Psychology at the St. Louis Congress
James Rowland Angell
University of Chicago
WITH a single exception all the psychological papers presented at the St. Louis Congress have now appeared in print. In the opinion of the editor of this JOURNAL the time is therefore ripe to take stock of these contributions to our knowledge and mutual understanding.
Two very vivid impressions of a general kind instantly force themselves on the reader of these addresses. The first has to do with the amazing breadth of the domain preempted by contemporary psychology and the astonishing development of methodological technique which has evidently been achieved in many of its provinces. Specialists are, of course, keenly alive to this fact, but it is brought home with peculiar pungency by a serial perusal of these St. Louis papers, flanked as they are on the one hand by the distinctly metaphysical considerations of Mr. Ward's address and on the other by the eminently empirical intricacies suggested by the papers of Messrs. Titchener, Janet and Prince. Surely there are few readers capable of following all of these addresses with intelligent appreciation, and still fewer to whom they could all be of vital interest. The unification of knowledge which this congress was to glorify is, in this department at least, for the most part a figment of the imagination, an ideal toward which progress may ultimately bear us, but from which at the present moment we are conspicuously remote.
The second impression is one of disappointment that the list of speakers could not have been more fully representative. Those who appeared on the platform were all eminently worthy of the honor accorded them, but an international program from which one misses the names of Ribot and Binet, Wundt and Stout, James and Dewey —to mention no others—is hardly to be regarded as entirely representative. No doubt this circumstance was due to insurmountable difficulties, but the fact remains what it is, and in its personnel, at least, the St. Louis program must be voted but a partial success.
(534) When one comes to the papers themselves, one is again likely to feel a little disappointment that so distinguished a group of speakers should have offered upon an occasion of such moment so little that is fundamentally fresh. This outcome is, however, an all but inevitable consequence of the plan upon which the program of the congress was based. The principle involved unavoidably caters to a retrospective and somewhat obituary attitude of mind, and pari passu, tends to discourage in some measure the more striking and personal forms of originality. It is the voice of authority speaking of things past which we chiefly hear in these addresses, rather than the voice of discovery and revelation. This no doubt accounts for the seriousness of tone which characterizes most of the papers. The delightful persiflage of parts of Mr. Cattell's paper affords almost the sole exception to this rule. To be sure, science on dress parade is always prone to be a bit sombre, and this, perhaps, is as it should be. In any case, in passing judgment on these addresses, one has to remember the limitations with which their writers were hedged about.
Four sections were provided to meet the various interests represented by the modern organization of psychology—a section each for general psychology, experimental psychology, comparative and genetic psychology, and abnormal psychology. Two addresses were delivered before each section, and Messrs. Baldwin and Cattell presented papers at a general introductory session.
In Mr. Baldwin's opening paper on the history of psychology we have the author at his best. His outline is bold, clear and suggestive, and several of his own recent contributions to psychological theory are incorporated in his interpretations in a way which distinctly clarifies their meaning. One is moved to criticism only by certain omissions, and by certain rather daring obiter dicta. But in a brief address something must inevitably be sacrificed to the exigencies of the occasion.
The gradual rise among the Greeks of the distinction between the inner and the outer world is briefly traced and the reason for a failure to found a science of mental contents is referred to the fact that the technique of control over these inner materials was not yet elaborated, and consequently they appeared intractable to scientific treatment.
In his account of medieval and Renaissance psychology Mr. Baldwin is disappointingly brief. To be sure, it has been traditional to view these periods as relatively barren for psychology proper, yet this is but one reason the more why one wishes that the
(535) author had seen fit to apply to it more fully his talent for fertile and ingenious interpretation.
Modern scientific psychology is characterized by (1) a scientific naturalism, i. e., the conception of all phenomena of every kind as parts of a natural order under the domain of discoverable laws; and (2) by a scientific positivism, by which Mr. Baldwin means the theory that a method of research is possible for the genuine ascertainment of these governing laws. These characteristics are vicarious heritages borrowed from the physical sciences, which have long possessed them, and from biology, which has acquired them only at a relatively recent date.
