Shepherd Ivory Franz.

The time of some mental processes in the retardation and excitement of insanity online

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ness, and there was very erratic. For example, it is said that
he bought 500 pocket knives and distributed them among the
street gamins. Returning to Massachusetts he wrecked the
furnishings in a Pullman coach, was arrested and finally
brought here On entrance he was talkative, excitable, med-
dled with everything. He seemed to be perfectly clear in re-
gard to his surroundings. He was expansive, euphoric, and
quite convinced of his own power and excellency. There was,
however, no absurdity in his expansiveness or in his general
behavior. He showed insight into his condition, realized that
he was excited and irritable, but wanted to go to a summer



MENTAL PROCESSES. II

resort for rest rather than remain in the hospital. There was
a marked flight of ideas. He knew the other patients were in-
sane, knew the names of the people, and was oriented as to
place and time. He remained in that condition for about five
weeks. Then he became more excited, would not keep his
clothes on, was violent when an attempt was made to restrain
him. In this state he talked of religious matters and sang very
often. He believed that he saw worlds made, and that he lived
in another world, although he appeared to be perfectly clear in
regard to his surroundings, and only once did he not recognize
people. After a week of this violent excitement, he became
calmer although still much exhilarated. His talk was volu-
minous and he did not occupy himself beyond writing letters
about his business ventures and erotic epistles, all comparable
to his talk. About the middle of September the patient showed
signs of improvement. He tended to keep to his room more
and not to meddle with things, although he was still exhila-
rated. He began to have some insight into his condition, ex-
plaining it as "brain fever." Later he ceased his continuous
talking, although he would chatter so long as any one would
ask him an occasional question. He gave up writing letters,
and read much with enjoyment. Four or five weeks later he
was not so active but remained exhilarated. His talk, how-
ever, was more hopeful than his financial affairs warranted. It
was in this condition that he first came to the laboratory, and
the experiments continued until he was discharged in Decem-
ber. In the meantime, he gradually became more natural in
actions and talk, and his excitement was noticed only in a
great activity in his games and amusements. As has been
said, a month later he returned to the hospital depressed and
retarded.

During the time of the experiments, therefore, B. and F.
were normal subjects, Ed. and Ev. were greatly depressed and
retarded, and C. and P. were mildly excited and expansive.
The four last cases, possibly with the exception of Ev., showed
a considerable improvement during the course of the experi-
ments both in the laboratory and on the ward. Ev. improved
greatly in rapidity in the laboratory, as will be shown later,
and he talked more freely and louder, but on the ward there
was no appreciable improvement. At no time did any of the
subjects show any difficulty in thinking and there was in none
of them any appreciable (by tests) memory or attention dis-
order.

All the subjects seemed willing to take part in the experi-
ments; some of them were anxious to show how well they could
do. The experiments also gave them a change of scene and



I 2 FRANZ :

occupation, which was probably an agreeable change to them
from the monotony of their ordinary life. The results, there-
fore, are as trustworthy, it seems to me, as could be expected
with normal people of the same grade of intelligence.

The series was continued in some cases for a period of fifteen
weeks with intervals, but some of the patients were not used
for more than half that time. The results from all the subjects
are comparable if we take the results in serial weeks as will be
done. The degree of retardation in Ev. and Ed. differed, but
so far as the general problem is concerned, this variation is not
of great importance. C. and P. at the time of the experiments
did not greatly differ in the degree of exhilaration, but if there
was a difference, P. was probably the more excitable.

Description of Experiments. All the work to be reported in
the present paper deals with the time of certain mental proces-
ses. A number of other experiments were made on accuracy,
memory, judgment, and apprehension, but these will not be
published at this time. The object of the time tests was to
determine the amount of slowing in the cases of retardation,
and any marked increase in ability in the exhilarated patients
who were convinced of their own excellency.

The following seven kinds of experiments were made :

A. The time of rapid tapping.

B. The time of the simple reaction to sound.

C. The time of choice reactions to sounds.

D. The rapidity of reading.

E. The time of discriminating and marking out letters.

F. The time of adding.

G. The time of discriminating and distributing colored
cards.

In addition to these tests a few other time measurements
were made and these fewer and less systematic experiments
will be mentioned incidentally in the text. It should be noted
that most of the tests were made as simple as was consistent
with accuracy, in order that the same kinds of experiments
might be performed later on the wards with other patients, who
could not conveniently be brought to the laboratory, or who
might become unduly excited in a strange situation. With
the exception of the reaction time experiments, the tests were
of such a character that the patients were tolerably familiar
with the materials and methods that were employed.

