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Now in my opinion the true task of Psychology is to evaluate the influence upon mental development of the different environmental circumstances in the life-history of the individual. From a knowledge of these latter factors, it is possible to predict and direct mental development and even, conceivably, to reverse or undo undesirable deviations therefrom. The efficacy or value of Psychology depends obviously upon how far environmental factors do influence mental processes, for the germinal or hereditary factors are relatively inaccessible to control, or even to investigation. So far as the causes and meaning of thought and behaviour lie in the adult ancestral life rather than in the special circumstances of the individual life, so far prophylaxis is inconceivable. Effective interference of any kind with these vestigial but inevitable recrudescences of primitive thought is difficult even to imagine. The Ancestral Factor enters the life of the individual as physico-chemical disposition in the germ cell. The nature of this we cannot even imagine. In any case its investigation hardly lies within the province of Psychology. We must remember, moreover, that we do not know it positively, but only by a supposed inclusion of ontogenetic causes.
The Phylogenetic Factors in life are not, then, Psychological, but represent rather the limits of this Universe of Discourse, beyond which Cytology, etc. takes over.' I suggest therefore, since this limit cannot be positively determined, that it is bad method to magnify the importance of phylogenetic, non-psychological factors which are relatively inaccessible, merely because no psychological (ontogenetic) aetiology has yet been discovered. The Recapitulation Theory, as a biological and highly obscure explanation of early mental development, tends to preempt a field which otherwise might be more fruitfully studied by Psychology.
THE "SYNTHESIS" OF AN ANXIETY NEUROSIS
By A. WOHLGEMUTH.
I AM using here the term Synthesis antithetically to the term Analysis, but neither of them in their proper scientific meaning. Analysis really means the separating of a compound into its constituent parts, and synthesis the combining of parts into a compound. In this sense the term is used in psychology. During introspection a mental process is observed and split up, so to speak, into its component part-processes. To give an actual example: A drop of dilute acetic acid having been put on the tongue of an observer in the attitude of introspection the experience was described as follows:
At first there was merely a tactile sensation, then warmth which was pleasant. This changed to a definite gustatory sensation which was slightly unpleasant. I became aware of pricking sensations, at first slightly unpleasant, becoming at intervals pleasant. Gustatory sensations returned to consciousness with prick and became highly pleasant at intervals. The whole had a tone about it which is best described as voluptuous. Then the prick became more unpleasant, although a pleasant element remained in consciousness. They appeared to be together simultaneously or in rapid succession. Then I swallowed.
Here the apparently simple experience of tasting a drop of acetic acid has been analysed1.
However in psycho-analytic literature and in the so-called 'New Psychology' the term analysis has no such meaning. The so-called ‘analysis of the mind' amounts, speaking scientifically, to the tracing of unknown antecedents which are supposed to stand in causal relation to known consequents. The following is an example taken at random from Freud:
A lady living apart from her husband had at meals the compulsion to leave the best behind on the plate, e.g. to eat of a piece of meat only the outer part. This selfdenial was explained by the date of its beginning. It began on the date when she refused her husband conjugal rights, i.e. she renounced the best2.
Here is no analysis in the proper scientific sense of the term, and synthesis, used antithetically, would mean then, the tracing of the chain of causal relations in the direction from antecedent to consequent.
1 See also G. F. Stout, Analytic Psychology, 4th ed. London, 1918, vol. 1, ch. ii, or vol. II, p. 20 note; James Ward, Psychological Principles, 2nd ed. Cambridge, 1920, ch. ii. 2 Sigmund Freud, Sammlung kleiner Schriften zur Neurosenlehre, 2te Folge, Leipzig, etc., 1909, p. 125.
The next point to be considered is a psychological one and refers to what has been called the 'Transference of Feeling.' By this is meant that the feeling-element of one experience influences or determines the feelingelement of another simultaneous experience. I will not give here more or less imaginary examples, purported to be taken from everyday life, but rely upon results obtained from an experimental investigation on the feeling-elements1. This research was carried out with the assistance of four observers, all highly trained psychologists. Simple stimuli affecting the various senses were given singly or in pairs, and the protocols were immediately written down from dictation. When the series of experiments were completed, the protocols were scrutinized, and any statements that appeared to have any reference to 'feelings' were carefully noted. Similar statements were classed together, and classes having some common relation were put into corresponding groups. The results thus obtained allowed me to formulate certain 'Rules.' One of the groups contained thirty-five statements2. These had reference to
(a) Transference of the feeling-element of an idea, or of an image, to a sensation.
(1) A pleasant idea making a sensation pleasant.
(2) An unpleasant idea making a sensation unpleasant.
(3) A pleasant image making a sensation pleasant.
(4) An unpleasant image making a sensation unpleasant.
(b) Transference of the feeling-element of a sensation to an idea or an image.
(c) Transference of the feeling-element of one sensation to another sensation.
(d) Transference of the feeling-element of an emotional process to
The following are a few examples:
(a) (1) Transference of the feeling-element of an idea to a sensation: a pleasant idea making a sensation pleasant. Experiment W. 62. A square piece of green paper was presented to the observer:
At first the sensation was slightly unpleasant and during this time it appeared slightly crude, then it became indifferent, then slightly pleasant. At this time I had a vague idea that green was the colour of Ireland. The pleasure seemed vaguely connected with this. I had the faintest possible image of some green garment. Towards the end this faded away and the colour became as nearly as possible indifferent.
