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Title: Psychology and Social Sanity
Author: Münsterberg, Hugo, 1863-1916
Language: English
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                            PSYCHOLOGY AND
                             SOCIAL SANITY


                           HUGO MÜNSTERBERG


                         DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & CO.
                         GARDEN CITY NEW YORK

                         _Copyright, 1914, by_
                       DOUBLEDAY, PAGE & COMPANY

                _All rights reserved, including that of
                  translation into foreign languages,
                      including the Scandinavian_

                             DR. I. ADLER
                             IN FRIENDSHIP


It has always seemed to me a particular duty of the psychologist from
time to time to leave his laboratory and with his little contribution
to serve the outside interests of the community. Our practical life is
filled with psychological problems which have to be solved somehow,
and if everything is left to commonsense and to unscientific fancies
about the mind, confusion must result, and the psychologist who stands
aloof will be to blame.

Hence I tried in my little book “On the Witness Stand” to discuss for
those interested in law the value of exact psychology for the problems
of the courtroom. In “Psychotherapy” I showed the bearing of a
scientific study of the mind on medicine. In “Psychology and the
Teacher” I outlined its consequences for educational problems. In
“Psychology and Industrial Efficiency” I studied the importance of
exact psychology for commerce and industry. And I continue this series
by the present little volume, which speaks of psychology's possible
service to social sanity. I cannot promise that even this will be the
last, as I have not yet touched on psychology's relation to religion,
to art, and to politics.

The field which I have approached this time demanded a different kind
of treatment from that in the earlier books. There I had aimed at a
certain systematic completeness. When we come to the social questions,
such a method would be misleading, as any systematic study of these
psychological factors is still a hope for the future. Many parts of
the field have never yet been touched by the plow of the psychologist.
The only method which seems possible to-day is to select a few
characteristic topics of social discussion and to outline for each of
them in what sense a psychologist might contribute to the solution or
might at least further the analysis of the problem. The aim is to show
that our social difficulties are ultimately dependent upon mental
conditions which ought to be cleared up with the methods of modern

I selected as illustrations those social questions which seemed to me
most significant for our period. A few of them admitted an approach
with experimental methods, others merely a dissection of the
psychological and psychophysiological roots. The problems of sex, of
socialism, and of superstition seemed to me especially important, and
if some may blame me for overlooking the problem of suffrage, I can at
least refer to the chapter on the jury, which comes quite near to this
militant question.

Most of this material appears here for the first time. The chapter on
thought transference, however, was published in shorter form in the
_Metropolitan Magazine_, that on the jury, also abbreviated, in the
_Century Magazine_, and that on naïve psychology in the _Atlantic
Monthly_. The paper on sexual education is an argument, and at the
same time an answer in a vivid discussion. Last summer I published in
the New York _Times_ an article which dealt with the sex problem. It
led to vehement attacks from all over the country. The present long
paper replies to them fully. I hope sincerely that it will be my last
word in the matter. The advocates of sexual talk now have the floor;
from now on I shall stick to the one policy in which I firmly believe,
the policy of silence.

                                                  HUGO MÜNSTERBERG.

  Cambridge, Mass., January, 1914.


CHAPTER                               PAGE

PREFACE                                vii

  I. SEX EDUCATION                       3

  II. SOCIALISM                         71


  IV. THOUGHT TRANSFERENCE             141

   V. THE MIND OF THE JURYMAN          181

  VI. EFFICIENCY ON THE FARM           205



  IX. SOCIETY AND THE DANCE            273

   X. NAÏVE PSYCHOLOGY                 291

                             SOCIAL SANITY


                             SEX EDUCATION

The time is not long past when the social question was understood to
mean essentially the question of the distribution of profit and wages.
The feeling was that everything would be all right in our society, if
this great problem of labour and property could be solved rightly. But
in recent years the chief meaning of the phrase has shifted. Of all
the social questions the predominant, the fundamentally social one,
seems nowadays the problem of sex, with all its side issues of social
evils and social vice. It is as if society feels instinctively that
these problems touch still deeper layers of the social structure. Even
the fights about socialism and the whole capitalistic order do not any
longer stir the conscience of the community so strongly as the grave
concern about the family. All public life is penetrated by sexual
discussions, magazines and newspapers are overflooded with
considerations of the sexual problem, on the stage one play of sexual
reform is pushed off by the next, the pulpit resounds with sermons on
sex, sex education enters into the schools, legislatures and courts
are drawn into this whirl of sexualized public opinion; the
old-fashioned policy of silence has been crushed by a policy of
thundering outcry, which is heard in every home and every nursery.
This loudness of debate is surely an effect of the horror with which
the appalling misery around us is suddenly discovered. All which was
hidden by prudery is disclosed in its viciousness, and this outburst
of indignation is the result. Yet it would never have swollen to this
overwhelming flood if the nation were not convinced that this is the
only way to cause a betterment and a new hope. The evil was the result
of the silence itself. Free speech and public discussion alone can
remove the misery and cleanse the social life. The parents must know,
and the teachers must know, and the boys must know, and the girls must
know, if the abhorrent ills are ever to be removed.

But there are two elements in the situation which ought to be
separated in sober thought. There may be agreement on the one and yet
disagreement on the other. It is hardly possible to disagree on the
one factor of the situation, the existence of horrid calamities, and
of deplorable abuses in the world of sex, evils of which surely the
average person knew rather little, and which were systematically
hidden from society, and above all, from the youth, by the traditional
method of reticence. To recognize these abscesses in the social
organism necessarily means for every decent being the sincere and
enthusiastic hope of removing them. There cannot be any dissent. It is
a holy war, if society fights for clean living, for protection of its
children against sexual ruin and treacherous diseases, against white
slavery and the poisoning of married life. But while there must be
perfect agreement about the moral duty of the social community, there
can be the widest disagreement about the right method of carrying on
this fight. The popular view of the day is distinctly that as these
evils were hidden from sight by the policy of silence, the right
method of removing them from the world must be the opposite scheme,
the policy of unveiled speech. The overwhelming majority has come to
this conclusion as if it were a matter of course. The man on the
street, and what is more surprising, the woman in the home, are
convinced that, if we disapprove of those evils, we must first of all
condemn the silence of our forefathers. They feel as if he who sticks
to the belief in silence must necessarily help the enemies of society,
and become responsible for the alarming increase of sexual affliction
and crime. They refuse to see that on the one side the existing facts
and the burning need for their removal, and on the other side the
question of the best method and best plan for the fight, are entirely
distinct, and that the highest intention for social reform may go
together with the deepest conviction that the popular method of the
present day is doing incalculable harm, is utterly wrong, and is one
of the most dangerous causes of that evil which it hopes to destroy.

The psychologist, I am convinced, must here stand on the unpopular
side. To be sure, he is not unaccustomed to such an unfortunate
position in the camp of the disfavoured minority. Whenever a great
movement sweeps through the civilized world, it generally starts from
the recognition of a great social wrong and from the enthusiasm for a
thorough change. But these wrongs, whether they have political or
social, economic or moral character, are always the products of both
physical and psychical causes. The public thinks first of all of the
physical ones. There are railroad accidents: therefore improve the
physical technique of the signal system; there is drunkenness:
therefore remove the whiskey bottle. The psychical element is by no
means ignored. Yet it is treated as if mere insight into the cause,
mere good will and understanding, are sufficient to take care of the
mental factors involved. The social reformers are therefore always
discussing the existing miseries, the possibilities of improvements in
the world of things, and the necessity of spreading knowledge and
enthusiasm. They do not ask the advice of the psychologist, but only
his jubilant approval, and they always feel surprised if he has to
acknowledge that there seems to him something wrong in the
calculation. The psychologist knows that the mental elements cannot be
brought under such a simple formula according to which good will and
insight are sufficient; he knows that the mental mechanism which is at
work there has its own complicated laws, which must be considered with
the same care for detail as those technical schemes for improvement.
The psychologist is not astonished that though the technical
improvements of the railways are increased, yet one serious accident
follows another, as long as no one gives attention to the study of the
engineer's mind. Nor is he surprised that while the area of
prohibition is expanding rapidly, the consumption of beer and whiskey
is nevertheless growing still more quickly, as long as the psychology
of the drinker is neglected. The trusts and the labour movements,
immigration and the race question, the peace movement and a score of
other social problems show exactly the same picture—everywhere
insight into old evils, everywhere enthusiasm for new goals,
everywhere attention to outside factors, and everywhere negligence of
those functions of the mind which are independent of the mere will of
the individual.

But now since a new great wave of discussion has arisen, and the
sexual problem is stirring the nation, the psychologist's faith in the
unpopular policy puts him into an especially difficult position.
Whenever he brings from his psychological studies arguments which
point to the errors in public prejudices, he can present his facts in
full array. Nothing hinders him from speaking with earnestness against
the follies of hasty and short-sighted methods in every concern of
public life, if he has the courage to oppose the fancies of the day.
But the fight in favour of the policy of silence is different. If he
begins to shout his arguments, he himself breaks that rôle of silence
which he recommends. He speaks for a conviction, which demands from
him first of all that he shall not speak. The more eagerly he spreads
his science, the more he must put himself in the wrong before his own
conscience. He is thus thrown into an unavoidable conflict. If he is
silent, the cause of his opponents will prosper, and if he objects
with full arguments, his adversaries have a perfect right to claim
that he himself sets a poor example and that his psychology helps
still more to increase that noisy discussion which he denounces as
ruinous to the community. But in this contradictory situation the
circle must be broken somewhere, and even at the risk of adding to the
dangerous tumult which he condemns, the psychologist must break his
silence in order to plead for silence. I shall have to go into all the
obnoxious detail, for if I yielded to my feeling of disgust, my
reticence would not help the cause while all others are shouting. I
break silence in order to convince others that if they were silent,
too, our common social hopes and wishes would be nearer to actual

But let us acknowledge from the start that we stand before an
extremely complicated question, in which no routine formula can do
justice to the manifoldness of problems. Most of these discussions are
misshaped from the beginning by the effort to deal with the whole
social sex problem, while only one or another feature is seriously
considered. Now it is white slavery, and now the venereal diseases;
now the demands of eugenics, and now the dissipation of boys; now the
influence of literature and drama, and now the effect of sexual
education in home and school; now the medical situation and the
demands of hygiene, and now the moral situation and the demands of
religion; now the influence on the feministic movement, and now on art
and social life; now the situation in the educated middle classes, and
now in the life of the millions. We ought to disentangle the various
threads in this confusing social tissue and follow each by itself. We
shall see soon enough that not only the various elements of the
situation awake very different demands, but that often any single
feature may lead to social postulates which interfere with each other.
Any regulation prescription falsifies the picture of the true needs of
the time.


We certainly follow the present trend of the discussion if we single
out first of all the care for the girls who are in danger of becoming
victims of private or professional misuse as the result of their
ignorance of the world of erotics. This type of alarming news most
often reaches the imagination of the newspaper reader nowadays, and
this is the appeal of the most sensational plays. The spectre of the
white slavery danger threatens the whole nation, and the gigantic
number of illegitimate births seems fit to shake the most indifferent
citizen. Every naïve girl appears a possible victim of man's lust,
and all seem to agree that every girl should be acquainted with the
treacherous dangers which threaten her chastity. The new programme
along this line centres in one remedy: the girls of all classes ought
to be informed about the real conditions before they have an
opportunity to come into any bodily contact with men. How far the
school is to spread this helpful knowledge, how far the wisdom of
parents is to fill these blanks of information, how far serious
literature is to furnish such science, and how far the stage or even
the film is to bring it to the masses, remains a secondary feature of
the scheme, however much it is discussed among the social reformers.

The whole new wisdom proceeds according to the simple principle which
has proved its value in the field of popular hygiene. The health of
the nation has indeed been greatly improved since the alarming
ignorance in the matters of prophylaxis in disease has been
systematically fought by popular information. If the mosquito or the
hookworm or the fly is responsible for diseases from which hundreds of
thousands have to suffer, there can be no wiser and straighter policy
than to spread this knowledge to every corner of the country. The
teachers in the schoolroom and the writers in the popular magazines
cannot do better than to repeat the message, until every adult and
every child knows where the enemy may be found and helps to destroy
the insects and to avoid the dangers of contact. This is the formula
after which those reformers want to work who hold the old-fashioned
policy of silence in sexual matters to be obsolete. Of course they aim
toward a mild beginning. It may start with beautiful descriptions of
blossoms and of fruits, of eggs and of hens, before it comes to the
account of sexual intercourse and human embryos, but if the talking is
to have any effect superior to not talking, the concrete sexual
relations must be impressed upon the imagination of the girl before
she becomes sixteen years of age.

Here is the real place for the psychological objection. It is not true
that you can bring such sexual knowledge into the mind of a girl in
the period of her development with the same detachment with which you
can deposit in her mind the knowledge about mosquitoes and houseflies.
That prophylactic information concerning the influence of the insects
on diseases remains an isolated group of ideas, which has no other
influence on the mind than the intended one, the influence of guiding
the actions in a reasonable direction. The information about her
sexual organs and the effects on the sexual organism of men may also
have as one of its results a certain theoretical willingness to avoid
social dangers. But the far stronger immediate effect is the
psychophysiological reverberation in the whole youthful organism with
strong reactions on its blood vessels and on its nerves. The
individual differences are extremely great here. On every social level
we find cool natures whose frigidity would inhibit strong influences
in these organic directions. But they are the girls who have least to
fear anyhow. With a much larger number the information, however slowly
and tactfully imparted, must mean a breaking down of inhibitions which
held sexual feelings and sexual curiosity in check.

The new ideas become the centre of attention, the whole world begins
to appear in a new light, everything which was harmless becomes full
of meaning and suggestion, new problems awake, and the new ideas
irradiate over the whole mental mechanism. The new problems again
demand their answers. Just the type of girl to whom the lure might
become dangerous will be pushed to ever new inquiries, and if the
policy of information is accepted in principle, it would be only wise
to furnish her with all the supplementary knowledge which covers the
multitude of sexual perversions and social malpractices of which
to-day many a clean married woman has not the faintest idea. But to
such a girl who knows all, the surroundings appear in the new
glamour. She understands now how her body is the object of desire, she
learns to feel her power, and all this works backward on her sexual
irritation, which soon overaccentuates everything which stands in
relation to sex. Soon she lives in an atmosphere of high sexual
tension in which the sound and healthy interests of a young life have
to suffer by the hysterical emphasis on sexuality. The Freudian
psychoanalysis, which threatens to become the fad of the American
neurologists, probably goes too far when it seeks the cause for all
neurasthenic and hysteric disturbances in repressed sexual ideas of
youth. But no psychotherapist can doubt that the havoc which secret
sexual thoughts may bring to the neural life, especially of the
unbalanced, is tremendous. Broken health and a distorted view of the
social world with an unsound, unclean, and ultimately immoral emphasis
on the sexual relations may thus be the sad result for millions of
girls, whose girlhood under the policy of the past would have remained
untainted by the sordid ideas of man as an animal.

Yet the calamity would not be so threatening if the effect of sexual
instruction were really confined to the putrid influence on the young
imagination. The real outcome is not only such a revolution in the
thoughts, but the power which it gains over action. We have only to
consider the mechanism which nature has provided. The sexual desire
belongs to the same group of human instincts as the desire for food or
the desire for sleep, all of which aim toward a certain biological
end, which must be fulfilled in order to secure life. The desire for
food and sleep serves the individual himself, the desire for the
sexual act serves the race. In every one of these cases nature has
furnished the body with a wonderful psychophysical mechanism which
enforces the outcome automatically. In every case we have a kind of
circulatory process into which mental excitements and physiological
changes enter, and these are so subtly related to each other that one
always increases the other, until the maximum desire is reached, to
which the will must surrender. Nature needs this automatic function;
otherwise the vital needs of individual and race might be suppressed
by other interests, and neglected. In the case of the sexual instinct,
the mutual relations between the various parts of this circulatory
process are especially complicated. Here it must be sufficient to say
that the idea of sexual processes produces dilation of blood vessels
in the sexual sphere, and that this physiological change itself
becomes the source and stimulus for more vivid sexual feelings, which
associate themselves with more complex sexual thoughts. These in their
turn reinforce again the physiological effect on the sexual organ, and
so the play goes on until the irritation of the whole sexual apparatus
and the corresponding sexual mental emotions reach a height at which
the desire for satisfaction becomes stronger than any ordinary motives
of sober reason.

This is the great trick of nature in its incessant service to the
conservation of the animal race. Monogamic civilization strives to
regulate and organize these race instincts and to raise culture above
the mere lure of nature. But that surely cannot be done by merely
ignoring that automatic mechanism of nature. On the contrary, the
first demand of civilization must be to make use of this inborn
psychophysical apparatus for its own ideal human purposes, and to
adjust the social behaviour most delicately to the unchangeable
mechanism. The first demand, accordingly, ought to be that we excite
no one of these mutually reinforcing parts of the system, neither the
organs nor the thoughts nor the feelings, as each one would heighten
the activities of the others, and would thus become the starting point
of an irrepressible demand for sexual satisfaction. The average boy or
girl cannot give theoretical attention to the thoughts concerning
sexuality without the whole mechanism for reinforcement automatically
entering into action. We may instruct with the best intention to
suppress, and yet our instruction itself must become a source of
stimulation, which necessarily creates the desire for improper
conduct. The policy of silence showed an instinctive understanding of
this fundamental situation. Even if that traditional policy had had no
positive purpose, its negative function, its leaving at rest the
explosive sexual system of the youth, must be acknowledged as one of
those wonderful instinctive procedures by which society protects

The reformer might object that he gives not only information, but
depicts the dangers and warns against the ruinous effects. He
evidently fancies that such a black frame around the luring picture
will be a strong enough countermotive to suppress the sensual desire.
But while the faint normal longing can well be balanced by the trained
respect for the mysterious unknown, the strongly accentuated craving
of the girl who knows may ill be balanced by any thought of possible
disagreeable consequences. Still more important, however, is a second
aspect. The girl to whom the world sex is the great taboo is really
held back from lascivious life by an instinctive respect and anxiety.
As soon as girl and boy are knowers, all becomes a matter of naked
calculation. What they have learned from their instruction in home and
school and literature and drama is that the unmarried woman must avoid
becoming a mother. Far from enforcing a less sensuous life, this only
teaches them to avoid the social opprobrium by going skilfully to
work. The old-fashioned morality sermon kept the youth on the paths of
clean life; the new-fashioned sexual instruction stimulates not only
their sensual longings, but also makes it entirely clear to the young
that they have nothing whatever to fear if they yield to their
voluptuousness but make careful use of their new physiological
knowledge. From my psychotherapeutic activity, I know too well how
much vileness and perversity are gently covered by the term flirtation
nowadays in the circle of those who have learned early to conceal the
traces. The French type of the demi-vierge is just beginning to play
its rôle in the new world. The new policy will bring in the great day
for her, and with it a moral poisoning which must be felt in the whole
social atmosphere.


We have not as yet stopped to examine whether at least the propaganda
for the girl's sexual education starts rightly when it takes for
granted that ignorance is the chief source for the fall of women. The
sociological student cannot possibly admit this as a silent
presupposition. In many a pathetic confession we have read as to the
past of fallen girls that they were not aware of the consequences. But
it would be utterly arbitrary to construe even such statements as
proofs that they were unaware of the limits which society demanded
from them. If a man breaks into a neighbour's garden by night to
steal, he may have been ignorant of the fact that shooting traps were
laid there for thieves, but that does not make him worthy of the pity
which we may offer to him who suffers by ignorance only. The
melodramatic idea that a straightforward girl with honest intent is
abducted by strangers and held by physical force in places of
degradation can simply be dismissed from a discussion of the general
situation. The chances that any decent man or woman will be killed by
a burglar are a hundred times larger than that a decent girl without
fault of her own will become the victim of a white slavery system
which depends upon physical force. Since the new policy of antisilence
has filled the newspapers with the most filthy gossip about such
imaginary horrors, it is not surprising that frivolous girls who elope
with their lovers later invent stories of criminal detention, first by
half poisoning and afterward by handcuffing. Of all the systematic,
thorough investigations, that of the Vice Commission of Philadelphia
seems so far the most instructive and most helpful. It shows the
picture of a shameful and scandalous social situation, and yet, in
spite of years of most insistent search by the best specialists, it
says in plain words that “no instances of actual physical slavery have
been specifically brought to our attention.”

This does not contradict in the least the indubitable fact that in all
large cities white slavery exists in the wider sense of the word—that
is, that many girls are kept in a life of shame because the escape
from it is purposely made difficult to them. They are held constantly
in debt and are made to believe that their immunity from arrest
depends upon their keeping on good terms with the owners of disorderly
houses. But the decisive point for us is that while they are held back
at a time when they know too much, they are not brought there by force
at a time when they know too little. The Philadelphia Vice Report
analyzes carefully the conditions and motives which have brought the
prostitutes to their life of shame. The results of those hundreds of
interviews point nowhere to ignorance. The list of reasons for
entering upon such a life brings information like this: “She liked
the man,” “Wanted to see what immoral life was like,” “Sneaked out for
pleasure, got into bad company,” “Would not go to school, frequented
picture shows, got into bad company,” “Thought she would have a better
time,” “Envied girls with fine clothes and gay time,” “Wanted to go to
dances and theatres,” “Went with girls who drank, influenced by them,”
“Liked to go to moving picture shows,” “Did not care what happened
when forbidden to marry.” With these personal reasons go the economic
ones: “Heard immorality was an easy way to make money, which she
needed,” “Decided that this was the easiest way of earning money,”
“Wanted pretty clothes,” “Never liked hard work,” “Tired of drudgery
at home,” “Could make more money this way than in a factory.” Only
once is it reported: “Chloroformed at a party, taken to man's house
and ruined by him.” If that is true, we have there simply a case of
actual crime, against which nobody can be protected by mere knowledge.
In short, a thorough study indicates clearly that the girl who falls
is not pushed passively into her misery.

Surely it is alarming to read that last year in one single large city
of the Middle West two hundred school girls have become mothers, but
whoever studies the real sociological material cannot doubt that every
one of those two hundred knew very clearly that she was doing
something which she ought not to do. Every one of them had knowledge
enough, and if the knowledge was often vague and dirty, the effect
would not have been improved by substituting for it more knowledge,
even if it were clearer and scientifically more correct. What every
one of those two hundred girls needed was less knowledge—that is,
less familiarity of the mind with this whole group of erotic ideas,
and through this a greater respect for and fear of the unknown. Nobody
who really understands the facts of the sexual world with the insight
of the physician will deny that nevertheless treacherous dangers and
sources of misfortune may be near to any girl, and that they might be
avoided if she knew the truth. But then it is no longer a question of
a general truth, which can be implanted by any education, but a
specific truth concerning the special man. The husband whom she
marries may be a scoundrel who infects her with ruinous disease, but
even if she had read all the medical books beforehand it would not
have helped her.


The situation of the boys seems in many respects different. They are
on the aggressive side. There is no danger that by their lack of
knowledge they will be lured into a life of humiliation, but the
danger of their ruin is more imminent and the risk which parents run
with them is far worse. Any hour of reckless fun may bring them a life
of cruel suffering. The havoc which venereal diseases bring to the men
of all social classes is tremendous. The Report of the Surgeon-General
of the Army for 1911 states that with the mean strength of about
seventy-three thousand men in the army, the admissions to the
hospitals on account of venereal diseases were over thirteen thousand.
That is, of any hundred men at least eighteen were ill from sexual
infection. The New York County Hospital Society reports two hundred
and forty-three thousand cases of venereal disease treated in one
year, as compared with forty-one thousand five hundred and eighty-five
cases of all other communicable diseases. This horrible sapping of the
physical energies of the nation, with the devastating results in the
family, with the poisoning of the germs for the next generation, and
with the disastrous diseases of brain and spinal cord, is surely the
gravest material danger which exists. How small compared with that the
thousands of deaths from crime and accidents and wrecks! how
insignificant the harvest of human life which any war may reap! And
all this can ultimately be avoided, not only by abstinence, but by
strict hygiene and rigorous social reorganization. At this moment we
have only to ask how much of a change for the better can be expected
from a mere sexual education of the boys.

From a psychological point of view, this situation appears much more
difficult than that of the girls. All psychological motives speak for
a policy of silence in the girls' cases. For the boys, on the other
hand, the importance of some hygienic instruction cannot be denied. A
knowledge of the disastrous consequences of sexual diseases must have
a certain influence for good, and the grave difficulty lies only in
the fact that nevertheless all the arguments which speak against the
sexual education of the girls hold for the boys, too. The harm to the
youthful imagination, the starting of erotic thoughts with sensual
excitement in consequence of any kind of sexual instruction must be
still greater for the young man than for the young woman, as he is
more easily able to satisfy his desires. We must thus undoubtedly
expect most evil consequences from the instruction of the boys; and
yet we cannot deny the possible advantages. Their hygienic
consciousness may be enriched and their moral consciousness tainted by
the same hour of well-meant instruction. With the girls an energetic
no is the only sane answer; with the boys the social reformer may well
hesitate between the no and the yes. The balance between fear and hope
may be very even there. Yet, however depressing such a decision may
be, the psychologist must acknowledge that even here the loss by frank
discussion is greater than the gain.

A serious warning lies in the well-known fact that of all professional
students, the young medical men have the worst reputation for their
reckless indulgence in an erotic life. They know most, and it is
psychologically not surprising that just on that account they are most
reckless. The instinctive fear of the half knower has left them; they
live in an illusory safety, the danger has become familiar to them,
and they deceive themselves with the idea that the particular case is
harmless. If the steps to be taken were to be worked out at the
writing desk in cool mood and sober deliberation, the knowledge would
at least often be a certain help, but when the passionate desire has
taken hold of the mind and the organic tension of the irritated body
works on the mind, there is no longer a fair fight with those sober
reasons. The action of the glands controls the psychophysical
reactions, so that the ideas which would lead to opposite response are
inhibited. Alcohol and the imitative mood of social gayety may help to
dull those hygienic fears, but on the whole the mere sexual longing
is sufficient to break down the reminiscence of medical warning. The
situation for the boy is then ultimately this: A full knowledge of the
chances of disease will start in hours of sexual coolness on the one
side a certain resolution to abstain from sexual intercourse, and on
the other side a certain intention to use protective means for the
prevention of venereal diseases. As soon as the sexual desire awakes,
the decision of the first kind will become the less effective, and
will be the more easily overrun the more firmly the idea is fixed that
such preventive means are at his disposal. At the same time the
discussion of all these sexual matters, even with their gruesome
background, will force on the mind a stronger engagement with sexual
thought than had ever before occurred, and this will find its
discharge in an increased sexual tension. On the other hand, this new
knowledge of means of safety will greatly increase the playing with
danger. Of course it may be said that the education ought not to refer
only to sexual hygiene, but that it ought to be a moral education.
That, however, is an entirely different story. We shall speak about
it; we shall put our faith in it, but at present we are talking of
that specific sexual education which is the fad of the day.


Sexual education, to be sure, does not necessarily mean education of
young people only. The adults who know, the married men and women of
the community, may not know enough to protect their sons and
daughters. And the need for their full information may stretch far
beyond their personal family interests. They are to form the public
opinion which must stand behind every real reform, their consciences
must be stirred, the hidden misery must be brought before them. Thus
they need sexual education as much as the youngsters, only they need
it in a form which appeals to them and makes them willing to listen;
and our reformers have at last discovered the form. The public must be
taught from the stage of the theatre. The magazine with its short
stories on sex incidents, the newspaper with its sensational court
reports, may help to carry the gruesome information to the masses, but
the deepest impression will always be made when actual human beings
are shown on the stage in their appealing distress, as living
accusations against the rotten foundations of society. The stage is
overcrowded with sexual drama and the social community inundated with
discussions about it.

It is not easy to find the right attitude toward this red-light
literature. Many different interests are concerned, and it is often
extremely difficult to disentangle them. Three such interests stand
out very clearly: the true æsthetic one, the purely commercial one,
and the sociological one. It would be wonderful if the æsthetic
culture of our community had reached a development at which the
æsthetic attitude toward a play would be absolutely controlling. If we
could trust this æsthetic instinct, no other question would be
admissible but the one whether the play is a good work of art or not.
The social inquiry whether the human fates which the poet shows us
suggests legislative reforms or hygienic improvements would be
entirely inhibited in the truly artistic consciousness. It would make
no difference to the spectator whether the action played in Chicago or
Petersburg, whether it dealt with men and women of to-day or of two
thousand years ago. The human element would absorb our interest, and
as far as the joys and the miseries of sexual life entered into the
drama, they would be accepted as a social background, just as the
landscape is the natural background. A community which is æsthetically
mature enough to appreciate Ibsen does not leave “The Ghosts” with
eugenic reform ideas. The inherited paralysis on a luetic basis is
accepted there as a tragic element of human fate. On the height of
true art the question of decency or indecency has disappeared, too.
The nude marble statue is an inspiration, and not a possible stimulus
to frivolous sensuality, if the mind is æsthetically cultivated. The
nakedness of erotic passion in the drama of high æsthetic intent
before a truly educated audience has not the slightest similarity to
the half-draped chorus of sensual operetta before a gallery which
wants to be tickled. But who would claim that the dramatic literature
of the sexual problems with which the last seasons have filled the
theatres from the orchestra to the second balcony has that sublime
æsthetic intent, or that it was brought to a public which even posed
in an æsthetic attitude! As far as any high aim was involved, it was
the antiæsthetic moral value. The plays presented themselves as
appeals to the social conscience, and yet this idealistic
interpretation would falsify the true motives on both sides. The crowd
went because it found the satisfaction of sexual curiosity and erotic
tension through the unveiled discussion of social perversities. And
the managers produced the plays because the lurid subjects with their
appeal to the low instincts, and therefore with their sure commercial
success, could here escape the condemnation of police and decent
public as they were covered by the pretence of social reform. How far
the writers of the play of prostitution prostituted art in order to
share the commercial profits in this wave of sexual reform may better
remain undiscussed.

