William McDougall

Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, President of the Society for Psychical Research between 1920-21 and of the American Society for Psychical Research in 1921. Member of the Scientific American Committee for the investigation of Margery's mediumship. A keen but reserved investigator who took great care not to commit himself as to the genuine occurrence of the supernormal and agencies of an extra-terrene origin.

Theory of Personality and of its Disintegration

Dualist Theories | Monistic Theories | Rival Theories and the Facts of Multiple Personality | Integration | Character and the Sentiments | My Theory of Character Applied by Other Authors to Interpret Multiple Personality | Integration Neglected by the Psychoanalysts | Janet's Recent Development of His Theory of Integration and Disintegration | The Theory of Integration and Disintegration Applied

 - William McDougall -

          IN THIS chapter we may attempt to form some conception of the nature of human personality which may serve as a working hypothesis for the theoretical interpretation of the forms of mental disorder. And it is worth while to review briefly the principal current conceptions, in order to have them before us in attempting this task. Here all the biological sciences, all psychology, and all philosophy converge; the problem of the individual is the most fundamental problem of all these disciplines and its solution must be the crowning achievement of them all. Here dogmatism is supremely out of place. Here the open mind is essential, the utmost freedom of speculation is in order, and conclusions can be nothing more than tentative working hypotheses. For our ignorance is very great. We have no certain principles for our guidance, beyond the fundamental logical principle that two contradictory propositions cannot both be true. Yet so great are the difficulties that William James, wrestling with this problem, proposed to throw aside even this last logical anchor.

Many of the psychologists who have attempted some interpretation of cases of multiple personality have started out with some fixed conception of the nature of individuality, and have forced the facts to fit the conception. The only proper procedure is the reverse of this: we must have in mind, and be open-minded towards, the various views of individuality, and must tentatively apply each one, in order to discover which best fits the facts, best enables a consistent interpretation of all the well-established phenomena or facts. It will not do, for example, to reject dogmatically at the outset every form of dualistic view of human personality, on the ground that we have recently learned a little more about the influence upon mental life of the chemistry of the body, or because Pavlov's researches have made more definite our knowledge of the way in which primitive native reaction tendencies are altered in the course of experience(1). Nor is it helpful to hurl dyslogistic epithets at those who incline to views we do not ourselves accept, epithets such as materialist, mystic, metaphysician, or mediaevalist. In spite of all the progress of modern science this great question is still as open as it was when Aristotle struggled with it and wisely refrained from pretending to have found a satisfactory answer.

(1) Dr. L. Berman, an enthusiastic exponent of endocrinology, writes in his recent book, The Personal Equation, as follows: "The blood and the nervous system and the glands of internal secretion form a triumvirate of chemical machines whose integrated functioning is the soul. There is every reason for believing that life is a piece of chemical clockwork."

Dualist Theories [top]

The rival views we have to keep in mind fall into two main groups, the dualistic and the monistic. By dualistic I mean those which assume that mental and physical processes are distinct in kind and that man is a psychophysical organism in the life of which processes of these two kinds interact. The dualistic view may be given a metaphysical form by assuming that physical processes are expressions of the nature of a substance we call matter, and that mental or psychical processes are expressions of the nature of a substance we call soul or mind or spirit. Or it may be held in a less metaphysical form which does not postulate substances underlying physical and psychical processes. In this form the dualistic view regards physical and psychical processes as distinguishable in terms of the general laws which they seem to obey or manifest: physical processes seem to conform to the laws of strict determination or mechanistic causation; psychical processes conform to the laws of purposive striving, the seeking of goals or ends. According to this view every human action is the outcome of an intimate interplay of processes of these two kinds; and the actions of animals and the organic processes of our bodies are in a similar way psychophysically determined. The psychical factor is at a minimum in the simple organic processes, and reaches its maximum in the self-conscious choices of developed personalities, in which it attains a decided predominance over its physical partner.

Monistic Theories [top]