Nineteenth-century psychology Mr. Baldwin regards as the immediate outgrowth of influences emanating from Hume and Rousseau. By this statement is implied that in the Locke-Hume tradition we have the individualistic aspects of psychology emphasized, whereas with Rousseau and later in Comte the social elements come in for their proper recognition.
The respective influences on psychology of biology as represented by Lamarck and Darwin and the physicomathematical sciences represented by Fechner are given due weight, and the author then proceeds to a brief but illuminating exposition of the specific points at which these various influences become most conspicuous. The failure of the genetic principle in psychology to gain a firm foothold, despite the influence of biology, is much emphasized and two of our great psychologists of the end of the nineteenth century, James and Wundt, are criticized for a failure fully to recognize this principle, notwithstanding their positivistic and naturalistic tendencies.
Mr. Baldwin concludes with a word of prophecy in which he predicts that positivism and naturalism are here to stay, that psychology will in the future be thoroughly social and also thoroughly functional. Structural psychology, looking toward a psychic atomism, is doomed to extinction.
The last prediction savors a little of writing the funeral orations of persons still enjoying vigorous health. Undoubtedly, in the present writer's opinion, structural psychology must be conjoined with a psychology of function, and undoubtedly the psychology of function is that which will stand in closest relations to practical interests and to those other sciences which desire, as does sociology, for example, to utilize the product of psychology. But it appears equally patent that a functional psychology which lacked wholly a correlative structural psychology, would be at best but a disembodied spirit, wandering restless over an unreal world.
Mr. Cattell's brief but brilliant and racy paper leads one to
(536) regret that he does not oftener allow the rigors of editorial labor to permit his taking pen in hand for the discussion of the fundamental problems of psychology. To be sure, if there were in his audience any of the old-school critics who found the style of James's `Psychology' indecorous, they must have shuddered at certain of Mr. Cattell's passages. But somewhere between indecorum and gloomy sobriety there must surely be an avenue where dignity and charm may both sojourn, and one wishes that our psychological writers might more often dally beneath its grateful shades.
Mr. Cattell sets out with the stimulating contention that psychology can not be defined, and in the next sentence he defines it as that in which `the psychologist is interested qua psychologist.' Upon which one is forthwith moved to inquire—what is a psychologist? This is simply to say that the author finds it difficult satisfactorily to distinguish between mind and not-mind. Consciousness is a peculiarly pervasive kind of thing which keeps appearing when you least expect it. And Mr. Cattell says with much reason that the distinction between mind and matter is the last word of a critical philosophy rather than an obvious distinction to be bandied about by makers of definitions.
Mr. Cattell's definition but utters in a different voice a protest which he formulates again in his plea against all arbitrary and preconceived limitations of the territory of psychology. He would let the psychologist roam just as far afield as there seemed to be any promise of valuable and useful spoils. This is surely sane and modern and unscholastic and welcome. The only limitations which he would recognize in psychology or elsewhere (and much of what he says about psychology is equally applicable to any other science) is that given by the psychological constant (?) the mind of man, the mind of the scientist.
The author has some hard things to say of introspection which has enjoyed, he thinks, a wholly factitious eminence as a psychological method. Many of the most valuable laboratory experiments are, he contends, quite independent of introspection. The present writer fancies himself quite in sympathy with the point of Mr. Cattell's contention, but in his judgment the issue between Mr. Cattell and the victims of his criticism is rather an issue of terminology than an issue of fact. If by introspection one means the reflective analysis of what goes on in one's own mind, then undoubtedly much psychological experimentation is not introspectional. But many moderately competent persons would deny that such experiments are, strictly speaking, psychological at all. They are psycho-physical, or psychophysiological, or what not. Their point is not to understand the constitution and mode of operation of mental
(537) states, but something else. Now, by refusing to give any definition of psychology which confines it to mental analysis, Mr. Cattell is able to call all these things psychology and to deny introspection as a universal method. Would it not be logically as defensible and significant to deny introspection as a mathematical method?