What do these plays really teach us? I think I have seen almost all of
them, and the composite picture in my mind is one of an absurdly
distorted, exaggerated, and misleading view of actual social
surroundings, suggesting wrong problems, wrong complaints, and wrong
remedies. When I studied the reports of the vice commissions of the
large American and European cities, the combined image in my
consciousness was surely a stirring and alarming one, but it had no
similarity with the character of those melodramatic vagaries. Even the
best and most famous of these fabrications throw wrong sidelights on
the social problems, and by a false emphasis inhibit the feeling for
the proportions of life. If in “The Fight” the father, a senator,
visits a disorderly house, unlocks the room in which the freshest
fruit is promised him, and finds there his young daughter who has just
been abducted by force, the facts themselves are just as absurd as the
following scenes, in which this father shows that the little episode
did not make the slightest impression on him. He coolly continues to
fight against those politicians who want to remove such places from
the town. In “Bought and Paid For” marriage itself is presented as
white slavery. The woman has to tolerate the caresses of her husband,
even when he has drunk more champagne than is wise for him. The play
makes us believe that she must suffer his love because she was poor
before she married and he has paid her with a life of luxury. Where
are we to end if such logic in questions of sexual intercourse is to
benumb common sense? England brought us “The Blindness of Virtue,” the
story of a boy and a girl whom we are to believe to be constantly in
grave danger because they are ignorant, while in reality nothing
happens, and everything suggests that the moral danger for this
particular girl would have been much greater if she had known how to
enjoy love without consequences.

The most sensational specimen of the group was “The Lure.” It would be
absurd to face this production from any æsthetic point of view. It
would be unthinkable that a work of such crudeness could satisfy a
metropolitan public, even if some of the most marked faults of
construction were acknowledged as the results of the forceful
expurgation of the police. Nevertheless, the only significance of the
play lies outside of its artistic sphere, and belongs entirely to its
effort to help in this great social reform. The only strong applause,
which probably repeats itself every evening, broke out when the old,
good-natured physician said that as soon as women have the vote the
white slavers will be sent to the electric chair. But it is worth
while to examine the sermon which a play of this type really preaches,
and to become aware of the illusions with which the thoughtless public
receives this message. All which we see there on the stage is taken by
the masses as a remonstrance against the old, cowardly policy of
silence, and the play is to work as a great proof that complete
frankness and clear insight can help the daughters of the community.

The whole play contains the sad story of two girls. There is Nell.
What happened to her? She is the daughter of a respectable banker in a
small town. A scoundrel, a commercial white slaver, a typical Broadway
“cadet” with luring manners, goes to the small town, finds access to
the church parlours, is introduced to the girl, and after some
courtship he elopes with her and makes her believe that they are
correctly married. After the fraudulent marriage with a falsified
license he brings her into a metropolitan disorderly house and holds
her there by force. Of course this is brutal stage exaggeration, but
even if this impossibility were true, what conclusion are we to draw,
and what advice are we to give? Does it mean that in future a young
girl who meets a nice chap in the church socials of her native town
ought to keep away from him, because she ought all the time to think
that he might be a delegate of a Broadway brothel? To fill a girl with
suspicions in a case like that of Nell would be no wiser than to tell
the ordinary man that he ought not to deposit his earnings in any
bank, because the cashier might run away with it. To be sure, it would
have been better if Nell had not eloped, but is there any knowledge of
sexual questions which would have helped her to a wiser decision? On
the contrary, she said she did elope because her life in the small
town was so uninteresting, and she felt so lonely and was longing for
the life of love. She knew all which was to be known then, and if
there had been any power to hold her back from the foolish elopement
it could have been only a kind of instinctive respect for the
traditional demands of society, that kind of respect which grows up
from the policy of silence and is trampled to the ground by the policy
of loud talk.

The other girl in the play is Sylvia. Her fate is very different. She
needs melodramatic money for her sick mother. Her earnings in the
department store are not enough. The sly owner of a treacherous
employment agency has given her a card over the counter, advising her
to come there, when she needs extra employment. The agency keeps open
in the evening. She tells her mother that she will seek some extra
work there. The mother warns her that there are so many traps for
decent girls, and she answers that she is not afraid and that she will
be on the lookout. She goes there, and the skilful owner of the agency
shows her how miserable the pay would be for any decent evening work,
and how easily she can earn all the money she needs for her mother if
she is willing to be paid by men. At first she refuses with pathos,
but under the suggestive pressure of luring arguments she slowly
weakens, and finally consents to exchange her street gown for a
fantastic costume of half-nakedness. The feelings of the audience are
saved by the detective who breaks in at the decisive moment, but the
arguments of the advocates of sexual education cannot possibly be
saved after that voluntary yielding. Sylvia knows what she has to
expect, and no more intense perusal of literature on the subject of
prostitution would have changed her mind. What else in the world could
have helped her in such an hour but a still stronger feeling of
instinctive repugnance? If Sylvia was actually to put her fate on a
mere calculation, with a full knowledge of all the sociological facts
involved, she probably reasoned wrongly in dealing with this
particular employment agency, but was on the whole not so wrong in
deciding that a frivolous life would be the most reasonable way out of
her financial difficulties, as her sexual education would include, of
course, a sufficient knowledge of all which is needed to avoid
conception and infection. She would therefore know that after a little
while of serving the lust of men she would be just as intact and just
as attractive. If society has the wish to force Sylvia to a decision
in the opposite direction, only one way is open: to make the belief in
the sacred value of virtue so deep and powerful that any mere
reasoning and calculation loses its strength. But that is possible
only through an education which relies on the instinctive respect and
mystical belief. Only a policy of silence could have saved Sylvia,
because that alone would have implanted in her mind an ineffable idea
of unknown horrors which would await her when she broke the sacred
ring of chastity.

The climax of public discussions was reached when America had its
season of Brieux' “Damaged Goods.” Its topic is entirely different, as
it deals exclusively with the spreading of contagious diseases and the
prevention of their destructive influence on the family. Yet the doubt
whether such a dramatized medical lesson belongs on the metropolitan
stage has here exactly the same justification. Nevertheless, it brings
its new set of issues. Brieux' play does not deserve any interest as a
drama. With complete sincerity the theatre programme announces, “The
object of this play is a study of the disease of syphilis in its
bearing on marriage.” The play was first produced in Paris in the year
1901. It began its great medical teaching in America in the spring of
1913. Even those who have only superficial contact with medicine know
that the twelve years which lie between those dates have seen the
greatest progress in the study of syphilis which has ever been made.
It is sufficient to think of the Wassermann test, the Ehrlich
treatment, the new discoveries concerning the relations of lues and
brain disease, and many other details in order to understand that a
clinical lesson about this disease written in the first year of the
century must be utterly antiquated in its fourteenth year. We might
just as well teach the fighting of tuberculosis with the clinical
textbook of thirty years ago.

How misleading many of the claims of the play are ought to have struck
even the unscientific audience. The real centre of the so-called drama
is that the father and the grandmother of the diseased infant are
willing to risk the health of the wet nurse rather than to allow the
child to go over to artificial feeding. The whole play loses its chief
point and its greatest pathetic speech if we do not accept the
Parisian view that a sickly child must die if it has its milk from the
bottle. The Boston audience wildly applauded the great speech of the
grandmother who wants to poison the nurse rather than to sacrifice her
grandchild to the drinking of sterilized milk, and yet it was an
audience which surely was brought up on the bottle. It would be very
easy to write another play in which quite different medical views are
presented, and where will it lead us if the various treatments of
tuberculosis, perhaps by the Friedmann cures, or of diphtheria,
perhaps by chiropractice or osteopathy, are to be fought out on the
stage until finally the editors of _Life_ would write a play around
their usual thesis that the physicians are destroying mankind and that
our modern medicine is humbug. As long as the drama shows us human
elements, every one can be a party and can take a stand for the
motives of his heart. But if the stage presents arguments on
scientific questions in which no public is able to examine the facts,
the way is open for any one-sided propaganda.

Moreover, what, after all, are the lessons which the men are to learn
from these three hours of talk on syphilis? To be sure, it is
suggested that it would be best if every young man were to marry early
and remain faithful to his wife and take care that she remain faithful
to him. But this aphorism will make very little impression on the kind
of listener whose tendency would naturally turn him in other
directions. He hears in the play far more facts which encourage him in
his selfish instincts. He hears the old doctor assuring his patient
that not more than a negligible 10 per cent. of all men enter married
life without having had sexual intercourse with women. He hears that
the disease can be easily cured, that he may marry quite safely after
three years, that the harm done to the child can be removed, and that
no one ought to be blamed for acquiring the disease, as anybody may
acquire it and that it is only a matter of good or bad luck. The
president of the Medical Society in Boston drew the perfectly correct
consequences when in a warm recommendation of the play he emphasized
the importance of the knowledge about the disease, inasmuch as any one
may acquire it in a hundred ways which have nothing to do with sexual
life. He says anybody may get syphilis by wetting a lead pencil with
his lips or from an infected towel or from a pipe or from a drinking
glass or from a cigarette. This is medically entirely correct, and yet
if Brieux had added this medical truth to all the other medical
sayings of his doctor, he would have taken away the whole meaning of
the play and would have put it just on the level of a dramatized story
about scarlet fever or typhoid.

Yet here, too, the fundamental mistake remains the psychological one.
The play hopes to reform by the appeal to fear, while the whole mental
mechanism of man is so arranged that in the emotional tension of the
sexual desire the argument of the fear that we may have bad luck will
always be outbalanced by the hope and conviction that we will not be
the one who draws the black ball. And together with this psychological
fact goes the other stubborn feature of the mind, which no sermon can
remove, that the focussing of the attention on the sexual problems,
even in their repelling form, starts too often a reaction of glands
and with it sexual thoughts which ultimately lead to a desire for

The cleverest of this group of plays strictly intended for sexual
education—as Shaw's “Mrs. Warren's Profession” or plays of Pinero and
similar ones would belong only indirectly in this circle—is probably
Wedekind's “Spring's Awakening.” It brought to Germany, and especially
to Berlin, any education which the Friedrichstrasse had failed to
bring. To prohibit it would have meant the reactionary crushing of a
distinctly literary work by a brilliant writer; to allow it meant to
fill the Berlin life for seasons with a new spirit which showed its
effects. The sexual discussion became the favourite topic; the girls
learned to look out for their safety: and it was probably only a
chance that at the same time a wave of immorality overflooded the
youth of Berlin. The times of naïve flirtation were over; any
indecency seemed allowable if only conception was artificially
prevented. The social life of Berlin from the fashionable quarters of
Berlin West to the factory quarters of Berlin East was never more
rotten and more perverse than in those years in which sexual education
from the stage indulged in its orgies.

The central problem is not whether the facts are distorted or not, and
whether the suggestions are wise or not, and whether the remedies are
practicable or not. All this is secondary to the fundamental question
of whether it is wise to spread out such problems before the
miscellaneous public of our theatres. No doubt a few of the social
reformers are sprinkled over the audiences. There are a few in the
boxes as well as in the galleries who discern the realities and who
hear the true appeal, even through those grotesque melodramas. But
with the overwhelming majority it is quite different. For them it is
entertainment, and as such it is devastating. It is quite true that
many a piquant comic opera shows more actual frivolity, and no one
will underestimate the shady influence of such voluptuous vulgarities
in their multicoloured stage setting. Yet from a psychological point
of view the effect of the pathetic treatment is far more dangerous
than that of the frivolous. A good many well-meaning reformers do not
see that, because they know too little of the deeper layers of the
sexual imagination. The intimate connection between sexuality and
cruelty, perversion and viciousness, may produce much more injurious
results in the mind of the average man when he sees the tragedy of the
white slave than when he laughs at the farce of the chorus girl.
Moreover, even the information which such plays divulge may stimulate
some model citizens to help the police and the doctors, but it may
suggest to a much larger number hitherto unknown paths of viciousness.
The average New Yorker would hear with surprise from the Rockefeller
Report on Commercialized Prostitution in New York City that the
commission has visited in Manhattan a hundred and forty parlour
houses, twenty of which were known to the trade as fifty-cent houses,
eighty as one-dollar houses, six as two-dollar houses, and
thirty-four as five-and ten-dollar houses. Yet the chances are great
that essentially persons with serious interests in social hygiene turn
to such books of sober study. But to cry out such information to those
Broadway crowds which seek a few hours' fun before they go to the next
lobster palace or to the nearest cabaret cannot possibly serve social

Worst of all, the theatre, more than any other source of so-called
information, has been responsible for the breakdown of the barriers of
social reserve in sexual discussions, and that means ultimately in
erotic behaviour. The book which the individual man or woman reads at
his fireside has no socializing influence, but the play which they see
together is naturally discussed, views are exchanged, and all which in
old-fashioned times was avoided, even in serious discussion, becomes
daily more a matter of the most superficial gossip. When recently at a
dinner party a charming young woman whom I had hardly met before asked
me, when we were at the oysters, how prostitution is regulated in
Germany, and did not conclude the subject before we had reached the
ice cream, I saw the natural consequences of this new era of theatre
influence. Society, which with the excuse of philanthropic sociology
favours erotically tainted problems, must sink down to a community in
which the sexual relations become chaotic and turbulent. Finally, the
theatre is not open only to the adult. Its filthy message reaches the
ears of boys and girls, who, even if they take it solemnly, are forced
to think of these facts and to set the whole mechanism of sexual
associations and complex reactions into motion. The playwriters know
that well, but they have their own theory. When I once remonstrated
against the indecencies which are injected into the imagination of the
adolescent by the plays, Mr. Bayard Veiller, the talented author of
“The Fight,” answered in a Sunday newspaper. He said that he could not
help thinking of the insane man who objected to throwing a bucket of
salt water into the ocean for fear it would turn the ocean salt. “Does
not Professor Münsterberg know that you can't put more sex thoughts
into the minds of young men and women, because their minds contain
nothing else?” If the present movement is not brought to a stop, the
time may indeed come when those young minds will not contain anything
else. But is that really true of to-day, and, above all, was it true
of yesterday, before the curtain was raised on the red-light drama?


How is it possible that with such obvious dangers and such evident
injurious effects, this movement on the stage and in literature, in
the schools and in the homes, is defended and furthered by so many
well-meaning and earnest thinking men and women in the community? A
number of causes may have worked together there. It cannot be
overlooked that one of the most effective ones was probably the new
enthusiasm for the feministic movement. We do not want to discuss here
the right and wrong of this worldwide advance toward the fuller
liberation of women. If we have to touch on it here, it is only to
point out that this connection between the sound elements of the
feministic movement and the propaganda for sex education on the
new-fashioned lines is really not necessary at all. I do not know
whether the feminists are entirely right, but I feel sure that their
own principles ought rather to lead them to an opposition to this
breaking down of the barriers. It is nothing but a superficiality if
they instinctively take their stand on the side of those who spread
broadcast the knowledge about sex.

The feminists vehemently object to the dual standard, but if they help
everything which makes sex an object of common gossip, it may work
indeed toward a uniform standard; only the uniformity will not consist
in the men's being chaste like the women, but in the women's being
immoral like the men. The feministic enthusiasm turns passionately
against those scandalous places of women's humiliation; and yet its
chief influence on female education is the effort to give more freedom
to the individual girl, and that means to remove her from the
authority and discipline of the parental home, to open the door for
her to the street, to leave her to her craving for amusement, to
smooth the path which leads to ruin. The sincere feminists may say
that some of the changes which they hope for are so great that they
are ready to pay the price for them and to take in exchange a rapid
increase of sexual vice and of erotic disorderliness. But to fancy
that the liberation of women and the protection of women can be
furthered by the same means is a psychological illusion. The community
which opens the playhouses to the lure of the new dramatic art may
protect 5 per cent. of those who are in danger to-day, but throws 50
per cent. more into abysses. The feminists who see to the depths of
their ideals ought to join full-heartedly the ranks of those who
entirely object to this distribution of the infectious germs of sexual

Some stray support may come to the new movement also from another
side. Some believe that this great emphasis on sexual interests may
intensify æsthetic longings in the American commonwealth. No doubt
this interrelation exists. No civilization has known a great artistic
rise without a certain freedom and joy in sensual life. Prudery always
has made true æsthetic unfolding impossible. Yet if we yielded here,
we would again be pushed away from our real problem. The æsthetic
enthusiast might think it a blessing for the American nation if a
great æsthetic outburst were secured, even by the ruin of moral
standards: a wonderful blossoming of fascinating flowers from a swampy
soil in an atmosphere full of moral miasmas. To be sure, even then it
is very doubtful whether any success could be hoped for, as a
lightness in sexual matters may be a symptom of an artistic age, but
surely is not its cause. The artist may love to drink, but the drink
does not make an artist. An æsthetic community may reach its best when
it is freed from sexual censorship, but throwing the censor out of the
house would not add anything to the æsthetic inspiration of a society
which is instinctively indifferent to the artistic calling. Above all,
the question for us is not whether the sexual overeducation may have
certain pleasant side effects: we ask only how far it succeeds in its
intended chief effect of improving morally the social community.

In fact, neither feminism nor æstheticism could have secured this
indulgence of the community in the new movement, if one more direct
argument had not influenced the conviction of some of our leaders.
They reason around one central thought—namely, that the old policy of
silence, in which they grew up, has been tried and has shown itself
unsuccessful. The horrible dimensions which the social evil has taken,
the ruinous effects on family life and national health, are before us.
The old policy must therefore be wrong. Let us try with all our might
the reform, however disgusting its first appearance may be. This
surely is the virile argument of men who know what they are aiming at.
And yet it is based on fundamental psychological misapprehensions. It
is a great confusion of causes and effects. The misery has this
distressing form not on account of the policy of silence, but in spite
of it, or rather it took the tremendous dimensions of to-day at the
same time that the dam of silence was broken and the flood of sexual
gossip rushed in.

We find exactly this relation throughout the history of civilized
mankind. To be sure, some editorial writers behave as if the erotic
calamity of the day were something unheard of, and as if it demanded a
new remedy. The historical retrospect leaves no doubt that periods of
sexual tension and of sexual relaxation, of hysteric erotic excitement
and of a certain cool indifference have alternated throughout
thousands of years. And whenever an age was unusually immoral and
lascivious, it was always also a period in which under the mask of
scientific interest or social frankness or æsthetic openmindedness the
sexual problems were matters of freest discussion. The periods of
austerity and restraint, on the other hand, were always characterized
also by an unwillingness to talk about sexual relations and to show
them in their animal nakedness. Antiquity knew those ups and downs,
mediæval times knew them, and in modern centuries the fluctuations
have been still more rapid. As soon as a moral age with its policy of
silence is succeeded by an immoral age, it is certainly a very easy
historical misconstruction to say that the immorality resulted from
the preceding conspiracy of silence and that the immorality would
disappear if the opposite scheme of frankest speech were adopted. But
the fact that this argument is accepted and that the overwhelming
majority hails the new régime with enthusiasm is nothing but an
almost essential part of the new period, which has succeeded the time
of modesty.

Sexual discussion and sexual immorality have always been parts of one
circle; sexual silence and moral restraint form another circle. The
change from one to the other has come in the history of mankind,
usually through new conditions of life, and the primary factor has not
been any policy of keeping quiet in respect or of gossiping in
curiosity, but the starting point has generally been a change in the
life habits. When new wealth has come to a people with new liberties
and new desires for enjoyment, the great periods of sexual frivolity
have started and brought secondarily the discussions of sex problems,
which intensified the immoral life. On the other hand, when a nation
in the richness of its life has been brought before new great
responsibilities, great social earthquakes and revolutions, great wars
for national honour, or great new intellectual or religious ideals,
then the sexual tension has been released, the attention has been
withdrawn from the frivolous concerns, and the people have settled
down soberly to a life of modesty and morality, which brought with it
as a natural consequence the policy of reverence and silence. The new
situation in America, and to a certain degree all over the world, has
come in, too, not through the silence of the preceding generation,
but by the sudden change from agricultural to industrial life, with
its gigantic cumulation of capital, with its widespread new wealth,
with its new ideas of social liberty, with its fading religion, with
its technical wonders of luxury and comfort. This new age, which takes
its orders from Broadway with its cabarets and tango dances, must
ridicule the silence of our fathers and denounce it as a conspiracy.
It needs the sexual discussions, as it craves the lurid music and the
sensual dances, until finally even the most earnest energies, those of
social reform and of hygiene, of intellectual culture and of artistic
effort, are forced into the service of this antimoral fashion.

Some sober spectators argue that as things have gone to this extent,
it might be wise to try the new policy as an experiment, because
matters cannot become worse than they are to-day. But those who yield
to the new advice so readily ought again to look into the pages of
history, or ought at least to study the situation in some other
countries before they proclaim that the climax has been reached. It
may be true that it would not be possible to transform still more New
York hotels into dancing halls, since the innovation of this fashion,
which suggests the dancing epidemics of mediæval times, has reached
practically every fashionable hostelry. Yet we may be only at the
beginning, as in this vicious circle of craving for sensual life and
talking about sexual problems the erotic transformation of the whole
social behaviour is usually a rapid one. The Rococo age reached many
subtleties, which we do not dream of as yet, but to which the
conspiracy against silence may boldly push us. Read the memoirs of
Casanova, the Italian of the eighteenth century, whose biography gives
a vivid picture of a time in which certainly no one was silent on
sexual affairs and in which life was essentially a chain of gallant
adventures; even the sexual diseases figured as gallant diseases. In
the select American circles it is already noticeable that the
favourites of rich men get a certain social acknowledgment. The great
masses have not reached this stage at present, which is, of course,
very familiar in France. But if we proceed in that rapid rhythm with
which we have changed in the last ten years, ten years hence we may
have substituted the influence of mistresses for the influence of
Tammany grafters, and twenty years hence a Madame Pompadour may be
dwelling not far from the White House and controlling the fate of the
nation with her small hands, as she did for two decades when Louis XV
was king. History has sufficiently shown that these are the logical
consequences of the sensualization of a rich people, whose mind is
filled with sexual problems. Are we to wait, too, until a great
revolution or a great war shakes the nation to its depths and hammers
new ideas of morality into its conscience? Even our literature might
sink still deeper and deeper. If we begin with the sexual problem, it
lies in its very nature that that which is interesting to-day is
to-morrow stale, and new regions of sexuality must be opened. The
fiction of Germany in the last few years shows the whole pathetic
decadence which results. The most abstruse perversions, the ugliest
degenerations of sexual sinfulness, have become the favourite topics,
and the best sellers are books which in the previous age would have
been crushed by police and public opinion alike, but which in the
present time are excused under scientific and sociological pretences,
although they are more corrupt and carry more infection than any
diseases against which they warn.


What is to be done? In one point we all agree: Those who are called to
do so must bend their utmost energy toward the purification of the
outer forms of community life and of the public institutions. Certain
eugenic ideas must be carried through relentlessly; above all, the
sexual segregation of the feeble-minded, whose progeny fills the
houses of disorder and the ranks of the prostitutes. The hospitals
must be wide open for every sexual disease, and all discrimination
against diseases which may be acquired by sexual intercourse must be
utterly given up in order to stamp out this scourge of mankind, as far
as possible, with the medical knowledge of our day. Every effort must
be made to suppress places through which unclean temptations are
influencing the youth. Parents and doctors should speak in the
intimacy of private talk earnest words of warning. The fight against
police corruption and graft must be relentlessly carried on so as to
have the violation of the laws really punished.

Many means may still seem debatable among those who know the social
and medical facts. Certainly some of the eugenic postulates go too
far. It is, for instance, extremely difficult to say where the limit
is to be set for permissible marriages. There may be no doubt that
feeble-mindedness ought not to be transmitted to the next generation,
but have we really a right to prevent the marriage of epileptics or
psychasthenics? Can we be surprised then that others already begin to
demand that neurasthenics shall not marry? Even the health
certificate at the wedding may give only an illusion of safety, as the
health of too many marriages is destroyed by the escapades of the
husband, and it may, on the other hand, lead to a narrowing down under
the pressure of arbitrary theories, producing a true race suicide. The
question whether the healthy man is the only desirable element of the
community is one which allows different answers. Much of the greatest
work for the world's progress has been created by men with faulty
animal constitutions whose parents would never have received
permission to marry from a rigorous eugenic board.

But whatever the sociological reasons for hesitation may be, the state
legislators and physicians, the police officers and social workers
have no right to stop. They must push forward and force the public
life into paths of less injurious and less dangerous sexual habits and
customs. Their success will depend upon the energy with which they
keep themselves independent of the control of those who do not count
with realities. The hope that men will become sexually abstinent
outside married life is fantastic, and the book of history ought not
to have been written in vain. Any counting on this imaginary
overcoming of selfish desire for sexual satisfaction decreases the
chances of real hygienic reform. It would even be an inexcusable
hypocrisy of the medical profession if, with its consent, one group of
specialists behave as if sexual abstinence were the bodily ideal,
while thousands of no less conscientious physicians in the world,
especially those concerned with nervous diseases, feel again and again
obliged to advise sexual intercourse for their patients. We know
to-day, even much better than ten years ago, how many serious
disturbances result from the suppression of normal sexual life. The
past has shown, moreover, that when society succeeded in spreading
alarm and in decreasing prostitution by fear, the result was such a
rapid increase of perversion and nerve-racking self-abuse that after a
short while the normal ways were again preferred as the lesser evil.

And the reformers will need a second limitation of their efforts. They
cannot hope for success as long as they fancy that reasoning and
calculation and sober balancing of dangers and joys, of injuries and
advantages, can ever be the decisive factor of progress. They ought
not to forget that as soon as this whole problem is brought down to a
mere considering of consequences by the individual, their eugenic
hopes may be cruelly shaken. However distressing it is to say it
frankly, by mere appeal to reason we shall not turn many girls from
the way which leads to prostitution, nor many boys from the
anticipation of married life. The girl in the factory, who hesitates
between the hard work at the machine for the smallest pay, without
pleasures, and the easy money of the street, with an abundance of fun,
may in the regrettable life of prosaic reality balance the
consequences very differently from the moralist. She has discovered
that the ideal of virtue is not so highly valued in her circles as in
the middle classes. The loss of her virtue is not such a severe
hindrance in her life, and even if she yields for a while to earn her
extra money in indecent ways, the chances are great that she may
remain more attractive to a possible future husband from her set than
if she lived the depressing life of grief and deprivation. The
probability of her marrying and becoming the mother in a decent family
home may be greater than on the straighter path. It is, of course,
extremely sad that reality takes such an immoral way, but just here is
the field where the reformers ought to keep their eyes wide open,
instead of basing their appeals on illusory constructions about social
conditions which do not exist. And if the boys begin to reason, their
calculations may count on a still greater probability of good outcome,
if they indulge in their pleasures. More than that, the fate of
certain European countries shows that when it comes to this clear
reasoning, the great turn of the selfish man is from the dangerous
prostitute to the clean girl or married woman, to the sisters and
wives of his friends, and that means the true ruin of home life.

What is the consequence of all? That the fight ought to be given up?
Surely not. But that instead of relying on physical conditions, on
fear of diseases, on merely eugenic improvements and on clever
reasoning, the reform must come from within, must be one of education
and morality, must be controlled, not by bacteriology, but by ethics,
must find its strength not from horror of skin diseases, but in the
reverence for the ideal values of humanity.


We must not deceive ourselves as to the gravity of the problem. It is
not one of the passing questions which are replaced next season by new
ones. State laws and interstate laws may and ought to continue to
round off some of the sharp edges, institutions and associations may
and ought to succeed in diminishing some of the misery, but the
central problem of national policy in the treatment of the youth will
stay with us until it has been solved rightly; illustrative
instruction cannot be such a solution. We must see with open eyes
where we are standing. The American nation of to-day is no longer the
America of yesterday. The puritanism which certainly was a spirit of
restraint has gone and cannot be brought back. The new wealth and
power, the influx of sensuous South European and East European
elements, the general trend of our age all over the civilized world,
with its technical comfort and its inexpensive luxuries, the receding
of religion and many more factors, have given a new face to America in
the last fifteen years. A desire for the satisfaction of the senses, a
longing for amusements, has become predominant in thousandfold shades
from the refined to the vulgar. In such self-seeking periods the
sexual desire in its masked and its unmasked forms gains steadily in
importance and fascination.

America, moreover, is in a particularly difficult situation. This new
longing for joy, even with its erotic touch, brings with it many
valuable enrichments of every national life, not least among them the
spreading of the sense of beauty. But what is needed is a wholesome
national self-control by which an antisocial growth of these emotions
will be suppressed. Our present-day American life so far lacks these
conditions for the truly harmonious organization of the new
tendencies. There are many causes for it. The long puritanic past did
not allow that slow European training in æsthetic and harmless social
enjoyments. Moreover, the widespread wealth, the feeling of democratic
equality, the faintness of truly artistic interests in the masses, all
reinforce the craving for the mere tickling of the senses, for
amusement of the body, for vaudeville on the stage and in life. The
sexual element in this wave of enjoyment becomes reinforced by the
American position of the woman outside of the family circle. Her
contact with men has been multiplied, her right to seek joy in every
possible way has become the corollary of her new independence, her
position has become more exposed and more dangerous. And in addition
to all this, the chief factor, which alone would be sufficient to give
to the situation a threatening aspect: American educationalists do not
believe in discipline. As long as the community was controlled by the
moral influence of puritanism, the lack of training in subordination
under social authority and obedient discipline was without danger,
while it strengthened the spirit of political liberty. But to-day, in
the period of the new antipuritanic life, the lack of discipline in
education means an actual threat to the social safety.

In such a situation what can be more fraught with dangers than to
abolish the policy of silence and to uphold the policy of talking and
talking about sexual matters with those whose minds were still
untouched by the lure. It means to fill the atmosphere in which the
growing adolescent moves with sultry ideas, it means to distort the
view of the social surroundings, it means to stir up the sexual
desires and to teach children how to indulge in them without immediate
punishment. Just as in a community of graft and corruption the
individual soon loses the finer feeling for honesty, and crime
flourishes simply because every one knows that nobody expects anything
better, so in a community in which sexual problems are the lessons of
the youth and the dinner talk of the adult, the feeling of respect for
man's deepest emotions fades away. Man and woman lose the instinctive
shyness in touching on this sacred ground, and as the organic desires
push and push toward it, the youth soon discovers that the barriers to
the forbidden ground are removed and that in their place stands a
simple signal with a suggestive word of warning against some easily
avoided traps.