The monistic views range from extreme materialism to pure spiritualism or idealism. They also may postulate a universal substance which may be called Matter or Spirit or Ether or Mind or God. But they may avoid all such postulates and content themselves with the assumption that all process is essentially of one kind. Then the monist finds himself before the question-Is this fundamental kind more adequately conceived after the pattern which physical science postulates, strictly determined processes every stage of which is in principle exactly predictable; or is it a creative process such as our mental life seems to illustrate, at least in its higher flights, a process that seeks and strives after goals, and in so far as successful achieves new and better ways of attaining its goals and at the same time formulates new and wider goals to strive for? In short-is the one process of the mechanistic or the purposive type? Some of the monists affirm its mechanistic nature; they are the modern representatives of materialism. Others prefer to regard it as of the purposive type; they are idealists or spiritualists or mentalists. The former are compelled to assume that the appearance of purposiveness presented by so much of human and animal action is illusory; the latter that the appearance of mechanistic determination in the inorganic world is illusory. The former view may be called "physical monism "; the latter view "psychical monism." There are thus three principal views to be kept in mind - 1: dualistic interactionism; 2: physical monism; 3: psychical monism. All these are respectable; and, though the views put forward by various authors differ by many fine shades, there is, I think, only one which does not fall in one of these three classes, namely psychophysical parallelism in the stricter meaning of the term. In a loose wide sense all the monistic views may be and often have been spoken of as forms of psychophysical parallelism; but in the stricter sense the term implies dualism of mind and body, a parallelism of the mental processes with the physical processes of the brain, without interaction. About the end of the last century this view, under the influence of Wundt, Ebbinghaus, and others of the German experimental school, was fashionable and orthodox; but at the present time it has become generally recognised that it is the most unsatisfactory of all the formulations, one that does nothing more than to confess our lack of insight into the mind-body relation and to announce the intention to abstain from all wrestling with the problem(2). Wundt seriously asserted that the difference between a teleological series of events and a mechanically determined series lies merely in the point of view, that the same series may be regarded as mechanical when traced from behind forward, and as teleological when traced back-ward from any given point which we might choose to regard as its end or goal. But the difference between a train of mechanically determined events and a change produced by creative purposive activity is the most radical difference that we can conceive. Here at least we may confidently invoke the logical law of non-contradiction and assert that the psychophysical series cannot be both wholly mechanical and wholly purposive.

(2) For a detailed review of speculation on this topic I may refer the reader to my Body and Mind (1911). Janet has recently referred to psychophysical parallelism as "la fameuse theorie du parallelisme ... qui a eu une influence si funeste sur les etudes psychologiques."

A generation ago the general tendency of those who favoured a monistic: view was towards physical monism; that is to say, it was held that mechanistic determination was established for the inorganic realm and that, if there was no radical difference between mental and physical processes, the mental must be conceived after the pattern of the physical. But there has been of recent years a great relaxing of the rigidity of physical formulations; it is beginning to be understood that the rigid formulations of the past were valid only for hypothetically isolated and closed systems(3); and that we have no warrant for regarding any part of the real world as constituting such a system; that every conceivable system is part of a larger whole in which mental activity has its proper place; that any picture of the universe which leaves out the purposive mental activity which creates that picture is a little naive and even ridiculous; that, therefore, if a monistic picture is to be valid, it must be one in which the physical is assimilated to the nature of the psychical, one in which the most elementary physical processes are conceived after the pattern of our own activities; rather than one which, ignoring or falsifying the most intimate and certain knowledge that we have, represents the world as one in which the terms value, desire, motive, striving, volition, meaning and intention, are meaningless. The rise of the Quantum theory in physics, of the Gestalt or configuration theory in psychology, are interesting indications of a movement towards a psychical monism and away from physical monism.

(3) For example, it is only when applied to such a hypothetical closed system that the principle of conservation of energy forbids the conception of psychophysical interaction.

Rival Theories and the Facts of Multiple Personality [top]

It may be asserted with some confidence that the serious rivals in the field, as hypotheses in terms of which human nature must be interpreted, are psychical monism and dualistic interactionism. This is borne out by the inadequacy of every form of physical monism when applied to the interpretation of the facts of multiple personality. The older attempts to interpret the facts in terms of atomistic and sensationistic psychology, for which mental process is nothing more than conjunctions and sequences of cerebral reflexes, each somehow accompanied by an element or atom of consciousness called a sensation or an image, all such attempts are hopelessly disqualified in view of the fact, so clearly brought out by recent studies, that the unity of the personality is the product of a long integrative process, and that, in both integration and disintegration, the chief role is played by the conative, striving, purposive factors or aspects.

The same facts equally negative the old simple dualistic view that regarded the personality as a conjunction of the physical structure with a single indivisible psychic being or soul; for all the arguments which led to the postulation of the unitary indivisible soul as the ground of the unity of the conscious life and of its expressions in the body require that, in cases of clearly marked multiple personalities, we should postulate a corresponding number of souls. And, if the unity of the individual is given once for all in the unitary nature of the soul, how are we to understand the facts of increasing integration and the defects and lapses of integration that result in multiple personalities each leading its own mental life and struggling, in real conflicts of will, against its fellow for the use and control of the common organism?

It is clear also that none of the theories which seek to explain the facts of subconscious activity by postulating a subconsciously functioning psychic entity, whether called the Unconscious (with Schopenhauer, von Hartmann, Freud, and Jung) or the Subliminal Self (with Myers) or the Subconscious Self (with Sidis, Hudson, and others) is adequate to the facts. For the study of subconscious and coconscious activities does not point to any such enduring division of the mind into two parts, one functioning consciously, the other unconsciously; it points rather to a hierarchy of minor integrations which, under favourable circumstances, becomes the single integrated system that we call the normal personality.