Mr. Cattell maintains that the great methods of all science, i. e., the quantitative and genetic methods, are those which are valid in psychology, and here he will doubtless have the sympathy of all his colleagues. This does not mean that genetic psychology and experimental psychology are to become independent departments of psychological science. It means that they are real methods of attacking problems in any psychological field where they can actually be employed.
The author concludes, like Mr. Baldwin, with a word of prophecy —that we shall eventually have a profession of psychology, just as we now have one of law and one of medicine. The business of the profession will be found in the application to the control of human nature of our knowledge about the laws which maintain in its constitution. On the side of pathological conditions, at least, this is surely no idle dream of a day far removed.
In the section devoted to general psychology, Messrs. Ward and Нöffding had the floor. Mr. Ward's address bears in a marked degree the impress characteristic of all his work, disclosing a keen, critical acumen working on a foundation of broad and accurate scholarship. The philosophical flavor is distinctly strong. The metaphysics of psychology is at stake. The argument is so closely articulated as to render very difficult any detailed reproduction of it. We must, therefore, rest content with a merely impressionistic sketch in which we may hope to avoid undue distortion of line and light and perspective.
Mr. Ward feels that one of the pressing problems of the day is the definition of psychology, and in the effort to reach some solution of this difficulty he is plunged at once into a discussion of the relations of subject to object in experience and especially into a consideration of the nature of subjective activity. No one can question that in the past this corner of psychology has been indeed a dark and desolate spot. As Mr. Ward says, psychologists of one stripe have generally confined themselves to the examination of that which is empirically given, without inquiring to whom or to what it is given ; whereas another group has postulated some substrate for the given, but has regarded it merely as a necessary hypothesis to account for the existence of the given, not as itself an
(538) actual element of experience. The first of these views apparently involves neglecting altogether one fundamental fact about consciousness, the other recognizes the necessity for some such fact, but in effect denies its existence.
Mr. Ward's suggested solution of this impasse strongly suggests the pragmatic light which has recently been shining above the philosophical horizon. The essence of subjective reality, he says, is to be found in selective conative activity. The counterpart to this activity is that which we know as objective reality, and experience is just the interaction of the two. This duality is a real relation antecedent to but never completely covered by reflective knowledge. "A subject per se and an object per se are alike not so much unknowable as actually unreal." To be sure, conative activity is indescribable and inexplicable save in terms of itself, but this is only to say that `it is our immediate actual being, that we can not get behind or beyond it . . .'
Space permits but a single commentary upon this view. Can a thing which is only describable in terms of itself be really an object of knowledge; and if not, does the second part of Mr. Ward's solution really (in its actual content as distinct from its verbal formulation) get beyond the position of those who regard the subject as a postulate simplyº?
The concluding portion of the paper is dedicated to a telling assault upon sensationalistic or atomistic psychology whose contemporary recrudescence Mr. Ward feels to be fraught with menace. The author suggests a few reasons which he thinks explain the vitality of this type of psychological thinking, but he then proceeds to point out that well-attested evidence from every field of psychological study indicates the inadequacy and falsity of the conception of mental life which underlies the atomistic view. Psychological reality is not to be found in isolated mental atoms, but in functional unities of organic action. Atomism and associationalism find their only truth within the limits marked out by habit. Actions which have already become automatic can, indeed, be thus explained, but the formation of habits, the facts of progress in mental life . . . these all fall forever outside such categories. Subjective interest is the thing which originally integrates the presentations that later take on the features of automatism, and interest can never find a real home in the associational psychology.
To all of which one is inclined to respond with a fervent `Amen,' save that one hesitates to admit that the contemporary atomist is quite so black as Mr. Ward paints him. There are plenty of psychologists to whom Mr. Ward would probably give the name atomist who believe no more than he does that the actual workings of the
(539) mind are statable in terms of isolated ideas and sensations, who nevertheless maintain on methodological grounds, that it is practicable and useful to treat the mind as though this were the case, just as it is at times practicable and useful in geometry to treat a line as an aggregate of points. This view is admirably set forth in the opening sentence of the very next address.
