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or the typewriter elicited from her body a constant repetition of
the signal that rest was needed.

Curiously enough, the nervous system, when continually
fatigued beyond the limits of normal activity, becomes more easily
stimulated, and less capable of passing into a state of effective
rest so that repair may take place, as happens in sound and
refreshing sleep. The desire for sleep fails to come to the over-
tired, and the tendency becomes ever more and more pronounced



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POSITIVE HEALTH SERIES



115



the desire for rest, and the capac-
Thus a condition is established
ead of better.

itial that sufficient rest be taken
il, and one which should command

condition which many a girl will
[ just can't go to bed before 12 or
p," or "I never feel tired. I am
e time to get tired/' etc.
e to live than to merely exist. Be a

to others rather than a burden to
e are other and greater sources of
: candy. Rather, eat to live effec-

of feeling well, of being well, of
Der food and suitable rest periods
a program.^

lilable to make possible a thorough discussion
the principles of nutrition. Those who are
y of this subject may consult The American
1, M.D., and published by the Frederick C.
Newer Knowledge of Nutrition, written by
f the Macmillan Company, New York. — Ed. ^



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CHAPTER IV

MENTAL HEALTH
PART L — UVING AT OUR BEST

William A. White, M.D.

This little pamphlet is addressed to young women. Its object
is not to detail the symptoms of mental illness and then tell how
to treat them nor yet how to avoid them. Its object is to arrest
attention sufficiently so that the young woman may be induced
to devote some serious moments to self-examination; may sin-
cerely determine just what she is trying to do and what she wishes
to make of her life; may exert an effort to see herself clearly
as she really is, both her valuable qualities and her shortcomings ;
and may then attempt to order her life in accordance with such
a plan as will get the best results.

TAKING STOCK OF ONE'S SELF

We are accustomed to sizing up the influences about us and
putting them down as good or evil, as desirable to cultivate and
assist, or antagonize and avoid, as the case may be. Is it pos-
sible to size up one's self in the same way? Can we take stock,
so to speak, of our own characteristics, write down our assets and
liabilities, come to an understanding of our advantages and our
shortcomings? Can we estimate the value to us of our work, of
our friendships, of our likes and dislikes? Do we accurately
appreciate the loss in efficiency and happiness occasioned by our
prejudices, our irritabilities, our dislikes and grouches? Is it pos-
sible to size up all these elements of our personality in a way that
will produce results that are helpful in our living? And if it is
possible, is it worth while ?

Once each year the well-conducted business establishment
pauses for a few days to take stock, to balance its books, to exam-
ine all of its business ventures and note their exact status, whether
returns may be expected from each one and how much, or whether
some must be written off as losses and accepted as failures. All
this is done to determine just where the firm stands as to its
financial resources, its possibilities for credit and for the enlarge-
ment of its business or the necessities for curtailing expenses
and perhaps making sacrifices in order to obtain ready cash to
meet urgent obligations. In short, it is a survey of the firm's
assets and liabilities. Such a survey is recognized as a necessity



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118 WOMEN'S FOUNDATION FOR HEALTH

in business circles in order that the business ventures of the new
year may be undertaken intelligently and with a clear vision.

Such a procedure, or what I will call for short taking stock,
has been forced upon business houses by the keenness of competi-
tion which makes success impossible unless business ventures are
undertaken not only with a clear idea of the risks and obligations
which they involve, but with a clear understanding of the
resources available for putting them through.

If such a procedure is so important for the success of busi-
ness ventures, why should not a similar procedure be equally
important for the success of the greatest of all ventures, the great
adventure of life itself? It is true that many individuals do
attempt to size up their capacities for certain special undertak-
ings, but usually in a crude and uninformed way, while almost
no one thinks of attempting such a procedure with anything like
regularity as an established custom of her way of meeting life's
problems. It is much commoner to see people blundering along
through life, blundering into success, or more often blundering
into failure, and in the first instance not knowing what to do
with success when it does come, and in the latter instance not
knowing how to profit by the lessons which failure could teach,
and going on repeating the same mistakes over again.