From a psychological point of view the right policy would be to reduce
the external temptations, above all, the opportunities for contact.
Coeducation, for instance, was morally without difficulties twenty
years ago, but it is unfit in high schools and colleges for the
eastern part of the nation in the atmosphere of to-day. Moreover, the
æsthetic spirit ought to be educated systematically, and above all,
the whole education of the youth ought to be built on discipline; the
lesson by which the youth learns to overcome the desire and to inhibit
the will is the most essential for the young American of to-morrow.
The policy of silence has never meant that a girl should grow up
without the consciousness that the field of sexual facts exists in our
social world; on the contrary, those feelings of shame and decency
which belong to the steady learning of a clean child from the days of
the nursery have strongly impressed on the young soul that such
regions are real, but that they must not be approached by curiosity or
self-seeking wilfulness. This instinct itself brought something of
ideal value, of respect and even of reverence into the most trivial
life, however often it became ruined by foul companionship. To
strengthen this instinctive emotion of mysterious respect, which makes
the young mind shrink from brutal intrusion, will remain the wisest
policy, as long as we cannot change that automatic mechanism of human
nature by which the sexual thought stimulates the sexual organs. The
masses are, of course, in favour of the opposite programme, which is
in itself only another symptom of the erotic atmosphere into which the
new antipuritanic nation has come. That mechanism of the nervous
system furnishes them a pleasant excitement when they read and hear
the discussions and plays which bristle with sexual instruction. The
magazines which, with the best intentions, fight for the new policy,
easily find millions of readers; the plays with their erotic overflow
and the moral ending are crowded, and mostly by those who hardly need
the instruction any longer. A nation which tries to lift its sexual
morality by dragging the sexual problems to the street for the
inspection of the crowd, without shyness and without shame, and which
wilfully makes them objects of gossip and stage entertainment, is
doing worse than Munchausen when he tried to lift himself by his
scalp. It seems less important that the youth learn the secrets of
sexual intercourse than that their teachers and guardians learn the
elements of physiological psychology; the sexual sins of the youth
start from the educational sins of the elders.

It is easy to say, as the social reformers and the vice commissioners
and the sex instructors and many others have repeated in ever new
forms, that “all children's questions should be answered truthfully,”
and to work up the whole sermon to the final trumpet call, “The truth
shall make you free.” Yet this is entirely useless as long as we have
not defined what we mean by freedom, and above all what we mean by
truth. If the child enjoys the beautiful softness of the butterfly's
coloured wing, it is surely a truth, if we teach him that seen under
the microscope in reality there is no softness there, but large ugly
bumps and hollows and that the beautiful impression is nothing but an
illusion. But is this truth of the microscope the only truth, and is
science the only truth, and is there ever only one truth about the
concrete facts of reality? Does truth in this sense not simply mean a
certain order into which we bring our experience in the service of
certain purposes of thought? We may approach the chaos of life
experience with different purposes, and led by any one of them we may
reach that consistent unity of ideas for the limited outlook which we
call truth. The chemist has a right to consider everything in the
world as chemical substances, and the mathematician may take the same
things as geometric objects. And yet he who seeks a meaning in these
things and a value and an inner development may come to another kind
of truth. Only a general philosophy of life can ultimately grade and
organize those various relative truths and combine them in an
all-embracing unity.

No doubt the physician's scientific discoveries and observations are
perfectly true. Man is an animal, and anatomical and physiological
conditions control his existence, and if we want to understand this
animal's life and want to keep it healthy, we have to ask for the
truth of the physician. But shame upon him who wants to educate youth
toward the view that man as an animal is the true man! If we educate
at all, we educate in the service of culture and civilization. All
building up of the youthful mind is itself service to human progress.
But this human progress is not a mere growth of the animal race. It
has its total meaning in the understanding of man as a soul,
determined by purposes and ideals. Not the laws of physiology, but the
demands of logic, ethics, æsthetics, and religion control the man who
makes history and who serves civilization. He who says that the
child's questions ought to be answered truthfully means in this
connection that lowest truth of all, the truth of physiology, and
forgets that when he opens too early the mind of the boy and the girl
to this materialistic truth he at the same time closes it, and closes
it perhaps forever, to that richer truth in which man is understood as
historic being, as agent for the good and true and beautiful and

Give to the child the truth, but that truth which makes life worth
living, that truth which teaches him that life is a task and a duty,
and that his true health and soundness and value will depend upon the
energy with which he makes the world and his own body with its selfish
desires subservient to unselfish ideals. If you mean by the truth that
half-truth of man as a sexual creature of flesh and nerves, the child
to whom you offer it will be led to ever new questions, and if you go
on answering them truthfully as the new fashion suggests, your
reservoir will soon be emptied, even if the six volumes of Havelock
Ellis' “Psychology of Sex” are fully at your disposal. But the more
this species of truth is given out, the more life itself, for which
you educate the child, will appear to him unworthy and meaningless. If
the truth of civilized life is merely that which natural science can
analyze, then life has lost its honour and its loyalty, its enthusiasm
and its value. He who sees the truth in the idealistic aspect of man
will not necessarily evade the curious question of the child who is
puzzled about the naturalistic processes around him. But instead of
whetting his appetite for unsavoury knowledge, he will seriously
influence the young mind to turn the attention into the opposite
direction. He will speak to him about the fact that there is
something animal-like in the human being, but will add that the true
values of life lie just in overcoming the low instincts in the
interest of high aims. He will point to those hidden naturalistic
realities as something not overimportant, but as something which a
clean boy and girl do not ask about and with which only the
imagination of bad companions is engaged. An instinctive indifference
and aversion to the contact with anything low and impure can easily be
developed in every healthy child amid clean surroundings. Why is the
boy to live and to die for the honour of his country? Why is he to
devote himself to the search for knowledge? Why is he to fight for the
growth of morality? Why does he not confine himself to mere seeking
for comfort and ease and satisfaction of the senses? All which really
creates civilization and human progress depends upon symbols and
belief. As soon as we make all those symbols of the historic
community, all the ideals of honour and devotion, righteousness and
beauty, glory and faithfulness, mere matters of scientific
calculation, they stare us in the face as sheer absurdities; and yet
we might again misname that as truth. Then it is the untruth which
makes us free, it is the non-scientific, humanistic aspect which
liberates us from the slavery of our low desires.

Certainly there will always be some wild boys and girls in the school
who try to spread filthy knowledge, but if the atmosphere is filled
with respect and reverence, and the minds are trained by inner
discipline and morality, the contagion of such mischievous talk will
reach only those children who have the disposition of the degenerate.
The majority will remain uncontaminated. Plenty of lewd literature in
the circulars of the quacks and even in the sensational newspapers
will reach their eye and their brain, and yet it will leave not the
slightest trace. The trained, clean mind develops a moral antitoxin
which at every pulse-beat of life destroys the poisonous toxins
produced by the germs which enter the system. The red lanterns will
never be entirely extinguished in any large city the world over, but
the boy who has developed a sense of respect and reverence and an
instinctive desire for moral cleanliness and a power to overcome
selfish impulses, will pass them by and forget them when he comes to
the next street corner. But the other, whose imagination has been
filled with a shameless truth and who receives as his protection
merely a warning which appeals to his fear of diseases, may pass that
red lantern entrance at first, but at the next block his tainted
imagination will have overcome the fear, and with the reckless
confidence that he will know how to protect himself and that he will
have good luck he, too, like the moth, will feel attracted toward the
red light and will turn back. We can prohibit alcohol, but we cannot
prohibit the stimulus to sexual lust. It is always present, and the
selfish desire, made rampant by a society which craves amusement, will
always be stronger than any social argument or any talk of possible
individual danger. The only effective check is the deep inner respect,
and we must teach it to the youth, or the whole nation will have to be
taught it soon by the sterner discipline of history. The genius of
mankind cannot be deceived by philistine phrases about the conspiracy
of silence. The decision to be silent was a solemn pledge to the
historic spirit of human progress, which demands its symbols, its
conventions, and its beliefs. To destroy the harvest of these ideal
values, because some weeds have grown up with them, by breaking down
the dams and allowing the flood of truth-talk to burst in is the great
psychological crime of our day. There is only one hope and salvation:
let us build up the dam again to protect our field for a better



The history of socialism has been a history of false prophecies.
Socialism started with a sure conviction that under the conditions of
modern industry the working class must be driven into worse and worse
misery. In reality the development has gone the opposite way. There
are endlessly more workingmen with a comfortable income than ever
before. The prophets also knew surely that the wealth from
manufacturing enterprises would be concentrated with fewer and fewer
men, while history has taken the opposite turn and has distributed the
shares of the industrial companies into hundreds of thousands of
hands. Other prophecies foretold the end of the small farmer, still
others the uprooting of the middle class, others gave the date for the
great crash; and everything would have come out exactly as the
prophets foresaw it, if they had not forgotten to consider many other
factors in the social situation which gave to the events a very
different turn. But it may be acknowledged that the wrong prophesying
was done not only by the socialists, but no less by the spectators. I
myself have to confess my guilt. Many years ago when I wrote my German
book on “The Americans,” I declared with the ringing voice of the
prophet that socialism would never take hold of America. It was so
easy to show that its chief principles and fundamental doctrines were
directly opposed to the deepest creeds of Americanism and that the
whole temper of the population was necessarily averse to the
anticapitalistic fancies. The individualistic striving, the faith in
rivalry, the fear of centralization, the political liberty, the lack
of class barriers which makes it possible for any one to reach the
highest economic power, all work against socialism, and all are
essential for American democracy. Above all, the whole American life
was controlled by the feeling that individual wealth is the
measurement of individual success, and even puritanism had an internal
affinity to capitalism. Hence socialism could not mean anything but an
imported frill which could not be taken seriously by the commonwealth.
In later editions of the book I modified my predictions slightly, and
to-day I feel almost inclined to withdraw my prophecy entirely.

To be sure, I still think that the deepest meaning of Americanism and
of the American mission in the world is farther away from socialism
than the spirit of any other nation. And yet—I do not say that I
fear, or that I hope, but I believe—socialism has in no other land at
present such good chances to become the policy of the state. The
country has entered into a career of progressive experiments; the
traditional respect for the old constitutional system of checks and
balances to the mere will of the crowd has been undermined. The real
legislative reign of the masses has just begun and it would seem only
natural that such an entirely new movement should be pushed forward by
its own momentum. If the genius of America, which was conservative,
turns radical, the political machinery here would be more fit than
that of any other land to allow the enforcement of socialism. This
will not come to-day or to-morrow, but that socialism may suddenly be
with us the day after to-morrow is the possibility with which the
neutral observer must count. There is no need of directly reversing
the prophecies, as there are many energies in the soul of the nation
which may react against this new tendency and may automatically check
this un-American economic capture. It is a fight with equal chances,
and which side will win cannot be foreseen. But if socialism really
has entered the realm of practical possibilities, it becomes the duty
of everybody to study the new demands from his own standpoint. The
nation must see the facts from many angles before it can decide on
this tremendous issue. Any one-sidedness, whether in favour of or
against the new programme, must be dangerous. In such a situation even
the psychologist may be excused for feeling tempted to contribute his
little share to the discussion.

The central problem of the psychologist would evidently lie in the
question whether the socialistic reformer calculates with right ideas
about the human mind. There might, to be sure, be a little
psychological side-show not without a peculiar interest at the
entrance gate of socialism. We might turn the question, what is the
psychology of the socialist, so as to mean, not with what psychology
does the socialist operate, but what goes on in the socialist's mind.
No doubt the motives have gone through deep changes even in the mind
of the cultured leaders. When Karl Marx laid the foundations of
socialism, he was moved solely by the desire to recognize a necessary
development. It was the interest of the theorist. He showed that the
things which the socialist depicted simply had to come. He did not ask
whether they are good or bad. They were for him ultimately natural
events which were to be forestalled. The leaders to-day see it all in
a new light. The socialistic state is to them a goal to the attainment
of which all energies ought to be bent. Not their theoretical
knowledge, but their practical conscience, leads them to their
enthusiasm for a time without capitalism. In the minds of the masses,
however, who vote for the socialist here or abroad, the glory of moral
righteousness is somewhat clouded by motives less inspiring in
quality. The animosity against the men of wealth rushes into the
mental foreground, and if it is claimed that the puritans disliked the
bear baiting not because it gave pain to the bears, but because it
gave pleasure to the onlookers, it sometimes seems as if the
socialists, too, desire the change, not in order that the poor gain
more comfort, but in order that the rich be punished. And many cleaner
motives have mixed in, which resulted from the general change of
conditions. The labourer lives to-day in a cultural atmosphere which
was unknown to his grandfathers. He reads the same newspaper as his
employers, he thinks in the same catch phrases, and has essentially
the same foundation of education. Moreover the publicity of our life
in this era of print too easily teaches the workingman that his master
may be neither better nor wiser than he and his comrades. And finally,
the political and economic discussions of the last half century have
made it perfectly clear to him that the removing of the material
misery lies in the realm of practical possibility, and that even
without bombs a new economic order may be created almost as easily as
a new tariff law or an income tax or an equal suffrage. Hence it is
not surprising that all these motives combined turn the imagination of
millions to the new panaceas.

But if low motives are mixed with high ones in the mind of the
champions of socialism, they certainly have never stopped assuring us
that it is worse with their opponents. Marx himself declared
passionately that greed was the deepest spring, that “the most violent
and malignant passions of the human breast, the furies of private
interest” are whipping men into the battle against socialism. However
that may be, the discussions in the clubroom and in the political hall
perhaps oftener suggest a less malignant motive, a persistent
carelessness, which keep the friends of the capitalistic order from
making the effort really to find out at what the socialists are
aiming. The largest part of the private and public accusations of
socialism starts from the conviction that socialism means that all men
must have equal property, and in consideration of the fact that no
real socialist demands that, and that the socialists have always
insisted that this is not their intention, there indeed seems to be
some psychology necessary to understand why the antisocialists do not
take the trouble to find out first what socialism is.

But here we are not engaged in the mental analysis of those who fight
about socialism. We want rather to ask whether the human minds are
rightly understood by those who tell us that socialism is, or is not,
the solution of our social problems. And if we turn to this
fundamental question whether socialism ought to become the form of our
society, the chief thing will be to avoid a mistake in the discussion
which pervades the largest part of our present-day literature. The
problem is no longer, as it was in the childhood days of socialistic
debate, whether the historical necessities must bring socialism. We
know that socialism will come, if we like it, and that we can avoid
it, if we hate it, and that everything therefore depends upon the
decision of the community whether it wants to work for or against the
great economic revolution. It is thus not a question of facts, but of
preferences, of judgments, of ideals. We do not simply have to
exchange wise words as to that which will come anyhow, but we have to
make up our mind whether it appears to us desirable or not desirable,
and that means, whether it is in harmony with our purpose or not.

But this forces on us as the very first inquiry: what is the purpose
of our social economic system to be? Just here the mistake comes into
the debates. We hear eloquent orations about the merits or demerits of
socialism, without any effort being made to define clearly for what
end it is useful or useless. It is meaningless to claim that socialism
is good, if we do not know for what it is good, and the whole
flippancy of the discussion too often becomes apparent when we stop
and inquire what purposes the speaker wants to see fulfilled. We find
a wobbling between two very different possible human purposes, with
the convenient scheme of exchanging the one for the other, when the
defender gets into a tight place. These two great purposes are
economic development and human happiness. With the gesture of high
cultural inspiration the new scheme is praised to us as a way toward a
greater economic achievement by mankind, a fuller development of human
economic life. But as soon as doubts are cast on the value of the
scheme for this noble purpose, the argument slips into the other
groove and shows us that socialism is wonderful for removing human
misery and bringing sweet happiness to numberless men, women, and
children. According to the same scheme, of course, when we do not feel
convinced that socialism will be the remedy for unhappiness, the
scene is changed again, and we hear that it will be splendid for
economic progress.

No one would claim that the two ends have nothing to do with each
other. We might define the progress of economic life in such a way
that the increase of human happiness belongs within its compass. Or we
might show that widespread human happiness would be an advantageous
condition for the development of economic civilization. But in any
case the two are not the same, and even their intimate relation may
appear artificial. To discuss the value of a new scheme without
perfectly clearing up and sharply discriminating the possible ends for
which it may be valuable, can never be helpful toward the fundamental
solution of a problem. Nobody doubts that human progress is a worthy
aim, and no one denies that human happiness is a beautiful goal. Hence
we may evade the philosophical duty of proving through reasons that
they are justified ends. We take them for granted, and we only insist
that the one is not the other, and that it is utterly in vain to
measure the value of socialism with reference to these two ideals, as
long as we do not cleanly discriminate for which of the two socialism
can be valuable. In itself it may very well be that it is splendid
for human progress, but unfit for promoting human happiness, or that
it is powerless for the development of mankind, but most successful
for the increase of human joy.

Hence we ask at first only: how does the old or the new system serve
the progress of mankind? What this human progress means is clearly
interpreted by the history of five thousand years of civilization. It
is the history of the growing differentiation of human demands and
fulfilments. Every new stage in the culture of mankind developed new
desires and new longings from nature and from society, but it also
brought with it new means of satisfying the longings and fulfilling
the desires. The two belong most intimately together. The new means of
fulfilment stimulate new desires of intellect and emotion and will,
and the new desires lead to further means of their satisfaction. Thus
there is an incessant automatic enrichment, an endless differentiation,
a thousand new needs on the height of civilization where the primitive
race found a few elementary demands, and a thousand new schemes of
material technique and of social, institutional life where the lower
culture found all it needed with simple devices. It is an unfolding
not dissimilar to that which the plants and the animals have shown in
their organic life in the long periods of natural evolution. The
development from the infusors to the monkeys was such a steady
increase in the manifoldness of functions. The butterfly is as well
adjusted to its life conditions and as well off as the fish, and the
fish as well off as the elephant, and in the evolution of economic
civilization as in that of the kingdom of animals the advance does not
involve an increase of joy. Pain results from a lack of adjustment,
but not from a scarcity of functions. Hence if we strive for progress
alone, we are moved not by the hope for greater joy, but by an
enthusiastic belief in the value of progress and development itself.
Does a socialistic order secure a more forceful, a more spontaneous, a
more many-sided, or even a more harmonious growing of new demands and
of new means for fulfilment than the capitalistic system which holds
us all to-day?

The psychologist certainly has no right to ask to be heard first, when
this strictly economic aspect of the great social problem is
emphasized. Industrial specialists, administrators of labour,
politicians, and financiers stand nearest to the issue. But whatever
they testify, they ultimately have to point to mental facts, and the
psychologist is naturally anxious to emphasize them. He has nothing
new to contribute. It is the old story of the stimulating influence
of the spirit of competition. Healthy progress demands unusual
exertion. All psychological conditions for that maximum strain are
unfavourable in a socialistic state with its acknowledged need of
rigid regulation and bureaucracy. We see all around us the flabby
routine work, stale and uninspiring, wherever sharp rivalry has no
chance. It is the great opportunity for mediocrity, while the unusual
talent is made ineffective and wasted. Our present civilization shows
that in every country really decisive achievement is found only in
those fields which draw the strongest minds, and that they are drawn
only where the greatest premiums are tempting them. To-day even the
monopolist stands in the midst of such competition, as he can never
monopolize the money of the land. This spur which the leaders feel is
an incessant stimulus for all those whom they control, and, as soon as
that tension is released at the highest point, a perfunctory
performance with all its well-known side features, the waste and the
idleness, the lack of originality and the unwillingness to take risks,
must set in and deaden the work.

Nature runs gigantic risks all the time, and throws millions of
blossoms away so as to have its harvest of fruit, and at the same time
nature shows the strictest economy and most perfect adjustment to
ends in the single blossom which comes to fruit. Just this doubleness
is needed in the progressive economic life. The rampant luxuriousness
which is willing to throw away large means for a trial and for a fancy
which may lead to nothing, and yet a scrupulous economy which reaches
its ends with the smallest possible waste, must blend. But as long as
man's mind is not greatly changed, both will be the natural tendency
of the capitalist, and both are abhorred by the governmental worker.
He has no right to run risks, but does not feel it his duty to avoid
an unproductive luxuriousness. He wastes in the routine where he ought
to economize, and is pedantic in the great schemes in which his
imagination ought to be unbridled. The opponents of socialism have
often likened the future state to a gigantic prison, where every one
will be forced to do the work without a chance for a motive which
appeals to him as an individual. This is in one respect unfair, as the
socialists want to abolish private capital, but do not want to
equalize the premiums for work. Yet is their method not introducing
inequality up to the point where it has many of the bad features of
our present system, and abolishing it just at the point where it would
be stimulating and fertilizing to commerce and industry? We are to
allow great differences of personal possession. Even to-day the large
companies count with hundred-thousand-dollar salaries, and there is
nothing in the socialistic principle which would counteract this
tendency. The differences may even grow, if the economic callings are
to attract the great talents at all in such a future state. But just
the one decisive value of the possessions for the development of
industry and commerce—namely, the transforming of the material gain
into the capital which produces and works, would become impossible.
The national achievement would be dragged down. All the dangers which
threaten bureaucratic industrialism everywhere—political party
influences with their capricious zigzag courses, favouritism,
protection and graft, waste and indifference, small men with inflated
importance in great positions, and great men with crushed wings in
narrow places—all would naturally increase, and weaken the nation in
the rivalry of the world.

While such paralyzing influences were working from above, the changes
from below would interfere no less with vigorous achievement. Every
gateway would be wide open. Socialism would mean a policy opposite to
that of the trade unions to-day. They are energetically excluding the
unfit. Under the new order the fine day for the unfit would have
dawned. At present the socialists feel at home in the system of the
unions, because the firm organization of the workingmen through the
unions is helpful for their cause. But if that cause wins, the
barriers of every union must break down, and the industrial energies
of the nation will be scattered in the unimportant work in order to
give an equal chance to the unproductive.

Nobody doubts that socialism would overcome some of the obvious
weaknesses of the capitalistic era, and those weaknesses may be
acknowledged even if we are faithful to our plan and abstract from
mere human happiness. If only the objective achievement is our aim, we
cannot deny that the millionfold misery from sickness and old age,
from accidents at work, and from unemployment through a crisis in
trade, from starvation wages, and from losses through fraudulent
undertakings, is keeping us from the goal. But has the groaning of
this misery remained unheard in these times, when capitalism has been
reaching its height? The last two decades have shown that the system
of private ownership can be in deepest harmony with all those efforts
to alleviate its cruelties in order to strengthen the efficiency of
the nation at work. Certainly the socialists themselves deserve credit
for much in the great international movement toward the material
security of the workingman's social life. It is doubtful whether
without her social democrats, Germany, the pioneer in the social
insurance movement, would have given to the army of workingmen those
protective laws which became the model for England and other nations,
and which are beginning to be influential in American thinking, too.
The laws against child labour, the efforts for minimum wage rates,
and, most important, the worldwide tendency to secure a firm
supervision and regulation of the private companies by the state, are
characteristic features of the new period in which capitalism
triumphs, and yet is freeing itself from cancerous growths which
destroy its power for fullest achievement.

To work nine hours instead of ten, and eight instead of nine, was only
apparently an encroachment on the industrial work. The worldwide
experiment has proved that the shorter working hours allow an
intensity of strain and an improvement of the workmen which ultimately
heighten the value of the output. The safety devices burdened the
manufacturer with expenses, and yet the economist knows that no outlay
is more serviceable for the achievement of the factory. Unionism and
arbitration treaties are sincere and momentous efforts to help the
whole industrial nation. And all this may be only the beginning. The
time may really come when every healthy man will serve his year in the
industrial army. Man and woman and child may thus be more and more
protected against the destructive abuses of our economic scheme. Their
physical health and their mental energy may be kept in better and
better working order by social reforms, by state measures and strong
organization. The fear of the future, that greatest destroyer of the
labourer's working mood, may be more and more eliminated. Extremely
much still remains to be done, but the best of it can surely be done
without giving up the idea of private capital. In the framework of the
capitalistic order such reforms mean a national scientific management
in the interest of efficiency and success. If that framework is
destroyed, the vigour and the energy are lost, and no improvements in
the detail can patch up the ruinous weakness in the foundation. If the
goal is an increased achievement of the industrialized nation,
socialism is bound to be a failure as long as human minds and their
motives are what they are to-day and what they have been through the
last five thousand years.

No doubt such arguments have little weight with the larger number of
those who come to the defence of socialism. The purpose, they would
say, is not at all to squeeze more work out of the nerves and muscles
of the labourer, to fill still more the pocket of the corporations, to
produce still more of the infernal noise in the workshops of the
world. The real aim has nothing to do with the output and the muscle,
but with the joy and happiness of the industrial workers, who have
become slaves in the capitalistic era. It is quite true that if this
is the end, the arguments which speak against the efficiency of
socialism might well be disregarded. The mixing of the reasons can
bring only confusion, and such chaos is unavoidable indeed, as long as
the aims are not clearly discriminated. We may acknowledge frankly
that the socialistic order may be a hindrance to highest efficiency,
and yet should be welcomed because it would abolish the sources of
unhappiness. Yet is there really any hope for such a paradise? The
problem of achievement may stand nearer to the economist, but that of
happiness and misery is thoroughly a question of the mind, and it is
the duty of the psychologist to take a stand.

His issues, however, ought not to be confused by mixing in a side
problem which is always emphasized when the emotional appeal is made
and the misery of the workmen's fate is shown up. There is no
unhappier lot than that of those healthy men who can work and want to
work, and do not find a chance to work. But this tremendous problem of
the unemployed is not organically connected with the struggle about
socialism. As far as social organization and human foresight can ever
be able to overcome this disease of the industrial body, the remedies
can just as well be applied in the midst of full-fledged capitalism.
It is quite true that the misfortune of unemployment may never be
completely uprooted, but vast improvements can easily be conceived
without any economic revolution; and, above all, no scheme has been
proposed by the socialists which would offer more. As long as there is
a market with its ups and downs, as long as harvests vary and social
depressions occur, there will be those who have no chance for their
usual useful activity. If the community of the socialistic state
supports them, it will do no more than the capitalistic state will
surely do very soon, too. If we want to see clean issues, we ought to
rule out the problem of unemployment entirely.

The socialistic hope can be only that, through the abolition of
capital, the average workman will get a richer share from the fruits
of his industrial labour. In the programmes of the American socialists
it has taken the neat round figure that every workingman ought to
live on the standard of five thousand dollars yearly income. Of course
the five thousand dollars themselves are not an end, but only a means
to it. The end is happiness, and here alone begins the psychologist's
interest. He does not discuss whether the five-thousand-dollar
standard as minimum wage can really be expected. He asks himself only
whether the goal can be reached, whether such a socialistic society
would really secure a larger amount of human happiness. It is here
that he answers that this claim is a psychological illusion. If we
seek socialism for its external achievement we must recognize that it
is a failure; if we seek it for its internal result, joy and
happiness, it must be worse than a failure. The psychology of feeling
is still the least developed part of our modern science of
consciousness, but certain chief facts are acknowledged on all sides,
and in their centre stands the law of the relativity of feeling.
Satisfaction and dissatisfaction, content and discontent, happiness
and unhappiness, do not depend upon absolute, but upon relative,
conditions. We have no reason whatever to fancy that mankind served by
the wonderful technique twenty centuries after Christ is happier than
men were under the primitive conditions of twenty centuries before
Christ. The level has changed and has steadily been raised, but the
feelings are dependent, not upon the height of the level, but upon the
deviations from it. Each level brings its own demands in the human
heart; and if they are fulfilled, there is happiness; and if they are
not fulfilled, there is discontent. But the demands of which we know
nothing do not make us miserable if they remain unfulfilled. It is the
change, and not the possession, which has the emotional value. The up
and down, the forward and backward, are felt in the social world, just
as in the world of space the steady movement is not felt, but only the
retardation or the acceleration.

The psychologist knows the interesting psychophysical law according to
which the differences in the strength of our impressions are perceived
as equal, not when the differences of the stimuli are really equal,
but when the stimuli stand in the same relation. If we hear three
voices, the sound has a certain intensity; if a fourth voice is added,
the strength of the sound is swelling; we notice a difference. But if
there is a chorus of thirty voices and one voice is added, we do not
hear a difference at all. Even if five voices are added we do not
notice it. Ten new singers must be brought in for us to hear the sound
as really stronger. And if we have a mighty chorus of three hundred
singers, not even twenty or fifty or even eighty voices would help us
to feel a difference; we need a hundred additional ones. In other
words, the hundred singers which come to help the three hundred do not
make more impression on us than the ten which are added to the thirty,
or the one added to the three. Exactly this holds true for all our
perceptions, for light and taste and touch. The differences upon which
our pleasures and displeasures hang, obey this same law of
consciousness. If we have three pennies, one added gives us a
pleasure, one taken away gives us a displeasure, which is entirely
different from the pleasure or displeasure if one penny is added or
taken away from thirty or from three hundred pennies. In the
possession of thirty, it needs a loss or gain of ten, in the
possession of three hundred the addition or subtraction of a hundred,
to bring us the same emotional excitement. A hundred dollars added to
an income of five hundred gives us just as much joy as ten thousand
added to fifty thousand dollars. The objective gain or loss does not
mean anything; the relative increase or decrease decides human

Do we not see it everywhere in our surroundings? If we lean over the
railing and watch the steerage in the crowded ship, is there really
less gayety among the fourth-class passengers than among the
first-class? Where are the gifts of life which bring happiness to
every one? I have friends to whom a cigar, a cocktail, and a game of
cards are delightful sources of pleasure, the missing of which would
mean to them a real deprivation. I have never played cards, I have
never touched a cocktail, and have never had a cigar between my lips;
and yet I have never missed them. On the other hand, I feel extremely
uncomfortable if a day passes in which I have not gone through three
or four newspapers, while I have friends who are most happy if they do
not have a printed sheet in hand for months. The socialists claim that
the possession of one's own house ought to be the minimum external
standard, and yet the number increases of those who are not happy
until they are rid of their own house and can live in a little
apartment. Of course it might be said that the individual desires vary
from man to man, but that an ample income allows every one to satisfy
his particular likes and to protect himself against his particular
dislikes. But the situation is not changed if we see it under this
more general aspect of the money as means for the satisfaction of all
possible wishes. The psychological law of the relativity of
consciousness negates no less this general claim. There is no limit to
the quantity of desires. On the level of expensive life the desires
become excessive, and only excessive means can satisfy them; on a
lower economic level, the desires are modest, but modest means are
therefore able to give complete satisfaction and happiness.

The greatest dissatisfaction, hopeless despair, expresses itself in
suicide. Statistics show that those who sink to this lowest degree of
life satisfaction are not the poorest. Not seldom they are the
millionaires who have lost their fortune and kept only enough for a
living which would still be a source of happiness to hosts of others.
If the average wage were five thousand dollars, or, better said, the
comfort which five thousand dollars can buy to-day, this standard
would be taken as a matter of course like fresh air and fresh water.
The same old dissatisfactions and discomforts would spring from the
human heart, when it looked with envy on the luxuries of the
ten-thousand-dollar men, or when by recklessness and foolishness or
illness the habitual home life became suddenly reduced to a pitiable
three-thousand-dollar standard, which would be the goal for the
workingmen of to-day. We are too little aware that the average
existence of the masses in earlier centuries was on a much narrower
scale than the life of practically the poorest to-day, and that the
mere material existence of those who to-day consider themselves as
industrial slaves is in many respects high above that of the
apprentices in the periods before the machine age. Even at present
those who think that they are at the bottom of material life in one
country often live much better than the multitudes in other lands in
which fewer desires have been aroused and developed.