A few paragraphs are given at the end of these discussions, somewhat by way of an appendix, to a reference to the problem of the subconscious and its bearing through the memory processes on the whole psychology of ideation. Taken as a whole, Mr. Ward's paper is highly stimulating and suggestive, and ought to be of real service in inciting to a clearer understanding on these fundamental issues.
Like the preceding address, Mr. Höffding's paper has a dominantly philosophical tone, and contains many passages which suggest, as in the case of Mr. Ward, the influence of recent pragmatic utterances.
Mr. Höffding calls attention to the obvious limitations on the correspondence between mental reality and the mental elements with which psychology is obliged to work. In the exaggerated emphasis upon the significance of these elements is to be found one of the basal reasons for the tendency toward a voluntaristic psychology in which the facts of emotion, will and individual initiative come to their own. Psychology of this last type finds much comfort in the biological support which it is able to command.
The manner in which the problem of psychology is conceived leads to the division of modern psychologists into two main schools of thought which Mr. Höffding would designate as respectively the analytic and the synthetic, a distinction essentially synonymous with that between intellectualism and voluntarism, between associational atomism and personal idealism. "The task of the synthetic school is to find the special forms of unity and continuity which can not be deduced a priori, and then to explain how it is possible that mental life in certain cases can have a sporadic character. The task of the other school is to describe the particular forms and degrees of isolation, and then to explain how there can be unity and continuity in mental life."
The essential truth of the synthetic view is proven, in the author's opinion, by the facts of pathological psychology, from which it seems clear that definite effort is necessary in order to unite the different elements of consciousness. (This point is brought out, as it chances, in one of the subsequent papers on abnormal psychology.) However much use, then, psychology may—and must—make of
(540) analytical procedure, the synthetic, non-atomistic view of mind is fundamentally correct.
Psychology, so far as concerns its actual modes of procedure, occupies a middle ground between the historical and the physical sciences. As compared with the latter, it is relatively historical. As compared with the former, it is relatively analytical. This seems to be in substance a somewhat roundabout recognition of the genetic element in psychological methodology.
As a further matter of method, Mr. Höffding contends for the recognition of causality as obtaining between mental states. To be sure, we can not formulate this causality in terms of continuity and equivalence, for we have as yet no mental units in terms of which to frame such a formula. But surely, he insists, we have that practical elementary causality which always exists among qualitatively different phenomena, the kind of causality from which science has always set out. Moreover, if the brain processes are causally related to one another, we may safely predicate of the conscious processes an indirect causality at least. To be sure, the only working hypothesis as to the mind-brain connection at present defensible is that of a parallelism of a strictly mathematical variety. What the ultimate relations may prove to be is matter for metaphysics.
Psychology in its intermediate position between the historical and the physical sciences is in a position to clear up many of the obscurities peculiar to these neighboring lines of inquiry. If, for example, it is not possible to deduce pedagogics and esthetics from psychology, it is at least possible to render the deliverances of these sciences far more intelligible by the employment of one's psychological knowledge. Similar is the relation of psychology to epistemology and the philosophy of religion. Psychology does not afford in these cases a principle of prediction or a law from which deductions can be made. It furnishes rather a method of interpretation and appreciation.
Much may be said in rebuttal upon the last two points, but there is a very definite value in knowing where a man of such prominence as Mr. Höffding stands on these basic questions.
The section on experimental psychology was addressed by Messrs. Titchener and MacDougal. We have only the paper of the former gentleman. This is written in the author's usual clean-cut and incisive manner which always gives one an agreeable certainty of what he is driving at. The paper contains a scholarly and conservative estimate of the work done and still requiring to be done in the field of adult normal psychology. The address is so compact
(541) and concise that it is difficult to give a just impression of it without quoting it in extenso. The main points, however, may be set down as follows, dwelling almost wholly upon the author's judgment of the work still requiring to be done. This procedure involves some risk of conveying an unjustly depreciatory impression as regards the work already accomplished.
