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REAL GHOST STORIES (Collected and Edited by William T. Stead) online

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead


It is extraordinary how close is the analogy when we come to work it out. The impressions stored up by the Conscious Personality and entrusted to the care of the Unconscious are often, much to our disgust, not forthcoming when wanted. It is as if we had given a memorandum to our wife and we could not discover where she had put it. But night comes; our Conscious Self sleeps, our Unconscious Housewife wakes, and turning over her stores produces the missing impression; and when our other self wakes it finds the mislaid memorandum, so to speak, ready to its hand. Sometimes, as in the case of somnambulism, the Sub-conscious Personality stealthily endeavours to use the body and limbs, from all direct control over which it is shut out as absolutely as the inmate of a Hindu zenana is forbidden to mount the charger of her warrior spouse. But it is only when the Conscious Personality is thrown into a state of hypnotic trance that the Unconscious Personality is emancipated from the marital despotism of her partner. Then for the first time she is allowed to help herself to the faculties and senses usually monopolised by the Conscious Self. But like the timid and submissive inmate of the zenana suddenly delivered from the thraldom of her life-long partner, she immediately falls under the control of another. The Conscious Personality of another person exercises over her the same supreme authority that her own Conscious Personality did formerly.

There is nothing of sex in the ordinary material sense about the two personalities. But their union is so close as to suggest that the intrusion of the hypnotist is equivalent to an intrigue with a married woman. The Sub-conscious Personality is no longer faithful exclusively to its natural partner; it is under the control of the Conscious Personality of another; and in the latter case the dictator seems to be irresistibly over-riding for a time all the efforts of the Conscious Personality to recover its authority in its own domain.

What proof, it will be asked impatiently, is there for the splitting of our personality? The question is a just one, and I proceed to answer it.

There are often to be found in the records of lunatic asylums strange instances of a dual personality, in which there appear to be two minds in one body, as there are sometimes two yolks in one egg.

In the _Revue des Deux Mondes_, M. Jules Janet records the following experiment which, although simplicity itself, gives us a very vivid glimpse of a most appalling complex problem:--

"An hysterical subject with an insensitive limb is put to sleep, and is told, 'After you wake you will raise your finger when you mean Yes, and you will put it down when you mean No, in answer to the questions which I shall ask you.' The subject is then wakened, and M. Janet pricks the insensitive limb in several places. He asks, 'Do you feel anything?' The conscious-awakened person replies with the lips, 'No,' but at the same time, in accordance with the signal that has been agreed upon during the state of hypnotisation, the finger is raised to signify 'Yes.' It has been found that the finger will even indicate exactly the number of times that the apparently insensitive limb has been wounded."

_The Double-Souled Irishman._

Dr. Robinson, of Lewisham, who has bestowed much attention on this subject, sends me the following delightful story about an Irishman who seems to have incarnated the Irish nationality in his own unhappy person:--

"An old colleague of mine at the Darlington Hospital told me that he once had an Irish lunatic under his care who imagined that his body was the dwelling-place of two individuals, one of whom was a Catholic, with Nationalist--not to say Fenian--proclivities, and the other was a Protestant and an Orangeman. The host of these incompatibles said he made it a fixed rule that the Protestant should occupy the right side of his body and the Catholic the left, 'so that he would not be annoyed wid them quarrelling in his inside.' The sympathies of the host were with the green and against the orange, and he tried to weaken the latter by starving him, and for months would only chew his food on the left side of his mouth. The lunatic was not very troublesome, as a rule, but the attendants generally had to straight-waistcoat him on certain critical days--such as St. Patrick's Day and the anniversary of the battle of the Boyne; because the Orange fist would punch the Fenian head unmercifully, and occasionally he and the Fenian leagued together against the Orangeman and banged him against the wall. This lunatic, when questioned, said he did his best to keep the peace between his troublesome guests, but that sometimes they got out of hand."