The individual may often alternate between different standards, just
as any one of us when he goes out camping may feel perfectly happy
with the most moderate external conditions, which would appear to him
utter deprivation in the midst of his stylish life the year around.
Many an Irish servant girl feels that she cannot live here without her
own bathroom, and yet is perfectly satisfied when she goes home for
the summer and lives with seven in a room, not counting the pigs. This
dependence upon relative conditions must be the more complete the more
the income is used for external satisfactions. As far as the means
serve education and æsthetic enjoyment and inner culture, there
remains at least a certain parallelism between the amount of supply
and the enjoyment. But the average American of the five-thousand-dollar
class spends four thousand nine hundred dollars on goods of a different
order. Altogether his expenses are the house and the table, the
clothes of the women, and his runabout. In all these lines there is no
limit, and the house of to-day is no longer a pleasure if his
neighbour builds a bigger one to-morrow. The man with the
fifty-thousand-dollar expenditures feels the same dissatisfaction if
he cannot have the steam yacht and the picture gallery which the
multimillionaire enjoys.

The inner attitude, the temperament, the training, the adjustment of
desires to the available means, is the only decisive factor in such
situations. The trust magnate and the factory foreman have equal
chances to feel happiness in the standard of life in which they live.
If they compare themselves with those who are richer, and if their
hearts hang on the external satisfactions, they both may feel
wretched; and yet with another turn of mind they both may be content.
Optimism and pessimism, contentment and envy, self-dependence and
dependence upon the judgment of the world, joyfulness and despondency,
are more decisive contrasts for the budget of happiness than the
difference between fifteen dollars a week and fifteen dollars a
minute. Some of my best friends have to live from hand to mouth, and
some are multimillionaires. I have found them on the whole equally
happy and equally satisfied with their position in life. If there was
a difference at all, I discovered that those who ate from silver
plates were sometimes complaining about the materialism of our time,
in which so much value is put on money. I have never found their fate
especially enviable, nor that of the others especially pitiable, and
evidently they themselves have no such feelings. The general
impression is much more as if actors play on the stage. The one gives
the rôle of the king in purple cloak and ermine, the other plays the
part of a beggar in ragged clothes. But the one rôle is not more
interesting than the other, and everything depends upon the art of
playing the character.

This whole scramble for money's worth is based on a psychological
illusion, not only because pleasure and displeasure are dependent upon
relative conditions, but also because the elimination of one source of
feeling intensifies the feelings from other sources. The vulgar
display of wealth which cheapens our life so much, the desire to seek
social distinction by a scale of expenditure which in itself gives no
joy, have in our time accentuated the longing for wealth out of all
proportion. This is true of every layer of society. The clerk's wife
spends for her frocks just as absurdly large a part of his income as
the banker's wife. Every salesgirl must have a plume on her hat rather
than a nourishing luncheon. Others must have six motor cars instead
of a decent library in their palace. But this longing for useless
display is still outdone by the hysterical craving for amusement. The
factory girl must have her movies every night, and besides the nine
hundred kino shows, a hundred and twenty theatres are needed to
satisfy the amusement seeking crowd of New York, in addition to the
half dozen which offer art. This mad race to outdo one another and
this hunting after pleasures which tickle the senses have benumbed the
social mind and have inhibited in it the feeling for deeper values.
But if by a magic word extreme equality of material means were created
and the mere sensuous enjoyments evenly distributed, in that moment
all the other differences from individual to individual would be felt
with heightened sharpness, and would be causes for much stronger
feelings of happiness and unhappiness.

Men differ in their inborn mental powers, in their intelligence and
talent, in beauty, in health, in honours and career, in family and
friends. The contrasts which are created in every one of these
respects are far greater and for the ill-fated far more cruel than
those of the tax-payers. The beautiful face which is a passport
through life and the discouraging homeliness, the perfect body which
allows vigorous work and the weak organism of the invalid unfit for
the struggle of life, the genius in science or art or statesmanship
and the hopelessly trivial mind, the youth in a harmonious, beautiful
family life and the childhood in an atmosphere of discord, the home
full of love from wife and children and the house childless and
chilly, the honours of the community and the disappointment of social
bankruptcy—they are the great premiums and the great punishments,
which are whirled by fate into the crowd of mankind. Even here most of
it is relative. We rejoice in four-score years, but if we knew that
others were allowed a thousand years of life, we should be despondent
that hardly a short century is dealt out to us. We are happy in the
respect of our social community simply because we do not desire the
honours of the czar or of the mikado. But if we began to measure our
fate by that of others, how could we ever be satisfied? Women might
envy men and men might envy women, the poet might wish to be the
champion of sport and the sportsman might be unhappy because he is not
a poet. No one of us can have the knowledge and the technical powers
which the child of the thirtieth century will enjoy. As soon as we
begin to compare and do not find the centre of our life in ourselves,
we are condemned.

Everybody's life is composed of joys and pains which may come from
any of these sources. Where beauty is lacking, wit may brilliantly
shine; where health is failing, a talent may console; where the family
life is unhappy, the ambitions for a career may be fulfilled. Much
inequality will thus result, but the chances for a certain evenness of
human joy and sorrow will be the greater the more numerous the sources
from which the joys and griefs of our days are springing. Add the
inequalities of wealth, and you increase the chances that the
emotional values in the lives of all of us will become more equal. The
ugly girl may be rich and the poor one may be beautiful, the genius
may hunger and the stupid man may marry the widow with millions, the
healthy man may have to earn his scanty living and the patient may
enjoy the luxuries of life. Their states of feeling will be more alike
than if a socialistic order had put them all on the same economic
level of philistine comfort. The joys of capital are after all much
less deeply felt than any of those others, and the sufferings from
poverty are much less incisive than those from disappointed ambition,
from jealousy, from illness, or from bereavement. It is well known
that many more people die from overfeeding than from underfeeding. We
may feel disgusted that the luxuries so often fall to the unworthy and
that the finest people have to endure the hardship of narrow means.
But all those other gifts and deprivations, those talents and beauties
and powers and family relations, are no less arbitrarily dealt out. We
all may wish to be geniuses or radiant beauties, great singers or
fathers of a dozen children; we have not chosen our more modest lot.

It might be answered that the poverty of the industrial masses to-day
means not only the absence of the special comforts, but that it means
positive suffering. Men are starving from want and are chained down
like slaves to a torturing task. But let us discriminate. It is true
in states of unemployment and illness the physical man may be crushed
by naked poverty, but that has nothing whatever to do with socialism.
We have emphasized before that it is the solemn duty of society to
find ways and means to protect every one who is willing to work as
long as he is healthy, against starvation in times of old age and
sickness, and if possible in periods of market depression. The
non-socialistic community has the power to take care of that, and it
is entirely an illusory belief that socialism has in that respect any
advantage. All the comparisons of the two economic orders ought to
refer only to the variations rather high above the starvation line,
even though the American must call starvation a standard which the
coolie may think tolerable and to which the European poor in the
Middle Ages were often accustomed. On the other hand, neither
capitalism nor socialism can protect the reckless and the wasteful
against economic suicide.

Much more important is the problem of suffering through the character
of the work itself. That is the real fountainhead of the socialistic
flood which threatens to inundate our present-day social structures.
But is there not even here a psychological misunderstanding involved?
It may be granted that many a man and many a woman stand in the
factory day after day and year after year with the one feeling of
distress and wretchedness at the hard work to which they are forced.
But is their work really responsible for it, and is it not rather
their personal attitude? Who is doing harder physical work than the
sportsman? There is no more exhausting muscle strain than the climb
over the glaciers of the Alps, which thousands pursue with passion.
Analyze the profession of the physician. How many of his functions are
in themselves of such a character that they might be denounced as the
most humiliating slavery, if they were demanded from any man who could
not see the aim and higher interest which they are serving! This is
exactly the point where the leaders of labour are sinning
unpardonably. They work with all the means of suggestion, until the
workman, as if hypnotized, looks on the mere movements which he is to
perform in the factory, and forgets entirely the higher interest and
aim of civilization which he is helping to serve. The scholar in his
laboratory has to do a thousand things which in themselves are ugly
and dirty, tiresome and dangerous, uninteresting and exhausting, but
which he is performing with enthusiasm because he knows that he is
serving the great ideal of cultured life, to discover the truth and
thus to help the progress of mankind. There is under no factory roof a
workman so forlorn that the work of his hands is not aiding the
fulfilment of an equally great and equally ideal purpose of civilized
mankind, the development of economic civilization. As soon as his
labour amidst the noise of the machines is felt as such a service to
an ideal cultural purpose, the work is no longer dead, but living,
interesting, significant, wonderful.

The mother who takes care of her little children has to go through a
thousand tiresome actions which would be intolerable if they were
meaningless, but which compose a beautiful life if they are held
together by the aim which the motherly love sees before it. Whatever
work a human being may perform, force on his mind the treacherous
suggestion that it is meaningless, that it is slavery, that others
seize the profit, and he must hate it and feel it an unbearable
hardship. It has often been observed that the most bitter complaints
have always come from those workers who are reached by the suggestions
of theories and not from those who simply face practice, even though
their life may be a much harder one. In Russia the workingmen of the
city found their life so intolerable that revolts broke out, while the
rural classes were satisfied with conditions of much more cruel
deprivation. Our social reformers too easily forget the one great
teaching of the history of mankind, that the most powerful factor in
the world is the ideas. Surely there is some truth even in that
one-sided picture of the history of civilization which makes
everything dependent upon economic conditions, but the element of
truth which is contained therein is due to the fact that economic
conditions may influence the ideas. The ideas are the really decisive
agencies. Only for ideas have men been ready to die, and for ideas
have they killed one another. Give to the world the idea that earthly
goods are useless and heavenly goods alone valuable, and in this
kingdom of the religious idea the beggarly rags of the monk are more
desired than the gold of the mighty. Religion and patriotism, honour
and loyalty, ambition and love, reform ideals and political goals,
æsthetic, intellectual, and moral ideas have turned the great wheel of
history. Give to the workingman the right kind of ideas, the right
attitude toward his work, and all the hardship becomes blessedness and
the suffering glory. His best payment then will be the satisfaction of
carrying his stone to the great temple of human progress, even though
it may not be a cornerstone.

Even the complaint repeated without end that the workingman's task is
unendurable because of its unceasing monotony is ultimately nothing
but a psychological theory, and this theory is superficial and
misleading. It is easy to point out to the suggestible mind that there
is a wonderful enrichment of life in variety, and that uniformity must
therefore be something ugly and discouraging and unworthy. But the
real mental facts allow just as well the opposite argument. The mere
change and variation, going from one thing to another, makes the mind
restless and distracted, without inner unity and harmony. To be loyal
to one task and to continue it faithfully and insistently, brings that
perfect adjustment of the mind in which every new act is welcome
because it has become the habit ingrained in the personality. To be
sure there are individual differences. We have in political life, too,
radicals who get more satisfaction from change, and conservatives who
prefer continuity of traditions; and so the whole mental structure of
some men is better adjusted to a frequent variation in work, and that
of others better prepared for continuity. The one has a temperament
which may lead him from one occupation to another, from one town to
another, from one flat to another, from one set of companions to
another. But there is the opposite type of minds. To them it is far
more welcome to continue throughout life at the same work, in the same
old home, in touch with the same dear friends. Many minds surely are
better fitted for alternation in their activities, but many others,
and they certainly are not the worst, are naturally much better
adapted to a regular repetition. There are opportunities for both
types of mental behaviour in the workshop of the nation, and the
peaceful adjustment is disturbed only by the hasty theory that
repetition is a lower class of work, which makes man a mere machine
and that it is therefore to be despised. Change the theory about
uniformity, and you remove monotony from the industrial world.
Monotony is only the uniformity which is hated.

Do we not see that power of theories and ideas everywhere around us,
even in the most trivial things? The most splendid gown is nothing but
an object of contempt if it is the fashion of the day before
yesterday. In lands where titles and decorations are a traditional
idea, the little piece of tin may be more coveted than any treasures
of wealth. Through ideas only can the great social question be solved.
No distribution of income can change in the least the total sum of
pleasure and displeasure in the world, and the socialistic scheme is
of all the useless efforts to increase pleasure and to decrease
displeasure the least desirable, because it works, as we have seen, at
the same time against those mental functions which secure the most
forceful progress of economic life. A true change can come only from
within. The superficial, unpsychological theories of human happiness,
which have been hammered into the working population of our age, have
made true happiness more and more difficult to attain. There is small
chance that this inner conversion will come in our day through
religion, however much religion may help toward it. There is still
smaller chance that philosophy can do it and that the average man will
take the attitude of Antisthenes who claimed that it is divine not to
need anything and that he who needs least is nearest to the ideal. But
there is every chance that mankind will remember again more vividly
the deeper lasting values of humanity. Society must be sobered after
the frenzy of this present-day rush for external goods. The shallow
disappointment is felt too widely already. The world is beginning to
discover once more that this scramble for pearls and palaces and motor
cars among the rich, and for their showy imitations among the middle
class, and the envy of material profits and the chase for amusements
even among the poorest, leave life meaningless and cold and silly. As
soon as the industrial community turns to a new set of ideas and
becomes inspired by the belief in the ideal value of the work as work
and as a necessary contribution to the progress of mankind, the social
question will be solved, as all the differences which socialism wants
to eliminate then appear trivial and insignificant.

But on the other hand, this belief cannot grow, and cannot spread its
roots deep in the soil of the industrial mind unless, as a necessary
counterpart, the ideas of duties and obligations spread and enlarge
among those who profit from the rights of capital. The capitalistic
society must organize itself so that the sinking below the starvation
line through illness, old age, or unemployment will be reduced to a
minimum, so that the greatest possible participation in all which
gives higher value to life will be secured for the worker and his
family, and above all, so that the industrial control will be exerted
by the best and the wisest. Nowhere is reform of ideals more needed.
The brutality of capital is never felt more strongly than when the
workingman suspects that those at the top are not selected on account
of their stronger capacities. Only when capital is conscious of its
duties can the belief in the ideal meaning of the workingman's
function take hold of the masses and inhibit the suggestion of
socialism. Merely granting the external claims, giving to the factory
girls increasing chance for amusement, means to deceive them. The more
such longings are satisfied, the more they must grow and become a
craze which sharpens the feeling of dissatisfaction. This desire for
superficial joys, for sensual amusements and cheap display is nothing
but a suggested habit, which imitation creates in a period of waste.
If a time of simplicity were to come, not only the longing for these
prizes would become silent, but the prizes themselves would appear
worthless. Liberate the workingman from his distrust of the present
social order; let him feel deeply that his duties are not enforced
slavery but a solemn offering to human progress, which he gives in
glad coöperation in the spirit of ideal belief. At the same time stop
the overestimation of the outer enjoyments, and cultivate the
appreciation of the lasting values, and our time of unrest will come
to inner harmony. But do not believe that this can ever be done, if
those who are called to be the leaders of the social group are not
models and do not by their own lives give the cue for this new
attitude and new valuation. As long as they outdo one another in the
wild chase of frivolity and seek in the industrial work of the nation
only a stronghold for their rights and not a fountain spring of
duties, as long as they want to enjoy instead of to believe, this
inner change can never come in the community. The psychologist can do
nothing but to predict that no other scheme, no outer reform, no new
plan of distribution, can bring a real change, as every calculation
which works with outer means to secure happiness must remain a
psychological illusion. The change from within is the only promise and
the only hope.



The public conscience of the social world has been stirred in recent
days by the dangers which threaten from an antisocial world that lurks
in darkness. The sociologists recognize that it is not a question of
vicious and criminal individuals, but one of an antisocial atmosphere,
of immoral traditions and surroundings, through which crime flourishes
and vice is fostered. They speak of a social underworld, and mean by
it that whole pitiable setting in which the gangs of thieves and the
hordes of prostitutes live their miserable lives. The public
discussions nowadays are full of stirring outcries against the rapid
spreading of vice in our large cities; it is a war for clean living
and health. But after all we ought not to forget that similar dangers
surround our inner culture and our spiritual life, and that an
intellectual underworld threatens our time, which demands a no less
rigorous fight until its vice is wiped out. The vice of the social
underworld gives a sham satisfaction to the human desire for sensual
life; the vice of the intellectual underworld gives the same sham
fulfilment to the human longing for knowledge and for truth. The
infectious germs which it spreads in the realm of culture may
ultimately be more dangerous to the inner health of the nation than
any physical diseases. The battle against vice and crime in the world
of the body ought to be paralleled by a battle against superstition
and humbug in the world of the mind. The victory over the social
underworld would anyhow never be lasting unless the intellectual
underworld were subjugated first. In the atmosphere of sham-truth all
the antisocial instincts grow rankly.

I know of a large, beautiful high school in which the boys and girls
are to receive the decisive impulses for their inner life from
well-trained teachers who have had a solid college education. I have
found out that quite a number of these teachers are clients of a
medium who habitually informs them as to their future, and for a
dollar a sitting gives them advice at every turn of their lives. I do
not know whether she takes it from the tea leaves or from an Egyptian
dream book or from her own trance fancies, but I do know that the
prophecies of this fraud have deeply influenced some of their lives
and shaped the faculty of the high school. What does this mean?
Mature educators to whose training society has devoted its fullest
effort and who are chosen to bring to the youth the message of earnest
thought and solid knowledge, and whose intellectual life ought
therefore to be controlled by consistent thinking and real love for
knowledge, fall back into the lowest forms of mental barbarism and
really believe in the most illogical prostitution of truth. The double
life of Jekyll and Hyde is more natural than this. The impulse to
virtuous behaviour and the atrocities of the criminal may after all be
combined in one character, but the desire to master the world by a
disciplined knowledge and to think the universe in ideas of order and
law cannot go together with a real satisfaction and belief in the
chaotic superstitions of mediumistic humbugs. Here we have truly a
twofold personality, one living in a world of culture and the other in
an underworld of intellectual dissipation and vice. It would not be
desirable for the high school teachers who are to be models of virtue
to live a second life as gamblers and pick-pockets, but it is more
dangerous if they are the agents of intellectual culture and indulge
at the same time in intellectual prostitution.

No spirit of false tolerance ought any longer to be permitted, when
the treacherous danger has become so nation wide. It is sufficient to
take up any newspaper between New York and San Francisco and run
through the advertisements of the spiritualists and psychical mediums,
the palmists and the astrologers, the spiritual advisers and the
psychotherapists: it is evident that it is a regular organized
industry which brings its steady income to thousands, and which in the
bigger towns has its red-light districts with its resorts for the
intellectual vice. The servant girl gets her information as to the
fidelity of her lover for fifty cents, the clerk who wants to bet on
the races pays five dollars, the great banker who wants to bet on
stocks pays fifty dollars for his prophetic tips, and the widow who
wants messages from her husband pays five hundred dollars, but they
all come and pay gladly. If this mood permeates the public of all
classes, it is not surprising that the cheapest spiritualistic fraud
creeps into religious circles, that the wildest medical humbug is
successfully rivalling the work of the scientific physician, and that
the intellectual graft of psychical research is beginning to corrupt
the camps of the educated. Surely it is a profitable business, and I
know it from inside information, as not long ago a very successful
clairvoyant came to the Harvard Psychological Laboratory and offered
me a partnership with half his income, not because he himself
believed much in my psychology, but because, as he assured me, there
are some clients who think more highly of my style of psychology than
of his, and if we got together the business would flourish. He told me
just how it was to be done and how easy it is and what persons
frequent his parlours. But I have inside information of a very
different kind before me, if I think of the victims who come to me for
help when superstition has broken their mental springs. There was a
young girl to whom life was one great joy, until for ten dollars she
got the information that she would die in a very big building, and now
she goes into hysterics when her family tries to take her into a
theatre or a hotel or a railway station or a school.

Indeed the psychologist has an unusually good chance to get glimpses
of this filthy underworld, even if he does not frequent the squalid
quarters of the astrologers. Bushels of mail bring this superstition
and mental crookedness to his study, and his material allows him to
observe every variety of illogical thought. If a letter comes to his
collection which presents itself as a new specimen that ought to be
analyzed a little further, nothing is needed but a short word of
reply. It will at once bring a full supply of twisted thought,
sufficient for a careful dissection. It has been said repeatedly in
the various vice investigations that no one can understand the ill
fate of the vicious girls, unless he studies carefully the men whom
they are to please. An investigation into mental vice demands still
more an understanding of those minds which play the part of customers.
There are too many who cannot think in straight lines and to whom the
most absurd linking of facts is the most satisfactory answer in any
question. The crudeness of their intellect, which may go together with
ample knowledge in other fields, predestines them to be deceived and
puts a premium on the imposture. I may try to characterize some
varieties of crooked thinking from chance tests of the correspondence
with which the underworld has besieged me. I have only the letters of
most recent date in hand.

I abstract, of course, from those written by insane individuals. They
come plentifully and show all sorts of distortions and impossible
ideas. But they do not belong here. The confused mind of the patient
is not to be held responsible. His absurdities are symptoms of
disease, and they are sharply to be separated from the lack of logic
in the sound mind, just as the impulse to kill in paranoia is to be
distinguished from the murderous schemes of the criminal. It is
generally not difficult to recognize at once which is which. I find
the most frequent type of letters from evidently diseased persons to
be writings like this: “Dear Sir: I wish to let you know that some
young men have a sort of a comb machine composed of wireless telephone
and reinforced electricity. They can play this machine and make a
person talk or wake or go to sleep. They can tell where you are, even
miles away. They play in the eyes and brain, I think. They have two
machines; so they know when the police or anybody is coming toward
their house. They keep talking most of the time so as to take up a
person's mind. It is about time it was stopped, but people don't
understand such things around here. Could a wireless telephone get
their voices? Hoping you will do something to stop them, I am yours,

There is no help for such a poor sufferer except in the asylum. Here
we want to deal not with the patients, but only with the sinners who
sin against logic, while their minds are undiseased.

There is another large class of correspondents, which is not to be
blamed, and which is one of the most interesting contributers to the
psychologist's files. People write long discussions of theories which
they build up on peculiar happenings in their minds. The theories
themselves may be entirely illogical, or at least in contradiction to
all acknowledged science, but such letters are interesting, because
they disclose abnormal mental states. Here it is not real insanity;
but all kinds of abnormal impulses or ideas, of psychasthenic
emotions, of neurasthenic disturbances, of hysteric inhibition, are
the starting points, and it is only natural that such pathological
intrusions should bewilder the patient and induce him to form the
wildest theories. Again, he may believe in the most improbable and
most fantastic connection of things, but this is due to the
overwhelming power of disturbances which he is indeed unable to
explain to himself. I have a whole set of letters from women who
explain in fantastic theories their magical power to foresee coming
events; and yet it is not difficult to recognize as the foundation of
all such ideas some well-known forms of memory disturbance. Commonly
it is the widespread tendency of women to accompany a scene with the
feeling that they have experienced it once before. They are few who
never have had it, especially in states of fatigue; many have it very
often; and some are led to trust it and to become convinced that they
really experienced the scene, at least in their minds, beforehand.
This uncanny impression then easily develops into untenable
speculations on the borderland of normal intellect. The letters which
approach those of the insane most nearly come from persons who try to
work out a theory to account for hysterical experiences which break
into their normal life. Sometimes the most absurd explanations must be
acknowledged as justified from the standpoint of the patient. A woman
wrote to me that she had the abnormal power to produce railroad wrecks
by her mere will, while she was lying at home in bed. She wanted me to
hypnotize her in order to relieve her from this uncanny power. She had
elaborated this thought in full detail. She did not know, what I found
out only slowly, that in hysterical attacks at night, for which every
memory was lost the next morning, she used a stolen switch key to open
a switch, because she was angry with a railway official. I will ignore
all such cases with an abnormal background here and confine myself to
the healthy crowd.

If I were to characterize their writings from an outside point of
view, I might first say that their expressions are expansive. There is
no limit to their manuscripts, though I have to confess that an
exposition of eighty-five hundred pages which has just been announced
to me by its author has not yet reached me. Nor can it be denied that
their relation to old-fashioned or to new-fashioned spelling is not
always a harmonious one. Nor should I call them always polite: the
criticism of my own opinions, which they generally know only from some
garbled newspaper reports, often takes forms which are not the usual
ones for scholarly correspondence. “Whether it is your darkness or if
it is the badness of the police that go around calling themselves the
government, that probably ordered you to put such ignorance in the
Sunday article, I do not know.” Or more straightforward are letters of
this type: “Greeting—You take the prize as an educated fool.
According to reports to me by less stupid and more honest men than
you, the matter is....” It is surprising how often the handwriting is
pretty, coquettish, or affected, but almost half of my crank
correspondence is typewritten.

When the newspapers tell of a mysterious case, minds of this type
immediately feel attracted to mix in. When a few years ago I published
an article disclosing the tricks of Madame Palladino, I was simply
flooded with letters of advice and of explanation. The same thing
occurred recently when the papers reported that I was experimenting
with Beulah Miller. Now it is easy to understand that those who
fancied that the Miller child had supernatural gifts of telepathy and
clairvoyance would wish to bring their questions to me so that I might
make Beulah Miller trace their lost bracelets or predict their fortune
in the Stock Exchange. But I was at a loss to understand why so many
persons from Maine to California felt tempted to write long letters to
me in which they told me what kind of questions I ought to ask the
child, as if I could not formulate a question for myself. Every one
expected a special report for himself with exact statements of her
answers. The whole performance showed a lack of judgment which is
typical of that lower intellectual layer; and yet the letters were
often written on beautifully monogrammed letter paper. More often,
however, my own writings or doings have nothing to do with the case. I
am the perfectly innocent receiver of written messages about anything
between heaven and earth, while the messages which my correspondents
receive from me are not always authentic. One of my psychically
talented writers reports: “On May 31st at eight forty-nine A. M. in
the midst of a thunderstorm I came into communication with Doctor
Münsterberg and asked him to send me a message. He said, 'The name of
my son is Wilhelm Münsterberg.'” It is improbable that I lied so
boldly about my family, even in a telepathic message.

I may select a few typical theories, which all come from evidently
otherwise normal and harmless people. I have before me a whole series
of manuscripts from a druggist who is sure that his ego theory is
“very near the truth.” It is in itself very simple and convincing.
“The right and the left cerebral egos united with one sublime ego are
in the body in a loose union in possession of an amœboid cell. During
sleep they may separate. The sublime ego wanders through nerve paths
to the bowels, and the bowel experiences are the dreams.” An
experiment brought a definite proof of this. The druggist dyed some
crackers deep blue with methylene blue, and later dreamed that a large
train of blue food was passing by. As each carriage of the train
corresponded to a granule of starch in the crackers, he was able to
figure that the ego which saw those parts of the crackers was about
one thousandth of an inch large. “The fact of seeing in dreams is due
to vital force, the peculiar low speed to the high vibration force of
living albuminoids emitted from every tendril of bioplasm and
perceived by the eye of the ego-bion during its visit.” “Within the
ego-bion is the ego itself, which is much simpler looking, about one
hundredth of a micromillimeter.” I do not want to go into details of
how these egos can be transmitted “by kiss or otherwise” from one
generation to another, but I can say that as soon as the reader has
grasped the fundamental thesis of the author, everything follows with
perfect logic. The good man, who is doubtless a faithful druggist and
whose mind is perfectly clear, has simply twisted some of the ideas
which he has gathered from his ample reading and developed his pet

His case is very similar to that of a dignified, elderly trained nurse
who is faithfully devoted to her noble daily work and who follows her
vocation without indicating to any one that she is the author of a
great unpublished philosophical work. She has spent twenty-five years
of her life on the elaboration of this _magnum opus_, which is richly
illustrated. Everything in the book is consistent and in harmony with
its presuppositions. The theory again is very simple; every detail is
perfectly convincing, if you acknowledge the starting point. As to
this, there may be difference of opinion. The fundamental thought is
that all human souls are born in the forests of Central Africa. “Souls
are sexless forces. Never is one soul born into life. There are always
two. Often we find three pairs of almost the same type with but a
shadow of density to distinguish each pair. Man evolutes upward on the
scale of life by two tribes of apes. Ere man becomes human, he
represents one cell force. When man takes the human form as Maquake,
he becomes a double life cell.” I do not claim to be an expert in this
system, but if I understand the whole work rightly, the idea is that
any human soul born there by the monkeys in Africa has to pass in
circles of one thousand years from individual to individual, becoming
at first negro, then Indian, then Malayan, then Hindu, then Greek,
Celt, and Roman, then Jew, and finally American. After a thousand
years the soul begins to degenerate and enters sinners and criminals.
Which stage the soul has reached can easily be seen from the finger
nails. The chief illustrations of the great work were therefore
drawings of finger nails of all races. It is a side issue of the
theory that “souls once matured generally pass on to another star. The
nearer the sun is to the star holding life, the denser is all growth
in nature.” I acknowledge that this view of evolution does not
harmonize exactly with my own, but I cannot deny that the whole system
is worked out with perfect consistency, and wherever I asked the
writer difficult questions as to some special problems, she was at
once ready to give the answers with completely logical deduction from
her premises. She is by no means mentally diseased, and she does not
mix her theories with her practical activity. If she sits as nurse at
the bedside of a patient, she recognizes of course from the finger
nails that this particular soul may be three or five thousand years
old, and accordingly in a decaying state, but that does not interfere
with her conscientious work as a nurse and helper.

To be sure, not every one spends twenty-five years on the elaboration
of some twisted fancies. Most of my correspondents write the
monumental thoughts of their systems with decisive brevity. A
physician informs me that every thought and act of our lives is
transfixed on the etheric vapours that surround our earth, and that it
is therefore only natural that a clairvoyant is able to see those
fixed events and write them down afterward from the ethereal
inscriptions. Another tells about his discovery that the human body is
a great electrical magnet. I am the more glad to make this fact widely
known, as the author writes that he has not given it to the public
yet, as he is not financially able to advertise it. Yet he himself
adds that after all it is not necessary to advertise truth. On eight
quarto pages he draws the most evident consequences of his discovery
and shows how he is able to explain by it the chemical change of each
cell in the brain and to prove that “foolish so-called spirits are
simply electrical demonstrations.” “I can demonstrate every current,
nerve cell, and atom of the human body. It may seem strange to you
that I claim so much, but with the induction every investigation has
been so easy for me. I have never been puzzled for any demonstration
yet, but I am still searching for more knowledge. Yours for
investigation....” I may say that this is a feature common to most of
my correspondents of this metaphysical type. They are never “puzzled.”