In the range of sensation the great desideratum is an investigation of the organic sensations, to which the author justly refers as almost wholly a closed chapter. The importance of this chapter in its bearing upon the psychology of the self, to mention but a single point, can not be doubted. Much remains to be done in detail upon taste, smell and the cutaneous senses, although the main lines of advance are probably for the most part already laid down. Sight and hearing represent the territory best explored, though even here revision and further research will doubtless be found necessary in many particulars.
In psychophysics, which stands so closely related to the psychology of sensation, Mr. Titchener feels that the main need is for faithful and patient testing of the methods hitherto elaborated rather than for ingenious inventions of new methods. And with this opinion the present writer is heartily in accord. The problem of affection, despite the large amount of work devoted to it, is still in its entirety a frontier territory where disorder largely holds sway. As regards both methods of approach and fundamental principles widespread disagreement is the only uniform thing. In this connection Mr. Titchener expresses a pessimistic estimate upon the plethysmograph as a differential instrument for the study of affection. This avowal is peculiarly gratifying to the present writer, who has for a number of years been in a lonesome minority preaching essentially this doctrine.
The relation of attention to the affective processes needs much further illumination, to say nothing of the very question of the constitution of the attentive consciousness itself, the peculiarities of attention as it appears in the various sense departments, and the mechanism of distraction.
In the field of perception Mr. Titchener sees a demand chiefly for further work along lines already open, although he puts in a plea with which many psychologists will surely sympathize (especially those who have been guilty of text-books), for a banishment of the term perception and a devising of substitutes for it appropriate to the various specific occasions upon which one has to employ it.
Recognition, memory and association all require much further investigation, for which Mr. Titchener thinks it very important to
(452) distinguish between the applied psychology of memory (with which a number of recent studies have dealt) and the theoretical knowledge of the memory process, distinguishing again sharply in the latter province between the psychophysics of memory and the strictly psychological or introspective determination of the memory pattern, etc.
The action consciousness deserves a more strictly psychological, as distinguished from a psychophysical and physiological, investigation. Imagination as a category coordinate with memory and referring to a group of representative conscious forms has hardly been opened up at all. A similar thing is practically true of the mare elaborate intellectual processes, although here we have of late had some admirable work upon the judgment and the mental conditions immediately related to it.
The concluding portions of the paper are in part devoted to a few timely criticisms upon certain specific forms of experimental psychology which have enjoyed patronage of late years, particularly that form in which, as Mr. Titchener puts it, you `throw stimuli into the organism, take reactions out, and then—infer the fact of a change in consciousness.' The glamor of scientific accuracy and worth which can be cast over work of this kind has given it a wholly undeserved repute.
The final point Mr. Titchener makes is a plea for the utmost refinement of method applicable to the problem in hand, whether it be a problem of adult psychology, studied under laboratory conditions, or a problem in the genetic psychology of children or animals. Taken in its entirety, Mr. Titchener 's paper is a most instructive and wholesome piece of writing.
The section devoted to comparative and genetic psychology was addressed by Principal Lloyd Morgan and Miss Calkins. Mr. Morgan's paper, which covers rather a wide range of territory, is fundamentally concerned with elaborating the problem of genetic sequence. The primordial phenomena from this point of view are biological reactions. These are followed at a higher level by reactions in which feeling-tone appears, and finally we come upon the ideal schemes of ideal worth by which conduct in its higher phases is governed.
The essential business of comparative and genetic psychology, by means of which such principles as the above have been reached, is found in investigating the nature and mode of development of mental processes in their synthetic aspect. Its aim is explanatory rather than descriptive and it fails of its mission if it does not
(542) succeed in throwing light on the principles of general psychology.
