W. Maslin Frysinger.

Some psychic problems online

. (page 1 of 4)
Online LibraryW. Maslin FrysingerSome psychic problems → online text (page 1 of 4)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook



Some Psychic Problems












A friend has made it possible for the
author to present this brochure to a
limited number of those whom he holds
in affectionate regard.







'"Astra castra, Numen lumen'

Ye Scimilar Print Shop

HMldsbiirq. - California




At the age of almost fourscore years I still
indulge in two forms of recreation — following
the streams which God has made, for the pleas-
ure of communing with nature and its Author,
occasionally capturing a piscatory prize as a
variation from this assured experience of out-
door enjoyment; and following the man-made
streams of literature, for the pleasure and
profit to be derived from communing with other
minds, comparing my own views of truth with
theirs, and occasionally drawing forth some
suggestive idea giving me a new conception of
duty or destiny. The contents of this tomelet
are the results of one of these literary excur-
sions — nothing more — unless in some decree
they have been prompted by the soul-feeling
which Rupert Brooke voices in poetic prayer:

"O Thou,
God of all long desirous roaming,
Our hearts are sick of fruitless homing,


And crying after lost desire.
Hearten us onward! as with fire
Consuming' dreams of other bliss.
The best Thou givest, giving this
; Sufficient thing — to travel still

Over the plains, beyond the hill,.
Unhesitating through the shade,
Amid the silence unafraid.
Till, at some sudden turn, one sees
Against the black and muttering trees,
Thine altar, wonderfully white,
Among the Forests of the Night."

In the multitude of my thoughts within me.
I have endeavored to hold to the inspiring
motto on the title page, "The stars my camp,
the Deity my light."


Now that man is being studied from a psy-
chic standpoint as never before, questions which
have always been of transcendent importance
are taking on new meaning and appealing to
the human intellect with added force — ques-
tions which involve both the nature and the
destiny of man.


The Question of a Dual Nature

Are man's body and what we call his spirit
distinct and separate, the immaterial entity
simply using the material organism as a ve-
hicle of physical and mental activity? Or, is
what we call the spirit but a manifestation of
the functional effects of the living material
organism as flame is a manifestation of the
chemical processes which fuel undergoes when

it burns, and will the spirit cease to exist when
the body undergoes decomposition as the flame
dies when the fuel is consumed 1 "Is thought, ' '
as says Herbert Spencer, ' ' only phosphorus ? ' '

Those who have studied man from a materi-
alistic standpoint only deny that he has a dual
nature, contending that physical science will
account for all phenomena that human nature
manifests, mind included. Thus Huxley, while
admitting that there are inexplicable phenom-
ena of an immaterial nature, especially con-
sciousness, makes psychology merely "the or-
der of mental phenomena," and as for there
being anything like a spirit in man, "a some-
thing that he carries about with him under his
hat," he ridicules the idea. There are a few
writers who go to the opposite extreme, like
John King, who assert that there is no real ex-
istence but spirit, and regard matter as a mere
phantasmagoria (Berkleianism). All such
merely intellectual speculations simply leave us
in a maze of mystery because lacking founda-
tion of fact. Huxley himself defines Science

as "accurate knowledge," and such knowledge
is to be obtained only from facts.

One reason why materialistic philosophy has
so largely dominated scientific thought is that
until recently physical facts have been made
the first and only subjects of scientific observa-
tion. Now that psychic phenomena are being
scientifically investigated their reality and im-
portance are becoming recognized. Dreams,
somnambulism, telepathy, hypnotism, mental
suggestion, and other peculiar experiences, as
well as normal mental operations, are being ac-
cepted as facts which cannot be explained by
man's material organization.