The results have been grouped by weeks, and the average
weekly averages are given in the following tables unless other-
wise designated. From these averages the average variations
were calculated and these are also given in the tables. The
number of experiments in one week varied with the character
of the test. In such tests as rapid reading, tapping time, etc.,



MENTAL PROCESSES. 13

usually five determinations were made each week, but in the
reaction time experiments from ten to one hundred were made
each day. The numbers of experiments of each kind are noted
in the appropriate tables. The arbitrary weekly division of
the results was made in order to determine the practice effect.

A. The method for determining maximum rapidity of tap-
ping was as follows : A sheet of paper, 8 x 10 inches, was
placed before the subject, a pencil was given to him, and he
was instructed (and shown) to tap progressively in lines back
and forth on the paper at his maximum speed. The signals
for starting and stopping were explained to him, and the ex-
perimenter watched the tapping of the subject to see that the
beginning and end of the process coincided with the signals.
The tapping movement was made by the forearm, although no
insistence was made on this point. Most of the subjects re-
mained seated at the table for the experiment, but one (C. )
said it was much easier for him to stand up to tap. Thirty
seconds was chosen as a convenient time in which the subject
had an opportunity of warming up and of attaining his maxi-
mum speed, and it seemed not sufficiently long to show any
plain evidences of fatigue. In this method there is a possibility
of a constant error of plus one tap, but probably not more, and
this constant error was probably the same in all the subjects.
The number of taps in the thirty seconds was counted, and
the time for making one tap was found by dividing the total
time by the number of dots on the paper. The differentiation
of the parts of the tapping process, i. e., the holding down, the
holding up, etc., could not be calculated from the records.
Such details were considered unnecessary in this work. Usu-
ally only one experiment of this character was made each day.

B. The time of simple reaction to sound was determined
by means of a Hipp chronoscope. The patient was instructed
to hold down the electric key, and to release it so soon as the
sound was heard. The stimulus was produced by an electric
telegraph sounder, and was a clear, sharp, rather loud sound.
Two or three days' practice in reacting to the sound was given
to each subject before any time measurements were made.
This was done to familiarize the subject with the apparatus
and to get rid of any possible fear of electricity, etc., that
might have been present at the beginning. None of the pa-
tients showed, however, the least sign of fright, and all re-
ported that they had none. In each day's series about half a
dozen practice reactions were made before the time measure-
ments were taken. All the subjects were right-handed, and
only the right hand was used in these experiments. The
chronoscope was controlled frequently by a fall hammer. In



14 FRANZ :

the calculation of the records the weekly averages and the
average variations were determined.

Experiments on the reaction to light and tactile stimuli are
planned to supplement the present ones on sound, and reac-
tions with the lips as well as with the hand. For a solution
of the general problem, i. e., the localization in the nervous
system of the retardation and excitation processes such experi-
ments will probably be necessary.

C. The sound apparatus used in the experiments on simple
reactions was employed in the choice reaction tests to give a
loud sound (same intensity as in simple reactions), and for the
less intense sound a telegraph key was hit gently. The in-
tensity and quality of the low sound differed from the other
sound, and the intensity probably also varied in the different
experiments. The right hand reacted to the sound for the
telegraph sounder, as in the simple reactions, and the left re-
acted to the sound from the telegraph key. The reactions with
the right hand were used for comparison with the times of the
simple reactions. Only these right hand reactions were timed,
but the subjects did not know that the left hand reactions were
not being taken. This procedure, i. e. , considering only the
right hand reactions, was necessary in order to make the results
comparable with the results for the simple reactions.

