alterations of personality

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Purchase of this book includes free trial access to where you can read more than a million books for free. This is an OCR edition with typos. Excerpt from book: CHAPTER III. INDUCED SOMNAMBULISM. We may now leave the account of spontaneous alterations of consciousness and enter the domain of phenomena artificially induced. We shall thus endeavour to study the divisions of personality which may be produced in the laboratory. The importance of these experiments, and, above all, their psychological value, have been very differently estimated within the last few years. At first, when studies on hypnotism and somnambulism were brought into favour by M. Charcot, there was a movement of great enthusiasm. Since then—we may as well admit it—enthusiasm has diminished a little. One may see for himself that these studies present a great many loopholes to error, which very often perverts the results despite the precautions of the most careful experimenter ; and no one can boast that he has never failed. One of the chief and constant causes of mistake, we know, is found in suggestion—that is to say, in the influence that the operator exerts by his words, gestures, attitudes, even by his silence, on the subtle and alert intelligence of the person whom he has put in the somnambulistic state. But these causes of error should not lead us toabandon such a fruitful method. All processes of observation are shown after long use to be defective from some standpoint. It is so in the case of the graphic method, which, though so wonderful in many cases, still gives rise to serious misapprehensions of the forms of movements. Anatomy itself, which of all the biological sciences seems to be most firmly established, may be mistaken and take appearance for reality. The observer must be wide-awake and constantly on his guard in using his method and his apparatus. The chief precaution to be taken here consists, as I have already said, in selecting out those o...
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