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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/296

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POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

which he belongs. If now we study this man in respect to his mental development, whether from the savage or the child, we find that the direction of change has been away from imitative, impulsive action, towards thought, reflection, deliberation. He continually makes more use of memory and, anticipating the future, regulates his action in the light of his past experience. This change from the imitative and impulsive to the reasoning man accompanies the development of the higher brain centers, particularly of the cerebral cortex, upon which depend the all-important functions of memory and association. As an experiment it is quite possible to reduce this highly developed reasoning being in a single moment to a condition resembling his primitive state by means of hypnotism. In hypnosis there is a temporary paralysis or sleep of the higher brain centers, upon which depends deliberative, rational action, and, the lower (older) centers alone being active, the subject becomes a mere ideo-motor machine acting out every suggestion. In various related states of automatism, where there is any spontaneity at all, the mentality and morality of the subject are of a lower type and may be called reversionary in character, owing, no doubt, to the fact that those brain centers which represent the most recent acquirements of the race are temporarily out of the circuit.

If again we study the mind of the child, we find that it presents many points of likeness to the mind of the hypnotic subject and to the mind of the primitive man. We learn from biology that the child is to some extent a recapitulation of the life of the race, passing through in his individual development the stages of race development. Physiologically speaking, the higher brain centers and the centers for association, which are late acquirements of the race, are last developed in the child. We are therefore not surprised to find that the child, like the savage and the hypnotic subject, is imitative, impulsive, nonreflective, incapable of much abstract thought, deliberation or reasoning, and that he acts with a view to immediate rather than remote ends.

If now we turn to the behavior of the normal adult man in mental epidemics and crazes of all kinds, from the Crusades to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew, from the tulip mania in Holland to the Dewey welcome in New York City, we observe that his behavior is to some extent similar to that of the hypnotic subject, and the child, and the primitive man. The general character of mental action in epidemics is as follows: Men become imitative beings and their actions are determined by suggestion from the actions of others. Memory and the association of ideas are inactive, and there is an inability to reason and an indisposition towards deliberation and calm reflection. Past experiences are disregarded, remote consequences are not seen and behavior is impulsive and spasmodic. Feeling is very strong and every kind of emotion is apt to be exaggerated. Calm observation is also lacking and