Nearly related to this type of theories are the systems of astrology;
and in our upper world very few are really aware what a rôle astrology
is still playing in the intellectual underworld. Some of the
astrological communications I receive periodically go so far beyond my
understanding that I do not even dare to quote them. But some of the
astrological authors present very neat and clean theories which are so
simple and so practical that it is almost a pity that they are absurd.
For instance, I am greatly interested in the question of determining
how far the mind of individuals is predisposed for particular
vocations, and in the psychological laboratory we are busy with
methods to approach the problem. The astrologers have a much more
convincing scheme. My friend writes that he has observed “over two
thousand cases wherein the dates of birth have been the means to give
the position of the planets at the hour of birth, the purpose being to
ascertain the influence they had on man. Now the furniture business
calls for an artistic temperament, and after careful observation
through birth dates it is found that the successful furniture men have
the planet Venus in their nativities. But the Venus influence is
prominent also in other lines of business such as art, jewellery, and
in all lines where women's necessities are manufactured. Other
planetary influences on success in business are: Saturn for miners,
tanners, gardeners, clowns, and beggars; Mercury for teachers,
secretaries, stationers, printers, and tailors; Jupiter for clergymen,
judges, lawyers, and senators; Mars for dentists, barbers, cutlers,
carpenters, and apothecaries; Uranus for inventors, chemists,
occultists, and others.”

One system which is still more frequent than the astrological is the
strictly spiritualistic one, which expresses itself in spirit returns
and messages from the other world. Geographically the most favoured
stations for wireless heavenly connections seem to be Brooklyn, New
York, and Los Angeles, California. The adherents of this underworld
philosophy have a slang of their own, and the result is that their
letters, while they spring from the deepest emotions, sound as if
they were copied from the same sample book. The better style begins
about like this: “Knowing that you are intensely interested in things
psychological, I beg to enclose you copies of some of the automatic
letters which I have received. I have a young lawyer friend in the
city, and he and I can throw down fifteen or twenty sheets of paper on
a table, take hold of hands and get them written full, and in this way
I have received letters from Pericles, Aristides, Immanuel Kant, and
many others. I got letters from Julia Ward Howe a week after her
transition, and I got letters from Emerson and Abraham Lincoln by
asking for them. I enclose copy of the last letter which I received
from Charlotte Cushman, and I think you will agree there is nothing
foolish about it or indeed about any of the letters. I have recently
married again, and my present wife is a wonderful trance medium,
probably the best means of communication between the two worlds living
to-day.” This is not exceptional, as practically every one of my
spiritualistic correspondents has some “best means of communication
between the two worlds.” The messages themselves usually begin: “My
loved one, out of the realms of light and truth, I come to you ...”
and so on. If the letters do not come from the spiritualists
themselves, some of their friends feel the need of turning my
attention to the “wonderful psychic powers” of their acquaintances.
Not seldom the spirits take a more refined form. “The forms of the
newly dead come to me in bulk. I see and feel them. They are purplish
inky in colour. When a real spirit comes to me in white, I close my
eyes. I seem to have to. The spirit or presence most commonly seen, I
believe, is a thought form. It frequently comes off the cover of a
magazine, and were I not getting wise, I would think the universe
turned suddenly to beauty. But I am learning that a person can receive
wonderfully exaggerated reports from the very soul of the artist.”

From here we see before us the wide vista of the individual gifts and
talents: the underworld people are sometimes bragging of them,
sometimes grafting with them, if not blackmailing, and often simply
enjoying them with the sweet feeling of superiority. The powers turn
in all valuable directions. Here is one who wishes to know whether I
have ever heard of any other “person who senses the magnetism of the
earth and is able to tell many kinds of earthquakes? Also volcanic
heats? A quick reply will favour me.” Many have the regular prophetic
gift; practically every one of them foresaw the assassination of
McKinley. Most of them, however, are gifted in curing diseases. The
typical letter reads as follows: “There is a young man living here
who seems to be endowed with a wonderful occult power by the use of
which he is able to diagnose almost any human ailment. He goes into a
trance, and while in this condition the name of the subject is given
him, and then without any further questions he proceeds to diagnose
his case fully and correctly and prescribes a treatment for the relief
of the trouble. In every case yet diagnosed a cure has almost
immediately resulted.” This kind of gift is so frequent that it is
really surprising that so many physicians still rely on their clumsier
method. Marvellous also are the effects which hypnotism can secure in
this paradise of the ignorant. After having hypnotized patients many
hundred times, I fancied that I had a general impression as to the
powers and limits of hypnotism. But there is no end to the new
information which I get from my hypnotizing correspondents. “Has it
ever occurred to you that by hypnotism death will be prevented, and
all ills, mental or otherwise, be cured before long? Why do I think
so?” Of course I do not know why she thinks so. I usually do not know
why the writers of the underworld letters think so. Or rather I
usually do know that they do not think at all.

There may be many who will read all this not only with surprise, but
with skepticism. They live their intellectually clean lives, dwell in
safe, comfortable houses of the intellect and move on well-paved
educational streets, and never see or hear anything of those
inhabitants of the intellectual slums. If ever a letter like those
which pour in hundreds to the desk of the psychologist were to stray
into their mail, they would feel sure that they had to do with a
lunatic who belongs in an asylum under a physician's care. They have
no idea that not only their furnaceman and washwoman, but also their
tailor and their watchmaker, or perhaps the teacher of their children,
and, if they examine more carefully, three of their last dinner
guests, are strolling for hours or for a night, or living for seasons,
if not for a lifetime, in that world of superstition and
anti-intellectual mentality. Such people are not ill; they are
personally not even cranks; they are simply confused and unable to
live an ordered intellectual life. Their character and temperament and
their personality in every other respect may be faultless, but their
ideas are chaotic. They bring together the contradictory and make
contrasts out of the identical, and, far from any sound religious
belief or any true metaphysical philosophy, they simply mix any
mystical whims into the groups of thought which civilization has
brought into systematic order. Instead of trying to learn, they are
always longing for some illegitimate intellectual profit; they are
always trying to pick the pocket of the absolute.

It is not difficult to recognize the social conditions from which this
tendency springs. The fundamental one, after all, is the widely spread
lack of respect for the expert. Such a lack easily results from
democratic life, as democracy encourages the belief that every one can
judge about everything and can decide from his own resources what
ought to be thought and what ought to be done. Yet no one can claim
that it is truly a part of democracy itself and that the democratic
spirit would suffer if this view were suppressed. On the contrary,
democracy can never be fully successful and can never be carried
through in consistent purity until this greatest danger of the
democratic spirit of society is completely overcome and repressed by
an honest respect for the expert and a willing subordination of
judgment to his better knowledge. Another condition which makes our
country a favourite playground for fantastic vagaries is the strong
emphasis on the material sides of life, on business and business
success. The result is a kind of contrast effect. As the surface of
such a rushing business life lacks everything which would satisfy the
deeper longings of the soul, the effort to create an inner world is
readily pushed to mystical extremes in which all contact with the
practical world is lost, and finally all solid knowledge disregarded
and caricatured. The newspapers have their great share, too. Any
absurdity which a crank anywhere in the world brings forth is heralded
with a joy in the sensational impossibilities which must devastate the
mind of the naïve reader.

But whatever the sources of this prevailing superstition may be, there
ought to be no disagreement about its intellectual sinfulness and its
danger to society. We see some alarming consequences in the growth of
the revolt against scientific medicine. Millions of good Americans do
not want to know anything about physicians who have devoted their
lives to the study of medicine, but prefer any quack or humbug, any
healer or mystic. Yet for a queer reason the case of the treatment of
diseases shows the ruinous results of this social procedure very
slowly. Every scientific physician knows that many diseases can be
cured by autosuggestion in emotional excitement, and if this belief in
the quack produces the excitement and the suggestion, the patient may
really be cured, not on account but in spite of the quack who treats
him. The whole misery of this antimedical movement is therefore
somewhat veiled and alleviated. But this is not so in the fields of
real culture and knowledge. The belief in the absurdities there has
not even an autosuggestive value. It is simply destructive to the life
of civilized society. It is absurd for us to put our best energies to
work to build up a splendid system of education for the youth of the
whole nation, and at the same time to allow its structure to be
undermined by the millionfold intellectual depravity.

Of course it may be difficult to say what ought to be done. I feel
sure that society ought to suppress with relentless energy all those
parlours of the astrologists and palmists, of the scientific mediums
and spiritualists, of the quacks and prophets. Their announcements by
signs or in the public press ought to be stopped, and ought to be
treated by the postal department of the government as the
advertisements of other fraudulent enterprises are treated. A large
rôle in the campaign would have to be played by the newspapers, but
their best help would be rendered by negative action, by not
publishing anything of a superstitious and mystical type. The most
important part of the fight, however, is to recognize the danger
clearly, to acknowledge it frankly, and to see with open eyes how
alarmingly the evil has grown around us. No one will fancy that any
social schemes can be sufficient to bring superstition to an end, any
more than any one can expect that the present fight against city vice
will forever put a stop to sexual immorality. But that surely cannot
be an argument for giving up the battle against the moral perversities
of metropolitan life. The fact that we cannot be entirely successful
ought still less to be an argument for any leniency with the
intellectual perversities and the infectious diseases the germs of
which are disseminated in our world of honest culture by the
inhabitants of the cultural underworld.


                         THOUGHT TRANSFERENCE

The harmony and soundness of society depend upon its inner unity of
mind. Social organization does not mean only an external fitting
together, but an internal equality of mind. Men must understand one
another in order to form a social unit, and such understanding
certainly means more than using the same words and the same grammar.
They must be able to grasp other men's point of view, they must have a
common world in which to work, and this demands that they mould the
world in the same forms of thought. If one calls green what another
calls sour, and one feels as noise what another feels as toothache,
they cannot enter into a social group. Yet it is no less confusing and
no less antisocial if the world which one sees as a system of causes
and effects is to another a realm of capricious, causeless, zigzag
happenings. The mental links which join society are threatened if some
live with their thoughts in a world of order and natural law, and
others in a mystical chaos.

This has nothing to do with differences of opinion. Society profits
from contrasting views, from discussion and struggle. The opposing
parties in a real debate understand each other well and are working
with the same logic and the same desire for order of thought. This
contrast between order and mysticism has still less to do with the
difference of knowledge and belief in a higher religious and
philosophical sense. There is no real antagonism between science and
religion, between experience and philosophical speculation. They point
to each other, they demand each other, and no social question is
involved when the interests of one man emphasize more the scholarly
search for scientific truth, and those of another concentrate
throughout his lifework on the emotional wisdom of religion. It is
quite different with mysticism and science; they are not two parties
of a debate on equal terms. They exclude each other, as the mystic
projects his feeling interests into those objects which the scientist
tries to analyze and to understand as effects of causes. Nothing is a
safer test of the cultural development of a society than the instinct
for the difference between religion and superstition. Mysticism is a
systematized superstition. It never undermines the true interests of
society more than when it goes to work with pseudo-scientific tools.
Its most repellent form, that of sheer spiritualism, has in recent
years declined somewhat, and the organizations for antilogical,
psychical research eke out a pitiable existence nowadays. But the
community of the silent or noisy believers in telepathy, mystical
foresight, clairvoyance, and wonder workers seems to increase.

The scientific psychologist might have a twofold contact with such
movements. His most natural interest is that of studying the mental
makeup of those who chase this will-o'-the-wisp. Their mental vagaries
and superstitious fancies are quite fascinating material for his
dissection. But for the interests of society an entirely different
effort is, after all, more consequential. The psychologist has no
right to avoid the trouble of examining conspicuous cases which
superficially seem to endorse the fantastic theories of the mentally
untrained. Such an investigation is his share, as indeed mental
occurrences generally stand in the centre of the alleged wonderful
facts. From this feeling of social responsibility some years ago I
approached the hysterical trickster, Madame Palladino, who had so much
inflamed the mystical imagination of the country, and from this
interest in the social aspect I undertook again recently a research
into the mental powers of Beulah Miller, who was well on the way to
bewilder the whole nation and thus to stir up the always latent mystic
inclinations of the community. It is a typical specimen of those cases
which can easily upset the loosely reasoning public and do tremendous
harm to the mental unity of the social organism. It seems worth while
to illuminate it in full detail.

Indeed, since the days when Madame Eusapia Palladino stirred the whole
country with her marvellous mystic powers, no case of psychical
mystery has engaged the interest of the nation as that of little
Beulah Miller in Warren, Rhode Island, has done. The story of her
wonderful performances has become a favourite feature of the Sunday
papers, and the small New England town for the first time in its long
history has been in the limelight. The reporters have made their
pilgrimages, and every one has returned bewildered and amazed. Here at
last the truth of telepathy was proved. Sworn affidavits of reliable
persons removed the last doubts; and I myself, with my long training
as a scientist, had to confess, when for the first time I had spent a
few hours with Beulah Miller, that I was as deeply startled and
overcome with wonder as I was after the first night with Eusapia
Palladino. Yet what a contrast! There the elderly, stout Italian woman
at a midnight hour, in dimly lighted rooms, in disreputable New York
quarters, where the palmists and mediums live in their world of sham
psychology, sitting in a trance state at a table surrounded by
spiritualistic believers who had to pay their entrance fees; here a
little, naïve, ten-year-old girl among her toys in the kitchen of her
parents' modest white cottage in a lovely country village! I never
felt a more uncanny, nerve-irritating atmosphere than in Palladino's
squalid quarters, and I do not remember more idyllic, peaceful
surroundings than when I sat between Beulah and her sister through
bright sunny mornings in their mother's home with their cat beside
them and the pet lamb coming into the room from the meadow. There
everything suggested fraud, and when at my second séance her foot was
caught behind the curtain and the whole humbug exposed, it was exactly
what I had expected. But here everything breathed sincerity and
naïveté and absence of fraud—yet my mere assurance cannot convince a
skeptic; we must examine the case carefully.

The claims are very simple: Here is a school child of ten years who is
able to read in the mind of any one present anything of which he is
thinking. If you take a card from a pack and look at it, and still
better if several people look at it, and best of all if her mother or
sister looks at it, too, Beulah will say at once which card it is,
although she may stand in the farthest corner of the room. She will
give you the date on any coin which you have in hand; in a book she
will tell you the particular word at which you are looking. Indeed, a
sworn affidavit reports still more surprising feats. Beulah gave
correctly the name of the reporter whom nobody else knew and the name
of the New York paper for which she is writing. At school she reads
words written on the blackboard with her back turned to it. At home
she knows what any visitor is hiding in his pocket.

The serious-minded man who is disgusted with spiritualistic charlatans
and their commercial humbug is naturally inclined here, too, at once
to offer the theory that all is fraud and that a detective would be
the right man to investigate the case. When the newspapers discovered
that I had begun to study the girl, I received from many sides letters
with suggestions to look for certain devices with which stage
performers carry out such tricks, such as marked cards and the
equipment of the magician. But whoever thinks of fraud here
misunderstands the whole situation. The psychical powers of Beulah
Miller were not brought before the public by the child or her family;
there was no desire for notoriety, and in spite of the very modest
circumstances in which this carpenter's family has to live, the facts
became known before any commercial possibility suggested itself.

The mother was startled by Beulah's psychical gifts because she
noticed two years ago that when the family was playing “Old Maid”
Beulah always knew in whose hands the dangerous queen was to be found.
Then they began to experiment with cards in the family circle, and her
ability to know of what the mother or the sister was thinking became
more and more interesting to them. Slowly her school friends began to
notice it, and children in the Sunday-school told the minister about
Beulah's queer mind-reading. All this time no newspaper had known
about it. One day the minister, when he passed the house, entered and
inquired whether those rumours were true. He had a little glass full
of honey in his pocket, and Beulah spelled the word honey at once. He
made some tests with coins, and every one was successful. This
minister, Rev. H. W. Watjen, told this to his friend Judge Mason, who
has lived in Warren for more than thirty years, and then both the
minister and the judge visited repeatedly the village where the
Millers live, performed a large number of experiments with cards and
coins and words, and became the friendly advisers of the mother, who
was still troubled by her doubt whether these supernatural gifts of
the child came from God or from the devil. Only through the agency of
these two well-known men, the Baptist minister and the judge, was the
public informed that a mysterious case existed in the neighbourhood of
Warren, and when the newspapers began to send their reporters and
strangers came to see the wonder, these two men decided who should see
the child. Of course, commercial propositions, invitations to give
performances on the vaudeville stage, soon began to pour in, but with
indignation the mother refused to listen to any such idea. Because of
my scientific interest in such psychological puzzles, the judge and
the minister turned to me to investigate the case. It is evident that
this whole social situation lacks every conceivable motive for fraud.

But this impression was strongly heightened by the behaviour of the
family and of the child during the study which I carried on in the
three weeks following. The mother, the twelve-year-old sister Gladys,
and Beulah herself were most willing to agree to anything which would
make the test difficult, and they themselves asked to have everything
tried with no member of the family in the room. Beulah was quite happy
to show her art under unaccustomed conditions like having her eyes
covered with thick bandages. When inadvertently some one turned a card
so that she could see it, she was the first to break out into childish
laughter at her having seen it. In short, everything indicated such
perfect sincerity, and the most careful examination yielded so
absolutely no trace of intentional fraud, that I can vouch for the
honesty of the intentions of all concerned in the experiments carried
on so far.

If fraud and humbug may certainly be excluded, the wiseacres will say
that the results must then have been a matter of chance coincidence.
No one can deny that chance may sometimes bring surprising results.
Dreams of far-distant accidents come true, and yet no one who
considers those millions of dreams which do not come true and which
therefore remain disregarded will acknowledge any prophetic power in
sleep. It may happen, if you are asked to call a name or a figure of
which another man is thinking, that you will strike the right one.
Moreover, recent experiments have shown that there is much natural
uniformity in the thoughts of men. Certain figures or names or things
more readily rush to the mind than others. Hence the chances that two
persons will be thinking of the same figure are much larger than would
appear from the mere calculation of probabilities. Yet even if we
make the largest possible concession to happy coincidences, there
cannot remain the slightest doubt that the experiments carried on
under standard conditions yielded results the correctness of which
endlessly surpasses any possible accidental outcome. We may take a
typical illustration: I drew cards which she could not possibly see,
while they were shown to the mother and sister sitting next to me,
Beulah sitting on the other side of the room. The first was a nine of
hearts; she said nine of hearts. The next was six of clubs, to which
she said first six of spades; when told it was not spades, she
answered clubs. The next was two of diamonds; her first figure was
four; when told that it was wrong, she corrected herself two, and
added diamonds. The next was nine of clubs, which she gave correctly;
seven of spades, she said at first seven of diamonds, then spades;
jack of spades, she gave correctly at once, and so on.

One other series: We had little cardboard squares on each of which was
a large single letter. I drew any three, put them into the cover of a
box, and while the mother, Gladys, and I were looking at the three
letters, Beulah, sitting beside us, looked at the ceiling. The first
were R-T-O. She said R-T-I. When told it was wrong, she added O. The
next were S-U-T; she gave S-U, and then wrongly R P Q, and finally T.
The next were N-A-R; she gave G N-A-S R. The following D-W-O she gave
D-W, but could not find the last letter. It is evident that every one
of the cards gave her fifty-two chances, and not more than one in
fifty-two would have been correct if it were only guessing, and as to
the letters, not more than one among twenty-six would have been chosen
correctly by chance. The given example demonstrates that of five cards
she gave three correctly, two half correctly, and those two mistakes
were rectified after the first wrong guess. The second experiment
demanded from her four times three letters. Of these twelve letters,
six were right at the first guess and five after one or two wrong
trials. Taking only this little list of card and letter experiments
together, we can say that the probabilities are only one to many
billions that such a result would ever come by chance.

Yet such correctness was not exceptional. On the contrary, I have no
series performed under these conditions which did not yield as
favourable an outcome as this. Some were even much more startling.
Once she gave six cards in succession correctly. It was no different
with word experiments. The printed word at which the sister and I
looked was stall; she spelled E S-T-O A-R I L-L. And when the word
was steam, she spelled L S-N K T-O A E-A-M; when it was glass, S G-L-R
A-S. Whenever a letter was wrong, she was told so and was allowed a
second or a third choice, but never more than three. It is evident
from these three illustrations that she gave the right letter in the
first place six times, and that the right letter was her second choice
four times, and her third choice three times, while no letter was
missed in three choices. Cases of this type again could never occur by
mere chance. The number of successful strokes in this last experiment
might be belittled by the claim that the last letters of the word were
guessed when the first letters had been found. But this was not the
case. First, even such a guess would have been chance. The word might
have been grave instead of grass, or star instead of stall. What is
much more important, however, is that a large number of other cases
proved that she was not aware of the words at all, but spelled the
letters without reference to their forming a word. Once I wrote
Chicago on a pad. The mother and sister gazed at the word, and Beulah
spelled correctly C-H-I-C-A-G, but made eight wrong efforts before she
found the closing O. In other cases, she did not notice that the word
was completed, and was trying to fish up still other letters from her
mind. Everything showed that the word as a word did not come to her
mind, but only the single letters. I leave entirely out of
consideration the marvels of mind-reading which were secured by the
judge and the minister, the male and female newspaper reporters,
before I took charge of the study of the case. I rely only on what I
saw and of which I took exact notes. I wrote down every wrong letter
and every wrong figure, and base my calculation only on this entirely
reliable material. Nevertheless, I must acknowledge it as a fact
beyond doubt that such results as I got regularly could never possibly
have been secured by mere coincidence and chance. As chance and fraud
are thus equally out of the question, we are obliged to seek for
another explanation.

There is one explanation which offers itself most readily: We saw that
in order to succeed, some one around her, preferably the mother and
sister, who stand nearest to her heart, have to know the words or the
cards. Those visual images must be in some one's mind, and she has the
unusual power of being able to read what is in the minds of those
others. Such an explanation even seems to some a very modest claim,
almost a kind of critical and skeptical view. The judge and the
minister, for instance, in accepting this idea of her mind-reading,
felt conservative, as through it they disclaimed any belief in
mysterious clairvoyance and telepathic powers. In the newspaper
stories, where the mysteries grew with the geographical distance from
Rhode Island, Beulah was said to be able to tell names or dates or
facts which no one present knew. It was asserted that she could give
the dates on the coins which any one had in his pocket without the
possessor himself knowing them, or that she could give a word in a
book on which some one was holding his finger without reading it. No
wonder that the public felt sure that she could just as well discover
secrets which no one knows and be aware of far-distant happenings. It
is only one step from this to the belief in a prophetic foresight of
what is to come. For most unthinking people, mind-reading leads in
this fashion over to the whole world of mysticism. In sharp contrast
to such vagaries, the critical observers like the judge and the
minister insisted that there was no trace of such prophetic gifts or
of such telepathic wonders to be found, and that everything resolves
itself simply into mere mind-reading. Some one in the neighbourhood
must have the idea in mind and must fixedly think of it. Only then
will it arise in Beulah's consciousness.

But have we really a right to speak of mind-reading itself as if it
were such a simple process, perhaps unusual, but not surprising,
something like a slightly abnormal state? If we look at it from the
standpoint of the scientist, we should say, on the contrary, that
there is a very sharp boundary line which separates mind-reading from
all the experiences which the scientific psychologist knows. The
psychologist has no difficulty in understanding mental diseases like
hysteria or abnormal states like hypnotism, or any other unusual
variation of mental life. The same principles by which he explains the
ordinary life of the mind are sufficient to give account of all the
strange and rare occurrences. But when he comes to mind-reading, an
entirely new point of view is chosen. It would mean a complete break
with everything which science has found in the mental world. The
psychologist has never discovered a mental content which was not the
effect or the after-effect of the stimulation of the senses. No man
born blind has ever by his own powers brought the colour sensations to
his mind, and no communication from without was ever traced which was
not carried over the path of the senses. The world which is in the
mind of my friend, in order to reach my mind, must stimulate his
brain, and that brain excitement must lead to the contraction of his
mouth muscles, and that must stir the air waves which reach my ear
drum, and the excitement must be carried from my ear to the brain,
where the mental ideas arise. No abnormal states like hypnotism change
in the least this procedure. But if we fancy that the mere mental idea
in one man can start the same idea in another, we lack every possible
means to connect such a wonder with anything which the scientist so
far acknowledges.

To be sure, every sincere scholar devoted to truth has to yield to the
actual facts. We cannot stubbornly say that the facts do not exist
because they do not harmonize with what is known so far. The
psychologist would not necessarily be at the end of his wit if the
developments of to-morrow proved that mind-reading in Beulah Miller's
case, or in any other case, is a fact beyond doubt. He might argue
that all previous knowledge was based on a wrong idea and that, for
instance, other processes go on in the brain, which can be transmitted
from organism to organism like wireless telegraphic waves without the
perception of the senses. If these other processes were conceived as
the foundation of mental images, the scientific psychological scholar
of the future might possibly work out a consistent theory and all the
previously known facts might then be translated into the language of
the new science. Whether in this or a similar way we should ever come
to really satisfactory results, no one can foresee, but at least it is
certain that this would involve a complete giving up of everything
which scientists have so far held to be right. Certainly in the
history of civilization great revolutions in science have happened.
The astronomers had to begin almost anew; why cannot the psychologists
turn around and acknowledge that they have been entirely wrong so far
and that they must begin once more at the beginning and rewrite all
which they have so far taken to be truth?

Certainly the psychologists are no cowards. They would not hesitate to
declare their mental bankruptcy if the progress of truth demanded it.
But at least we must be entirely clear that this is indeed the
situation and that no step on the track of mind-reading can be taken
without giving up everything which we have so far held to be true. And
it is evident that such a radical break with the whole past of human
science can be considered only if every other effort for explanation
fails, and if it seems really impossible to understand the facts in
the light of all which science has already accomplished. If Beulah
Miller's little hands are to set the torch to the whole pile of our
knowledge, we ought first to be perfectly sure that there is really
nothing worth saving. We cannot accept the theory of the apostles of
mind-reading until we know surely that Beulah Miller can receive
communications which cannot possibly be explained with the means of

Now we all know one kind of mind-reading which looks very astounding
and yet which there is no difficulty at all in explaining. It is a
favourite performance on the stage, and not seldom tried as a parlour
game. I refer to the kind of mind-reading in which one person thinks
of a hidden coin, and the other holds his wrist and is then able to
find the secreted object. There is no mystery in such apparent
transmission of the idea, because it is the result of small
unintentional movements of the arm. The one who thinks hard of the
corner of the room in which the coin is placed cannot help giving
small impulses in that direction. He himself is not aware of these
faint movements, but the man who has a fine sense of touch becomes
conscious of these motions in the wrist which his fingers grasp, and
under the guidance of these slight movements he is led to the
particular place. Some persons express their thought of places more
easily than others and are therefore better fitted for the game, and
we find still greater differences in the sensitiveness of different
persons. Not every one can play the game as well as a trained stage
performer, who may have an extreme refinement of touch and may notice
even the least movements in the wrist which others would not feel at
all. Such an explanation is not an arbitrary theory. We can easily
show with delicate instruments in the psychological laboratory that
every one in thinking of a special direction soon begins to move his
hand toward it without knowing anything of these slight movements. The
instruments allow the reading of such impulses where the mere feeling
of the hand would hardly show any signs. A very neat form of the same
type is often seen on the stage when the performer is to read a series
of numbers in the mind of some one who thinks intensely of the
figures. Some one in the audience thinks of the number fifty-seven.
The performer asks him to think of the first figure, then he grasps
his hand and counts slowly from zero to nine. After that he asks him
to think of the second figure, and counts once more. Immediately after
he will announce rightly the two digits. Again there is no mystery in
it. He knows that the man who thinks of the figure five will make a
slight involuntary movement when the five is reached in counting, and
the same movement will occur at the seven in the second counting. If
he is very well trained, he will not need the touching of the hand;
he will perform the same experiment with figures without any actual
contact whatever. It will be sufficient to see the man who is thinking
of a figure while he himself is counting. As soon as the dangerous
digit is reached, the man will give some unintentional sign. Perhaps
his breathing will become a degree deeper, or stop for a moment, his
eyelids may make a reflex movement, his fingers may contract a bit.
This remains entirely unnoticed by any one in the audience, but the
professional mind-reader has heightened his sensibility so much that
none of these involuntary signs escapes him. Yet from the standpoint
of science his seeing these subtle signs is on principle no different
from our ordinary seeing when a man points his finger in some

But the experience of the scientist goes still farther. In the cases
of this parlour trick and the stage performance the one who claims to
read the mind of the other is more or less clearly aware of those
unintended signs. He feels those slight movement impulses, which he
follows. But we know from experiences of very different kind that such
signs may make an impression on the senses and influence the man, and
yet may not really come to consciousness. Even those who play the game
of mind-reading in the parlour and who are led by the arm movements
to find the hidden coin will often say with perfect sincerity that
they do not feel any movements in the wrist which they touch. This is
indeed quite possible. Those slight shocks which come to their finger
tips reach their brains and control their movements without producing
a conscious impression. They are led in the right direction without
knowing what is leading them. The physician finds the most extreme
cases of such happenings with some types of his hysteric patients.
They may not hear what is said to them or see what is shown to them,
and yet it makes an impression on them and works on their minds, and
they may be able later to bring it to their memory and it may guide
their actions, but on account of their disease those impressions do
not really reach their conscious minds.

We find the same lack of seeing or hearing or feeling in many cases of
hypnotism. But it is not necessary to go to such extreme happenings.
All of us can remember experiences when impressions reached our eyes
or ears and yet were not noticed at the time, although they guided our
actions. We may have been on the street in deep thought or in an
interesting conversation so that we were not giving any attention
whatever to the way, and yet every step was taken correctly under the
guidance of our eyes. We saw the street, although we were not
conscious of seeing it. We do not hear a clock ticking in our room
when we are working, and yet if the clock suddenly stops we notice it.
This indicates that the ticking of the clock reached us somehow and
had an effect on us in spite of our not being conscious of it. The
scientists are still debating whether it is best to say that these not
conscious processes are going on in our subconscious mind or whether
they are simply brain processes. For all practical purposes, this
makes no difference. We may say that our brain gets an impression
through our eyes when we see the street, or through our ears when we
hear the clock, or we may say that our subconscious mind receives
these messages of eye and ear. In neither case does the scientist find
anything mysterious or supernatural.