As to dreams, Benjamin Franklin said, "I
am often as agreeably entertained by them as
by the scenery of an opera." This is remark-
able only in showing that dreams attracted tlie
attention of a mind like his, but there are on
record hundreds of cases where dreams were
of a most remarkable character. It is a well
authenticated fact that Coleridge's poem en-
titled "Kubla Khan," which Swinburne calls

"for absolute melody and splendor the first
poem in the language," was composed during
a dream. Almost as marvelous is an experi-
ence which Dr. Lyman Abbott relates in his
"Reminiscences." He was asked to preach
before the National Prison Reform Association,
but the week previous he had no time what-
ever for preparation. On Saturday night he
went to bed without text or sermon, anticipat-
ing a humiliating failure. "And then," he
says, "I tried to sleep. Did I? I do not know.
I only know that in a very few moments I sud-
denly awoke to consciousness with my subject,
my text, and my sermon in my mind. ' ' And the
next morning he preached the sermon, which
made such an impression that it was published
far and wide "as a new and spiritual defini-
tion of the essential principle of penology —
fitting the penalty, not to the crime, but to the
criminal." Mr. Lincoln underwent a somewhat
similar experience. The late Dr. Hill of Buf-
falo, N. Y., says that as a member of the Sani-
tary Commission, during the Civil War, he con-


gratuiated the great President on having origi-
nated such a great benevolence. Mr. Lincoln
replied: '*You must carry your thanks to a
higher Being. One stormy night I tossed on my
bed unable to sleep, as I thought of the terrible
sufferings of our soldiers and sailors. I spent
an hour in prayer to God for some method of
relief, and he put the Sanitary Commission in
ni}- mind with all its details as distinctly as
though the instructions had been written out
by a pen and handed to me." Both of these
cases seem to give some confirmation to the
assertion made in the Encyclopedia Britannica,
that dreams do not always attend the condition
of sleep.

Somnambulism is but another form of dream
phenomena. As has been said, "The somnam
bulist acts his dream." Curious cases of this
nocturnal habit are so numerous that it is hard
1>' necessary to quote any. One characteristic
of somnambulistic performances is that they
usually display more of method than do ordi-
nary dreams. In Pennsylvania, near a former


liome of the writer, an intelligent lady, the wife
of a farmer, was given to what is popularly
called "sleep-walking." In these unconscious
movements she would usually go about accus-
tomed tasks. Thus at one time she arose, at-
tired herself completely, went from the house
to the barn, harnessed a horse and hitched him
to a wagon, arranged a load of produce of va-
rious kinds, and was about to start for the mar-
ket she attended in a town several miles dis-
tant, when she was intercepted by her husband,
and was astonished beyond measure to find it
was about midnight. Such incidents are com-

Telepath}^ has an apt illustration in an ex-
perience of John Muir, related in his "First
Summer in the Sierra." While encamped on
the mountain above the Yosemite Valley he
was suddenly possessed with the notion that
his friend. Prof. J. D. Butler, of the University
of Wisconsin, was below him in the valley. He
im.mediately attempted the descent to seek the
friend whose presence he felt only in a strange,


telepatliic way, but was compelled to return
by the approach of night. The next day he
made his way into the valley, and found his
friend, although, save for this strange feeling,
he says, ' ' I had not the slightest hope of seeing
him. Strange to say, he had just entered the
valley by way of the Coulterville trail, and was
coming up the valley past El Capitan when his
presence struck me. This seems the one well-
defined marvel of my life of the kind called
supernatural." Wm. T. Stead narrates many
such experiences, and they could be multiplied

That hypnotism and mental suggestion liave
been demonstrated to be helpful methods in the
treatment of disease is shown by the fact that
"Suggestive Therapeutics" has been endorsed
by authority even as high as the British Medi-
cal Association, as well as eminent members of
the medical profession in our own country,
among them Dr. T. Weir Mitchell of interna-
tional reputation.

Dr. Lewellyn F. Barker, Professor of Clyni-


eal Medicine at Johns Hopkins Universtiy, is
actively engaged in promoting the establisli-
ment of psycopathic hospitals for the sole
treatment of mental disorders, and his efforts
are being sanctioned by the medical profession
throughout the country. In foreign countries
there are many such institutions.