Freud and his disciples have abstained from any attempt to reconcile the facts of multiple personality with the Freudian psychology. Freud himself has somewhat dogmatically denied the reality of coconscious activities in the same organism. He writes of the analysis of hysterical subjects as follows: "One receives a delusive impression of a superior intelligence, external to the patient's consciousness, which systematically holds a large psychic material for definite purposes ... I presume, however, that this unconscious second intelligence is only apparent." And again he writes: "The pathogenic psychic material appears as the property of an intelligence which is not necessarily inferior to the normal Ego. The semblance of a second personality is often most delusively produced." And yet again he writes of the theory of coconscious activity as follows: "I venture to argue against this theory that it is a gratuitous assumption based on the abuse of the word 'conscious'; ... the cases described as splitting of consciousness, like Dr. Azam's (Felida), might better be denoted as shifting of consciousness - that function - or whatever it be - oscillating between two different psychical complexes which become conscious and unconscious in alternation." But Freud offers no good reason for rejecting the very strong evidence of coconscious activity. His rejection of it would seem to be determined by his very peculiar treatment of consciousness in general. He consistently treats of consciousness as though it were a lamp, a light, or an illumination, suffusing the interior of a certain chamber; and he assumes that psychic processes may go on equally well either inside this chamber suffused with this light, or outside of it in the region he calls "the Unconscious"; the illumination of the processes by the light which is consciousness making no more difference to them than the turning on or off of the lamp in an engine-room makes to the running of the engine.

Such complete divorce between conscious activity and psychic activity seems without warrant. For Freud, who rightly conceives the subconscious processes as psychical purposive strivings towards various goals, such divorce is even more unjustifiable than for those who regard all subconscious processes as merely the mechanical operations of the brain tissues. Further, it is of the essence of Freud's therapeutic principles that the hidden processes of "the Unconscious" must be brought into the light of consciousness, in order that a cure may be effected. To treat consciousness as a light that is thrown upon some psychical processes, yet as a light which makes no difference to the course they run, as Freud does, is then radically inconsistent.

Integration [top]

It is clear that, before we can formulate any satisfactory theory of the disintegration of personality, we must have some satisfactory view of the nature of personality, some view of the nature of its unity and, since that unity is in some sense the product of an integrative process, some view of the nature of the integrative process.

Man, like all the animals above the level of the unicellular protozoa, is a colonial organism; his body consists of a vast number of cells, each of which is in a sense a vital unit. His life is the more or less harmonised co-operation of all this vast multitude; and the nervous system plays the main role in maintaining this harmony of co-operation. But the nervous system is itself a vast multitude of cells; and it is in virtue only of its own integration that it succeeds in maintaining the harmonious co-operation of other organs and functions.

The nervous system inherits a certain degree of organisation; there take form within it, by a process of maturation, by the momentum of the heredity process, certain innate integrations, the chief of which are the instinctive dispositions. Each of these, when mature, can impel the organism to co-ordinated activity towards some goal of a special kind, the attainment of food, the performance of the sexual function, the escape from dangers, the exclusion or repulsion of noxious substances from the mouth, the breaking down of opposition or obstruction, the display of the organism, etc. But each of these integrations, which, when brought into play, is, or generates, an active tendency, an impulse, towards its natural goal, works, so far as innate organisation is concerned, in relative independence of all the rest. The unity of a harmonious personality is only gradually and imperfectly attained by the individual in the course of his growing up, his postnatal development; a development which takes place in the light of a multitude of experiences of success and failure, of pleasure and pain, of satisfaction and painful frustration. Through such experiences the instinctive impulses become confirmed in certain directions, become fixated upon certain objects and in certain modes of seeking their goals; and at the same time they are turned away from other objects and other modes of expression. This is the formation of the sentiments, sentiments of love and hate, of liking and disliking, of respect and contempt, of admiration and fear, for various objects.

Character and the Sentiments [top]

Each sentiment is a higher integration; within one sentiment several instinctive dispositions may be integrated to form a harmoniously working system. But still the various sentiments thus formed are so many systems which may obstruct one another or conflict with one another. If a unitary personality is to be achieved, the various sentiments must be brought into one system within which their impulses shall be harmonised, each duly subordinated to the higher integration of which it becomes a member. This higher integration is what we call "character"; it is achieved by the development of a master sentiment which dominates the whole system of sentiments, subordinating their impulses to its own. In the imperfect forms of character the master sentiment may be the love of wealth, of power, or of glory (i.e., what we call an ambition, an imperfect or lower form of the sentiment of self-regard). There may be two or more master sentiments of divergent tendencies (such as love of learning and love of wealth)(4) and then conflict is inevitable and the way is prepared for division of the personality (cf. Case 56, with her sentiment of devotion to her wifely duties and her sentiment for a life of girlish independence in the open air).

(4) Cf. the dream of the young Jew, p. 153.