I am convinced that all the experiences with Beulah Miller may
ultimately be understood through those two principles. She has unusual
gifts and her performances are extremely interesting, but I think
everything can be explained through her subconscious noticing of
unintended signs. Where no signs are given which reach her senses, she
cannot read any one's mind. But the signs which she receives are not
noticed by her consciously. She is not really aware of them; they go
to her brain or to her subconscious mind and work from there on her
conscious mind.

What speaks in favour of such a skeptical view? I mention at first one
fact which was absolutely proved by my experiments—namely, that
Beulah Miller's successes turn into complete failures as soon as
neither the mother nor the sister is present in the room. All the
experiments which I have conducted in which I alone, or I together
with the minister and the judge, thought of words or cards or letters
or numbers did not yield better results than any one would get by mere
guessing. In one series, for instance, in which we all three made the
greatest effort to concentrate our minds on written figures, she knew
the first number correctly only in two out of fourteen cases. In
another series of twelve letters she did not know a single one at the
first trial. Sometimes when she showed splendid results with her
sister Gladys present, everything stopped the very moment the sister
left the room. Sometimes Beulah knew the first half of a word while
Gladys stood still in the same room, and could not get the second half
of the word when Gladys in the meantime had stepped from the little
parlour to the kitchen. Beulah was helpless even when a wooden door
was between her and the member of her family. She herself did not
know that it made such a difference, but the records leave no doubt. I
may at once add here another argument. The good results stop entirely
when Beulah is blindfolded. Even when both her mother and sister were
sitting quite near her, her mind-reading became pure guesswork when
her eyes were covered with a scarf. Again, she liked to make the
experiment under this condition and was not aware that her knowledge
failed her when she did not see her mother or sister. Her delight in
being blindfolded spoke very clearly for her naïve sincerity, but her
failure indicated no less clearly that she must be dependent upon
unintentional signs for her success.

Let me say at once that some of the observers would probably object to
my statement that the presence of the family was needed and that she
had to be in such direct connection with them. The newspapers told
wonderful stories of her success with strangers, and even the judge
and the minister felt certain that they had seen splendid results
under most difficult conditions. Yet I have to stick to what I
observed myself. It may be objected—and it is well known that this is
the pet objection of the spiritualists against the criticism of
scholars—that the results come well only when the child is in full
sympathy with those present and that I may have disturbed her. But
this was not the case. I evidently did not disturb her, inasmuch as we
saw that the experiments which I made with her when the sister or the
mother was present were most satisfactory. Moreover, she was evidently
very much at ease with me when we had become more acquainted, and just
those entirely negative results were mostly received on a morning when
I had fulfilled the dearest wishes of the two children, a watch for
the one and a ring for the other, besides all the candy with which my
pockets were regularly stuffed. She was in the happiest frame of mind
and most willing to do her best. But if I rely exclusively on my own
observation, it is not only because I suppose that the experiments
yielded just as good results as those of other observers. It is rather
because I know how difficult it is to give reliable accounts from mere
memory and to make experiments without long training in experimental
methods. All those publicly reported experiments had been made without
any actual exact records, and, moreover, by persons who overlooked the
most evident sources of error. As a matter of course, I took notes of
everything which happened, and treated the case with the same
carefulness with which I am accustomed to carry on the experiments in
the Harvard Psychological Laboratory.

To give some illustrations of sources of error, I may mention that the
earlier observers were convinced that Beulah could not see slight
movements of the persons in the room when she was looking fixedly at
the ceiling, or that she could not notice the movements of the sister
or the mother when she was staring straight into the eyes of the
experimenter. Any psychologist, on the contrary, would say that that
would be a most favourable condition for watching small signs. He
knows that while we fixate a point with the centre of our eye we are
most sensitive to slight movement impressions on the side parts of our
eye, and that this sensitiveness is often abnormally heightened. Just
when the child is looking steadily into our face or to the ceiling,
the outside parts of her sensitive retina may bring to her the visible
unintentional signs from her sister or mother. The untrained observer
is also usually unaware how easily he helps by suggestive movements or
utterances to the other observers. When Beulah gave a six instead of a
nine, one of our friends whispered that she may have seen it upside
down in her mind, or when she gave a zero instead of a six that it
looked similar. In short, they keep helping without knowing it. Very
characteristic is the habit of unintentionally using phrases which
begin with the letters of which they are thinking. The letter in their
minds forces them to speak words which begin with it. If they start at
a C, we hear “Come, Beulah,” if at a T, “Try, Beulah,” if at an S,
“See, Beulah.” It is very hard to protect ourselves against such
unintended and unnoticed helps. It is still more difficult to keep the
failures in mind. The eager expectancy of hearing the right letter or
number from the lips of the child gives such a strong emphasis to the
right results that the wrong ones slip from the mind of the hearer.
The right figure may be only the third or the fourth guess of the
child, but if then the whole admiring chorus around say emphatically
at this fourth trial that this is quite right, those three wrong
efforts which preceded fade away from the memory. I may acknowledge
for myself that I was mostly inclined to believe that the number of
the correct answers had been greater than they actually were according
to my exact records. For all these reasons I had the very best right
to disregard the reports of all those who relied on their amateur art
of experimenting and on their mere memory account.

What kind of signs could be in question? It may seem to outsiders that
the most wonderful system of signs would be needed for every content
of one mind to be communicated to another. But here again we must
first reduce the exaggerated claims to the simpler reality. When
Beulah makes card experiments, the whole words jack, queen, king,
spade, club, heart, diamond, come to her mind, but when she makes word
experiments, never under any circumstances does a real word come to
her consciousness, but only single letters. Why is this? If king and
queen can be transmitted from mind to mind, why not dog and cat? Yet
when the mother thinks of dog, it is always only first D, and after a
while O, and finally G which creeps into her mind. This difference
seems to me most characteristic, because it indicates very clearly
that the whole performance is possible only when the communicated
content belongs to a small list which can be easily counted. There are
only three face cards, only four suites, only ten numbers, and only
twenty-six letters, but there are ten thousand words and more. It is
easy to connect every one of the ten numbers or every one of the
twenty-six letters with a particular sign, but it would be impossible
to have a sign for every one of the ten thousand words. Yet if we had
to do with real mind-reading, it ought to make no difference whether
we transmit the letter D or the word dog. This fact that she can
recognize words only by slow spelling, while the faces and the suites
of the cards and the names of the numbers come as full words, seems to
me to point most clearly to the whole key of the situation. Anything
which cannot be brought into such a simple number series, for
instance, a colour impression, can never be transmitted. If the mother
looks at the ace of diamonds, Beulah says that she sees the red of the
diamond before her in her mind, but if the mother looks at the picture
of a blue lake, this blue impression can never arise in Beulah's mind,
but only the letters B-L-U-E.

Moreover, I observed that for Beulah the letters of the alphabet were
indeed connected with numbers, as in seeking a letter she has a habit
of going through the alphabet and at the same time moving one finger
after another. Thus she feels each letter as having a definite place
in her series of finger movements, and the finger movements themselves
are often counted by her, so that each letter is finally connected
with a special number. This, indeed, reduces the situation to rather a
simple scheme. She succeeds only if her mother or sister is present
and if her eyes are open, and she succeeds only with material which
can be easily counted. A very short system of simple signs would thus
be entirely sufficient to communicate everything which her
mind-reading brings to her. As to the particular signs, I do not yet
feel sure. It would probably take months of careful examination before
I should find them out, just as in Germany it has taken months for
scholars to discover the unintentional signs which the owner of a
trick horse made, from which the horse was apparently able to
calculate. I have no time to carry on such an investigation in this
case, the more as I do not see that any new insight could be gained by

Once I noticed distinctly how in the card experiments the mother
without her own knowledge made seven movements with her foot when she
thought of the figure seven. That gave me the idea that the signs
might be given by very slight knocking on the floor which Beulah's
oversensitive skin might notice. What speaks against such a view is
that the results stop when she is blindfolded. Yet in this connection
I may mention another aspect. It is quite possible that the covering
of her eyes may destroy her power, and that nevertheless she may
receive her signs chiefly not through the eyes, but through touch and
ear. It may be that she needs her eyes open because the seeing of the
members of the family may heighten by a kind of autosuggestion her
sensitiveness for the perception of the slight signs. I have no doubt
that this kind of autosuggestion plays a large rôle in her mind. She
can read a card much better when she is allowed to touch with her
fingers the rear of the card. She herself believes that she receives
the knowledge through her finger tips. In reality it is, of course, a
stimulus by which she becomes more suggestible and by which
accordingly her sensitiveness to the slight signs which her mother and
sister give her becomes increased. We must, however, never forget that
these signs, whatever they may be, are not only unintentional on the
part of her family, but also not consciously perceived by Beulah. If
she stares at the ceiling, and her mother, without knowing it, makes
seven slight foot movements, Beulah gets through the side parts of her
eye a nerve impression, but she does not think of the foot. This nerve
impression, as we saw, works on the subconscious mind, or on the
brain, and the idea of seven then arises in her conscious mind like a
picture which she can see.

Such a system of signs, completely unknown to those who give them and
to her who receives them, cannot have been built up in a short while.
But we heard how it originated. At first Beulah recognized the queen
in the hands of her sister and mother, when they were playing “Old
Maid.” There are many who have so much power to recognize the small
signs. But when they began to make experiments with cards, probably
definite family habits developed; there was much occasion to treat
each card individually, to link some involuntary movement with the
face cards and some with each suite, and slowly to carry this system
over to letters. They all agree that Beulah recognizes some frequent
letters much more easily than the rare letters. What the observers
have now found was the result of two years' training with mother and
sister. Yet all this became possible only because Beulah evidently has
this unusual, supernormal sensitiveness together with this abnormal
power to receive the signs without their coming at once to
consciousness. Her mental makeup in this respect constantly reminds
the psychologist of the traits of a hysteric woman.

We have to add only one important point. Some startling results have
surely been gained by another method. The same sensitiveness which
makes Beulah able to receive signs which others do not notice,
evidently makes her able to catch words spoken in a low voice within a
certain distance, while she is not consciously giving her attention to
them. She picks up bits of conversation which she overhears and which
settle in her subconscious mind, until they later come to her
consciousness in a way for which she cannot account. All were startled
when at the end of our first day together I took a bill in my closed
hand and asked her what I had there, and she at once replied a
“ten-dollar bill,” while they all agreed that the child had never seen
a ten-dollar bill before. This result surprised the minister and the
judge greatly, and only later did I remember that I had whispered to
the judge in the next room, with the door open, that I should ask her
to tell the figures on a ten-dollar bill. In the same way the greatest
sensation must be explained, which the experiments before my arrival
yielded. The New York lady who came with the minister's family and
others to the house was overwhelmed when Beulah spelled her name,
which, as the affidavit said, was not known to any one else present.
This affidavit was as a matter of course given according to the best
knowledge of all concerned. Yet when later I came to Warren, one of
the participants who told me the incident strengthened it by adding
that he was the more surprised when the child spelled the name
correctly with a K at the end, as he had understood that it was
spelled with a T. In other words, some of those present did know the
name, and the lady had evidently either been introduced or addressed
by some one, and this had slipped from their minds because Beulah was
not in the room. But she was probably in the other room and caught it
in her subconscious mind. At her first début before the minister, too,
by her same abnormal sensitiveness she probably heard when he told the
mother that he had a glass of honey in his pocket. In short, the two
actions of her subconscious mind, or of her brain, always go together,
her noticing of family signs from her mother and sister and her
catching of spoken words from strangers, both under conditions under
which ordinary persons would neither see nor hear them. We have
therefore nothing mysterious, nothing supernatural before us, but an
extremely interesting case of an abnormal mental development, and this
unusual power working in a mind which is entirely naïve and sincere.

How long will this naïveté and sincerity last? This is no
psychological, but a social problem. Since the newspapers have taken
hold of the case, every mail brings heaps of letters from all corners
of the country. Some of them bring invitations to give performances,
but they are not the most dangerous ones. Most of the letters urge the
child to use her mysterious, supernatural powers for trivial or
pathetic ends in the interest of the writers. Sometimes she is to
locate a lost trunk, or a mislaid pocketbook; sometimes she is to
prophesy whether a voyage will go smoothly or whether a business
venture will succeed; sometimes she is to read in her mind where a
runaway child may be found; and almost always money promises are
connected with such requests. The mother, who has not much education
but who is a splendid, right-minded country woman with the very best
intentions for the true good of her children, has ignored all this
silly invasion. She showed me a whole teacupful of two-cent stamps for
replies which she had collected from Beulah's correspondence. But I
ask again, how long will it last? If Beulah closes her eyes and some
chance letters come to her mind, and she forms a word from them and
sends it as a reply to the anxious mother who is seeking her child,
she will soon discover that it is easy to gather money in a world
which wants to be deceived. She is followed by the most tempting
invitations to live in metropolitan houses where sensational
experiments can be performed with her. The naïve mother is still
impressed when a New York woman applies the well-known tricks and
assures her that the child reminds her so much of her own little dead
niece that she ought to come to her New York house. It is a pity how
the community forces sensationalism, commercialism, and finally humbug
and fraud on a naïve little country girl who ought to be left alone
with her pet lamb in her mother's kitchen. Her gift is extremely
interesting to the psychologist, and if it is not misused by those who
try to pump spiritualistic superstitions into her little mind or to
force automatic writing on her it will be harmless and no cause for
hysteric developments. But surely her art is entirely useless for any
practical purpose. She cannot know anything which others do not know
beforehand. Clairvoyant powers or prophetic gifts are not hers, and
above all her mind-reading is a natural process. The edifice of
science will not be shaken by the powers of my little Rhode Island

Yet the most important part is not the fate of the individual child,
but the behaviour of this nation-wide public which chases her into the
swamps of fraud. No one can decide and settle whether the party of
superstition forms the majority or the minority. If all the silent
voters were sincere, they probably would carry the vote for telepathy.
But in any case, such a party exists, and it does not care in the
least that scientific investigations clear up a case which threatens
to bring our world of thought into chaotic disorder. A world of mental
trickery and mystery, a world which by its very principle could never
be understood, is to them instinctively more welcome than a world of
scientific order. There cannot be a more fundamental contrast between
men who are to form a social unit than this radical difference of
attitude toward the world of experience. Compared with this deepest
split in the community, all its other social questions seem temporary
and superficial.


                        THE MIND OF THE JURYMAN

Every lawyer knows some good stories about some wild juries he has
known, which made him shiver and doubt whether a dozen laymen ever can
see a legal point. But every newspaper reader, too, remembers an
abundance of cases in which the decision of the jury startled him by
its absurdity. Who does not recall sensational acquittals in which
sympathy for the defendant or prejudice against the plaintiff carried
away the feelings of the twelve good men and true? For them are the
unwritten laws, for them the mingling of justice with race hatreds or
with gallantry. And even in the heart of New York a judge recently
said to a chauffeur who had killed a child and had been acquitted:
“Now go and get drunk again; then this jury will allow you to run over
as many children as you like.”

Yet whatever the temperament of the jury and its legal insight, we may
sharply separate its ideas of deserved punishment from that far more
important aspect of its function, the weighing of evidence. The
juries may be whimsical in their decisions, they may be lenient in
their acquittals or over-rigid in their verdicts of guilty, but that
is quite in keeping with the democratic spirit of the institution. The
Teutonic nations did not want the abstract law of the scholarly
judges; they want the pulse-beat of life throbbing in the court
decisions, and what may be a wilful ignoring of the law of the jurists
may be a heartfelt expression of the popular sentiment. Better to have
some statutes riddled by the illogical verdicts than legal decisions
severed from the sense of justice which is living in the soul of the
nation. But while a rush into prejudice or a hasty overriding of law
may draw attention to some exceptional verdicts, in the overwhelming
mass of jury decisions nothing is aimed at but a real clearing up of
the facts. The evidence is submitted, and while the lawyers may have
wrangled as to what is evidence and what is not, and while they may
have tried, by their presentation of the witnesses on their own side
and by their cross-examinations, to throw light on some parts of the
evidence and shadow on some others, the jurymen are simply to seek the
truth when all the evidence has been submitted. And mostly they do not
forget that they will live up to their duty best the more they
suppress in their own hearts the question whether they like or
dislike the truth that comes to light. Whoever weighs the social
significance of the jury system ought not to be guided by the few
stray cases in which the emotional response obscures the truth, but
all praise and blame and every scrutiny of the institution ought to be
confined essentially to the ability of the jurymen to live up to their
chief responsibility, the sober finding of the true facts.

It cannot be denied that much criticism has been directed against the
whole jury system in America as well as in Europe by legal scholars as
well as by laymen on account of the prevailing doubt whether the
traditional form is really furthering the clearing up of the hidden
truth. Where the evidence is so perfectly clear that every one by
himself feels from the start exactly like all the others, the
coöperation of the twelve men cannot do any harm, but it cannot do any
particular good either. Such cases do not demand the special interest
of the social reformer. His doubts and fears come up only when
difference of opinion exists, and the discussion and the repeated
votes overcome the divergence of opinion. The skeptics claim that the
system as such may easily be instrumental for suppressing the truth
and bringing the erroneous opinion to victory. In earlier times a
frequent objection was that lack of higher education made men unfit to
weigh correctly the facts in a complicated situation. But this kind of
arguing has been given up for a long while. The famous French lawyer
who, whenever he had a weak case, made use of his right to challenge
jurymen by systematically excluding all persons of higher education,
certainly blundered in this respect, according to the views of to-day.
Those best informed within and without the legal science agree that
the verdicts of straightforward people with public-school education
are in the long run neither better nor worse than those of men with
college schooling or professional training. A jury of artisans and
farmers understands and looks into a mass of neutral material as well
as a jury of bankers and doctors, or at least its final verdict has an
equal chance to hit the truth.

But the critics say that it is not the lack of general or logical
training of the single individual which obstructs the path of justice.
The trouble lies rather in the mutual influence of the twelve men. The
more persons work together, the less, they say, every single man can
reach his highest level. They become a mass with mass consciousness, a
kind of crowd in which each one becomes oversuggestible. Each one
thinks less reliably, less intelligently, and less impartially than
he would by himself alone. We know how men in a crowd do indeed lose
some of the best features of their individuality. A crowd may be
thrown into a panic, may rush into any foolish, violent action, may
lynch and plunder, or a crowd may be stirred to a pitch of enthusiasm,
may be roused to heroic deeds or to wonderful generosity, but whether
the outcome be wretched or splendid, in any case it is the product of
persons who have been entirely changed. In the midst of the panic or
in the midst of the heroic enthusiasm no one has kept his own
characteristic mental features. The individual no longer judges for
himself; he is carried away, his own heart reverberates with the
feelings of the whole crowd. The mass consciousness is not an adding
up, a mere summation, of the individual minds, but the creation of
something entirely new. Such a crowd may be pushed into any paths,
chance leaders may use or misuse its increased suggestibility for any
ends. No one can foresee whether this heaping up of men will bring
good or bad results. Certainly the individual level of the crowd will
always be below the level of its best members. And is not a jury
necessarily such a group with a mass consciousness of its own? Every
individual is melted into the total, has lost his independent power
of judging, and becomes influenced through his heightened
suggestibility and social feeling by any chance pressure which may
push toward error as often as toward truth.

But if such arguments are brought into play, it is evident that it is
no longer a legal question, but a psychological one. The psychologist
alone deals scientifically with the problem of mutual mental influence
and with the reënforcing or awakening of mental energies by social
coöperation. He should accordingly investigate the question with his
own methods and deal with it from the standpoint of the scientist.
This means he is not simply to form an opinion from general vague
impressions and to talk about it as about a question of politics,
where any man may have his personal idea or fancy, but to discover the
facts by definite experiments. The modern student of mental life is
accustomed to the methods of the laboratory. He wants to see exact
figures by which the essential facts come into sharp relief. But let
us understand clearly what such an experiment means. When the
psychologist goes to work in his laboratory, his aim is to study those
thoughts and emotions and feelings and deeds which move our social
world. But his aim is not simply to imitate or to repeat the social
scenes of the community. He must simplify them and bring them down to
the most elementary situations, in which only the characteristic
mental actions are left. Is this not the way in which the
experimenters proceed in every field? The physicist or the chemist
does not study the great events as they occur in nature on a large
scale and with bewildering complexity of conditions, but he brings
down every special fact which interests him to a neat, miniature copy
on his laboratory table. There he mixes a few chemical solutions in
his retorts and his test-tubes, or produces the rays or sparks or
currents with his subtle laboratory instruments, and he feels sure
that whatever he finds there must hold true everywhere in the gigantic
universe. If the waters move in a certain way in the little tank on
his table, he knows that they must move according to the same laws in
the midst of the ocean. In this spirit the psychologist arranges his
experiments too. He does not carry them on in the turmoil of social
life, but prepares artificial situations in which the persons will
show the laws of mental behaviour. An experiment on memory or
attention or imagination or feeling may bring out in a few minutes
mental facts which the ordinary observer would discover only if he
were to watch the behaviour and life attitudes of the man for years.
Everything depends upon the degree with which the characteristic
mental states are brought into play under experimental conditions. The
great advantage of the experimental method is, here as everywhere,
that everything can be varied and changed at will and that the
conditions and the effects can be exactly measured.

If we apply these principles to the question of the jury, the task is
clear. We want to find out whether the coöperation, the discussion,
and the repeated voting of a number of individuals are helping or
hindering them in the effort to judge correctly upon a complex
situation. We must therefore artificially create a situation which
brings into action the judgment, the discussion, and the vote, but if
we are loyal to the idea of experimenting we must keep the experiment
free from all those features of a real jury deliberation which have
nothing to do with the mental action itself. Moreover, it is evident
that the situations to be judged must allow a definite knowledge as to
the objective truth. The experimenter must know which verdict of his
voters corresponds to the real facts. Secondly, the situation must be
difficult in order that a real doubt may prevail. If all the voters
were on one side from the start, no discussion would be needed.
Thirdly, it must be a rather complex situation in order that the
judgment may be influenced by a number of motives. Only in this case
will it be possible for the discussion to point out factors which the
other party may have overlooked, thus giving a chance for changes of
mind. All these demands must be fulfilled if the experiment is really
to picture the jury function. But it would be utterly superfluous and
would make the exact measurement impossible if the material on which
the judgment is to be based were of the same kind of which the
evidence in the courtroom is composed. The trial by jury in an actual
criminal case may involve many picturesque and interesting details,
but the mental act of judging is no different when the most trivial
objects are chosen.

I settled on the following simple device: I used sheets of dark gray
cardboard. On each were pasted white paper dots of different form and
in an irregular order. Each card had between ninety-two and a hundred
and eight such white dots of different sizes. The task was to compare
the number of spots on one card with the number of spots on another.
Perhaps I held up a card with a hundred and four dots above, and below
one with ninety-eight. Then the subjects of the experiment had to
decide whether the upper card had more dots or fewer dots or an equal
number compared with the lower one. I made the first set of
experiments with eighteen Harvard students. I took more than the
twelve men who form a jury in order to reënforce the possible effect,
but did not wish to exceed the number greatly, so that the character
of the discussion might be similar to that in a jury. A much larger
number would have made the discussion too formal or too unruly. The
eighteen men sat around a long table and were first allowed to look
for half a minute at the two big cards, each forming his judgment
independently. Then at a signal every one had to write down whether
the number of dots on the upper card was larger, equal, or smaller.
Immediately after that they had to indicate by a show of hands how
many had voted for each of the three possibilities. After that a
discussion began. Indeed, the two cards offered plenty of points for
earnest and vivid discussion. During the exchange of opinion in which
those who had voted larger tried to convince the party of the smaller,
and vice versa, they were always able to look at the cards and to
refer to them, pointing to the various parts. One showed how the
distances on the one card appeared larger, and another pointed out how
the spots were clustered in a certain region, a third how the dots
were smaller in some parts, a fourth spoke about the optical
illusions, a fifth about certain impressions resulting from the
narrowness of the margin, and a sixth about the effect of certain
irregularities in the distribution. In short, very different aspects
were considered and very different factors emphasized. The discussion
was sometimes quite excited, three or four men speaking at the same
time. After exactly five minutes of talking the vote was repeated,
again at first being written and then being taken by show of hands. A
second five minutes' exchange of opinion followed with a new effort to
convince the dissenters. After this period the third and last vote was
taken. This experiment was carried out with a variety of cards with
smaller or larger difference of numbers, but the difference always
enough to allow an uncertainty of judgment. Here, indeed, we had
repeated all the essential conditions of the jury vote and discussion,
and the mental state was characteristically similar to that of the

The very full accounts which the participants in the experiment wrote
down the following day indicated clearly that we had a true imitation
of the mental process in spite of the striking simplicity of our
conditions. One man, for instance, described his inner experience as
follows: “I think the experiment involves factors quite comparable to
those that determine the verdict of a jury. The cards with their
spots are the evidence pro and con which each juryman has before him
to interpret. Each person's decision on the number is his
interpretation of the situation. The arguments, too, seem quite
comparable to the arguments of the jury. Both consist in pointing out
factors of the situation that have been overlooked and in showing how
different interpretations may be possible.” Another man writes: “In
the experiment it seemed that one man judged by one criterion and
another by another, such as distribution, size of spots, vacant
spaces, or counting along one edge. Discussion often brought immediate
attention to other criterions than those he used in his first
judgment, and these often outweighed the original. Similarly,
different jurymen would base their opinion on different aspects of the
case, and discussion would tend to draw their attention to other
aspects. The experiment also illustrated the relative weight given to
the opinion of different fellow-jurymen. I found that the statements
of a few of the older men who have had more extensive psychological
experience weighed more with me than those of the others. Suggestion
did not seem to be much of a factor. A man is rather on his mettle,
and ready to defend his original impression, until he finds that it is
hopeless.” Again, another writes: “To me the experiment seemed fairly
comparable to the real situation. As in an actual trial, the full
truth was not available, but certain evidence was presented to all for
interpretation. As to the nature of the discussion itself, I think
there was the same mingling of suggestion and real argument that is to
be found in a jury discussion.” Another says: “The discussion
influenced me by suggesting other methods of analysis. For instance,
comparison of the amount of open space in two cards, comparison of the
number of dots along the edges, estimation in diagonal lines, were
methods mentioned in the discussion which I used in forming my own
judgments. It does not seem to me that in my own case direct
suggestion had any appreciable effect. I was conscious of a tendency
toward contrasuggestibility. There was a half submerged feeling that
it would be good sport to stick it out for the losing side. The lack
of any unusual amount of suggestion and the presence of the influences
of analysis and detailed comparison seem to me to show that the tests
were in fact fairly comparable to situations in a jury room.” To be
sure, there were a few who were strongly impressed by the evident
differences between the rich material of an actual trial and the
meagre content of our tests: there the actions of living men, here the
space relations of little spots. But they evidently did not
sufficiently realize that the forming of such number judgments was not
at all a question of mere perception; that on the contrary many
considerations were involved; most men felt the similarity from the

What were the results of this first group of experiments? Our interest
must evidently be centred on the question of how many judgments were
correct at the first vote before any discussion and any show of hands
were influencing the minds of the men, and how many were correct at
the last vote after the two periods of discussion and after taking
cognizance of the two preceding votes. If I sum up all the results,
the outcome is that 52 per cent. of the first votes were correct and
78 per cent. of the final votes were correct. The discussion of the
successive votes had therefore led to an improvement of 26 per cent.
of all votes. Or, as the correct votes were at first 52 per cent.,
their number is increased by one half. May we not say that this
demonstrates in exact figures that the confidence in the jury system
is justified? And may it not be added that, in view of the widespread
prejudices, the result is almost surprising? Here we had men of high
intelligence who were completely able to take account of every
possible aspect of the situation. They had time to do so, they had
training to do so, and every foregoing experiment ought to have
stimulated them to do so in the following ones. Yet their judgment was
right in only 52 per cent. of the cases until they heard the opinions
of the others and saw how they voted. The mere seeing of the vote,
however, cannot have been decisive, because 48 per cent., that is,
practically half of the votes, were at first incorrect. The wrong
votes might have had as much suggestive influence on those who voted
rightly as the right votes on those on the wrong side. If,
nevertheless, the change was so strongly in the right direction, the
result must clearly have come from the discussion.

But I am not at the end of my story. I made exactly the same
experiments also with a class of advanced female university students.
When I started, my aim was not to examine the differences of men and
women, but only to have ampler material, and I confined my work to
students in psychological classes, because I was anxious to get the
best possible scientific analysis of the inner experiences. I had no
prejudice in favour of or against women as members of the jury, any
more than my experiments were guided by a desire to defend or to
attack the jury system. I was only anxious to clear up the facts. The
women students had exactly the same opportunities for seeing the
cards and the votes and for exchanging opinions. The discussions,
while carried on for the same length of time, were on the whole less
animated. There was less desire to convince and more restraint, but
the record, which was taken in shorthand, showed nearly the same
variety of arguments which the men had brought forward. Everything
agreed exactly with the experiments with the men, and the only
difference was in the results. The first vote of all experiments with
the women showed a slightly smaller number of right judgments. The
women had 45 per cent. correct judgments, as against the 52 per cent.
of the men. I should not put any emphasis on this difference. It may
be said that the men had more training in scientific observations and
the task was therefore slightly easier for them than for most of the
women. I should say that, all taken together, men and women showed an
equal ability in immediate judgment, as with both groups about half of
the first judgments were correct. The fact that with the men 2 per
cent. more, with the women 5 per cent. less, than half were right
would not mean much. But the situation is entirely different with the
second figure. We saw that for the men the discussion secured an
increase from 52 per cent. to 78 per cent.; with the women the
increase is not a single per cent. The first votes were 45 per cent.
right, and the last votes were 45 per cent. right. In other words,
they had not learned anything from discussion.

It would not be quite correct if we were to draw from that the
conclusion that the women did not change their minds at all. If we
examine the number of cases in which in the course of the first,
second, and third votes in any of the experiments some change
occurred, we find changes in 40 per cent. of all judgments of the men
and 19 per cent. of all judgments of the women. This does not mean
that a change in a particular case necessarily made the last vote
different from the first; we not seldom had a case where, for
instance, the first vote was larger, the second equal, and the third
again larger. And as a matter of course, where a change between the
first and the last occurred, it was not always a change in the right
direction. Moreover, it must not be forgotten that the votes always
covered three possibilities, and not only two. It was therefore
possible for the first vote to be wrong, and then for a change to
occur to another wrong vote. The 19 per cent. changes in the decisions
of the women contained accordingly as many cases in which right was
turned into wrong as in which wrong was turned into right, while with
the men the changes to the right had an overweight of 26 per cent.
The self-analysis of the women indicated clearly the reason for their
mental stubbornness. They heard the arguments, but they were so fully
under the autosuggestion of their first decision that they fancied
that they had known all that before, and that they had discounted the
arguments of their opponents in the first vote. The cobbler has to
stick to his last; the psychologist has to be satisfied with analyzing
the mental processes, but it is not his concern to mingle in politics.
He must leave it to others to decide whether it will really be a gain
if the jury box is filled with individuals whose minds are unable to
profit from discussion and who return to their first idea, however
much is argued from the other side. It is evident that this tendency
of the female mind must be advantageous for many social purposes. The
woman remains loyal to her instinctive opinion. Hence we have no right
to say that the one type of mind is in general better than the other.
We may say only that they are different, and that this difference
makes the men fit and the women unfit for the particular task which
society requires from the jurymen.

