Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 46.djvu/748

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tion of persons and objects about them are good, but who seem to stop short at the point where these individual perceptions and memories should be grouped together into general ideas. There is an inherent activity in the brain of a child which leads to thought and soon to actions and speech; yet there are children who never get to the point of definite purposeful activity. Such children are usually in constant motion, but their movements have no object. Such children can not be taught to talk, or, if they can be instructed in repeating words after another, they seem to attach little significance to the words that they say, and appear to have no spontaneous wish to talk. Back of any spontaneous desire to speak, there must be the idea which presses for utterance, and thus we conclude from the study of these defective, speechless creatures that while perception may be active, the mind has not grasped the subjects perceived, has not gone on to any generalization about them, or initiated a train of thought to issue in action or articulation. Such a child, then, reveals to us the order of progress in mental growth. It has the rudimentary power of simple perception and memory and association of memories; but it lacks the next higher power of thought, the power to group ideas together, to contrast them with each other, to generalize. And since it is this generalizing and analyzing power which stimulates thought and leads to natural curiosity, we find such children fail to give evidence of that desire for knowledge which a healthy child displays.

Another type of child far less defective is not uncommonly seen, who has nevertheless failed to reach that point of development which is evidenced by the power of self-control. These children may have the power to recognize objects, to analyze their qualities, to reason upon them, and to accumulate a little store of knowledge. They can talk, and learn to do many acts of a complex nature and of delicate manipulation. But the power of concentration of the mind upon a definite subject, the power of paying strict attention to one thing to the exclusion of all recognition of the thousand impressions which ordinarily press in upon consciousness and which the attentive mind ignores, this power they seem to lack, and hence, because of this defect in the attentive faculty, or of the power of controlling and directing mental action, these children are incapable of giving any stable direction to their life and conduct. I have a young man under my observation who is capable and active mentally in many directions, has apparently no gross intellectual defects, yet who complains that he is utterly unable to direct his mind continuously to any topic. He is a college graduate, but for the past ten years he has drifted about from one occupation or profession to another—eager for a time in each, then losing all interest, finding himself