The only sentiment which can adequately fulfil the function of dominating and harmonising all other sentiments is the sentiment of self-regard, taking the form of a self-conscious devotion to an ideal of character. Such a sentiment owes its peculiar potency to two peculiarities in respect of which it is unique: first, it can supply a determining, a decisive, an over-ruling motive in all conflicts between other sentiments or crude impulses; secondly, this sentiment is capable of extension to all loved objects; that is to say, it may become synthesised with, or may integrate within its own system, all other sentiments of love and hate, of liking and disliking; as when a man identifies himself with his child, his family, his country, or learns to feel that the friends and enemies of his country are his own friends and enemies.

I have sketched the hierarchy of sentiments which we call character in terms of mental structure, of the organisation of affective dispositions. The same development may be stated in terms of goals and purposes, the goals towards which the sentiments or their impulses are directed, the purposes that spring from them. From this point of view we may say that the integration of personality, the development of character, results from the formation of some dominant purpose, the adoption of some goal that is felt to be of supreme value, a purpose and a goal to which all others are subordinated as of less urgency and lower value. And of such master purposes, the one most truly and universally effective is the purpose of being an efficient autonomous personality, a character capable of choosing and following whatever line of conduct reason may point to as the best.

My Theory of Character Applied by Other Authors to Interpret Multiple Personality [top]

This theory of character, of the integration of personality, sketched in greater detail in my "Social Psychology" many years ago, was reached from the study of normal personality(5). It is therefore very satisfactory that the theory finds confirmation through the study of disintegrated personalities. Three distinguished students of such cases have adopted the scheme for the interpretation of the facts, each being led to its adoption by his first-hand and independent study of extreme cases of disintegration. Since most of my colleagues have entirely ignored this theory of the development of character, the most important and original feature of my "Social Psychology," I cite here passages from the writings of those three authors stating the theory in language which, perhaps, is better suited than my own to gain for it some attention and comprehension.

(5) It is briefly restated in Part I of this book.

Dr. Morton Prince has applied it in detail to his cases, in the papers already cited, and especially in the last of the series(6). I quote one passage: "The importance of the sentiments in the dynamics of personality ... need not be dwelt upon. But there is one sentiment which plays such an important role both in these respects and in the content of that unitary system which we know as the Ego, or consciousness of self, that something needs to be said about it. This sentiment is that which McDougall has termed the 'self-regarding sentiment,' which is intimately bound up with the idea or conception of the empirical self, and both should be considered together. It is only by regarding, as it seems to me, the conception or idea of the empirical self as a secondary unitary complex organised by experience that we can approach the solution of the problem of the Ego and understand the phenomenon of two Egos in one personality, as so often occurs in multiple personality."

(6) The Structure and Dynamic Elements of Human Personality, J. Abn. Psych., 1921.

Dr. T. W. Mitchell writes(7): "Unity and continuity of consciousness is a necessary and important part of our conception of personality, but in this there is also implied a higher unity of the self which is not dependent on a mere contiguity of elements. This unity is essentially a conative unity. It is a unity that is not given in the structure of the mind(8), but is something that the self can aspire to and, it may be, by struggle, attain. In the struggle towards this ideal character is formed, and when such unity as may have been attained is disrupted, the resulting change in personality will reveal itself as a change in character and conduct ... If then, unification and systematisation of interests and purposes are essential to the formation of personality, a failure or defect of this process, a lack of integration of personality affecting mainly the practical character, may give rise to a division of the self which should be regarded as a true doubling of personality. And since it is on the organisation and systematisation of ethical interests and purposes, on the unity of the moral character, that the attainment of personality in its highest expression depends, any lack of integration affecting this aspect of mental development will reveal itself as a want of unity more marked than that which arises from defect of the integrative process in other directions. Under certain circumstances it may lead to the most startling transformations that human personality can undergo. A man's moral unity is manifested by a constant striving to realise a definite system of ethical purposes, and any habitual and systematic departure from the broad lines of conduct consistent with this end, any persistent pursuit of interests which are incompatible with its realisation, implies a doubling of personality which is as real and as important as any of the conditions to which this term is usually applied ... Our bodily appetites urge us in one direction, our ideas of right and wrong and our feeling of 'ought' [in my terminology, our moral sentiments] urge us in another. If sometimes we follow one course and sometimes the other, two systems of opposed conative dispositions become organised by habit, each of which, throughout life, struggles for the mastery of the whole personality. These two systems are mutually incompatible and can never be unified in a single personality. Their alternate manifestations in the same individual mark the beginnings of a genuine doubling of personality which, because it is so common, cannot be regarded as abnormal." But he adds: "To warrant us in describing such a change in a man's character as a change of personality, we must be sure that the alteration of conduct observed is really opposed to his highest or more ultimate ends. The proximate ends which a man pursues may appear on the surface to be inconsistent one with another, although really unified in some more ultimate end which forms the guiding principle or master sentiment of his life."

(7) Medical Psychology and Psychical Research, 1922.
(8) This, I take it, refers to the structure of the mind as innately given.