Practical experience seems to affirm this experimental result on many
sides. The public of the east is still too little aware of this new
and yet powerful influence in the far west, where the jury box is
accessible to women. There is no need to point to extreme cases. Any
average trial may illustrate the situation. I have before me the
reports of the latest murder trial at Seattle, the case of Peter
Miller. The case was unusual only in that the defendant had been
studying criminal law during his incarceration in jail, and addressed
the jury himself on his own behalf in an argument that is said to have
lasted nine hours. The jury was out quite a long time. Eleven were for
acquittal, one woman was against it. The next day the papers brought
out long interviews with her in which she explained the situation. She
characterized her general standing in this way: “I am a dressmaker,
and go out every day, six days in the week. I read the classified ads
and glance at the headlines, but I don't have much time to waste on
anything else.” But her attitude in the jury room was very similar.
She says: “I was sure of my opinion. I didn't try to change anybody
else's opinion. I just kept my own. They argued a good deal and asked
me if the fact that eleven of twelve had been convinced by the same
evidence of Peter Miller's innocence didn't shake my faith in my own
judgment. Well, it didn't. We were out twenty-four hours. I borrowed a
pair of knitting needles from one of the jurors, and I sat there and
knitted most of the time.” The State of Washington will now have to
have a new trial, as the jury could not agree. There will probably
still be many hung juries because some dressmaker borrows a pair of
knitting needles from one of the jurors, knits most of the time, and
lets the others argue, as she is sure of her own opinion. The naïve
epigram of this model juror, “I didn't try to change anybody else's
opinion; I just kept my own,” illuminates the whole situation. This is
no contrast to the popular idea that woman easily changes her mind.
She changes it, but others cannot change it.

In order to make quite sure that the discussion and not the seeing of
the vote is responsible for the marked improvement in the case of men,
I carried on some further experiments in which the voting alone was
involved. To bring this mental process to strongest expression, I went
far beyond the small circle which was needed for the informal exchange
of opinion, and operated instead with my large class of psychological
students in Harvard. I have there four hundred and sixty students, and
accordingly had to use much larger cards with large dots. I showed to
them any two cards twice. There was an interval of twenty seconds
between the first and the second exposures, and each time they looked
at the cards for three seconds. In one half of the experiments that
interval was not filled at all; in the other half a quick show of
hands was arranged so that every one could see how many on the first
impression judged the upper card as having more or an equal number or
fewer dots than the lower. After the second exposure every one had to
write down his final result. The pairs of cards which were exposed
when the show of hands was made were the same as those which were
shown without any one knowing how the other men judged. We calculated
the results on the basis of four hundred reports. They showed that the
total number of right judgments in the cases without showing hands was
60 per cent. correct; in those with show of hands about 65 per cent. A
hundred and twenty men had turned from the right to the wrong—that
is, had more incorrect judgments when they saw how the other men voted
than when they were left to themselves.

It is true that those who turned from worse to better by seeing the
vote of the others were in a slight majority, bringing the total vote
5 per cent. upward, but this difference is so small that it could just
as well be explained by the mere fact that this act of public voting
reënforced the attention and improved a little the total vote through
this stimulation of the social consciousness. It is not surprising
that the mere seeing of the votes in such cases has such a small
effect, incomparable with that of a real discussion in which new
vistas are opened, inasmuch as in 40 per cent. of the cases the
majority was evidently on the wrong side from the start. Those who are
swept away by the majority would therefore in 40 per cent. of the
cases be carried to the wrong side. I went still further and examined
by psychological methods the degree of suggestibility of those four
hundred participants in the experiment, and the results showed that
the fifty most suggestible men profited from the seeing of the vote of
the majority no more than the fifty least suggestible ones. In both
cases there was an increase of about 5 per cent. correct judgments. I
drew also from this the conclusion that the show of hands was
ineffective as a direct influence toward correctness, and that it had
only the slight indirect value of forcing the men to concentrate their
attention better on those cards. All results, therefore, point in the
same direction: it is really the argument which brings a coöperating
group nearer to the truth, and not the seeing how the other men vote.
Hence the psychologist has every reason to be satisfied with the jury
system as long as the women are kept out of it.


                        EFFICIENCY ON THE FARM

We city people who are feeding on city-made public opinion forget that
we are in the minority, and that the interests of the fifty millions
of the rural population are fundamental for the welfare of the whole
nation. Moreover, the life of the city itself is most intimately
intertwined with the work on the farm; banking and railroading,
industrial enterprises and commercial life, are dependent upon the
farmers' credit and the farmers' prosperity. The nation is beginning
to understand that it would be a calamity indeed if the tempting
attractiveness of the city should drain off still more the human
material from the village and from the field. The cry “back to the
land” goes through the whole world, and this means more than a camping
tour in the holidays and some magazine numbers of _Country Life in
America_ by the fireplace. Its meaning ought to be that every nation
which wants to remain healthy and strong must take care that the
obvious advantages of metropolitan life are balanced by the joys and
gains of the villager who lacks the shop windows and the exciting

Certainly the devices of the city inventor, the telephone and the
motor car and a thousand other gifts of the last generation, have
overcome much of the loneliness, and the persistent efforts of the
states to secure better roads and better schools in the country have
enriched and multiplied the values of rural life. Yet the most direct
aid is, after all, that which increases the efficiency of farming
itself. In this respect, too, we feel the rapid progress throughout
the country. The improvements in method which the scientific efforts
of all nations have secured are eagerly distributed to the remotest
corners. The agents of the governmental Bureau of Agriculture, the
agricultural county demonstrators, the rapidly spreading agricultural
schools, take care that the farmer's “commonsense” with its
backwardness and narrowness be replaced by an insight which results
from scientific experiment and exact calculation. Agricultural
science, based on physics and chemistry, on botany and zoölogy, has
made wonderful strides during the last few decades. It must be
confessed that the self-complaisance of the farmer and the power of
tradition have offered not a little resistance to the practical
application of the knowledge which the agricultural experiments
establish, and the blending of the well-known conservative attitude of
the farmer with a certain carelessness and deficiency in education has
kept the production of the American farm still far below the yielding
power which the present status of knowledge would allow. Other
nations, more trained in hard labour and painstaking economy and
accustomed to most careful rotation of crops, obtain a much richer
harvest from the acre, even where the nature of the soil is poor. But
the longing of the farmer for the best methods is rapidly growing,
too, and in many a state he shows a splendid eagerness to try new
ways, to develop new plans, and to progress with the advance of

In such an age it seems fair to ask whether the circle of sciences
which are made contributory to the efficiency of the agriculturist has
been drawn large enough. It is, of course, most important for every
farmer to know the soil and whatever may grow on it and feed on it.
All the new discoveries as to the power of phosphates to increase the
crop or as to the part which protozoa play in the inhibition of
fertility, or the influence of parasites on the enemies of the crops
and the numberless naturalistic details of this type, are certainly
most important. Yet does it not look as if in all the operations which
the worker on the land has to perform everything is carefully
considered by science, and only the chief thing left out, the worker
and his work? He is earnestly advised as to every detail in the order
of nature: he learns by what chemical substances to improve the soil,
what seeds are to be used, and when they are to be planted, what
breeds of animals to raise and how to feed them. But no scientific
interest has thrown light on his own activity in planting the seed and
gathering the harvest, in picking the fruit and caring for the stock.

No doubt, the agent of some trust has recommended to him the newest
machines; but their help still belongs, after all, to the part of
outer nature. They are physical apparatus, and even if the farmer uses
nowadays dynamite to loosen the soil, all this new-fashioned power yet
remains scientific usage of the knowledge of nature. But behind all
this physical and chemical material in which and through which the
farmer and his men are working stand the farmer himself with his
intelligence, and his men themselves with their lack of intelligence.
This human factor, this bundle of ideas and volitions and feelings and
judgments, must ultimately be the centre of the whole process. There
is no machine which can do its best if it is wrongly used, no tool
which can be effective if it is not set to work by an industrious
will. The human mind has to keep in motion that whole great mechanism
of farm life. It is the farmer's foresight and insight which plough
and plant and fill the barns. For a long while the average farmer
thought about nature, too, that he could know all he needed, if he
applied his homemade knowledge. That time has passed, and even he
relies on the meteorology telegram of the scientific bureaus rather
than on the weather rules of his grandfather. But when it comes to the
mental processes which enter into the agricultural work, he would
think it queer to consult science. He would not even be aware that
there is anything to know. The soil and the seed and even the plough
and the harvester are objects about which you can learn. But the
attention with which the man is to do his work, the memory, the
perception, the ideas which make themselves felt, the emotions and the
will which control the whole work, would never be objects about which
he would seek new knowledge; they are no problems for him, they are
taken for granted.

Yet we have to-day a full-fledged science which does deal with these
mental processes. Psychology speaks about real things as much as
chemistry, and the laws of mental life may be relied on now more
safely than the laws of meteorology. It seems unnatural that those
who have the interests of agriculture at heart should turn the
attention of the farmer exclusively to the results of the material
sciences and ignore completely the thorough, scientific interest in
the processes of the mind. To be sure, until recently we had the same
shortcoming in industrial enterprises of the factories. Manufacturer
and workingman looked as if hypnotized at the machines, forgetting
that those wheels of steel were not the only working powers under the
factory roof. A tremendous effort was devoted to the study and
improvement of the industrial apparatus and of the raw material, while
the mental fitness and the mental method of the army of workingmen was
dealt with unscientifically and high-handedly. But within the last few
years the attention of the industrial world has been seriously turned
to the matter-of-course fact that the workman's mind is more important
than the machine and the material, if the highest economic output is
to be secured. The great movement for scientific management, however
much or little its original plans may survive, has certainly once for
all convinced the world that the study of the man and his functions
ought to be the chief interest of the market, even in our electrical
age; and the more modest movement for vocational guidance has
emphasized this personal factor from sociological motives. At last
the psychologists themselves approached the problem of the worker in
the factory, began to examine his individual fitness for his work, and
to devise tests in order to select quickly those whose inborn mental
capacity makes them particularly adjusted to special lines of work.
Above all, they examined the methods by which the individual learned
and got his training in the technical activities, they began to
determine the exact conditions which secured the greatest amount of
the best possible work with the greatest saving of human energy. All
this is certainly still at its beginning, but even if the solutions of
the problems are still insufficient, the problems themselves will not
again be lost sight of. The most obvious acknowledgment of the
importance of these demands lies in the fact that already the quack
advice of pseudo-psychologists is offered from many sides. The
up-to-date manufacturer knows, even if he is not interested in the
social duties involved, that the mere economic interest demands a much
more serious study of the workingman's mind than any one thought of
ten years ago.

This change must finally come into the agricultural circles. The
consequences of the usual, or rather invariable neglect, are felt less
in agriculture than in industry, because the work is so much more
scattered. The harmful effects of poor adjustment and improper
training must be noticed more easily where many thousands are crowded
together within the walls of the same mill. But it would be an
illusion to fancy that the damage and the loss of efficiency are
therefore less in the open field than in the narrow factory. On the
contrary, the conditions favour the workshop. There everybody stands
under constant supervision, and what is still more important, always
has the chance for imitation. Every improvement, almost every new
trick and every new hand movement which succeeds with one, is taken up
by his neighbour and spreads over the establishment. The principle of
farm work is isolation. One hardly knows what another is doing, and
where several do coöperate, they are generally engaged in different
functions. Even where the farmhands work in large groups, the attitude
is much less that of team work than of a mere summation of individual
workers. In the country as a whole the man who works on the farm has
to gather his experience for himself, has to secure every advance for
himself, and has to miss the benefit which the social atmosphere of
industrial work everywhere furnishes.

It would be utterly misleading to think that the long history of
mankind's agricultural pursuits ought to have been sufficient to bring
together the necessary experience. The analysis of the vocational
activities has given every evidence that even the oldest functions are
performed in an impractical, inefficient way. The students of
scientific management have demonstrated how the work of the mason, as
old as civilization itself, is carried on every day in every land with
methods which can be improved at once, as soon as a scientific study
of the motions themselves is started. It could hardly be otherwise,
and the principle might be illustrated by any chance case. If a girl
were left to herself to learn typewriting, the best way would seem to
her to be to pick out the letters with her two forefingers. She would
slowly seek the right key for each letter and press it down. In this
way she would be in the pleasant position of producing a little letter
after only half an hour of trial. As soon as she has succeeded with
such a first half page, she will see only the one goal of increasing
the rapidity and accuracy, and by hard training she will indeed gain
steadily in speed and correctness, and after a year she will write
rather quickly. Yet she will never succeed in reaching the ideal
proficiency. In order to attain the highest point, she ought to have
started with an entirely different method. She ought to have begun at
once to use all her fingers, and, moreover, to use them without
looking at the keyboard. If she had started with this difficult method
she would never have succeeded in writing a letter the first day. It
would have taken weeks to reach that achievement which the simpler
method yields almost at once. But in plodding along on this harder
road she would finally outdistance the competitor with the commonsense
method and would finally gain the highest degree of efficiency. This
is exactly the situation everywhere. Commonsense always grasps for
those methods which quickly lead to a modest success, but which can
never lead to maximum achievement. On the other hand, up to the days
of modern experimental psychology the interest was not focussed on the
mental operations involved in industrial life as such. Everything was
left to commonsense, and therefore it is not surprising that the
farmhand like the workingman in the mill has never hit upon the one
method which is best, as all his instincts and natural tendencies had
to lead him to the second or third best method, since these alone give
immediate results.

A highly educated man who spent his youth in a corn-raising community
reports to me the following psychological observation: However
industrious all the boys of the village were, one of them was always
able to husk about a half as much more corn than any one else. He
seemed to have an unusual talent for handling so many more ears than
any one of his rivals could manage. Once my friend had a chance to
inquire of the man with the marvellous skill how he succeeded in
outdoing them so completely, and then he learned that no talent was
involved, but a simple psychological device, almost a trick. The
worker who husks the ear is naturally accustomed to make his hand and
finger movements while his eyes are fixed on them. As soon as one ear
is husked, the attention turns to the next, the eyes look around and
find the one which best offers itself to be handled next. When the
mind, under the control of the eyes, has made its choice, the mental
impulse is given to the arms, and the hands take hold of it. Yet it is
evident that these manipulations can be carried on just as well
without the constant supervision of the eyes. The eye is needed only
to find the corn and to direct the impulse of the hands toward picking
it up. But the eye is no longer necessary for the detailed movements
in husking. Hence it must be possible to perform that act of vision
and that choice of the second ear while the hands are still working on
the first. The initial stage of the work on the second ear then
overlaps the final stages of the work with the first, and this must
mean a considerable saving of time.

This was exactly the scheme on which that marvel of the village had
struck. He had forced on himself this artificial breaking of the
attention, and had trained himself to have his eyes performing their
work independent of the activity of the hands. My friend assures me
that as soon as he had heard of the trick, there was no difficulty in
his imitating it, and immediately the number of ears which he was able
to husk in a given time was increased by 30 per cent. The mere
immediate instinct would always keep the eye movement and the hand
movements coupled together. A certain artificial effort is necessary
to overcome this natural coördination. But if this secret scheme had
been known to all the boys in the village, ten would have been able to
perform what fifteen did. Of course this is an utterly trivial
incident, and where my friend husked corn in his boyhood days, to-day
probably the cornharvester is doing it more quickly anyhow. But as
long as real scientific effort has not been applied toward examining
the details, we have to rely on such occasional observations in order
at first to establish the principle. Every one knows that just such
illustrations might as well be taken from the picking of berries, in
which the natural method is probably an absurd waste of energy, and
yet which in itself seems so insignificant that up to present days no
scientific efforts have been made to find out the ideal methods.

Similar accidental observations are suggested by the well-known
experiments with shovelling carried on in the interest of industry,
where the shovelling of coal and of pig iron demanded a careful
investigation into the best conditions for using the shovel. It was
found that it is an unreasonable waste of energy to use the same size
and form of tool for lifting the heavy and the light material. With
the same size of shovel the iron will make such a heavy load that the
energies are exhausted, and the coal will give such a light load that
the energies are not sufficiently made use of. It became necessary to
determine the ideal load with which the greatest amount of work with
the slightest fatigue could be performed, and that demanded a much
larger shovel for the light than for the heavy substance. Exactly this
situation repeats itself with the spade of the farmer. The conditions
are somewhat different, but the principle must be the same. Of course
the farmer may use spades of different sizes, but he is far from
bringing the product of spade surface and weight to a definite
equation. Sometimes he wastes his energies and sometimes he exhausts
them. But it is not only a question of the size of shovel or spade.
The whole position of the body, the position of the hands, the
direction of the attention, the rhythm of the movement, the pauses
between the successive actions, the optical judgment as to the place
where the spade ought to cut the ground, the distribution of energy,
the respiration, and many similar parts of the total psychophysical
process demand exact analysis if the greatest efficiency is to be
reached. Everybody knows what an amount of attention the golf player
has to give to every detail of his movement, and yet it would be
easier to discover by haphazard methods the best way to handle the
golf stick than to use the spade to the best effect.

On the other hand, the better method is not at all necessarily the
more difficult one. More effort is needed at the beginning to acquire
an exactly adjusted scheme of movement, but as soon as the
well-organized activity has become habitual, it will realize itself
with less inner interference. For the educated it is no harder to
speak correct grammar than to speak slang, and it is no more difficult
to write orthographically than to indulge in chaotic spelling, just as
in every field it is no harder to show good manners than to behave
rudely. If the sciences of digging and chopping, of reaping and
raking, of weeding and mowing, of spraying and feeding, are all
postulates of the future, each can transform the chance methods into
exact ones, and that means into truly efficient ones, only when every
element has been brought under the scrutiny of the psychological
laboratory. We must measure the time in hundredths of a second, must
study the psychophysical conditions of every movement, where not trees
are cut or hay raked, but where the tools move systems of levers which
record graphically the exact amount and character of every partial
effect. The one problem of the distribution of work and rest alone is
of such tremendous importance for the agricultural work that a real
scientific study of the details might lead to just as much saving as
the introduction of new machinery. The farmhand, who would never think
of wasting his money, wastes his energies by contracting big muscles,
where a better economized system of movement would allow him to reach
the same result through the contraction of smaller muscles, which
involves much less energy and much less fatigue. The loss by wrong
bending and wrong coördination of movement may be greater than by bad

Yet commonsense can never be sufficient to find the right motor will
impulses. The ideal distribution of pauses is extremely different from
merely stopping the work when a state of overfatigue has been reached.
Even general scientific rules could not be the last word. Subtle
psychological tests would have to be devised by which the plan for
alternation between work and rest could be carefully adjusted to the
individual needs of every rural worker. The mere sensation of fatigue
may be entirely misleading. It must be brought into definite relations
to temperature, moistness, character of the work, training, and other
factors. On the other hand, the absence of fatigue feeling would be in
itself no indication that the limit of safety has not been passed, and
yet the work itself must suffer when objective overfatigue of the
system has begun. At the right moment a short interruption may secure
again the complete conditions for successful work. If that moment has
passed, an exhaustion may result which can no longer be repaired by a
short rest. Any wrong method of performing these simple activities,
that is, any method which is not based on exact scientific analysis,
wastes the energies of the workingman, and by that the economic means
of the farm owner, and indirectly the economic resources of the whole
nation. In the Harvard Psychological Laboratory we are at present
engaged in the investigation of such an apparently trivial function
as sewing by hand. The finger which guides the needle is attached to a
system of levers which write an exact graphic record of every stitch
on a revolving drum. And the deeper we enter into this study the more
we discover that such a movement, of which every seamstress and every
girl who makes her clothes feels that she knows everything, contains
an abundance of important features of which we do not as yet know
anything. With the same scientific exactitude the laboratory must
investigate the milking, or the making of butter, the feeding of the
cattle and the picking of the fruit, the use of the scythe and the
axe, the pruning and the husking. The mere fact that every one, even
with the least skill, is able to carry out such movements with some
result, does not in the least guarantee that any one carries them out
to-day with the best result possible.

The governmental experiment station ought to establish regular
psychological laboratories, in which the mental processes involved in
the farmer's activity would be examined with the same loyalty to
modern science with which the chemical questions of the soil or the
biological questions of the parasites are furthered. Only such
investigations could give the right cues also to the manufacturers of
farming implements. At present the machines are constructed with the
single purpose of greatest physical usefulness, and the farmer who
uses them has to adjust himself to them. The only human factor which
enters into the construction so far has been a certain desire for
comfort and ease of handling. But as soon as the mental facts involved
are really examined, they ought to become decisive for the details of
the machine. The handle which controls the lever, and every other
part, must be placed so that the will finds the smallest possible
resistance, so that one psychical impulse prepares the way for the
next, and then a maximum of activity can be reached with the smallest
possible psychophysical energy. Such a psychological department of the
agricultural station could be expanded, and study not only the mental
conditions of farming, but examine also the psychological factors
which belong indirectly to the sphere of agricultural work. It may
examine the mental effects which the various products of the farm stir
up in the customers. The feelings and emotions, the volitions and
ideas which are suggested by the vegetables and fruits, the animals
and the flowers, are not without importance for the success in the
market. The psychology of colour and taste, of smell and touch and
form, may be useful knowledge for the scientific farmer, and even his
methods of packing and preparing for the market, of displaying and
advertising, may be greatly improved by contact with applied

At least one of the psychological side problems demands especial
attention, the mental life of the animals. Animal psychology is no
longer made up of hunting stories and queer observations on ants and
wasps, and gossip about pet cats and dogs and canary birds. It has
become an exact science, which is housed in the psychological
laboratories of the universities. And with this change the centre of
interest has shifted, too. The mind of the animals is not studied in
order to satisfy our zoölogical interest, but really to serve an
understanding of the mental functions. It was therefore appropriate to
introduce those methods which had been tested in human psychology. In
our Harvard Psychological Laboratory, in which a whole floor of the
building is devoted exclusively to animal experiments under
specialists, single functions like memory or attention or emotion are
tested in earthworms or turtles or pigeons or monkeys, and the results
are no less accurate than those of subtlest human work. But this
experimental animal psychology has so far served theoretical interests
only. It stands where human psychology stood before the contact with
pedagogy, medicine, law, commerce, and industry suggested particular
formulations of the experiments. Such contact with the needs of
practical life ought to be secured now for animal psychology. The
farmer who has to do with cows and swine and sheep, with dogs and
horses, with chickens and geese, with pigeons and bees, ought to have
an immediate interest to seek this contact. But his concern ought to
go still further. He has to fight the animals that threaten his

The farmer himself knows quite well how important the psychical
behaviour of the animals is for his success. He knows how the milk of
the cows is influenced by emotional excitement, and how the handling
of horses demands an understanding of their mental dispositions and
temperaments. Sometimes he even works already with primitive
psychological methods. He makes use of the mental instinct which draws
insects to the light when he attracts the dangerous moths with light
at night in order to destroy them. Ultimately all the traps and nets
with which the enemies of the crop are caught are schemes for which
psychotechnical calculations are decisive. The means for breaking the
horses, down to the whip and the spur and the blinders, are after all
the tools of applied psychology. The manufacturer is already
beginning to supply the farmer with some practical psychology: dogs
which despise the ordinary dog biscuits, seem quite satisfied with the
same cheap foods when they are manufactured in the form of bones. The
dog first plays with them and then eats them. There is no reason why
everything should be left to mere tradition and chance in a field in
which the methods are sufficiently developed to give exact practical
results, as soon as distinct practical questions are raised. There
would be no difficulty in measuring the reaction times of the horses
in thousandths of a second for optical and acoustical and tactual
impressions, or in studying the influence of artificial colour effects
on the various insects in the service of agriculture.

Especial importance may be attached to those investigations in animal
psychology which trace the inheritance of individual characteristics.
The laboratory psychologist studies, for instance, the laws according
to which qualities like savageness and tameness are distributed in the
succeeding generations. He studies the proportions of those traits in
hundreds of mice, which are especially fit for the experiment on
account of their quick multiplication. But this may lead immediately
to important results for the farmers with reference to mental traits
in breeding animals. It would be misleading if it were denied that
all this is a programme to-day and not a realization, a promise and
not a fulfilment. The field is practically still uncultivated. But in
a time in which the nation is anxious to economize the national
resources, which were too long wasted, and in which the need of
helping the farmer and of intensifying the values of rural life is
felt so generally, it would be reckless to ignore a promise the
fulfilment of which seems so near. To be sure, the farmers cultivated
their fields through thousands of years without chemistry, just as
they do their daily work to-day without psychology, but nobody doubts
that the introduction of scientific chemistry into farming has brought
the most valuable help to the national, and to the world economy. The
time seems really ripe for experimental psychology to play the same
rôle for the benefit of mankind, which in the future as in the past
will always be prosperous only when the farmer succeeds.


                      SOCIAL SINS IN ADVERTISING

There is one industry in the world which may be called, more than any
other, a socializing factor in our modern life. The industry of
advertising binds men together and tightly knits the members of
society into one compact mass. Every one in the big market-place of
civilization has his demands and has some supply. But in order to link
supply and demand, the offering must be known. The industry which
overcomes the isolation of man with his wishes and with his wares lays
the real foundation of the social structure. It is not surprising that
it has taken gigantic dimensions and that uncounted millions are
turning the wheels of the advertising factory. The influence and
civilizing power of the means of propaganda go far beyond the help in
the direct exchange of goods. The advertiser makes the modern
newspaper and magazine possible. These mightiest agencies of public
opinion and intellectual culture are supported, and their technical
perfection secured, by those who pay their business tax in the form
of advertisements.

Under these circumstances it would appear natural to have just as much
interest and energy and incessant thought devoted to this very great
and significant industry as to any branch of manufacturing. But the
opposite is true. Armies of engineers and of scientifically trained
workers have put half a century of scholarly research and experimental
investigation into the perfecting of the physical and chemical
industries. The most thorough study is devoted to the raw material and
to the machines, to the functions of the workingman and to everything
which improves the mechanical output. In striking contrast to this,
the gigantic industry of advertising is to-day still controlled
essentially by an amateurish impressionism, by a so-called
commonsense, which is nothing but the uncritical following of a
well-worn path. Surely there is an abundance of clever advertisement
writers at work, and great establishments make some careful tests
before they throw their millions of circulars before the public. Yet
even their so-called tests have in no way scientific character. They
are simply based on watching the success in practical life, and the
success is gained by instinct. Commonsense tells even the most
superficial advertiser that a large announcement will pay more than a
small one, an advertisement in a paper with a large circulation more
than in a paper with a few subscribers, one with a humorous or
emotional or exciting text more than one with a tiresome and stale
text. He also knows that the cover page in a magazine is worth more
than the inner pages, that a picture draws attention, that a repeated
insertion helps better than a lonely one. Yet even a score of such
rules would not remove the scheme of advertising from the commonplaces
of the trade. They still would not show any trace of the fact that the
methods of exact measurement and of laboratory research can be applied
to such problems of human society.

Advertising is an appeal to the attention, to the memory, to the
feeling, to the impulses of the reader. Every printed line of
advertisement is thus a lever which is constructed to put some mental
mechanism in motion. The science of the mental machinery is
psychology, which works on principles with the exact methods of the
experiment. It seems unprogressive, indeed, if just this one industry
neglects the help which experimental science may furnish. A few slight
beginnings, to be sure, have been made, but not by the men of affairs,
whose practical interests are involved. They have been made by
psychologists who in these days of carrying psychology into practical
life have pushed the laboratory method into the field of advertising.

The beginnings indicated at once that much which is sanctioned by the
traditions of economic life will have to be fundamentally revised.
Psychologists, for instance, examined the memory value of the
different parts of the page. Little booklets were arranged in which
words were placed in the four quarter pages. The advertiser is
accustomed patiently to pay an equal amount for his quarter page,
whether it is on the left half or the right, on the lower or on the
upper part of the page. The experiment demonstrated that the words on
the upper right-hand quarter had about twice the memory value of those
on the lower left. The advertiser who is accustomed to spend for his
insertion on the lower left the same sum as for that on the upper
right throws half his expenditure away. He reaches only half of the
customers, or takes only half a grasp of those whom he reaches. This
case, which can be easily demonstrated by careful experiments, is
typical of the tremendous waste which goes on in the budget of the
advertising community. And yet the advertiser would not like to act
like the poet who sings his song not caring whose heart he will stir.

As long as the psychologist is only aware of an inexcusable waste of
means by lack of careful research into the psychological reactions of
the reader, he may leave the matter to the business circles which have
to suffer by their carelessness. But this economic wrong may coincide
with cultural values in other fields, and the social significance of
the problem may thus become accentuated. A problem of this double
import, economic and cultural at the same time, to-day faces
publishers, advertisers, and readers. It is of recent origin, but it
has grown so rapidly and taken such important dimensions that at
present it overshadows all other debatable questions in the realm of
propaganda. The movement to which we refer is the innovation of mixing
reading matter and advertisements on the same page. In the good old
times a monthly magazine like _McClure's_ or the _American_ or the
_Metropolitan_ or the _Cosmopolitan_ showed an arrangement which
allowed a double interpretation. One interpretation, the idealistic
one, was that the magazine consisted of articles and stories in solid
unity, which formed the bulk of the issue. In front of this content,
and after it, pages with advertisements were attached. The other
interpretation, which suggested itself to the less ambitious reader,
was that the magazine consisted of a heap of entertaining
advertisement pages, between which the reading matter was sandwiched.
But in any case there was nowhere mutual interference. The articles
stood alone, and the automobiles, crackers, cameras, and other wares
stood alone, too. All this has been completely changed in the last two
or three years. With a few remarkable exceptions like the _Atlantic
Monthly_, the _World's Work_, and the _Century_, the overwhelming
majority of the monthly and weekly papers have gone over to a system
by which the tail of the stories and articles winds itself through the
advertisement pages, and all the advertising sheets are riddled by
stray pieces of reading matter. The immediate purpose is of course
evident. If the last dramatic part of the story suddenly stops on page
15 and is continued on page 76, between the announcements of breakfast
food and a new garter, the publisher, or rather the advertiser, hopes,
and the publisher does not dare to contradict, that some of the
emotional interest and excitement will flow over from the loving pair
to the advertised articles. The innocent reader is skilfully to be
guided into the advertiser's paradise.