A. Wohlgemuth, "Pleasure-Unpleasure. An experimental investigation on the feeling-elements," this Journal, Monograph Supplement VI, Cambridge University Press, 2 Loc. cit. pp. 201 sqq.
I will also give experiment W. 70, the first part of which is an illustration of (d) below. Two visual stimuli, namely two square pieces of coloured paper were presented to the subject one of which, No. 6, was of a yellowish colour. The protocol runs as follows:
No. 6 unpleasant at first, very slight emotion of disgust. Now I am not absolutely certain about this, the emotion of disgust was there first and then the colour became slightly disgusting and dirty. The emotion and corresponding idea about the colour gradually vanished from consciousness and at the same time the accompanying unpleasantness until a state of almost complete indifference was reached. I then thought the colour was like khaki and I had a very vague thought that khaki, and therefore this colour, is useful. At this point the sensation was very slightly pleasant, but this pleasure faded and a state of indifference came back.
Experiment X. 15. A drop of a concentrated solution of quinine hydrochloride was placed on the tongue of the observer:
Unpleasant. (The taste) developed very slowly and increased in unpleasantness and then as it got well back over the tongue, became more distinct and less unpleasant, possibly due to associations.
The observer recognized quinine which he favoured as a tonic, and it is to the pleasant feeling-element of this idea of the tonic to which he referred. A number of other examples could be given here, but these suffice.
(a) (2) Transference of the feeling-element of an idea to a sensation: an unpleasant idea making a sensation unpleasant. Experiment W. 147. The stimulus was a square piece of coloured paper, yellowish:
...I became aware of wavy horizontal lines in the middle of the paper. I thought these were caused by reflections. At first they were unpleasant. There was present in connection with them a vague idea (possibly accompanied by an equally vague image) of a human face with white unhealthy lines disfiguring the skin.
Experiment X. 44: A strip of sandpaper was gently rubbed over the dorsum of one of the subject's hands:
...at first pleasant, but became unpleasant very quickly: not very unpleasant, but a decided change took place. Associations were excited, scraping of the body, etc. This brought with it slight unpleasantness.
(a) (3) Transference of the feeling-element of an image to a sensation: a pleasant image making a sensation pleasant. Experiment Y. 128. The visual stimulus was a coloured square:
At first the visual sensation seemed to have no feeling-tone at all.... Then I had a faint image which is usually called up by this colour and which is distinctly pleasant, and from that on the visual sensation was pleasant even after the image had disappeared.
(a) (4) Transference of the feeling-tone of an image to a sensation:
an unpleasant image making a sensation unpleasant. Experiment Y. 38. The stimulus was given by a Galton whistle blown with the mouth:
The feeling-tone... was at first slightly pleasant and then changed to unpleasant. The change to unpleasantness was brought about by visual imagery (a child crying).
Experiment Y. 116. Stimulus an orange coloured paper:
The stimulus was neutral until a vivid image arose (sunrise). No words but, as before, the whole picture meant ‘another hot day.' The image was unpleasant and immediately it arose the colour became unpleasant too.
(b) Transference of the feeling-element of a sensation to an idea or an image. Experiment X. 73. An olfactory stimulus:
After the stimulus had been removed I had an idea of the act of smelling, and this idea had none of the olfactory quality of the original experience, but it retained the feeling-tone that had accompanied the sensation.
(c) Transference of the feeling-element of one sensation to another sensation. Experiment X. 114. The tone of a tuning fork and a colour were given simultaneously as stimuli:
Generally the agreeableness of the auditory stimulus was so great, that it masked the feeling-tone of the visual sensation; so much so that at one time I was tempted to think the latter had become agreeable.
(d) Transference of the feeling-element of an emotional process to a sensation. Experiment X. 39. The olfactory stimuli were asafoetida given twice: first of weak intensity and short duration, and then of stronger intensity and longer duration:
Both unpleasant. In comparing the unpleasantnesses I found it difficult to say that the second and intenser stimulation was in quality much more unpleasant than the first, but it excited a stronger reflex, a compulsive reflex. This is liable to be interpreted as a greater unpleasantness. The reaction to the second stimulus was made up of unpleasant feeling and bodily aversion, bodily withdrawal and moments of disgust, whereas in the first stimulus there was much less of the bodily effects. The total of second feeling-tone is greater, but how much of this is due to the sensation I cannot say.
The example of the khaki colour given above under (a, 1) would also serve here as an illustration.
These are a few examples taken at random and many more are given in the published monograph of the research. The conclusions that can be drawn from the above examples and the others of the monograph I combined in the following 'Rule 4911.
The predominant feeling-element in an emotional process, or the feeling-element of one cognitive process may induce a like feeling-element in another cognitive process, occurring about the same time.
This 'rule' is based on thirty-five statements made in the protocols of this investigation.
The principle expressed in this rule, I wrote then,...is an important and constantly recurring factor in our daily life. I think, e.g. that it contributes more actively
1 Loc. cit. pp. 242 sqq.