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fallaciously localised in relatively small different areas of the cerebral
A similar error endangers Head's earlier conjecture (in his work with Gordon Holmes) that the thalamus is the "centre of consciousness for certain elements of sensation1" which he infers from the results of interference of the normal connections between the thalamus and the cerebral cortex. No doubt he would himself admit that if we isolate a relatively small part of the central nervous system, it is impossible to suppose that that part remains the seat of conscious processes. Consciousness depends on the self. The activities of the thalamus can only affect consciousness by forming part of those activities which contribute to those of the self. All that we can safely infer is that when the thalamus is separated from the cerebral cortex, its activities affect the self in a manner different from that when its normal relations to the cortex are intact. We cannot endow the thalamus with a 'centre of consciousness."
THE NATURE OF CONSCIOUSNESS.
This brings me, in conclusion, to a brief study of the nature of consciousness itself. There was a time when mind was regarded as the product of the brain just as bile is regarded as the product of the liver. This was succeeded by an age when mind and living matter were considered to be so absolutely different in character that for this, if not for any other reason, it seemed absurd to compare mind with bile as a 'secretion' of living substance. Instead grew up, on one side, the theory of psycho-physical parallelism-that mental and neural processes are two different aspects or reflexions of one and the same unknown activity --and, on the other side, the theory of interactionism-that so far from being parallel they are independent and may each, according to circumstances, influence and control the other.
Times have now changed. Substance proves no longer as 'substantial' as it appears. We are no longer content to regard matter as composed of solid atoms. The structure of the atom is now revealed to us as a constellation of ions, each of which appears to be merely a centre charged with electrical energy, endowed with inertia, mass, weight and structure.
What exactly is the relation of such a view to the hypothesis of a structureless, continuous, almost perfectly elastic ether is so far uncertain. But the phenomena of light prove no longer to be solely explicable in terms of the undulatory theory; some of them now demand a corpuscular 1 Brain, 1911-12, Vol. XXXIV, p. 181.
theory for their solution. At all events matter is coming to be regarded
What now of mind? Is not this likewise a product of activities? Is
When we come to consider the difference between mind and living matter, the distinction is reduced almost to vanishing point. For it is essentially the same purposive, directive, plastic and constructive characteristics, distinguishing living from dead matter, which, raised to a still higher power, distinguish both nervous and mental activity from the activity of other living tissues. The problems of life that confront the physiologist are almost precisely those of mind that confront the psychologist. Life and mind must ultimately be described in similar terms. From each we can abstract the mechanical, comparable to what we know of the activities of lifeless matter. But is it not conceivable that the apparently blind mechanism of which physics treats is only an abstraction from a purposeful direction that plays its part in the larger universe regarded as an organism, just as we are bound to conceive of such direction even in the lowest living individuals, even in the lowest physiological levels of the higher living organisms?
PROFESSOR FREUD'S GROUP PSYCHOLOGY AND HIS THEORY OF SUGGESTION1
BY WILLIAM MCDOUGALL.
It is matter for rejoicing that the great leader of the psycho-analytic movement has of late years turned his attention to some of the deepest problems of social psychology. In so doing he brings his theories of human nature, built up through the study of individuals, to the test of their usefulness in wider fields, fields in which students who cannot claim to be psycho-analysts by profession may hope to weigh and to criticise them on a footing of equality. We are grateful to Professor Freud because, in thus coming out into the open, he grants us a taste of
That stern joy which warriors feel
In an earlier article I have examined one of Professor Freud's contributions to Social Psychology2. In this place I propose to examine a more recent contribution, one which aims to go to the very roots of Group Psychology, namely, Group Psychology and the Analysis of the Ego3.
Professor Freud begins by pointing out that many writers on social psychology have been content to found much of their construction on the postulate of a 'social instinct' in man.
But we may perhaps venture to object that it seems difficult to attribute to the factor of number a significance so great as to make it capable by itself of arousing in our mental life a new instinct that is otherwise not brought into play. Our expectation is, therefore, directed toward two other possibilities; that the social instinct may not be a primitive one and insusceptible of dissection, and that it may be possible to discover the beginnings of its development in a narrower circle, such as that of the family.
Having thus defined his goal, Professor Freud proceeds to examine the views of some other writers on the fundamentals of Group Psychology, more especially those of M. le Bon and of myself. He accepts le Bon's assertion that participation in the life of a 'psychological group' profoundly modifies the thinking, feeling, and acting of the individual; and he asks:
1 This paper is Professor McDougall's contribution to the Morton Prince Commemoration Volume published by Messrs Kegan Paul, Trench Trubner & Co. [Ed.]
2 A Review of Totem and Taboo in Mind, 1920.
* A translation of Massenpsychologie und Ich-Analyse, published by The International Psycho-Analytical Press, 1922.
What, then, is a group? How does it acquire the capacity for exercising such a decisive influence over the mental life of the individual? And what is the nature of the mental change which it forces upon the individual? It is the task of a theoretical Group Psychology to answer these three questions.
Freud finds himself in substantial agreement with le Bon in respect of the peculiarities of the individual in the group.
When individuals come together in a group, all their individual inhibitions fall away and all the cruel, brutal and destructive instincts, which lie dormant in individuals as relics of a primitive epoch, are stirred up to find free gratification.
The apparently new characteristics which he [the individual] then displays are, in fact, the manifestations of this unconscious, in which all that is evil in the human mind is contained as a pre-disposition. We can find no difficulty in understanding the disappearance of conscience or of a sense of responsibility in these circumstances. It has long been our contention that 'dread of society (Sociale Angst)' is the essence of what is called conscience.
The captious critic might here interpose to ask, why conscience, if it is dread of society, should disappear just when a man is most thickly surrounded by the fellow members of society.
Also, without captiousness, we may fairly ask for more definition of "all the cruel, brutal and destructive instincts" which constitute the predisposition of all that is evil in the human mind.
In his later writings Professor Freud no longer has been content to postulate a single instinct, the sexual, but makes reference to a considerable array of instincts. These references excite in me the liveliest curiosity; a curiosity which seems doomed to remain unsatisfied. For my part, although since childhood I have been familiar with references in sermons and popular addresses to "cruel, brutal and destructive instincts, which lie dormant in individuals as relics of a primitive epoch," I have always been sceptical as to the existence of such instincts in the human species; and the more I have studied the problems of instinct, the more has this scepticism hardened toward flat disbelief.
Perhaps it is unreasonable to demand consistency from so great a pioneer as Professor Freud: yet I will venture to point out that in another recent work (Reflections on War and Death) Freud has asserted what I believe to be a truer doctrine:
Psychological or, strictly speaking, psycho-analytical investigation, proves that... the deepest character of man consists of impulses of an elemental kind which are similar in all human beings, the aim of which is the gratification of certain primitive needs. These impulses are in themselves neither good nor evil.
Freud accepts le Bon's assertion of increased suggestibility of the crowd-member, rightly points out that le Bon leaves this fact entirely unexplained, and marks it down as a fundamental problem to be dealt
with. He notes also, as two other important problems brought out by le Bon's descriptive account of crowds, the contagion of emotions and the prestige of leaders.
Freud (unlike le Bon, Sighele, Schallmeyer, Trotter, Martin, and most of the other writers who have dwelt upon the defects and ferocities of the crowd) is not blind to the fundamental paradox of group psychology, the paradox on which I have insisted in my Group Mind, namely, that, while immersion in the crowd commonly degrades the individual below his normal level, yet it is only by participation in group life that any man achieves his humanity and rises above the level of animal life: for, passing on to give in Chapter III an excellent, though incomplete and brief, résumé of my views, he recognises this paradox as another fundamental problem. In my Group Mind I maintained that the solution of this problem is to be found in the organisation of the group, that in proportion as a group becomes organised it gets rid of the peculiar defects and weaknesses of the crowd and becomes capable of higher modes of functioning and, under the better forms of organisation, capable of raising its members rather than degrading them. But Freud seems to reject my explanation by organisation, for he writes:
It seems to us that the condition which McDougall designates as the 'organisation' of a group can with more justification be described in another way. The problem consists in how to procure for the group precisely those features which were characteristic of the individual and which are extinguished in him by the formation of the group. For the individual, outside the primitive group, possessed his own continuity, his self-consciousness, his traditions and customs, his own particular functions and position, and kept apart from his rivals. Owing to his entry into an ‘unorganised ' group, he had lost this distinctiveness for a time.
But this is merely a restatement of the problem; it suggests no alternative solution of it. Curiously enough, Freud, having recognised this problem and having implied that he has some alternative solution for it, passes on and does not, in the course of this book, return to it. He closes his reference to it with the following cryptic comment:
If we thus recognise that the aim of the group is to equip the group with the attributes of the individual, we shall be reminded of a valuable remark of Trotter to the effect that the tendency towards the formation of groups is biologically a continuation of the multicellular character of all the higher organisations.
In this chapter Freud mentions also the principle I have invoked for the explanation of the intensified emotional reactions of crowds. He writes:
The manner in which individuals are thus carried away by a common impulse is explained by McDougall by means of what he calls the "principle of direct induction of emotion by way of the primitive sympathetic response," that is, by means of the emotional contagion with which we are already familiar.