D. The time necessary to read aloud one word was found
from a rapid reading of a page of printed matter from three
hundred sixty to four hundred words in length. The subjects
were given the page of printing and instructed to read aloud at
a maximum speed to the end of the page. The total time
divided by the number of words gave the average time for
reading one word. The matter which was read was unfamiliar
to all the subjects. The words, however, were neither peculiar
nor difficult. The type was lo-point, single leaded. In ex-
periments such as these the time will vary greatly with the
individual, since education and previous practice play great
parts in the ease of reading. The patients who were used,
however, did not vary very much in their average of intelli-
gence, and possibly not much in their reading practice. It is
possible that C. was least intelligent and the least read of all
the patients and Ev. the most intelligent and most widely read.
These are the impressions the writer got from careful observa-
tion of the subjects, but it is extremely difficult, almost impos-
sible, as all know, to make any accurate estimate.

E. One hundred E's in a number of words with an average
total of 850 letters were to be discriminated and crossed out as
rapidly as possible. The subjects were not informed how many
letters there were to be crossed out, but only to do the work
accurately and rapidly. This experiment, but with 100 A's in



MENTAL PROCESSES. 15

a total of 500 letters, was used in the tests of the Columbia
College students. 1 The time for the total task was taken by a
stop watch. The number of omissions was noted. The pro-
posed method of calculating the results by lengthening the
time proportionately to the number of omitted letters was
tried, but was given up. The total time in any one experi-
ment is the sum of the time for discriminating the 850 letters,
and the time for marking the 100 E's. In the tables both the
total time and the number of omissions are given. This test
was very unsatisfactory, owing to the two factors of variability,
time, and accuracy. With some subjects the accuracy did not
greatly vary, and with others the time was fairly constant.

F. The time of adding was obtained from a series of twenty
problems. Each problem consisted of two five-digit figures,

43678

one placed over the other, <?. g. , 34924. I had prepared twenty-
eight different sheets, each with twenty problems, and each
problem differing from the others. These sheets were used in
regular order for each of the subjects. The time interval be-
tween the first and second use of any particular sheet was so
long that there could be no memory of the particular problem.
The results of the additions were written by the subjects below
the problems, and a check could then be made on the accuracy.
The total time, from the start until the last figure in the sum
of the twentieth problem was written, was noted. In some
cases, particularly Ev. and, at first, Ed., there was considerable
hesitation between the problems, and these two subjects had at
first to be 'prodded' to proceed to the next problem. There
was, accordingly, considerable lost time, and this also was
noted. If this lost time is subtracted from the total time we
can find the actual time for the addition and the writing of the
answers. In the tables in which these results are found there
will beuoted the designations, 'total time' and 'actual time.'
These results are to be understood as explained above. No
determinations of the 'actual time' could be made on the writer.

The time lost between the problems could be determined
only approximately; the error may be as much as one half
second, but probably there were sufficient plus and minus vari-
ations in the individual estimations of the nineteen intervals to
counterbalance to some extent.

F. The discrimination and marking of the E's proved in so
many ways a difficult test to interpret that a few weeks after

1 See Cattell and Farrand: Physical and Mental measurements of
the Students of Columbia University, Psychol. Review (1896), III; and
Wissler: The Correlation of Mental and Physical Tests, Psychol. Re-
view Monograph Suppl. f No. 16, 1901, pp. 62.



1 6 FRANZ :

the beginning of the series on Ed., Ev., and F. I introduced
the additional experiment of discrimination and distribution of
colored cards. Ten cards each of a different color were placed
in a semicircle on the table in front of the subject, and he was
given a pack of one hundred colored cards, ten cards of each
of the colors represented on the table. He was instructed to
distribute the cards as rapidly as possible, and to place the
cards of one color in the appropriate place. The cards were so
shuffled that no two cards of the same color came together in
the pack. Each card was three inches square. The colors I
used were: white, light pink, pink, red, yellow, gray green,
very light green, light blue, blue, gray. The cards were
placed in the foregoing order beginning either at the left or
right hand. Sometimes the white, pink, red end of the semi-
circle was placed at the right, sometimes at the left. No regu-
lar order was used and no habit in that respect could be formed.
There was sufficient difference in the colors to make them
easily distinguished from each other, but the differences be-
tween white and light pink, light green and light blue, and
gray and green gray, were on the other hand sufficiently small
to demand close attention to the distribution. Occasionally a
subject would put two cards at one time in the pile, the second
card not having been handled and discriminated. This was
always counted as one error. More often the mistakes were
mistakes iu discrimination. The cards which were the most
difficult to discriminate were sometimes confused, for example,
a gray would be placed on the green gray pile. Sometimes in
these piles there would be collections as follows, pink, pink,
pink, white, white, white, etc., and white, white, white, pink,
pink, etc. Each of these arrangements was counted one mis-
take, since the discrimination and sorting went on just as if
the white and pink positions had been interchanged. The time
given in the tables is the time obtained plus a proportionate
amount for the errors of omission.