Peculiar mental phenomena, exhibiting the
power to deal almost miraculously with fixed
laws, such as govern mathematics, astronomy,
music, etc., add to the mysteries which no ma-
terial causes can explain. Zera Colburn is
often referred to as a phenomenal prodigy. At
the age of six he could neither write nor cipher,
yet would unhesitatingly answer most difficult
arithmetical questions. George Bidder, son
of a Devonshire farmer, at the age of twelve,
could answer in one minute complicated mathe-
matical problems even when involving astro-
nomical calculations. Jedediah Buxton, an-
other English lad, could also work out almost
instantaneously the most complex problems.
The eminent scientists, Arago, Libri, and La-


<3roix, of Paris, examined Vito Mangiamele, son
of a Sicilian peasant, eleven years old, and were
astounded at liis solution of geometrical prob-
lems as rapidly as the}" could state them. A
.more recent example is that of Reuben Field,
a Negro, who died at the county farm near
Kansas City, Mo., in 1915. He was altogether
illiterate, yet was able to solve the most intri-
cate mathematical questions propounded by
scientists, to whom he was an inexplicable
wonder. Prodigies in music as well as mathe-
matics have frequently appeared. Blind Tom
being a notable example. In all of these cases,
remarkable as have been their performances,
not one has been able to give the least expla-
nation of the process by which the wonderful
results were accomplished. Blind Tom, in fact,
was an idiot.

It is generally admitted that physical sci-
ence utterly fails to account for phenomena
such as we have described. The cases we have
cited, of dreams, of somnambulism, of tele-


patliy, of hypnotism and mental suggestion,
are attested by such eminent and well qualified
witnesses that these phenomena are lifted out
of the realm of superstition into that of psycho-
logical investigation. Such investigation, how-
ever, at the outset, is like the exploration of a
new world. Dr. E. W. Scripture, a learned
authority, says that modern scientists are as
little acquainted with the philosophy of dreams
as was the primitive man. Little more can be
said as to the other classes of phenomena we
have named. Of the peculiar cases of almost
supernatural performance by illiterates least
of all is known, indeed nothing. What has been
done, in the way of experiment and theorizing,
is sufficient to show that the tendency of meta-
physical thought is toward the abandonment of
the study of man as possessing only body and
mind and the adoption of the Scriptural and
more suggestive designation of his dual nature
as the natural and the spiritual, a designation
which is no less rational because it is Script-
ural. Materialism and the consciousness of


normal and super-normal experiences can never
be reconciled. In his famous Belfast address,
Tyndall said: "The phenomena of conscious-
ness is a rock on which materialism must in-
evitably split whenever it pretends to be a com-
plete philosophy of life." Arthur J. Balfour,
in "Theism and Humanism," p. 54, says: "In
a strictly determined physical sj^stem, depend-
ing on the laws of matter and energy alone, no
room has been found, and no room can be found
for psychical states at all. They are noveitif^s.
whose intrusion into the material world cannot
be denied, but whose presence and behavior
cannot be explained by the laws which the
world obeys." It is quite fair to conclude,
then, that from this time forward man will be
regarded as having a dual nature, and will be
studied from a spiritual as well as from a ma-
terial standpoint. As Balfour says again, "We
now know too much about matter to be materi-

In attributing to man a dual nature, how-
ever, we must not be understood as using the


term nature as implying personality. The idea
"we would convey is not that man's dual nature-
constitutes dual personality, nor that the con-
joining of his two natures constitutes one per-
sonality, but that this conjunction of the ma-
terial body with the immaterial spirit is effect-
ed for the purpose of subordinating the body
to the spirit so as to adapt it to the uses of the
spirit, in which alone personality inheres. Ma-
terialism makes nothing more of man than an
animal — to be sure, a highly developed animal,
a thinking animal, a product of the law of the
"survival of the fittest," and yet not destined
to survive but to perish. In thus attributing to
man but one nature — the material — it neces-
sarily confines itself to the study of man, and of
all questions concerning his nature and des-
tiny, from a material standpoint; and it is no
wonder that all of its theories end in doubt, if
not, like Herbert Spencer's, in despair. The
foundation doctrine of materialism concerning
man is that he was created in the image of a
beast, and it can therefore build for him no high-


er liope than his nature affords. The the-
ory of evolution, however interpreted, is utterly
unsatisfactory as to mental phenomena and all
else pertaining to man's higher nature. Alfred
Russell Wallace, hardly second to Darwin as
an authority, in an address before the students
of Johns Hopkins University, said, "Evolu-
tion ends where Psychology begins." While
adhering to a modification of the evolutionary
theory, he subscribed to the doctrine that man
waF created in the image of God, not only as a
doctrine of theology, but of science. Without
doubt, whatever inspiration has prompted man
to develop a character consistent with reason
has come from the hope that he is capable of
achieving a higher destiny than that which
awaits the brute creation. The chief distinction
between man and the lower animals is not
thought alone, although that is a definite line
of demarcation, but the conscious apprehension
of his higher nature and higher destiny, a con-
sciousness which leads him to look down upon
the brute and to look up to God. *'The basest


