Another of Miss X——'s visions is almost precisely similar to that of the sea and the mouse, save that it is still more difficult to suppose that she had any conscious knowledge of that which was revived in the crystal: "It was suggested to me, one day last September, that I should look into the crystal with the intention of seeing words, which had at that time formed no part of my experience. I was immediately rewarded by the sight of what was obviously a newspaper announcement in the type familiar to all who read the first column of the Times. It reported the death of a lady, at one time a very frequent visitor in my circle and very intimate with some of my nearest friends, an announcement, therefore, which, had I consciously seen it, would have interested me considerably. I related my vision at breakfast, quoting name, date, place, and an allusion to 'a long period of suffering' borne by the deceased lady, and added that I was sure that I had not heard any report of her illness, or even, for some months, any mention of her likely to suggest such an hallucination. I was, however, aware that I had the day before taken up the first sheet of the Times, but was interrupted before I had consciously read any announcement of death. Mrs. Henry Sidgwick, with whom I was staying, immediately sought for the paper, where we discovered the paragraph almost exactly as I had seen it." If Miss X—— had consciously seen this notice, how came she to forget it?
Cases of this kind strongly suggest, I think, what Mr. Gurney calls "an underground psychosis," but they do not demonstrate its existence; and, unfortunately, most of the cases which would seem to require the assumption of subconscious states also require the still more revolutionary assumption of such powers as telepathy and clairvoyance, which lie outside my present scheme of topics.
All these forms of hallucination are known as sensory automatism, and in my last paper I sketched the conception which underlies the term. I there also alluded to ideal automatism, and with a few words upon that point I must let the subject go.
Our thought trains usually belong to well-defined types, are of a certain average grade of development, and behave in pretty definite ways. For example, they are for the most part subservient to our will, and come and go at our bidding. But sometimes the orderly process of thought is broken up; new classes of ideas obtrude themselves, familiar types rise to a higher level without becoming full-fledged hallucinations, and, last but not least, the will finds itself unable to control them. Such disorders of ideation are often termed ideal automatism. As a very large
- Op. cit., p. 508.