In the tables the averages are grouped according to the serial
weeks, to make the results of all the subjects as comparable as
possible. The experiments were not, however, made at the
same time. The series on Ed. , Ev. and F. were begun August
22-27, B's series, Sept. 5-10, and the series on C. and P. Oct.
23-29, 1904. A few experiments were made on Ev. Au-
gust 21, 22, 23 and 24, 1905. S., a subject in another series
of experiments, but whose results will be considered in the
appropriate places, was used July 6-21, August 8-19, and Au-
gust 21-26, 1905. All the experiments on C., P. and S. were
begun on the same day. The experiments on sorting the col-
ored cards, it has been mentioned, were not begun for some



MBNTAI, PROCESSES. 17

time after the other tests with B. , Ed. , Kv. , and F. , and the
reaction time experiments were not begun until the third week
of the tapping, reading, etc., on Ed., Ev., and F.

Experimental Results. Tapping time. The results of the
tapping experiments are given in Table I. Here we find that
on the whole the two excited subjects show no variation from
the normal, but that the retarded patients are much slower
than either the normal or excited subjects. 1 B. and F. start

TABI,B I.

Weekly averages of tapping time in thousandths of a second. The average
variations are given below the averages. The numbers of experi-
ments, when more or less than five, are in parentheses.



Serial
weeks.

i


Normal.
B. F.

156-7 153-7
2.6 5.7

(4) (6)


Depressed.

Ed. Ev.

221.8 299.3

9-8 45-2
(3)


Excited.
C. P.
180.5 149.0
9-8 5-5

(4) (4)


2


153-2

3-4


139-7
1.8

(3)


195.6

23-4


264.2
16.2





3


160.8
1.9


132-4
8.6


172.2

6.2

(6)


230.7
9.6
(6)





4





127.2

2.1


169.4
3-5


235-o
3-2


184.6 145-4
6.7 2.6


5




128.6

4-7


165.4
3-9


231.0
13-6







6


161.8
3-4

(4)











185.0 140.2
2.4 i.o


8





120.4

2-5


164.0
5-6


232.0
4.8





9


157-0
4.0














ii





121. 2
1.8


161.6

4-7


224.4
3-9





15





127.0

3-6





234-4
5-9





General
average.


157-8
(23)


I3J-4
(39)


178.4
(36)


240.7
(39)


183.6 144.6
- (14) (14)



1 Dresslar (Some influences which affect the rapidity of voluntary
movements, Amer. Jour. Psychol., 1892, IV, 514-527) found that it
took 37 seconds, to make 300 taps on the first day of his series, /'. e.,
0.123 sec. for one tap. He does not state whether or not this experi-
ment had been preceded by any practice tests. His general conclusion



i8



FRANZ :



with approximately the same speed, but, while F. improved
and greatly lessened his time, B. did not gain in speed with
practice. Neither C. nor P. show much practice effect. The
slight improvement shown by P. is due mainly to one chance
result on the third day of the first week, when his time was
greatly slowed, to .157 second. On this day it was noted that
P. was greatly distractible, and that he kept talking through-
out the experiment. If this result be excluded there would be
no difference between the results of the first and the fourth
weeks. This distractibility was noted throughout the series
on both C. and P., particularly at the beginning. The prac-
tice effect shown by Ed. is coincident with his general mental
improvement, and it is difficult to estimate how much of the
increased speed is due to the recovery of the patient and how
much to the practice. In this and in the other experiments,
as will be shown later, Ev. attained his greatest speed after
two weeks' practice, and thereafter the extra practice did not
seem to decrease the time for the performance of any of the
tests. This is very different to the result found with Ed., and
to that obtained from another depressed and retarded subject,
S. The results of similar experiments on S. over a period of
thirteen weeks are given in Table II. 1 S. shows the gradual
increased speed from practice, but in this case, it is also impos-
sible to estimate the amounts due to recovery and to practice.
The fact that there is an increased speed from the ninth to the
thirteenth weeks, when there were no experiments in the in-
terval, would indicate that a large part of the 'practice effect"
was due to the recovery. Similar reductions in time are noted
in the figures given by Ed. for the fifth and eighth weeks, and
for the eighth and eleventh weeks.