It is already appreciated by physicians and by many laymen
that it is a good investment after one is 40 or 50 to be gone over
thoroughly by a competent physician once in a while in order to
see just what one's state of health really is, so that one's life
may be regulated in such fashion as to avoid putting too much
strain on organs that are beginning to show the signs of wear
and tear. This is recognized as good practice. Would it not be
equally good practice to inventory one's mental qualifications for
the game of life, only instead of waiting until one is 40 or 50, to
begin at once when life's responsibilities are taken up consciously
for the first time?

The answer to this question must rest upon the practical situ-
ation — whether the individual after serious contemplation is sat-
isfied with her life, with what she is doing, the direction in which
she is going, her objective, and her reasonably attainable goal. And
if she is not satisfied, then is she willing to make an effort, perhaps
a very great eflFort, to accomplish something better? Very few
persons, in fact, practically no one, but is really ambitious for
something better from life than she has up to the present been
able to obtain. Is it worth while to examine the whole problem
of living with sufficient care to determine how better results may
be reached? To put it more specifically, is it possible to get
more happiness out of life — more joy out of living? Put in this
way, I think there is little doubt but that any one — you, for



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POSITIVE HEALTH SERIES 119

example, who are reading this pamphlet — will i^ willing to admit
that a plan that offers so much one cannot afford to pass by with-
out at least a reasonable examination.

If I am right in this assumption, I may be assured of your
sympathetic attention to my attempt to outline such principles and
facts as are fundamental in any such effort. That there are such
principles and facts few people, perhaps, appreciate. As a mat-
ter of fact, such principles have been known for a long time, but
it is the particular merit of the newest movement in psychology
that they have become the objects of its attention in an effort
to formulate them in a practical way. I shall endeavor to set
them forth in a simple and easily understandable way in the hope
that their understanding mav be of actual value to those who
endeavor earnestly to apply them.

In order to understand all those manifestations of mental life
which make for unhappiness, it is necessary to have some com-
prehension of the way in which the mind develops, because the
phenomena of unhappiness are evidences of failure, to some
extent, of this process.

THE STORY OF THE MIND

From earliest infancy to the most effective adulthood the path
and the nature of the mental development of the individual, if
viewed from without, can be expressed in terms of his interests,
the nature and character of the objects and persons that attract
him.

Immediately following birth the attention of the infant is
attracted by simple sensations of sight and sound and touch. As
soon as the child is able to arrange its perceptions so that its expe-
riences group themselves together and relate to definite objects and
persons, it begins to develop interests which can be expressed and
are understandable by the adult. These objects of interest repre-
sent a steadily progressive series, for the life force tends always
to force us in creative diretitions, and it is only insurmountable
difficulties which compel complete failure.

To put the whole matter very simply, one of the earliest of
the child's interests, it may be said one of its earliest love objects,
is itself. This love of self is a characteristic and necessary phe-
nomenon of the early years of life, and is at the basis of that
necessary interest in self which prompts the care of one's health
and the development of personal ideals. On the other side it may
result in a short-sighted selfishness which is destructive of the
possibilities for the best things in life.

Later in the course of development the child begins to learn
to project its interest upon objects and persons outside itself, and
as to the persons, they are at first those who are most like itself,
namely, of the same sex. Little boys first come to make friends



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I 120 WOMEN'S FOUNDATION FOR HEALTH

of other little boys and little girls of little girls before they arie
able to make friends with members of the opposite sex. Then
I later on the young adolescent begins to be genuinely interested in

others of the opposite sex. This direction of the interests is cal-
\ culated to project the individual along the path mapped out by