Surely this is too modest an estimate of the place of comparative and genetic psychology. It will be welcomed into the rank of psychological investigation whether it is always able definitely to articulate its results with generally recognized principles or not. Moreover, this statement seems to depreciate needlessly the scope of description in these new branches of psychological research. The instinct to keep near established principles is doubtless sane, but this ought not to involve the danger of bias in favor of preconceived doctrine, nor should it prejudice fresh and accurate description of the phenomena involved. Explanation is of course an ultimate ideal of all psychology, but description is a necessary handmaid for this enterprise. After all, Mr. Morgan's point concerns a matter of emphasis, and on this there need be no serious disagreement.
In the course of his address, Mr. Morgan brings forward one ingenious conception, a conception which has, perhaps, principally a metaphorical value, but which is in any case fertile of suggestion. He compares the general control mechanism of the nervous system to an environment by which the automatic system finds itself surrounded. Conduct from this point of view is the product of heredity (the automatic system) into environment (the higher control system) . To be sure, in human evolution there is always a striking transfer of control from the organism merely as such to the social environment. On the psychological side the counterpart of this is found in the higher mental processes and especially in the elaboration of language with its double psychological and social character. It is on this level that we come upon the controlling influence of the ideational processes in distinction from the more purely perceptual activities which probably are the main factors in the determination of animal behavior.
Miss Calkins spoke upon the limitations of comparative and genetic psychology. Miss Calkins's address, in spirit and tone, is diametrically opposed to that of Mr. Cattell, already referred to. She is all for drawing lines and marking off distinctions. He is all for letting down the bars in every direction.
In the first place, Miss Calkins denies the possibility of a genetic psychology to the upholders of any form of the Humian conception of the self. If consciousness is in reality merely a succession of ideas, you can have no genetic phenomena to study, for nothing continues to be the subject of development. We must have a self of some sort in order, to have in sober truth any such science as genetic psychology. Genetic psychology is, then, the study of developing
(543) selves. Moreover, genetic psychology is primarily individual, although through the imitative factors involved in learning, we come in the course of development upon a social aspect which leads out into a race psychology.
Comparative psychology has as its first concern the determination of the criterion of consciousness. The only point in which the various antagonistic theories upon this subject agree is in their recognition of `adapted reactions' as indubitable evidence of the presence of consciousness wherever such reactions can be detected. But the continuity theory of course maintains that consciousness and life are coextensive and that the inability to point out adaptive reactions with certainty can never be accepted as conclusive evidence of the absence of mental processes. Miss Calkins's analysis of the arguments on these points is extremely skillful and lucid. In point of fact, comparative psychology is at the present time actually as broad as the phenomena of animal life.
The problem of the nature of animal consciousness Miss Calkins attempts to attack by summarizing the results of a large group of investigations upon animals representing various stages of organic development. She maintains that, even in the simplest, crudest form of consciousness imagination is implied. The animal learns to do something better than he did at first, and does it even under changed conditions. It certainly seems probable that certain animals have processes comparable in some respects with human imagery. But the present writer, at any rate, feels that in the case of the very low organisms, the assumption of even a rudimentary type of imagery is highly fanciful. Miss Calkins is surely on firmer ground when she says that even the higher animals react chiefly, if not invariably, to total concrete situations, not to isolated relations. Moreover, she truly says that our knowledge of the extent of social factors in animal consciousness must wait upon an adequate objective criterion of imitation. A few general statements on child psychology conclude this keen and instructive analysis of the subject in hand.
Abnormal psychology was represented by Messrs. Pierre Janet and Morton Prince. M. Janet's address deals primarily with the phenomena of oscillating mental levels which present us, in his judgment, fundamental problems for both normal and abnormal psychology. His interesting paper is in large measure a running analysis of the symptomology of these states.
Normal oscillations of the character at issue are encountered in fatigue, in sleep, and in emotional states. In fatigue, for instance, we find exaggeration of movements, modifications of reflexes, and disturbances of the associative memory processes. In sleep, or `sleeps,'
as he maintains we should more precisely say because of the divergent character of many of the phenomena included under this term, we find attention and will are lacking, the consciousness of personality is disturbed, and upon awakening amnesia is present in varying degrees. Emotion discloses various related disturbances and especially the extreme forms of depressor and excitor phenomena.