TABLE II.

Weekly averages of tapping time in thousandths of a second.
Subject, S., retarded depression.



Serial weeks.


I


2


3


6


7


8


9


13


Averages,


243-3


22O.O


204.7


200.7


I9I-5


790-5


193.0


178.0


Average varia-
tions,


14-3


13-5


6.9


7.6


6.2


7.6


I.O


7-0


Numbers of ex-
periments.


4


12


10


10


12


12


2


2



from his work is that the "normal rate for most rapid voluntary
movement of the right wrist was found to average 8.5 taps per second."
Other tapping results, but with restricted movements, will be found
in an article by Bryan: On the development of voluntary motor ability,
Amer. Jour. Psychol. (1892), V, 125-204.
1 S. had been used in another part of this general research, and his



MENTAL PROCESSES. 19

In five experiments Ca., another retarded subject, averaged
162.8 taps in 30 seconds, average time for one tap 0.184 sec -
In these five experiments there was noticeable some practice,
but owing to mental confusion it was deemed advisable not to
continue the work. Pr., a depressed case without retardation
but with a feeling of inadequacy, 1 showed considerable speed
in movement. Two experiments averaged 196.5 taps in thirty
seconds, average time for one tap 0.153 sec. Arranging the
subjects in the order of rapidity we have: F., P., Pr. , B. , Ed.,
C., Ca., S., and Ev., if all the experiments are grouped, but if
the first week's results are considered alone we find the follow-
ing order : P., Pr., F., B., C., Ca., Ed., S., and Ev. The last
four subjects, it will be remembered, were retarded at the time
the experiments were made.

The average variations are relatively small, with two excep-
tions, viz., Ev's first week, and Ed's second week. In both
cases the size of the deviation is due to one relatively slow
day.

Reaction time. The results of the simple and choice reac-
tions to sounds will be found in Tables III, IV, and V. The
experiments on B., C., and P. were begun at the same time as
the other tests. Those on Ed. and Ev. were not begun until
the third week. Ev. is the only subject to show any great
variation from the normal in either simple or choice reactions.

TABI.E III.

Weekly averages of simple reactions to sound, in thousandths of a second.

The average variations are given below the averages. The

numbers of experiments are in parentheses.



Serial
weeks.


Normal.
B. F.


Depressed.
Ed. Ev.


Excited.
C. P.


I


164.6 157.1
15.0 17.9
(80) (140)


I9I-3
35-2

(120)


299.0

79-7
(120)


182.9 J 85-o
22.7 23.5
(240) (240)


2


167.2
18.7
(100)


181.3

20.8
(100)


209.2
53-3

(100)





3


165.0


178.2

18.7

(100)


208.3

41-5
(100)




12.2

(TOO)





results will be mentioned in this paper in connection with the appro-
priate experiments. S., a business man, was 44 years old at the time
the experiments were made. He had had two previous attacks of de-
pression with retardation. The attack in which he was the subject of
some experiments began in March, 1905, and he was discharged from
the hospital in September. A full account of the work on S. will ap-
pear in a forthcoming number of the American Journal of Insanity.

1 7. e., a feeling that things are more difficult to do, and a disinclina-
tion to do things.



2O FRANZ :

TABI.E III. Concluded.



Serial Normal,
weeks. B. F.


Depressed.
Ed. Ev.


Excited.
C. F.


158.4
4 14-0
(54o)


186.1
34-3
(530)


224.0
48.0
(610)


173-7
16.7
(300)


187-5
158
(300)


159-9
6 14.3
(80)





282.9
62.6

(100)


167.9
14.0
(240)


195-2
19.2
(270)


163-6
9 ii. o
(300)


2 4

Online LibraryShepherd Ivory FranzThe time of some mental processes in the retardation and excitement of insanity → online text (page 2 of 4)