J Nature which has as its goal reproduction, and may be viewed

I as a gradual development of the interests and emotions in such

I a way as to lead to that end. Nature from the beginning pre-

pares each individual to reproduce. Going along with these phe-
nomena, and continuing, is an increasing ability to be interested
in things outside one's self which are more and more remote from
granting immediate selfish satisfactions. And so the process con-
tinues. The individual grows and develops — self-interest recedes
more and more into the background and ends which are less and
less obviously selfish ^ occupy the attention. This is the process of
the gradual refinement of our interests, and it can be seen how
dependent the course of this process is upon the way in which
these interests are understood and helped in their development and
expression or misunderstood and antagonized by the individuals
I who constitute the family.

i THE INSTINCTS

j In order to understand this process ojf development better —

I and it is necessary to understand it in order to understand our-

selves — it is useful also to view the process from within and to
think of reducing the motive forces of life to their simplest terms,
and then to follow the process on its path of development as it
becomes more and more complex. All human motives may be
reduced to two great instincts — the instinct of self-preservation
and the instinct for race-preservation. The self -preservative
instinct is expressed in the taking of food (food hunger), breath-
ing (air hunger) ; the race-preservative or reproductive instinct
is expressed in all those manifestations which are collectively
known as sexual, such as the phenomena of courtship, mating,
parental love. All human activities may be reduced to and
expressed in terms of these two fundamental instincts. Thus fear
and its resulting flight from the source of danger, and anger with
its resulting fight or attack upon the threatening object are both
examples of the self -preservative instinct; so also is the accumu-
lation of property and power — political, social and economic —
quite as well as the taking of food. The race-preservative instinct
is evinced not only by those phenomena that more or less obviously
tend toward reproduction, but in many other ways which a little
analysis will prove have their origin in some aspect of the sex
life. The interest which children take in dolls and later in young

1. This word is used in the broad sense of self-interest; but self interest when
not used for constructive ends becomes seliish.



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POSITIVE HEALTH SERIES 121

children and the interest of girls in domestic occupations are cal-
culated to develop those qualities which later they will use as
mothers and housewives.

Equally important with the wide range and difficulty of rec-
ognizing these two instincts in their more complex manifestations
— that is, recognizing the reducibility of all actions to expressions
of one or the other — is the fact that after all upon complete
analysis it will be discovered that probably neither one nor the
other instinct can ever be found manifesting itself in pure form,
so to speak ; that is, without involving to some extent the other.
A simple example is that of the young man who works hard to
save up enough money so. that he can get married. Here the
accumulation of money, which is preponderantly a manifestation
of the self-preservative instinct, is put to definitely race-preserative
ends.

The relation, however, is much more profound than this illus-
tration implies ; in fact, it is fundamental. Self-preservation and
race-preservation are essential to each other. If the individual
cannot preserve himself h^ cannot procreate and therefore help
preserve the race; if the race is not recouped by propagation,
there will be no individuals to preserve themselves. In the prim-
itive conflict for survival, in war, men kill that the nation of which
they are the component parts may live. Out of death a new life
is bom which in turn must die. Race-preservation and self-
preservation are as truly a parallel pair of opposites as life and
death, night and day, good and bad; without the one the* other
could not be. We must be prepared, therefore, in all manifesta-
tions of human activity to see both represented. It is only a
matter in each specific instance of the proportion of emphasis
borne by each. Some acts are preponderantly one, some the other,
but all are both. I shall speak of the self -preservative part as the
egoistic component and the race-preservative part as the creative
component.

THE FEELINGS AND WISHFUL THINKING

It is these two instincts, then, that are at the bottom, so to
speak, of all the multitudinous aspects of our personality; that
supply the motives for all of those activities which collectively
make up conduct ; and that are accompanied in their activities by
certain mental states which are called feelings or emotions. These
feelings are of the utmost importance for an adequate under-
standing of the phenomena of mind. We may be said to think
in two quite different ways: the usual way, in which ideas are
fairly clearly present in our consciousness, and we reason about
them, draw conclusions and regulate our conduct accordingly;
the other way, the much more important one for our purposes, in



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122 WOMEN'S FOUNDATION FOR HEALTH

which we, so to speak, feel our way along in relating ourselves
to persons or things or to our own qualities, tastes, ideals and
impulses.

We like to think of ourselves as logical, reasonable human
beings, but as a matter of fact, our conduct is controlled much
more by feeling than it is by reason, and then, again, it is feeling
that is altogether in evidence in those distracted states of mind
when we go "wool gathering," "day dreaming," "building castles
in the air." This is the sort of thinking which dominates our
dreams, whether asleep or awake; it is the thinking which has
been called wishful or wish-fulfilling.

Wishful thinking is a more primitive, less developed form of
thinking than the other, the rational sort. It is simpler, easier, less
fatiguing. In fact, it may be indulged for long periods without
tire, partly at least because it does not require conformity to any
logical form, but wanders at will irrespective of reasonableness
or logical associations. Then, again, it is satisfying because it
represents our wishes as realized, and, too, realized without any
real effort on our part. It is in this region of our mind, the
region of our wishful thinking, that our wishes come true, that
what we want finds a way to gain expression no matter what may
be the actual obstacles in real life. Love, riches and power are all
acquired in a trice ; in fact, all the things we really lack and want
we have in this world of phantasy.

LOVE AND HATE — PLEASURE AND PAIN

Th*e feelings or emotions which come to light in this wishful
thinking may be classed in two great groups, depending on whether
the object of consideration attracts or repels, and produces feel-
ings of like or dislike, love or hate, in their various degrees,
respectively.

In order to understand the operation of the mind it is neces-
sary to trace the development of these likes and dislikes, loves
and hates, as they exhibit themselves in the course of the develop-
ment of the individual from birth to adulthood. Very briefly,
I will outline the more important factors in their development.

When the infant first comes into the world it is totally unpre-
pared for what it meets. It is overwhelmed with sensations of
all sorts that are entirely new experiences. Sensations of light and
of sound, of warmth and of cold, and of touch and pain are felt,
to all intents and purposes, for the first time, and the infant can-
not possibly have any idea of their nature or their origin. In
fact, he has not yet learned to distinguish himself from the objects
that surround him, and the first weeks of life are filled with
experiences that help him later to make this distinction and finally
to build up a conception of himself, of just what he is. He learns
finally to know that the foot he sees before him belongs to him



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POSITIVE HEALTH SERIES 123

and to speak of himself as "I." The ability to arrive ultimately at
a distinction between the "self" and the "not-self" is based upon a
series of experiences which constantly and finally effectually urge
upon the infant the recognition of the differences, and is effected
as a result of its tremendous interest in itself, its own sensory
experiences. This is an aspect of that interest in self which is the
basis of the self-love previously referred to.

Occurring at the same time, but perhaps beginning to be
pronounced a little later, the interest the child takes in its own
sensations is not only because of the nature of the experiences
just referred to, but because of the pleasure derived from them.
Nursing, breathing, the warm water of the bath, and the warm
bedding of the crib all produce pleasant sensations, while the
absence of warmth, the interference with breathing as during
illness with bronchitis, produce disagreeable or painful sensations.
The child begins at once to seek the pleasurable and to avoid the
painful, and this effort to gain pleasure and avoid pain is never
relinquished throughout life — it only becomes modified in accor-
dance with the demands of adult, responsible living.

THE EGO INSTINCT AND THE SEX INSTINCT

We are already at this point able to distinguish two types of
attitude of the child: the first, its interest in itself, and the sec-
ond, its interest in seeking pleasure and avoiding pain. The two
are not absolutely separate and distinct from each other, but they
do condition aspects of the personality in later life which are
important to distinguish. The former, the interest in self, the
egoistic motive, drives the individual in its positive aspect to seek
power, in its negative aspect to seek safety. The latter, the inter-
est in seeking pleasure and avoiding pain, the pleasure-pain
motive, in its positive aspect drives the individual in the direc-
tion of creative expression — for instance, very important for the
preservation of the race, toward reproduction; in its negative
aspect it drives the individual along the destructive pathway of
sexual indulgence, idleness and uselessness. I will discuss the
development of the latter first.