Dr. C. E. Cory writes to similar effect in an excellent article devoted to "The Problem of the Individual,"(9) insisting that "Individuality is a matter of degree, and that when the term is applied to selves or persons this fact should be kept in mind. In other words, the term describes a tendency rather than an accomplished fact. Human life shows a tendency in the direction of individuality, a tendency that may be arrested or checked, or even disintegrated. Put in biological terms the idea is, perhaps, made clearer. The organism, at this stage of its development [the present stage of phylogenesis] is, to some extent, a plurality of functions or organs rather than a perfectly integrated unity. The work of synthesis is by no means complete. That the human organism has gone far with its task is true; but that it is short of its goal is a significant fact and one that often throws much light upon some problems in regard to its behaviour. And much of what it has won may be lost, with the result that, at such times, it is more helpful to view it as a plurality of competing and rival functions than as a unit. just so, in psychological terms, what is called a self is always an ideal rather than an accomplished fact, an ideal that is in various degrees approximated but never attained ... It is some community of feeling [i.e., of affect] that, in the last analysis, determines what associations are formed and how stable they will be. Some form of sympathy binds particular processes together, and some common bond of feeling is the condition of any wholeness or unity in a given experience. In some community of purpose, therefore, we shall probably find the principle that determines what is individual. The study of the causes of dissociation tends, I believe, to confirm the above statement. Always there is found some deep-seated emotional conflict. Tendencies that are apparently irreconcilable press their claims. In this conflict each elicits all the associations that are congenial to it. If the nervous system has a high degree of stability, the strain may be borne. As with the British political life, strong conflicts occur, but they do not disrupt it. A common tradition weathers the shock. But if an instability exists, the strain, in time, undermines the integrative forces. The way out is the way that life, in its evolution, so often takes when incompatible tendencies appear together. A bifurcation or division takes place ... Now these alternating selves are incompatible for the same reason that individuals may be socially or conjugally incompatible, and that is that their emotional life is discordant. Difference in thought as such does not arouse antagonism. It is contrary currents of feeling that produce friction, some divergence of impulse and instinct. And that is true of relations between individuals and between processes that fall nominally within one. If, then, discord can be thus explained, if it is, fundamentally, a matter of the will (the term is here used in the broad sense), we have found, it would seem, the principle of individuation. Since, however, the will turns out to have been, originally, a group of diverse instincts, the problem becomes one of understanding how, out of these diverse tendencies, a synthesis can take place. Such a synthesis, we have now seen, must itself be in terms of the will, that is, affective tendencies. Only through some inclusive desire can an organisation be won. Now the distinctive thing in our effort to answer this problem is the role that is attributed to the affective element in all organisation. Pathological cases provide a convincing analysis. There the different systems of ends become sundered into more or less distinct selves, and the sundering is due to the weakening of affective bonds. It will be apparent that what has been said is in line with McDougall's emphasis of the instincts as the primary source of motivation and, in particular, his discussion of sentiments. I accept his position that the basis of human behaviour is to be found in the instinctive responses ... The various inherited mechanisms and the later acquired controls make up the structure of the individual. There is a basis, and there is an acquired superstructure. Our problem is largely to determine what is the character of this superstructure and how it is related to the given and various instincts. The emotions, as such, urge only the claims of their respective instincts. They rise and fall as the several instincts press their claims and reach their goal. In themselves they afford neither permanence nor order. Emotional responses are without fixed attitudes, nor is there in such responses any concern for the interest of life as a whole. It is obvious that upon this level there is nothing that is worthy of the name individual. Not until experience possesses a permanent structure is it the expression of a self. Now such a structure arises with the formation of sentiments. As sentiments are formed, experience acquires order and permanence. How much order will depend upon the nature and strength of the sentiment. Even hate establishes some order. In imposing itself upon behaviour it acts as a regulative principle ... It is, then, to the fusion of emotion with ideas, forming sentiments, we turn for light on our problem. That problem has now reduced itself to the question as to how the given and diverse tendencies can be brought under the organised control of an acquired disposition or attitude ... Experience, to be individual, must be organised and stable. Now, unlike an emotion, a sentiment is a more or less permanent disposition. Its significance extends beyond its existence as [I would say "its expression in"] an immediate experience. To have a sentiment means more than to be experiencing, just now, a particular group of affective states. It means, and this is the point, that future responses, of a specific character, are already prepared. It is thus that the self is prolonged into the future and acquires a being that cannot be compressed into a cross-section of its experience. A structure is formed that predetermines experience, and thus assures it that continuity which characterises the individual, and for which we have been seeking the ground. This structure of sentiment it is that binds the various moments of experience together, and provides the frame that insures the self against the sporadic claims of impulse and the emotions. 'It is only,' says McDougall, 'through the systematic organisation of the emotional dispositions in sentiments that the volitional control of the immediate promptings of the emotions is rendered possible.' I have said that this structure predetermines, in a measure, experience. It is worth noting ... that it is never wholly revealed in experience. Experience uncovers now this and now that portion of the self's total structure. So fragmentary is consciousness that most of the self is, at any one time, hidden from view. Consciousness plays over its surface, but is not identical with it." Hence, one may interject, the current fashion of describing all this affective organisation as "the Unconscious" or as a part of "the Unconscious." "We are only concerned with the part that sentiments play in its erection, and this part, we have seen, is a vital one. In that they control not only the experience of the present but the future also, they erect it. Further, since they are not given but acquired, that structure is no mere resultant, but embodies a measure of choice. To think of the self as a whole as a product is, obviously, to fail to make the important distinction between the emotions and the sentiments, and their respective contributions to its organisation. When observed at work within experience, sentiments are seen to be so many vital systems, so many forms of sensitivity. Each animates all that touches it; and as a man moves from one region of experience to another, these established dispositions operate as controls. Ideas that do not find themselves within any of these systems are impotent. They are without influence on conduct ... Thus we see how a higher, more inclusive and permanent type of response may be erected upon the basic material of instinct. The plasticity of the instinctive mechanisms makes such a superstructure possible. So plastic are they that their allegiance may be won to many ends. Without becoming less basic they are sufficiently malleable to conform to the demands of the acquired types of response. Their incorporation in a larger organisation requires, however, that that organisation be affective in character, and this the sentiments are ... But a group of sentiments obviously leaves us this side of individuality. As such it provides only loosely federated systems, between which all degrees of conflict may arise. And dissociation may be due, although this is less common, to a conflict of sentiments as well as to a conflict between instinct and sentiment ... I return to the statement that, when innate types of response are modified by sentiment, experience is prepared to become individual, has already made a step in that direction. While this change implies the appearance of idea, it means more than that. It means that a new type of affective organisation has been formed. From this point on in the development of the self nothing will be found that is essentially new in principle. That development consists in the establishment of more inclusive systems of response and the unification and solidification of those systems. The term individual anticipates the completion of that process. It presupposes an affective solidarity, beneath which would be found a thoroughly integrated structure. All responses would then be whole responses, every act a representative act. The ultimate organisation of experience, therefore, demands an all-inclusive sentiment, or such a one as would dominate and in turn be reinforced by all others. The existence of such a sentiment would suffuse all experience with a common feeling, and as a permanent disposition it would afford an inclusive control. But even granting that various affective systems can only be welded together by some master sentiment, there remains the further problem of discovering what that sentiment must be. We have seen that it must be inclusive, and therefore highly complex, but such a statement still leaves its exact nature undefined ... It has been my contention that the solidarity of a life is due, primarily, to its emotional concord, and that this is achieved by such a selection of sentiments as renders this unison possible. The hope, therefore, of individuality rests upon the discovery and creation of some master sentiment, the triumph of which is without repression."