Correlated with these oscillations of normal life are such abnormal conditions as we meet with in hysteria and in the obsessions. Just as in fatigue and in sleep, so in hysteria the characteristic symptom is a narrowing of the conscious field. In this particular, the two groups of phenomena show themselves identical. In the obsessions we meet with certain mental disturbances correlated with motor and visceral irregularities. Taking all the available facts into account, it seems clear that the several functions of the nervous system are by no means equally difficult to execute. It is the most complex and most difficult which first go to pieces under the influence of undue strain or of disease. As M. Janet puts it, `mental processes break down more quickly the higher their coefficient of reality.' From this point of view, imagination and abstract reasoning are not the highest mental operations. At least, not the most difficult. It is only when they have to do with felt reality, with present pressing problems, that they become difficult.
This conception gives an interesting functional classification of mental processes cross-sectioning the common classification of content. From this standpoint we must think of reasoning per se, not so much as a specific form of mental operation; we must rather inquire into the precise objective and subjective conditions under which a reasoning process is called forth, if we wish to give it its proper psychological setting. Supported by the weight of M. Janet's authority, we may look to see this conception adopted tentatively at least, and its application to other mental processes worked out in detail.
The address of Mr. Prince contains an admirably clear and conservative presentation of certain fundamental aspects of contemporary work in abnormal psychology.
He proposes a division of abnormal phenomena into two great classes: first, those of dissociation or weakened synthesis, such as the anesthesias, amnesias, and paralyses, divisions of personality and changes of character. In the second group belong the automatisms (motor activities which defy the will), such, for instance, as the obsessions, the fixed ideas and impulsions. These divisions are not to be understood as reflecting mutually exclusive phenomena, but simply
(545) as characterizing fundamental types of mental disturbances. The future of abnormal psychology can be considered as chiefly dedicated to unraveling the complexities of one or other of these great types of disease.
Mr. Prince rightly regards the problem of the subconscious as constituting one of the most compelling with which abnormal psychology is confronted and a large part of his paper is devoted to a discussion of the principal matters here at stake. Indeed, psychology of every kind is sorely in need of illumination on these points.
The author examines with great fairness and care the various lines of evidence (double personalities, hypnosis, automatism, absentmindedness, etc.) upon which certain psychologists have been wont to assign to subliminal mental conditions a high degree of importance in the affairs of normal mental life, and he comes to the conclusion that the facts by no means warrant the interpretation which has been given them. The details of Mr. Prince's argument can not be cited, but the reader is cordially recommended to the original. The present writer was undoubtedly biased in the direction of Mr. Prince's view before reading his paper, but the array of considerations which the latter has brought together are certainly impressive and, so far as they go, convincing.
The inquiry as to the subconscious inevitably raises the question as to the nature of the dissociating mechanism by means of which the phenomena previously referred to are produced. It has not only proved possible to group together as instances of dissociation such mental diseases as aboulia, paralysis and the amnesias, but it is also possible to regard sleep, hypnosis, somnambulism, etc., as dissociative phenomena. It is a matter of distinct interest to remark that, although the proximate causes which lead to these phenomena of dis-aggregation may be and often are psychological in character, the dividing lines which seem actually to be followed are rather physiological. At all events, they suggest no psychological relations. Mr. Prince regards it as probable, therefore, that there exists some normal physiological dissociating mechanism which may operate more or less all the time in normal experience, but which becomes exaggerated and perverted in its action during disease.
Taken in their entirety, these papers give the psychologist a flattering sense of the massiveness and dignity of the science which he espouses. So much of solid achievement to stand upon, so wide a territory already laid under contribution,—surely these things augur a rapid advance and the speedy realization of those dreams of conquest which fifty years ago seemed the chimerical creatures of overweening ambition.
JАMES ROWLAND ANGELL.
THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO