THE GHOST THAT DWELLS IN EACH OF US by William & Estelle Stead 1921
See also The Mystery, Interpretation & Psychology of Dreams - 60 Books on Cdrom, and Mind Reading, Telepathy, Hypnotism, 60 Books on CDrom
"Real Ghost Stories!—How can there be real ghost stories when there are no real ghosts?"
But are there no real ghosts? You may not have seen one, but it does not follow that therefore they do not exist. How many of us have seen the microbe that kills? There are at least as many persons who testify they have seen apparitions as there are men of science who have examined the microbe. You and I, who have seen neither, must perforce take the testimony of others. The evidence for the microbe may be conclusive, the evidence as to apparitions may be worthless; but in both cases it is a case of testimony, not of personal experience.
The first thing to be done, therefore, is to collect testimony, and by way of generally widening the mind and shaking down the walls of prejudice which lead so many to refuse to admit the clearest possible evidence as to facts which have not occurred within their personal experience, I preface the report of my "Census of Hallucinations" or personal experiences of the so-called supernatural by a preliminary chapter on the perplexing subject of "Personality." This is the question that lies at the root of all the controversy as to ghosts. Before disputing about whether or not there are ghosts outside of us, let us face the preliminary question, whether we have not each of us a veritable ghost within our own skin?
Thrilling as are some of the stories of the apparitions of the living and the dead, they are less sensational than the suggestion made by hypnotists and psychical researchers of England and France, that each of us has a ghost inside him. They say that we are all haunted by a Spiritual Presence, of whose existence we are only fitfully and sometimes never conscious, but which nevertheless inhabits the innermost recesses of our personality. The theory of these researchers is that besides the body and the mind, meaning by the mind the Conscious Personality, there is also within our material frame the soul or Unconscious Personality, the nature of which is shrouded in unfathomable mystery. The latest word of advanced science has thus landed us back to the apostolic assertion that man is composed of body, soul and spirit; and there are some who see in the scientific doctrine of the Unconscious Personality a welcome confirmation from an unexpected quarter of the existence of the soul.
The fairy tales of science are innumerable, and, like the fairy tales of old romance, they are not lacking in the grim, the tragic, and even the horrible. Of recent years nothing has so fascinated the imagination even of the least imaginative of men as the theory of disease which transforms every drop of blood in our bodies into the lists in which phagocyte and microbe wage the mortal strife on which our health depends. Every white corpuscle that swims in our veins is now declared to be the armed Knight of Life for ever on the look-out for the microbe Fiend of Death. Day and night, sleeping and waking, the white knights of life are constantly on the alert, for on their vigilance hangs our existence. Sometimes, however, the invading microbes come in, not in companies but in platoons, innumerable as Xerxes' Persians, and then "e'en Roderick's best are backward borne," and we die. For our life is the prize of the combat in these novel lists which science has revealed to our view through the microscope, and health is but the token of the triumphant victory of the phagocyte over the microbe.
But far more enthralling is the suggestion which psychical science has made as to the existence of a combat not less grave in the very inmost centre of our own mental or spiritual existence. The strife between the infinitely minute bacilli that swarm in our blood has only the interest which attaches to the conflict of inarticulate and apparently unconscious animalculse. The strife to which researches into the nature and constitution of our mental processes call attention concerns our conscious selves. It suggests almost inconceivable possibilities as to our own nature, and leaves us appalled on the brink of a new world of being of, which until recently most of us were unaware.
There are no papers of such absorbing interest in the whole of the "Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research" as those which deal with the question of the Personality of Man. "I," what am I? What is our Ego? Is this Conscious Personality which receives impressions through the five senses, and through them alone, is it the only dweller in this mortal tabernacle? May there not be other personalities, or at least one other that is not conscious, when we are awake, and alert, and about, but which comes into semiconsciousness when we sleep, and can be developed into complete consciousness when the other personality is thrown into a state of hypnotic trance? In other words, am I one personality or two? Is my nature dual? As I have two hemispheres in my brain, have I two minds or two souls?
The question will, no doubt, appear fantastic in its absurdity to those who hear it asked for the first time; but those who are at all familiar with the mysterious but undisputed phenomena of hypnotism will realize how naturally this question arises, and how difficult it is to answer it otherwise than in the affirmative. Every one knows Mr. Louis Stevenson's wonderful story of "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." The dual nature of man, the warfare between this body of sin and death, and the spiritual aspirations of the soul, forms part of the common stock of our orthodox belief. But the facts which recent researches have brought to light seem to point not to the old theological doctrine of the conflict between good and evil in one soul, but to the existence in each of us of at least two distinct selfs, two personalities, standing to each other somewhat in the relation of man and wife, according to the old ideal when the man is everything and the woman is almost entirely suppressed.
Every one is familiar with the phenomenon of occasional loss of memory. Men are constantly losing consciousness, from disease, violence, or violent emotion, and emerging again into active life with a gap in their memory. Nay, every night we become unconscious in sleep, and rarely, if ever, remember anything that we think of during slumber. Sometimes in rare cases there is a distinct memory of all that passes in the sleeping and the waking states, and we have read of one young man whose sleeping consciousness was so continuous that he led, to all intents and purposes, two lives. When he slept he resumed his dream existence at the point when he waked, just as we resume our consciousness at the point when we fall asleep. It was just as real to him as the life which he lived when awake. It was actual, progressive, continuous, but entirely different, holding no relation whatever to his waking life. Of his two existences he preferred that which was spent in
sleep, as more vivid, more varied, and more pleasurable. This was no doubt an extreme and very unusual case. But it is not impossible to conceive the possibility of a continuous series of connected dreams, which would result in giving us a realizing sense of leading two existences. That we fail to realize this now is due to the fact that our memory is practically inert or non-existent during sleep. The part of our mind which dreams seldom registers its impressions in regions to I which on waking our conscious personality has access.
The conception of a dual or even a multiple personality is worked out in a series of papers by Mr. F. W. H. Myers, to which I refer all those who wish to make a serious study of this novel and startling hypothesis. But I may at least attempt to explain the theory, and to give some outline of the evidence on which it is based.
If I were free to use the simplest illustration without any pretence at scientific exactitude, I should say that the new theory supposes that there are inside each of us not one personality but two, and that these two correspond to husband and wife. There is the Conscious Personality, which stands for the husband. It is vigorous, alert, active, positive, monopolising all the means of communication and production. So intense is its consciousness that it ignores the very existence of its partner, excepting as a mere appendage and convenience to itself. Then there is the Unconscious Personality, which corresponds to the wife who keeps cupboard and storehouse, and the old stocking which treasures up the accumulated wealth of impressions acquired by the Conscious Personality, but who is never able to assert any right to anything, or to the use of sense or limb except when her lord and master is asleep or entranced. When the Conscious Personality has acquired any habit or faculty so completely that it becomes instinctive, it is handed on to the Unconscious Personality to keep and use, the Conscious Ego giving it no longer any attention. Deprived, like the wife in countries where the subjection of woman is the universal law, of all right to an independent existence, or to the use of the senses or of the limbs, the Unconscious Personality has discovered ways and means of communicating other than through the recognised organs of sense.
How vast and powerful are those hidden organs of the Unconscious Personality we can only dimly see. It is through them that Divine revelation is vouchsafed to man. The visions of the mystic, the prophecies of the seer, the inspiration of the sibyl, all come through this Unconscious Soul. It is through this dumb and suppressed Ego that we communicate by telepathy,—that thought is transferred without using the five senses. This under-soul is in touch with the over-soul, which, in Emerson's noble phrase, "abolishes time and space." "This influence of the senses has," he says, "in most men, overpowered their mind to that degree that the walls of time and space have come to look real and insurmountable; and to speak with levity of these limits is in the world the sign of insanity. Yet time and space are but inverse measures of the force of the soul." It is this Unconscious Personality which sees the Strathmore foundering in mid-ocean, which hears a whisper spoken hundreds of miles off upon the battlefield, and which witnesses, as if it happened before the eyes, a tragedy occurring at the Antipodes.
In proportion as the active, domineering Conscious Personality extinguishes his submissive unconscious partner, materialism flourishes, and man becomes blind to the Divinity that underlies all things. Hence in all religions the first step is to silence the noisy, bustling master of our earthly tabernacle, who, having monopolised the five senses, will listen to no voice which it cannot hear, and to allow the silent mistress to be open-souled to God. Hence the stress which all spiritual religions have laid upon contemplation, upon prayer and fasting. Whether it is an Indian Yogi, or a Trappist Monk, or one of our own Quakers, it is all the same. In the words of the Revivalist hymn, "We must lay our deadly doing down," and in receptive silence wait for the inspiration from on high. The Conscious Personality has usurped the visible world; but the Invisible, with its immeasurable expanse, is the domain of the Sub-conscious. Hence we read in the Scriptures of losing life that we may find it; for things of time and sense are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.
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 monopolized 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."
For a list of all of my disks, with links click here