As I said above, the ego instinct and the sex instinct are not
absolutely separate. During the early years of life the interest
in self has a distinct pleasure-seeking component; in fact, it is
known as the auto-erotic^ period of development and is marked
by the earliest manifestations of the sex instinct. This sex
instinct, which in the early years of life manifests itself in con-
cretely crude ways, is, however, of the utmost importance for the

2. That ii. the erotic interests are directed upon the child's own body. This is
the tendency, if not outgrown, that tends to masturbation — that is. a form of auto-
eroHc indulgence. Other auto-erotic indulgences are excessive interest in one's own
sensations, such as inordinate desire for sweets and for physical luxuries. Hence
these indulgences are termed sensual because of their basis in the bodily sensations.



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124



WOMEN'S FOUNDATION FOR HEALTH



future history of the individual, because it is the source out of
which develops what we know later as love and in its sublimated
form see expressing itself in all those forms of creativeness which
distinguish the higher forms of culture — in fact, all those forms
which make life worth living; it is really the creative instinct.

From the auto-erotic stage the child passes throueh a period
when its love interests, while they are attached to other persons
than itself, are most strongly attached to persons most like itself,
that is, to persons of the same sex. This is the so-called homo-
sexual period of development. This stage is normally passed
through quite unconsciously by the child, and such pleasure-
seeking components as may be present are developed into expres-
sions of mutual interest and affection. The "crushes" of school-
girls are typical examples of this period. Like other tendencies
that manifest themselves in the course of our development, this
tendency is not left behind in later years, but is refined and serves
as the source for our friendships with others of our own sex,
without which social and cultural advance would be seriously
handicapped.*

In the next stage the interest in others has broadened to
include those of the opposite sex. This is the period ushered in
by puberty and the beginnings of courtship; it is the hetero-
sexual stage. The pleasure-seeking component is here of prime
importance. Love and sex do not come into existence suddenly
and unheralded at the period of puberty. They are extremely
complex phenomena of the human animal, and begin in manifesta-
tions that offer little to suggest the wonderful possibilities of the
future ; and, too, development by no means stops at puberty and
the ushering in of the hetero-sexual stage. It may, although
unfortunately it often does not, go on indefinitely, reaching even
greater heights as it unfolds its possibilities.

The ego instinct similarly has a long history. The infant when
first born and for a short time thereafter is literally an absolute
monarch. He has but to cry aloud and some one is instantly on
hand to supply his need. The promptness with which every want
is thus met gives the infant the feeling of commanding his
environment, a feeling of personal power, which later on he dis-
likes to relinquish despite the fact that a relentless reality contin-
ues to frustrate hi3 all-powerfulness. The will-to-power, the
desire to overcome, to excel, to dominate, continues as an impor-
tant motive for conduct.

This ego instinct, of which the will to power is a manifesta-
tion, this love of self when it comes prominently to the fore in an

3. If there is fixation at the homosexual sUge — that is, if the suge is not pancd
over and its tendencies utilized as indicated above — the result is a blocking IImU
prevents the individual from later acquiring a satisfactory hetero-sexual love obled
(a love object of the opposite sex). Such a fixation prevents the ttidrviiRHl
from fulfilling herself ana attaining her natural goal, parenthood — the
of the race-preservative instinct.



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125



extreme form, may become a very crippling aspect of the later
developed personality if it manifests itself in the cruder forms
of extreme selfishness.

The ego instinct, however, has its great value, because self-


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Online LibraryInc Women's Foundation for HealthA hand book on positive health → online text (page 9 of 17)