thought about man," says Ruskin, "is that he
has no spiritual nature." Man is not merely a
thinking animal — a material being only, the
outgrowth of nothing but material forces — but
he is a spiritual being, to whose present exist-
ence his animal nature is subordinate, the two
natures being so distinct that when separated
the higher can exist without the lower.


The Question of a Dual Mind

The new school of psychologists not only ad-
mit man's dual nature, but many of them at-
tempt to explain psychic phenomena by attrib-
uting to man a dual mind. F. H. W. Myers di-
vides the mind into the supraliminal and the
subliminal. Dr. Albert Moll makes the dis-
tinction of the primary and secondary con-
sciousness, as does Prof. James, the latter re-
cognizing this secondary consciousness as an
independent intelligence, a "split-off, limited
and buried, but yet a fully conscious self."


Thos. J. Hudson divides the mind into two dis-
tinct and separate entities, ascribing to them
different functions, powers, and abilities. He
qualifies this hypothesis, however, by saying
that * ' it is a matter of indifference whether we
consider that man is endowed with two distinct
minds, or that his one mind possesses certain
attributes and powers under some conditions
and certain other attributes and powers under
other conditions." A. B. Olston says that the
therapeutic value of mental suggestion is not
a question of whether there are two minds, and
yet insists that success in auto-suggestion de-
pends on the objective mind believing in and
trusting the subjective mind. "We shall leave
to others," he says, "to discuss the matter of
mind unity with a view to settling the ques-
tion" — and then he predicates his whole the-
ory of mental therapeutics on the assumption
that the objective and subjective minds are
entities, assigning the seat of the former to the
brain and that of the latter to the nerve cen-
ters controlling the bodily functions. Other


authors advance still other theories, all differ-
ing from those alread}^ noticed and more or
less from each other.

I am inclined to say, with Prof. Munsterberg
in his Psychology and Life, "The story of the
subconscious mind can be told in three words:
There is none. ' * But this answer would hardly
satisfy those who have read the works of the
authors to whom I have referred. As for my-
self, the following considerations seem to re-
fute the theory of a dual mind.

1. It lacks definiteness. No two authors ad-
vocating it agree as to the exact nature and
functions of the two mental entities they as-
cribe to man. Some are so wide apart in their
definitions that they contradict each other.
Hudson makes only reason and memory facul-
ties of the objective mind, and intuition, sus-
ceptibility to suggestion, perfect reasoning,
perfect memory, the emotions, telepathic pow-
ers, and kinetic energy attributes of the sub-
jective mind. Olston, on the contrary, invests
both the objective and subjective minds with


the faculties ordinarily attributed to the nor-
mal mental structure, but gives to the subjec-
tive Superior powers. "The subjective mind is
a perfect memory, * ' he says, and ' ' it has re-
sources for obtaining information not shared
by the objective mind." He gives the subjec-
tive mind alone kinetic power, but puts it un-
der control of the objective mind, saying, ''The
subjective mind receives its education from the
objective mind." It is impossible to bring har-
mony out of all this confusion as to statement.
Each theory lacks scientific accuracy.

2. The dual theory as to mind is founded on
a wrong assumption as to what constitutes
human personality. Olston says, on the first
page of his volume on ' ' Mind Power and Priv-
ileges," that mind makes man, and emphasizes
this statement by saying further, "Mind . .
is true and permanent individuality." He
thus makes mind an embodiment of all human
powers. This is essentially the materialistic
conception of man's individuality, which as-