(9) J. Abn. Psych., 1922.

Dr. Cory breaks off at this point abruptly, without defining the required master sentiment that shall be complex, inclusive, and dominant over all other members of the system of the sentiments. If he should return to the problem, I have no doubt that he will discover it to be the sentiment of self-regard in any one of the many forms that it may take.

Integration Neglected by the Psychoanalysts [top]

Freud has failed to gain any insight into this integrative process owing to his concentration on the effort to display the sexual instinct as an integration of all tendencies. His assignment of all recognisable innate tendencies as components of the sex instinct leaves him without material out of which to construct his Ego-complex; consequently that complex remains in all his writings extremely vague. Nevertheless it has not escaped him that the Ego-complex plays a leading role in some forms of disorder, and that therefore in such cases it must be credited with great conative energy: and, in order to account for this, he has devised the theory of Narcissism, the theory that the self or Ego becomes the object of the sex impulse, becomes "invested" with the energy of the sex impulse. But his interest in the problem of integration has been slight, because he has paid little attention to the cases of disintegration. For him the mythological device of the two chambers of the mind, the chamber illuminated by the light which is consciousness and the dark chamber of " the Unconscious" - this device, this spatial metaphor, obscures the need of any understanding, of any theory, of the integrative process; for all processes that are conscious are regarded as held together by the walls of the containing chamber of consciousness; and all psychical processes that are subconscious are similarly regarded as held together by the walls of the chamber of "the Unconscious."

Jung has equally overlooked the problem of integration.

