assume it from the language employed to describe the experience, unless evidence can be produced that it actually means what it seems to mean. I myself have certainly never found any real resemblance between a sensation and a product of the imagination in my normal state, and any uniformity of difference between the normal and the abnormal state in this respect would throw doubts upon the extension of imagination to explain illusion and hallucination, and upon the simulation of reality by imagination in the normal state. Even the consciousness of reality would not prove it to us unless we ourselves had that consciousness and could compare it with reality. The testimony of others would not decide it unless they were familiar with psychological criteria, and I certainly do not find in my experience the slightest reason or evidence to believe that imagination can produce sensory states in imitation of reality, though we recognize the simulacrum of it in memory pictures. A fit of absent-mindedness or abstraction, involving such concentration of thought as to obscure the consciousness of other and indirect objects in the field, may make us act as if we were contemplating reality in our memory picture, and we may think that it is real, while we do not have the sensation of apparent reality. Hence it will be difficult to prove that imagination actually reproduces sensory reactions so like the real as to be taken for them.

If we can appeal to hypnotic phenomena and dreams for support, we may find there facts tending to show this very capacity of imagination, if we can rightly call the result of suggestion in one case and dreaming in the other as productions of the imagination. But this is just the question, though the resemblance to imagination in some respects at least is undoubted. It is certain that a semblance of reality is found in hypnotic suggestions and the pictures they create in the mind. I saw one instance in which the subject remembered, after hypnosis was removed, the images which had been suggested in the hypnotic state, and refused, because of their frightful character, to allow rehypnosis. He described the things he had seen, wild animals and the like. He indicated that they had seemed real to him, and the alarm which he had felt during the hypnosis was carried onward into the waking state, though perfectly normal in this. I remember also two dreams of my own in which I awakened while the dream was going on, and its images remained some moments during my waking state so that I could introspect them. They seemed exactly like real objects, and one of them so real that I could not think where I was in fact, though knowing that it was a dream apparition. Dr. Boris Sidis calls attention to an experiment of his own in which he suggested to a patient under hypnosis that he could see his hand, which was placed behind a screen, and the man compared what he saw with the other hand, which was not behind the screen. He remarked that one hand seemed larger than the other, and said he could not otherwise distinguish between them when he was asked to do so. I think that the general conviction about our dreams is that the images are like reality and more distinct and "real" than memory pictures of the normal state. It may be that the cutting off of our ordinary introspective action in our dreams and of their comparison with present experiences with their associates affects the sense of reality, but there is such a uniformity of experience in this matter, where we are not nearly enough awake to make the comparison mentioned, as to favor the idea that the dream state imitates sensory states very perfectly. if, then, we can use dreams and hypnotic states as evidence of tendencies in the normal imagination, we may well suppose that it represents at least incipient sensory states, and it may be that instances occur in which this incipiency borders on the production of a real sensation subjectively considered.

The fact which suggests the imitation of reality in the functions of imagination is the admitted character of the memory picture, and in our theory of brain centres and activities it would be very natural to expect that the recurrence of the past in memory would in a measure excite the same functions. But in our normal life it would be important that these resurrections should not he mistaken for reality, and this circumstance strengthens the suspicion that, normally, imagination does not reproduce the sensory action in any distinct simulation of reality. Though this be the case, however, it might in various situations act abnormally, and so tend to arouse sensory action. I have in mind to illustrate this a frequent experience of my own. If I think of some possible danger to myself, and allow my mind a sort of absent-minded tendency and without the purpose of effecting the result which does happen, I can often feel a distinct tactual pain, which represents the actual pain I would experience if the accident imagined actually occurred. I remember, too, once seeing a boy knocked down with a brick, and the incident so angered me that for many years afterward, when I would think of the incident intently and in a fit of abstraction I could almost feel the sensation in my temples of being struck. The thought would instigate muscular contortions which I would discover after they occurred. Whether similar phenomena take place in intense imaginative experience, suggestive or otherwise, I do not know, but they may, and, if they do, we can understand how illusion and hallucination may occur in abnormal conditions. But any assumption of such a tendency involves the idea that mere thoughts or remembered states of mind can excite sensory centres in the same way as external stimuli, and while this seems to be the case in abnormal conditions, it is not so certain that it characterizes the normal. But there may be in the various types of imagination, or degrees of it in different individuals, the tendency to exhibit phenomena that suggest the possible simulation of sensations by the imagination.