serts that mind is but a manifestation of or-
ganized matter, and when the organism ceases
to exist the mind ceases to exist. Olston agrees
with Hudson, that "Cerebral anatomy conclu-
sively demonstrates the fact that there can be
no objective mind in the absence of a brain."
They both seem to disagree with Prof. Bergson,
President of the British Society for Psychical
Research, who says: "The brain simply ex-
tracts from the life of the mind (distinguish-
ing between the life of the brain and the life of
the mind) that which is capable of represen-
tation in movement. The cerebral is to the
mental life what the movements of the baton of
a conductor are to the symphony." And they
totally disagree with the eminent scientific
authorities who still endorse what Tyndall de-
clared in his Belfast Address: "You cannot
satisfy the human understanding in its demand
for logical continuity between molecular pro-
cesses and the phenomena of the human mind."
Olston seems to transfer the permanency of in-
dividuality, or immortality, to the subconscious


mind, but he makes it dependent on tlie pliysi-
(^al organism also, for while he makes it the
active agent in operating the bodily functions,
he makes the medulla, the spinal cord, and the
ganglia the media on which its operations de-
pend, if indeed he does not make its very ex-
istence depend on these organs, as he says the
existence of the objective mind depends upon
the brain. He carries the materialistic con-
ception so far as to invest even the infinites-
imal cells which compose the body with intolli
gence. All of which is consistent with his gen-
eral theory concerning man's personality only
on the ground that his vague definition of mind
is correct, that it is **a sort of ever existing
l)ackground of intelligence" — a definition
which makes both mind and man but mere

It matters not whether the conscious or sub-
conscious mind is made to constitute man's
personality, the presumption in either case is
entirely wrong, for we may go farther tbaii
Munsterberg without transgressing the bounds


pf metaphysical triil]i, and say that there is m>
conscious mind and no subconscious mind. By
which we mean that consciousness does not in-
here in mind — that the power to cognize men-
tal operations lies back of the mind itself. Tlie
prodigies we have named who performed most
wonderful acts of mental arithmetic were un-
conscious of the nature of those acts, but they
were conscious of the acts themselves. We no
more know how they accomplished these phe-
nomenal mental feats than did they. To at-
tribute them to a subconscious mind, without
any more evidence than would justify attrib-
uting them to the brain mind, is to assume the
whole question.

Mind is a word of very indefinite meaning.
It can be used only in the abstract. It is gen-
erally employed to express the rational faculty,
man's power to reason. It is sometimes used
to denote all of man's powers, to take in his
entire spiritual nature, as a synonym of the
soul. (See Webster). This only makes its
meaning more vague, but it is only when used


in this vague meaning that it can be said that
the mind constitutes human personality.

Now, those who attribute to man a dual mind
use the term as designating either the rational
faculty alone or man's entire spiritual nature.
Hudson uses the objective mind in the former
sense and the subjective mind in the latter. He
attributes only reason and memory to the one,
and "perfect reason" and "perfect memory"
to the other, thus closely approaching Mrs.
Eddy's remarkable definition of mortal mind
as "Nothing, claiming to be something." 01-
ston is not as specific as Hudson, leaving defi-
nitions to the metaphysicians. Both practically
assign to man a dual mind and a dual person-
ality, and make his present life a sort of Jeck-
yll-and-Hyde existence. They present a vague
theory, because they base it on the interpreta-
tion of human personality expressed in the
vague meaning given to mind when used to de-
note the whole of man's powers instead of one
class only.


Have not both anthropology and psychology
assumed a definiteness which enables us to out-
line man's nature with accuracy? Do we not
know that he is more than a reasoning being —
more than a mere thinking machine, which is
all materialism makes him? He is also an emo-
tional being, a moral being, a volitional being.
But when we have said all this, we have not
fixed his personality. Some would make mind
constitute personality, and bring all the achie-
vements of the intellect to support their the-
ory. Some would make the emotions the meas-
ure of personality, claiming that it could wear
no more enduring crown than love. Some
would make moral characteristics the distin-
guishing manifestation of personality, on the
ground that the right or wrong use of all hu-
man powers depends upon these. Some would
say with Emerson, "Personality resides in
the will," and this belief is gaining acceptance
among the agnostics and materialists especi-
ally. In Prof. Munsterberg's ''Psychology and
Life," man's whole life is defined in terms of


the will. But in no one or all of these mani-
festations of personality does personality it-
self consist. Man is a conscious being. He
may be divested of any one of the attributes

1 3 4

Online LibraryW. Maslin FrysingerSome psychic problems → online text (page 1 of 4)