Janet's Recent Development of His Theory of Integration and Disintegration [top]

Janet, on the other hand, as we have seen, has long been interested primarily in the phenomena of disintegration and keenly aware of the need for a theory of the integrative process. He has recently made some little advance upon the too simple assumption of a synthetising energy which, when it is abundant, effects integration of all the so-called elements of consciousness and, when it is insufficient owing to exhaustion, leaves some elements wandering loose and astray. In recent publications(10) he has made some advance towards a theory of integration similar to that of my "Social Psychology." He recognises in an obscure way the human instincts(11) which he calls "tendances suspensives"; and he speaks of a hierarchy of such tendencies, and of a collaboration of such tendencies which constitutes "le caractere essentiel de ces conduites socio-personelles." Such collaborations of primitive tendencies he calls "tendances socio-personelles." Above these in the hierarchy of tendencies he places "les premieres tendances intellectuelles." He remarks that, whereas at the level of the animal the tendencies operate each in turn, at the lower human level "la réflexion primitive favorise seulement la lutte de nos tendances, mais elle les évoque toutes and leur permet de se présenter avec toute leur force latente. La lutte de ces tendances constitue la délibération quand elle doit aboutir à une volonté, elle constitue le raisonnement quand elle doit aboutir à une croyance." And the following passage implies obscurely the integrative rôle of the sentiment of self-regard: "La volonté réflective s'est rattachée à la personnalité d'une manière bien plus nette parce qu'elle ne dépend pas d'une impulsion momentanée, mais de l'ensemble des tendances. De telles actions font partie de la personne, elles entrent dans son histoire, elles sont accompagnées du sentiment de responsabilité. Les impulsifs du degré précédent n'avaient qu'un sentiment vague de leur personnalité, sans doute ils obéissaient à des instincts vitaux et de temps en temps ils présentaient de l'égotisme. Mais les hommes qui possèdent la volonté réflective sont devenus capables de faire des calculs d'intérêt, ils ont inventé le véritable égoisme."

(10) Especially the series of lectures before the University of London, "La Tension Psychologique, ses Degrés, ses Oscillations," Brit. J. Med. Psych., vol. 1.
(11) "Les premiers actes psychologiques dérivent des grandes fonctions de la vie animale, la protection du corps, l'alimentation, l'excrétion, la fécondation, quand celles - ci ne se bornent pas à déterminer des modifications à l'intérieur de l'organisme, mais quand elles donnent lieu à des mouvements des parties extérieures du corps."

Janet is here struggling with the facts of integration, without the aid of the theory of the sentiments(12). Having postulated a hierarchy of tendencies, or rather a number of tendencies of successively higher levels, and having recognised that "le véritable egoismé" plays some essential part, he still finds himself at a loss for the unifying factor, and invokes a special "tendance au travail" to fill this rôle. "Le travail est un genre d'action plus difficile et plus rare qu'on ne le croit. Il n'existe pas chez I'animal ni chez l'homme primitif malgré les apparences ... Cest que le travail, l'effort, appartiennent à des tendances supérieures à la réflexion, que j'ai souvent essayé de décrire sous le nom de tendances rationnelles ou de tendances ergétiques ... Bien des faits psychologiques dépendent de cette notion fondamentale du travail: l'attention volontaire bien différente de I'attention spontanée, la patience pour supporter l'pattente, I'ennui ou la fatigue, l'initiative, la persévérance, I'unité de la vie, la cohérence des actes et des caractères, toutes choses qui ne sont pas seulement des vertus mais des fonctions psychologiques supérieures."

(12) The theory of the sentiments remains as unknown to French as to German psychology. The late Th. Ribot made a gallant effort to formulate such a theory in his "Essai sur les Passions," but, unfortunately, he went widely astray; the essential nature of the sentiment escaped him.

The important fact I am trying to bring out is that Janet is now no longer content to assume an unanalysed synthetic energy, but rather recognises in human nature a hierarchy of conative tendencies, the product of the evolutionary process, and recognises also the need for some theory of the integration of these tendencies to form character, the centre of a unified personality. And, if his invention of a special "tendency to work" as the supreme member of the hierarchy is not a very happy solution of the problem, it is perhaps as much as can be achieved without the aid of the theory of the sentiments.

Janet claims in this lecture to have presented "un tableau raccourci des diverses conduites humaines dans leur ordre d'évolution afin de vous donner le sentiment de la hiérarchie des fonctions psychologiques. Cette notion me semblait indispensable pour comprendre les oscillations de l'esprit."

Janet goes on, in the succeeding lecture, to state his theory of disintegration in the new form demanded by this more developed theory of integration. The main feature of it remains the conception of defect of energy through exhaustion; conflict being recognised as one of the various exhausting processes and emotion as another. There remains that confusion and uncertainty as to what processes are depressive and which sthenic; but "l'abaissement de la tension psychologique" owing to "la misère psychologique" remains fundamental. The higher the tendency in the hierarchy, the greater the tension required for its activation; hence, with a falling tension, with a progressive diminution of the quantity of energy, the "tendencies" fall into abeyance in the order from above downwards. "Il me semble possible de démontrer que la plupart de ces troubles de la conduite ne sont que des degrés de la même dépression plus ou moins profonde. La profondeur de I'abaissement est caractérisée par le nombre plus ou moins grand des fonctions supérieures qui sont alterées ou supprimées et par le degré qu'occupent dans la hiérarchie les fonctions conservees et exagerees. Ce sont ces degrés de profondeur dans la dépression qui donnent aux différents troubles de I'esprit leur apparence si distincte." We are left to infer that the "tendance au travail" (being at the head of the hierarchy of functions or tendencies, and being that one which integrates all the lower tendencies and also that one whose activation requires the highest "tension psychologique" or the greatest supply of energy) is the first of the tendencies to fall out of action when exhaustion begins: hence the first effect of exhaustion is disintegration of the personality.

