Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/845

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.
821
EXAGGERATION AS AN ÆSTHETIC FACTOR.

eight years before. This is more than a reconstruction of elements; it involves the revival of much that we usually suppose to be irretrievably lost. If such a recrudescence of the old childish self is possible, we must suppose that the growth of the brain is carried on like that of an onion, layer upon layer. Of course, I do not mean this literally. I merely mean that those portions of the brain which were active in childhood, the activity of which constituted my self of that period, may exist years after they have been disused, and then suddenly be brought into action again. Many such cases have been reported. The patient is described as literally relapsing into childhood; her thoughts, memories, desires, acts, even her writing, are those of her former childish self. It is claimed by others that there is no true relapse into childhood; the patient merely acts the part of a child according to her present notion of what she used to be. I have no doubt myself that it is possible. If A. J. Brown could lie dormant for three years under Mr. Bourne's skull only to revive the moment Mr. Bourne was hypnotized, I see no reason why our childish selves may not also survive, and in some cases there is good reason to think they have done so. But most of the cases reported are susceptible to the other interpretation, and, as it is the most simple and natural, I would resort to it whenever possible.

In my next paper I shall take up those derangements of personality in which there seems reason to believe that the secondary system does not wholly perish upon the reconstruction of the first.

 

EXAGGERATION AS AN ÆSTHETIC FACTOR.
By M. F. REGNAULT.

EXAGGERATION is a natural tendency of our minds, and the fact is recognized by every psychologist. Yet, when we study human thought and action, we forget the propensity to exaggeration and exercise our ingenuity in accounting for seemingly odd social facts which could be readily explained by applying this principle. There are not, perhaps, any branches of human activity in which the tendency to exaggerate is not marked. We might observe its effects in all branches of science if we should bring them up one by one. In history, persecutions and revolutionary disturbances have resulted from the exaggeration of an idea which may have been just in itself, but, taking possession of the mind, it assumes an absolute character, while nothing intervenes to counterbalance it; and, acting under the domination of an exclusive preoccupation, men commit deeds of a most astonishing character. In linguistics, the influence of the same prin-