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

REAL GHOST STORIES by William T. Stead

Chapter II. Louis V. and His Two Souls.

There is at present[2] a patient in France whose case is so extraordinary that I cannot do better than transcribe the report of it here, especially because it tends to show not only that we have two personalities, but that each may use by preference a separate lobe of the brain. The Conscious Personality occupies the left and controls the right hand, the Unconscious the right side of the head and controls the left hand. It also brings to light a very curious, not to say appalling, fact, viz., the immense moral difference there may be between the Conscious and the Unconscious Personalities. In the American case Bourne was a character practically identical with Brown. In this French case the character of each self is entirely different. What makes the case still more interesting is that, besides the two personalities which we all seem to possess, this patient had an arrested personality, which was only fourteen years old when the age of his body was over forty. Here is the report, however, make of it what you will.

[2] 1891.

"Louis V. began life (in 1863) as the neglected child of a turbulent mother. He was sent to a reformatory at ten years of age, and there showed himself, as he has always done when his organization had given him a chance, quiet, well-behaved, and obedient. Then at fourteen years old he had a great fright from a viper--a fright which threw him off his balance, and started the series of psychical oscillations on which he has been tossed ever since. At first the symptoms were only physical, epilepsy and hysterical paralysis of the legs; and at the asylum of Bonneval, whither he was next sent, he worked at tailoring steadily for a couple of months. Then suddenly he had a hystero-epileptic attack--fifty hours of convulsions and ecstasy--and when he awoke from it he was no longer paralysed, no longer acquainted with tailoring, and no longer virtuous. His memory was set back, so to say, to the moment of the viper's appearance, and he could remember nothing since. His character had become violent, greedy, quarrelsome, and his tastes were radically changed. For instance, though he had before the attack been a total abstainer, he now not only drank his own wine, but stole the wine of the other patients. He escaped from Bonneval, and after a few turbulent years, tracked by his occasional relapses into hospital or madhouse, he turned up once more at the Rochefort asylum in the character of a private of marines, convicted of theft, but considered to be of unsound mind. And at Rochefort and La Rochelle, by great good fortune, he fell into the hands of three physicians--Professors Bourru and Burot, and Dr. Mabille--able and willing to continue and extend the observations which Dr. Camuset at Bonneval, and Dr. Jules Voisin at Bicetre, had already made on this most precious of _mauvais sujets_ at earlier points in his chequered career.

"He is now no longer at Rochefort, and Dr. Burot informs me that his health has much improved, and that his peculiarities have in great part disappeared. I must, however, for clearness sake, use the present tense in briefly describing his condition at the time when the long series of experiments were made.

"The state into which he has gravitated is a very unpleasing one. There is paralysis and insensibility of the right side, and, as is often the case in right hemiplegia, the speech is indistinct and difficult. Nevertheless he is constantly haranguing any one who will listen to him, abusing his physicians, or preaching--with a monkey-like impudence rather than with reasoned clearness--radicalism in politics and atheism in religion. He makes bad jokes, and if any one pleases him he endeavours to caress him. He remembers recent events during his residence at Rochefort asylum, but only two scraps of his life before that date, namely, his vicious period at Bonneval and a part of his stay at Bicetre.