Two main criticisms of this new theory seem to be in place. First, the hierarchy of tendencies seems decidedly artificial; and especially is this true of the "tendance au travail" to which the supreme position and role are assigned. Secondly, the "tendances" are treated in too mechanical a fashion; each is regarded as a mechanism, a piece of apparatus, that is actuated by a current of energy coming from without, rather than as what it really is, namely, a vital organisation which has its own intrinsic energy. Nevertheless, it is much that so great an authority as Janet has recognised that the unity of personality is something that is attained and maintained only through the integration of many diverse tendencies; and that disintegration is the expression of a failure of the integrative function.

The Theory of Integration and Disintegration Applied [top]

Having established the general principles of integration, we may with advantage recur to the more concrete problem of the specific modes of disintegration, in the light of the cases we have reviewed.

A firm or strong or well-knit character, one that can resist all disintegrating influences, is one that can face all problems, all critical alternatives, and can make a decision, can choose one of the alternatives and give that line of action an assured predominance over all others; and this capacity depends upon the organisation of the sentiments in an ordered system dominated by a master sentiment; and of all possible master sentiments the most effective is a sentiment for an ideal of character, an autonomous self, a reflective self that can control, in the light of reason and moral principles, all the promptings of other sentiments as well as the crude urgings of instinct and appetite.

It would seem that, in the more extreme instances of disintegration, this master sentiment undergoes actual disruption. Its two fundamental impulses or dispositions, that of self-assertion and that of submission, became divorced; and each forms the nucleus of a partial one-sided personality. Thus, in the Beauchamp case we have the masterful aggressive personality B4 over against the utterly submissive yielding B1. In the B. C. A. case we have a similar division between the excessively dutiful scrupulous A and the self-assertive B, who takes her own way regardless of all calls of duty and obligation. In the Spanish Maria case, we have the bold self-assertive B divided from and largely dominating the timid shrinking A. The hierarchy of sentiments, no longer held together in one system, becomes divided between the two new partial personalities; and perhaps even the instinctive dispositions themselves, or some of them, go wholly over to one or other side. The clearest instance of such adhesion of an instinctive disposition wholly to one of the two partial personalities seems to be afforded by the case of Spanish Maria, where the sex impulse seems to have been strongly at work in the one B, and completely lacking in A. And it will be remembered that we are explicitly told that B was able at times to force this affect upon A.

We may suspect a similar total absorption of other instinctive dispositions in one of the two personalities: for example, the parental instinct would seem to have been active in B1 (of the Beauchamp case) and A (of the B. C. A. case) and lacking in B4 and B of those cases. It will be remembered that, in the latter case, B was entirely indifferent to her child and disclaimed all parental feeling towards him, whereas A continued to show a normal motherly affection.

Whether such regrouping of the instinctive dispositions themselves actually occurs must remain doubtful at present. For the facts may perhaps be interpreted on the assumption of a regrouping of sentiments only. Any one instinctive disposition may enter into the constitution of a number of distinct sentiments; and if such sentiments become regrouped in two hierarchies in place of one, each of the two personalities may continue to display evidences of that instinctive tendency. Whether the regrouping involves only sentiments, or also the deeper-lying instinctive dispositions, would seem to be a matter of the level at which the dissociative process or splitting occurs.

We may, I think, validly attempt to range the cases of dissociation in a serial order proceeding from those in which dissociation is superficial, in which it occurs at the upper levels of the total cerebral organisation, to those in which it is most profound, taking place at the level of those most ancient deep-seated functions, the instinctive tendencies.

In the class of most superficial dissociations would be all the simple anaesthesias and functional paralyses. Next would come the systematised amnesias, involving loss of memory for special tracts of past experience, but no change of the character trends or sentiments. And as the most extreme of this class we should rank those cases in which the whole of the basis of associative memory, the whole structure of the mind in so far as built up by associative links, is in abeyance (Case 5). Rather deeper are those dissociations in which not only is there amnesia for some tract of experience but in which also the amnesia involves the affective background of the forgotten events. (I remind the reader of Case 2, and of the many cases of somnambulism, fits, etc., in which such affective amnesia is manifested.) Such a case as Irene may be said to involve dissociation of one concrete sentiment together with the whole system of memories which belong to that sentiment, which have been formed under the impulsive power of that sentiment in the service of its goals and purposes.

Still deeper is the level of the dissociation that breaks up the whole system of the sentiments into two independently functioning systems. And most profound of all is the dissociation that results in detaching one or more instinctive dispositions wholly from one of the partial personalities while leaving it or them active within the other.


The article above was taken from William McDougall's An Outline of Abnormal Psychology (1926, Methuen & Co. Ltd).

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