But it is difficult to prove, and when it is proved ,we may find the instances so infrequent that we may classify them with the abnormal. It is probable that a statistical inquiry would tend to discount the assumption of real simulation.

4. Recognition

All the previous phenomena of memory, Retention, Reproduction, and Imagination, are unconscious acts. They perform their work before recognition can take place, and in fact their very existence beyond the introspection of the mind is inferred from the results as they appear in recognition. Recognition is simply the conscious side of memory, the recognition of what is cognition in the original case, and it marks the sense of past time in the experience as the distinguishing characteristic of the phenomenon. That is to say, recognition is the consciousness that the recalled incident belongs to the past and so sets the phenomenon off from a present sensation. How it occurs and what its conditions are we do not know. It is an unique act of mind, quite as unanalyzable as any other consciousness, and is the crowning act of memory. The act is of the nature of perception, and so is subject to similar illusions or errors. This is its main interest in the problem before us. How it is possible, and what the activities of the brain may be that determine it, I do not care or know. But we do know that it is the one act which makes possible the use of the past when recalled. But for this recognition, reproduction of the past would have no influence on conscious life. No doubt it is just the distinction between the product of the imagination and the present sensation that helps to distinguish between past and present, though this distinction is probably aided by other factors in the phenomena, such as imperfect redintegration. But it is the liability to illusion in recognition, due probably in most cases to this imperfect redintegration, that makes it important for the study of abnormal cases. This will appear in later discussions. In the meantime we have only to observe that the fundamental feature of the act is its perception of the identity of a past event, its relative localization in the redintegrated whole or in the stream of experience. The judgment of recognition is this identification and localization, and it will be accurate or illusory in proportion to the completeness of redintegration. Recognition may not be mistaken in what it does perceive as past, but it may mistake either the locus of that past or the totality of it. The part which it recognizes may be a real part of the past experience which it mistakes, but the other associated facts may not be any part of it, and whether illusions of this sort occur or not will depend upon the extent of redintegration. This will be apparent in the study of illusions of memory. For the present I merely remark the condition of its accuracy in the judgment of the past.

Let me summarize. In order to reach the act of recognition the mind has to have the preceding steps of retention, reproduction, and representation or imagination. Recognition is the one function by which we appropriate consciously the past experience. All the others are unconscious and uneducible directly. Whatever influence the mind can have over their action must be the result of conscious interest and habit. Retention is probably perfect, and hence requires no aid in the exercise of its functions. It is like a mechanical register, and does its work without the need of education. But owing to the need of selection from the past in what is recalled there must be limitation to the function of reproduction. Some adjustment of its functions to the special wants of the mind at the moment is imperative, and this imposes a law of economy on association. With the alteration of human interests from moment to moment, and in the various emergencies of life, there must go a corresponding adjustability of association, and this involves exposure to all sorts of incoordination in recall, especially when any change of association is required against the law of frequency or habit. The errors in recognition will depend for prevention on the right adjustment of association to the needs of the present consciousness, and hence the value of educating reproduction. All the importance of conscious regulation of life depends on the extent to which the recognition of the past is accurate and relevant, and that accuracy and relevancy will depend upon the quality and quantity of redintegration. Interest and attention are more or less necessary to the quality of what is recalled, and the development of complexity in association is necessary to its quantity. The cooperation of these influences produces the maximum of conscious appropriation of experience and the healthy action of the mind and will. At the basis of these and the preservation of the normal life is interest and attention. Any relaxation of these, leaves the mind at the mercy of capricious associations and the irregularities of the abnormal subject.

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Contents | Preface | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13

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