We claimed that here the economic innovation, whether profitable or
not, has its cultural significance. The sociologists who have thought
seriously about the American type of civilization have practically
agreed in the conviction that the shortcoming of the American mind
lies in its lack of desire for harmony and unity. It is an æsthetic
deficiency which counts not only where art and artificial beauty are
in question, but shows still more in the practical surroundings and
the forms of life. The nation which is and always has been controlled
by strong idealistic moral impulses takes small care of the æsthetic
ideals. The large expenditures for external beautification must not
deceive. Just as the theatre is to the American essentially
entertainment and amusement and fashion, but least of all a life need
for great art, so on the whole background of daily life a thousand
motives show themselves more effectively than the longing for inner
unity and beautiful fitness. The masses who waste their incomes for
beautiful clothes, not because they are beautiful, but because they
are demanded by the fashion, patiently tolerate the dirt in the
streets, the crowding of cars, the chewing of gum, the vulgar slang in
speech, and shirt-sleeve manners. But this undeveloped state of the
sense of inner harmony has effects far beyond the mere outer
appearances. The hysterical excitement in politics, the traditional
indifference to corruption and crime up to the point where they become
intolerable, the bewildering mixture of highest desire for education
and cheapest faith in superstitions and mysticism and quacks, all must
result from a social mind in which the æsthetic demand for harmony and
proportion is insufficiently developed. The one great need of the land
is a systematic cultivation of this æsthetic spirit of unity. It
cannot be forced on the millions by any sudden and radical procedures.
The steady, cumulating influences of the whole atmosphere of civic
life must lead to a slow but persistent change. Fortunately, many such
helpful agencies are at work. Not only the systematic moulding of the
child's mind by art instruction, and of the citizen's mind by
beautiful public buildings, but a thousand features of the day aid in
bringing charm and melody to the average man.

Seen from this point of view the new fashion in the makeup of the
periodical literature is a barbaric and inexcusable interference with
the process of æsthetic education. A page on which advertisements and
reading matter are mixed is a mess which irritates and hurts a mind of
fine æsthetic sensitiveness, but which in the uncultivated mind must
ruin any budding desire for subtler harmony. The noises of the street,
with all the whistles of the factories and the horns of the motor
cars, are bad enough, and the antinoise crusade is quite in order.
Yet the destructive influence of those chaotic sounds is far weaker
than the shrillness and restlessness of these modern specimens of
so-called literature. The mind is tossed up and down and is torn
hither and thither, following now a column of text while the
advertisements are pushing in from both sides, and then reading the
latest advertisement while the serious text is drawing the attention.
It is the quantity which counts. The popular magazines which circulate
in a million copies and reach two or three million minds are the
loudest preachers of this sermon of bewilderment and scramble. A
consciousness on which these tumultuous pages hammer day by day must
lose the subtler sense of proportionate harmony and must develop an
instinctive desire for harshness and crudeness and chaos. To overcome
this riot of the printing press is thus a truly cultural task, and yet
it is evident that the mere appeal to the cultural instinct will not
change anything as long as the publisher and, above all, the
advertiser, are convinced that they would have to sacrifice their
personal profit in the interest of æsthetic education. If an end is to
be hoped for, it can be expected only if it is discovered that the
calculation of profit is erroneous, too. But this is after all a
question of naked facts, and only the scientific examination can

The problem might be approached from various sides. It was only meant
as a first effort when I carried on the following experiment: I had a
portfolio with twenty-four large bristol-board cards of the size of
the _Saturday Evening Post_. On eight of those cards I had pasted four
different advertisements, each filling a fourth of a page. On some
pages every one of the four advertisements took one of four whole
columns; in other cases the page was divided into an upper and lower,
right and left part. All the advertisements were cut from magazines,
and in all the name of the firm and the object to be sold could be
easily recognized. On the sixteen other pages the arrangement was
different. There only two fourths of the page were filled by two
advertisements; the other two fourths contained funny pictures with a
few words below. These pictures were cut from comic papers. All the
pictures were of such a kind that they slightly attracted the
attention by their amusing content or by the cleverness of the
drawing, but never demanded any careful inspection or any delay by the
reading of the text. This, in most cases, consisted of a few title
words like “The Widow's Might,” “Pause, father, is that whip
sterilized?” or similar easily grasped descriptions of the story in
the picture. Even where the text took two lines, it was more easy to
apperceive the picture and its description than the essentials of the
often rather chaotic advertisements. By this arrangement we evidently
had thirty-two advertisements on the eight pages which contained
nothing else, and thirty-two other advertisements on the sixteen pages
which contained half propaganda and half pictures with text. All this
material was used as a basis for the following test, in which
forty-seven adult persons participated. All were members of advanced
psychological courses, partly men, partly women. None of those engaged
in the experiment knew anything about the purpose beforehand. Thus
they had no theories, and I carefully avoided any suggestion which
might have drawn the attention in one or another direction.

Every one had to go through those twenty-four pages in twelve minutes,
devoting exactly thirty seconds to every page, and a signal marked the
time when he had to pass to the next. He was to give his attention to
the whole content of the page, and as both the pictures and the
advertisements were chosen with reference to their being easily
understood and quickly grasped, an average time of more than seven
seconds for each of the four offerings on the page was ample, even for
the slow reader. Of course the time would not have been sufficient to
read every detail in the advertisements, but no one had any interest
in doing so, as they were instructed beforehand to keep in mind
essentially the advertised article and the firm, and in the case of
the pictures a general impression of the idea.

As soon as the twenty-four pages had been seen, every one was asked to
write down the ideas of five of the funny pictures within three
minutes. The results of this were of no consequence, as the purpose
was only to fill the interval of the three minutes in order that all
the memory pictures of the advertisements might settle down in the
mind and that all might have an equal chance If we had turned
immediately to the writing down of firms and articles, the last ones
seen would have had an undue advantage. But when the three minutes had
been filled with an effort to remember some of the funny pictures and
to write down their salient points, all the mental after-images of the
pages had faded away, and a true memory picture was to be produced. In
the presentation care was taken to have the twenty-four pages follow
in irregular order, the pages of straight advertising mixed with those
of the double content. After the three minutes every one had to write
down as many names of firms with the articles as his memory could
reproduce. The time was now unlimited. Nothing else was to be added;
the reference to the particular advertisement was entirely confined
to the firm and the object. Where they knew the firm name without the
object, or the article without the advertiser, they had to make a dash
to indicate the omission. The aim was to discover whether the
thirty-two advertisements on the mixed pages had equal chances in the
mind with the thirty-two on the straight advertisement pages. In order
to have an exact basis of comparison, we counted every name 1, and
every article 1. Thus when firm and object were correctly given it was
counted 2.

Of course there were very great individual differences. It is evident
that a person who would have remembered all the sixty-four
advertisements on this basis of calculation would have made 128
points. The maximum which was actually made was in the case of two
women, each of whom reached 50 points. One man reached 49. The lowest
limit was touched in the exceptional case of one woman who made only
11 points. The average was 28.4. These figures seem small, considering
that less than a fourth were kept in mind, and even by the best memory
less than a half, but it must be considered that in the modern style
of advertisement the memory is burdened with many side features of the
announcement, and that the result is therefore smaller than if name
and article had been memorized in an isolated form. But these figures
have no relation to our real problem. We wanted to compare the memory
fate of the advertisements on the one kind of pages with that of the
parallel advertisements on the other kind. As soon as we separate the
two kinds of reproduced material we find as total result that the
forty-seven persons summed up 570 points for the advertisements on
pages with comic pictures, but 771 for the advertisements on pages
which contained nothing else. The average individual thus remembered
about six whole advertisements out of the thirty-two on the combined
pages, and about eight and a fifth of the thirty-two on the straight
pages. Among the forty-seven persons, there were thirty-six who
remembered the straight-page notices distinctly better than the
mixed-page advertisements, and only eleven of the forty-seven showed a
slight advantage in favour of the mixed pages. In the case of the men
this difference is distinctly greater than in the case of the women.
Only two of the fifteen men who participated showed better reproducing
power for the mixed material, while nine of the thirty-two women
favoured it. As the advertiser is not interested in the chance
variations and exceptional cases among the reading public, but
naturally must rely on the averages, the results show clearly that the
propaganda made on pages which do not contain anything but
advertisements has more than a third greater chances, as the relation
was that of 6 to 8.2.

The result is hardly surprising. We recognized that the conditions for
the apprehension of the special advertisements are in themselves
equally favourable for both groups. As the pictures were very easily
grasped, it may even be said that there was more time left for the
study of the advertisements on the mixed pages, and yet the experiment
showed that they had a distinct disadvantage. The self-observation of
the experimenters leaves hardly any doubt that the cause for this lies
in the different attitude which the mixed pages demand from the
reader. The mental setting with which those pictures or the written
matter is observed, is fundamentally different from that which those
propaganda notices demand. If the mind is adjusted to the pleasure of
reading for its information and enjoyment, it is not prepared for the
fullest apprehension of an advertisement as such. The attention for
the notice on the same page remains shallow as long as the entirely
different kind of text reaches the side parts of the eye. On those
pages, on the other hand, which contain announcements only, a uniform
setting of the mind prepared the way for their fullest effectiveness.
The average reader who glances over the pages of the magazines is not
clearly aware of these psychological conditions, and yet that feeling
of irritation which results from the mixing of reading matter and
propaganda on the same page is a clear symptom of this mental
reaction. The mere fact that both the advertisements and stories or
anecdotes or pictures are seen in black and white by the retina of the
eye, and are in the same way producing the ideas of words and forms in
the mind, does not involve the real psychological effect being the
same. The identical words read as a matter of information in an
instructive text, and read as an argument to the customer in a piece
of propaganda, set entirely different mental mechanisms in motion. The
picture of a girl seen with the understanding that it is the actress
of the latest success, or seen with the understanding that it is an
advertisement for a toilet preparation, starts in the whole
psychophysical system different kinds of activities, which mutually
inhibit each other. If we anticipate the one form of inner reaction,
we make ourselves unfit for the opposite.

An interesting light falls on the situation from experiments which
have recently been carried on by a Swedish psychologist. He showed
that in every learning process the intention with which we absorb the
memory material is decisive for the firmness with which it sticks to
our mind. If a boy learns one group of names or figures or verses with
the intention to keep them in mind forever, and learns another group
of the same kind of material with the same effort and by the same
method, but with the intention to have them present for a certain test
the next day, the mental effect is very different. Immediately after
the learning, or on the morning of the next day, he has both groups
equally firmly in his mind, but three days later most of what was
learned to be kept is still present. On the other hand, those verses
and dates which were learned with the consciousness that they had to
serve the next day have essentially faded away when the time of the
test has passed, even if the test itself was not given. Every lawyer
knows from his experience how easily he forgets the details of the
case which has once been settled by the court, as he has absorbed the
material only for the purpose of having it present up to the end of
the procedure. These Swedish experiments have given a cue to further
investigations, and everything seems to confirm this view. It brings
out in a very significant way that the impressions which are made on
our mind from without are in their effectiveness on the mind entirely
dependent upon the subjective attitude, and the idea that the same
visual stimuli stir up the same mental reactions is entirely
misleading. The attitude of reading and the attitude of looking at
advertisements are so fundamentally different that the whole mental
mechanism is in a different setting.

The result is that whenever we are in the reading attitude, we cannot
take the real advertising effect out of the pictures and notices which
are to draw us to the consumption of special articles. The editor who
forces his wisdom into the propaganda page is hurting the advertiser,
who, after all, pays for nothing else but the opportunity to make a
certain psychological impression on the reader. He gets a third more
of this effect for which he has to pay so highly if he can have his
advertisement on a clean sheet which brings the whole mind into that
willing attitude to receive suggestions for buying only. It is most
probable that the particular form of the experiment here reported
makes this difference between advertising pages with and without
reading matter much smaller than it is in the actual perusal of
magazines, as we forced the attention of the individual on every page
for an equal time. In the leisurely method of going through the
magazine the interfering effect of the editorial part would be still
greater. Compared with this antagonism of mental setting, it means
rather little that these scattered pieces of text induce the reader to
open the advertisement. If we were really of that austere intellect
which consistently sticks to that which is editorially backed, we
should ignore the advertisements, even if they were crowded into the
same page. They might reach our eye, but they would not touch our
mind. Yet there is hardly any fear that the average American reader
will indulge in such severity of taste. He is quite willing to yield
to the temptation of the advertising gossip with its minimum
requirement of intellectual energy for its consumption. He will
therefore just as readily turn from the articles to the advertisements
if they are separated into two distinct parts. Frequent observations
in the Pullman cars suggested to me rather early the belief that these
advertisement parts in the front and the rear of the magazine were the
preferred regions between the two covers.

Just as the great public habitually prefers the light comedy and
operetta to the theatre performances of high æsthetic intent, it moves
instinctively to those printed pages on which a slight appeal to the
imagination is made without any claim on serious thought. It is indeed
a pleasant tickling of the imagination, this leisurely enjoyment of
looking over all those picturesque announcements; it is like passing
along the street with its shopwindows in all their lustre and glamour.
But this soft and inane pleasure has been crushed by the arrangement
after to-day's fashion. Those pages on which advertising and articles
are mixed helterskelter do not allow the undisturbed mood. It is as if
we constantly had to alternate between lazy strolling and energetic
running. Thus the chances are that the old attractiveness of the
traditional advertising part has disappeared. While those broken ends
of the articles may lead the reader unwillingly to the advertisement
pages, he will no longer feel tempted by his own instincts to seek
those regions of restlessness; and if he is of more subtle
sensitiveness, the irritation may take the stronger form, and he may
throw away the whole magazine, advertisement and text together. The
final outcome, then, must be disadvantageous to publisher and
advertiser alike. The publisher and the editor have certainly never
yielded to this craving of the advertiser for a place on the reading
page without a feeling of revolt. Commercialism has forced them to
submit and to make their orderly issues places of disorder and chaos.
The advertisers have rushed into this scheme without a suspicion that
it is a trap. The experiments have proved that they are simply
injuring themselves. As soon as this is widely recognized, a
countermovement ought to start. We ought again to have the treasures
of our magazines divided into a straight editorial and a clean
advertisement part. The advertisers will profit from it in dollars and
cents through the much greater psychological effectiveness of their
announcements, the editors will be the gainers by being able to
present a harmonious, sympathetic, restful magazine, and the great
public will be blessed by the removal of one of the most malicious
nerve irritants and persistent destroyers of mental unity.


                       THE MIND OF THE INVESTOR

The psychologist who tries to disentangle the interplay of human
motives finds hardly a problem for his art to solve when he approaches
the conscientious investor. His work has brought him savings, and his
savings are to work for him. Hence they must not lie idle, and in the
complicated market, with its chaotic offerings, he knows what he has
to do. He seeks the advice of the expert, and under this guidance, he
buys that which combines great safety with a fair income. The
intellectual and emotional processes which here take control of the
will and of the decision are perfectly clear and simple, and the
mental analysis offers not the least difficulty. The fundamental
instincts of man on the background of modern economic conditions must
lead to such rational and recommendable behaviour. A psychological
problem appears only when such a course of wisdom is abandoned, and
either the savings are hidden away instead of being made productive,
or are thrown away in wildcat schemes. Yet of the two extremes the
first again is easily understood. A hysteric fear of possible loss, an
unreasonable distrust of banks and bankers, keeps the overcautious
away from the market. But while such a state of mind is said to be
frequent in countries in which the economic life is disorderly,
enterprising Americans seldom suffer from this ailment, and even the
theoretical doctrine that it is sinful to have capital working seems
not to have affected practically those who have the capital at their
disposal. The specific American case is the opposite one, and with
regard to those reckless investors it seems less clear what
psychological conditions lie at the bottom of their rashness.

Foreign visitors have indeed often noticed with surprise that the
American public, in spite of its cleverness and its practical trend
and its commercial instinct, is more ready to throw its money into
speculative abysses than the people of other lands. What is the
reason? Those observers from abroad are usually satisfied with the
natural answer that the Americans are gamblers, or that they have an
indomitable desire for capturing money without working. But the
students of comparative sociology cannot forget the fact that many
national institutions and customs of other lands suggest that the
blame might with much more justice be directed against the other
party. America prohibits lotteries, while lotteries are flourishing on
the European continent. The Austrians, Italians, and Spaniards are
slaves to lotteries, and even in sober Germany the state carries on a
big lottery enterprise. President Eliot once said in a speech about
the moral progress of mankind that a hundred years ago a public
lottery was allowed in Boston for the purpose of getting the funds for
erecting a new Harvard dormitory, and he added that such a procedure
would be unthinkable in New England in our more enlightened days. Yet
in the most civilized European countries, whenever a cathedral is to
be built, or an exhibition to be supported, the state gladly sanctions
big lottery schemes to secure the financial means. The European
governments argue that a certain amount of gambling instinct is
ingrained in human character, and that it is wiser to create a kind of
official outlet by which it is held within narrow limits, and by which
the results yielded are used for the public good.

This may be a right or a wrong policy, but in any case, it shows that
the desire for gambling is no less marked on the other side of the
ocean. In the same way, while private bookmakers are not allowed at
most European races, the official “totalisators” offer to the
gamblers the same outlets. Every tourist remembers from the European
casinos in the summer resorts the famous game with the little horses,
a miniature Monaco scheme. And in the privacy of the too often not
very private clubs extremely neat card games are in order which depend
still more upon chance than the American poker. Moreover, the
Europeans have not even the right to say that American life indicates
a desire for harvest without ploughing. Every observer of European
life knows to what a high degree the young Frenchman or Austrian,
Italian, German, or Russian approaches married life with an eye on the
dowry. Hundreds of thousands consider it as their chief chance to come
to ease and comfort. The whole temper of the nations is adjusted to
this idea, which is essentially lacking in American society. It is
evident that no method of getting rich quick is more direct, and from
a higher point of view more immoral, if taken as a motive for the
choice of a mate, than this plan which Europe welcomes. The same
difference shows itself in smaller traits. Europe invented the tipping
system, which also means that money is expected without an equivalent
in labour. Tipping is essentially strange to the American character,
however rapid its progress has been on the Atlantic seaboard.

Of course it would be absurd to ignore the existence and even the
prevalence of similar attitudes in America. If the dowry does not
exist, not every man marries without a thought of the rich
father-in-law. Forbidden gambling houses are abundant, private betting
connected with sport is flourishing everywhere; above all, the
economic organization admits through a back-door what is banished from
the main entrance, by allowing stocks to be issued for very small
amounts. In Germany the state does not permit stocks smaller than one
thousand marks, equal to two hundred and fifty dollars, with the very
purpose of making speculative stock buying impossible for the man of
small means. The waiter and the barber who here may buy very small
blocks of ten-dollar stocks have no such chance there. Stock buying is
thus confined to those circles from which a certain wider outlook may
be expected. The external framework of the stock market is here far
more likely to tempt the man of small savings into the game, and the
mere fact that this form has been demanded by public consciousness
suggests that the spirit which craves lotteries is surely not absent
in the new world, even though the lottery lists in the European
newspapers are blackened over before they are laid out in the American
public libraries. A certain desire for gambling and quick returns
evidently exists the world over. But if the Americans are really
speculating more than all the other nations, a number of other mental
features must contribute to the outcome.

One tendency stands quite near to gambling, and yet is
characteristically different, the delight in running risks, the joy in
playing with dangers. Some races, in which the gambling instinct is
strong, are yet afraid of high risks, and the pleasure in seeking
dangerous situations may prevail without any longing for the rewards
of the gambler. It seems doubtful whether this adventurous longing for
unusual risks belongs to the Anglo-Saxon mind. At least those
vocations which most often involve such a mental trend are much more
favoured by the Irish. It is claimed that they, for instance, are
prominent among the railroad men, and that the excessive number of
accidents in the railroad service results from just this reckless
disposition of the Irishmen. It tempts them to escape injury and death
only by a hair. Where this desire to feel the nearness of danger, yet
in the hope of escaping it, meets the craving for the excitement of
possible gain, a hazardous investment of one's savings must be

Yet it would be very one-sided and misleading if this group of
emotional features were alone made responsible for the lamentable
recklessness in the market. We must first of all necessarily
acknowledge the tremendous powers of suggestion which the whole
American life and especially the stock market contains. The word
suggestion has become rather colourless in popular language, but for
the psychologist, it has a very definite meaning. Suggestion is always
a proposition for action, which is forced on the mind in such a way
that the impulse to opposite action becomes inhibited. Under ordinary
circumstances, when a proposition is made to do a certain thing
through the mechanism of the mind, the idea of the opposite action may
arise. If some one tells the normal man to go and do this or that, he
will at once think of the consequences, and in his mind perhaps the
idea awakes of the dangerousness or of the foolishness, of the
immorality or of the uselessness of such a deed, and any one of these
ideas would be a sufficient motive for ignoring the proposed line of
behaviour and for suppressing the desire to follow the poor advice.
But often this normal appearance of the opposite ideas fails. If they
arise at all, they are too faint or too powerless to offer resistance,
and often they may not even enter consciousness. They remain
suppressed, and the result is that the idea of action finds its way
unhindered, and breaks out into the deed which normally would have
been checked. If this is the case, the psychologist says that the mind
was in a state of increased suggestibility.

The degree of suggestibility, that is of willingness to yield to such
propositions for action and of inability to resist them, is indeed
different from man to man. We all know the stubborn persons who are
always inclined to resist whatever is proposed to them and who do not
believe what is told them, and we know the credulous ones who believe
everything that they see printed. But the degree of suggestibility
changes no less from hour to hour with the individual. In a state of
fatigue or under the influence of alcohol or under the influence of
strong emotions, in hope and fear, the suggestibility is reënforced.
The highest degree of suggestibility is that mental state which we
call hypnotism, in which the power to resist the proposed idea of
action is reduced to a minimum. But the chief factor in making us
suggestible is the method by which the idea of action is proposed, and
in psychology we speak of suggestion whenever an action is proposed by
methods which make the mind yielding. It certainly is not
objectionable to exert suggestive influence. Suggestions are the
leading factors in education, in art, and in religion. The
authoritative voice with which the teacher proposes the right thing
has a most valuable suggestive power to suppress in the child the
opposite misleading impulse. But surely suggestions can become
dangerous and destructive. If actions are proposed in a form which
paralyzes the power to become conscious of the opposite impulses, the
voice of reason and of conscience is silenced, and social and moral
ruin must be the result.

Everybody at once thinks of the endless variety of advertisements. An
announcement which merely gives information is of course no
suggestion. But if perhaps such an announcement takes the form of an
imperative, an element of suggestion creeps in. To be sure we are
accustomed to this trivial pattern, and no one completely loses his
power to resist if the proposition to buy comes in the grammatical
form of a command. If we had reached the highest degree of
suggestibility, as in hypnotism, we could not read “Cook with gas”
without at once putting a gas stove into our kitchen. Yet even such a
mild suggestion has its influence and tends slightly to weaken the
arguments which would lead to an opposite action. The advertisements,
however, which the brokers send to our house and which are spread
broadcast in the homes of the country to people who have no technical
knowledge of stock-buying are surely not confined to such child-like
and bland forms of suggestion. The whole grouping of figures, the
distribution of black and white in the picture of the market
situation, the glowing story of the probable successes with the
bewildering hints of special privileges, must increase the
suggestibility of the untrained mind and reënforce powerfully the
suggestive energy of the proposition to buy. The whole technique of
this procedure has nowhere been brought to such virtuosity as in our
country. The fact which we mentioned, that the new industrial and
mining enterprises can offer shares small enough to be accessible to
the man without means, has evidently been the chief reason for
developing a style of appeal which would be unthinkable in the
countries where the investors are essentially experienced business

But the skill of the prospectus with its sometimes half fraudulent
features would, after all, not gain such influence if suggestion were
not produced from another side as well, namely, through the instinct
of imitation. The habit of making risky investments is so extremely
widespread that the individual buyer does not feel himself isolated,
and therefore dependent upon his own judgments and deliberations. He
feels himself as a member of a class, and the class easily becomes a
crowd, even a mob, a mob in which the logic of any mob reigns, and
that is the logic of doing unthinkingly what others do. It is well
known that every member of a crowd stands intellectually and morally
on a lower level than he would stand if left to his spontaneous
impulses and his own reflections. The crowd may fall into a panic and
rush blindly in any direction into which any one may have happened to
start and no one thinks about it, or it may go into exaltation and
exuberantly do what no one alone would dare to risk. This mass
consciousness is also surely a form of increased suggestibility. The
individual feels his own responsibility reduced because he relies
instinctively on the judgment of his neighbours, and with this
decreased responsibility the energy for resistance to dangerous
propositions disappears. Men buy their stocks because others are doing

But finally, may we not call it suggestion, too, if the individual
even tremblingly accepts the risks of perilous deals, because he feels
obliged to grasp for an unusually high income in order to live up to
the style of his set? Of course there is no objective standard of
living if we abstract from that where the income simply secures the
needs of bare existence. Above that, everything depends upon the
habits of those around us. If the community steadily screws up these
habits, makes life ostentatious for those of moderate means as well as
for the rich, hysterically emphasizes the material values, the will to
be satisfied with the income of safe investments has to fight against
tremendous odds. The truly strong mind will keep its power to resist,
but the slightly weak mind will find the suggestion of the surrounding
life more powerful than the fear of possible loss. If all the
neighbours in the village have automobiles, the man who would enjoy a
quiet book and a pleasant walk much more than a showy ride will yield,
and spend a thousand dollars for his motor car where fifty dollars for
books would have brought him far more intense satisfaction. In no
country have fashion and ostentatiousness taken such strong possession
of the masses, and the willingness to be satisfied with a moderate
income is therefore nowhere so little at home.

Yet neither gambling and taking risks, nor suggestibility and
imitation, are the whole of the story. We must not forget the
superficiality of thinking, the uncritical, loose, and flabby use of
the reasoning power which shows itself in so many spheres of American
mass life. It is sufficient to see the triviality of argument and the
cheapness of thought in those newspapers which seek and enjoy the
widest circulation. It is difficult not to believe that fundamentally
sins of education are to blame for it. The school may bring much to
the children, but no mere information can be a substitute for a
training in thorough thinking. Here lies the greatest defect of our
average schools. The looseness of the spelling and figuring draws its
consequences. Whoever becomes accustomed to inaccuracy in the elements
remains inaccurate in his thinking his life long. If the American
public loses a hundred million dollars a year by investments in
worthless undertakings, surely not the smallest cause is the lack of
concise reasoning. Wrong analogies control the thought of the masses.
Any copper stock must be worth buying because the stock of
Calumet-Hecla multiplied its value a hundredfold. But the irony of the
situation lies in the fact that, as experience shows, those who are
the clearest thinkers in their own fields are in the realm of
investments as easily trapped as the most superficial reasoners. It is
well known that college professors, school teachers, and ministers
figure prominently on the mailing lists of unscrupulous brokers, and
their hard-earned savings are especially often given for stocks which
soon are not worth the paper on which they are printed. Sometimes, to
be sure, this unpractical behaviour of the idealists really results
from an unreasonable indifference to commercial questions. The true
scholar, whose life is tuned to the conviction that he has more
important things to do in the world than to make money, readily falls
into a mood of carelessness with regard to the money which he does
chance to make. In this state of indifference he follows any advice
and may easily be misled.

But it seems probable that the more frequent case is the opposite one.
Just because the teacher and the pastor have small chance to save
anything, they give their fullest thought to the question how to
multiply their earnings, and their mistake springs rather from their
ignorance of the actual conditions. They think that they can figure it
out by mere logic and overlook the hard realities. They resemble
another group of victims who can be found in the midst of commercial
life, the over-clever people who rely on especially artificial
arguments. They feel sure that they see some points which no one else
has discovered, and while they may have noticed some small reasonable
points, they overlook important conditions which the simpler-minded
would have seen. They know everything better than their neighbours,
and whatever their friends buy or sell they at once have a brilliant
argument to prove that the step was wrong. They generally forget that
the listener must be suspicious of their wisdom, as they themselves
have never earned the fruit of their apparent wisdom. They all,
however, may find comfort in the well-known fact that hardly any great
financier has died, not even a Harriman or a Morgan, without there
being found in his possession large quantities of worthless stocks and
bonds. But the variety of intellectual types, the careless and the
uncritical, the over-clever and the illogical thinkers, could easily
protect themselves against the dangers of the shortcomings in their
mental mechanism if their minds had not another trait, which, too, is
more frequent in America than anywhere else in the world—the lack of
respect for the expert.

The average American is his own expert in every field. This is
certainly not a reproach. It supplies American public life with an
immense amount of energy and readiness to help. Above all,
historically, it was the necessary outcome of the political democracy.
In striking contrast to the European bureaucracy, any citizen could at
any time be called to be postmaster or mayor or governor or member of
the cabinet. A true American would find his way, however complex the
work before him. That was, and is, splendid. Yet the development of
the recent decades has clearly shown that the danger of this mental
attitude after all appears to the newer American generation alarmingly
great in many fields. Civil service has steadily grown, the influence
of the engineer and the expert in every technical and practical field
has more and more taken control of American life, because the
go-as-you-please methods of the amateur have shown increasingly their
ineffectiveness. Education has slowly been removed from the
dilettantic, unprepared school boards. The reign of the expert in
public life seems to have begun. But in private life such an attitude
is still a part of the mental equipment of millions. They ignore the
physician and cure themselves with patent medicines or mental healing:
they ignore the banker and broker and make their investments in
accordance with their own amateurish inspiration. They pick up a few
data, ask a few friends who are as little informed as themselves, but
do not think of asking the only group of men who make a serious,
persistent study of the market their lifework.

They call this independence, and it cannot be denied that some
features of our home and school education may have fostered this
tendency not to submit to the judgment of those who know better. They
have grown up in schools in which the kindergarten method never
stopped, in which they were permitted to select the studies which they
liked, and to learn just what pleased them; they were brought up in
homes in which they were begged and persuaded, but never forced to do
the unwelcome; in short, they have never learned to submit their will
to authority. It cannot be surprising that they fancy that it is the
right kind of mental setting to feel one's self the ultimate authority
in every field, and it would be harmless indeed if the patent
medicines would really cure as well as the prescriptions of the
physician, and if the wildcat schemes would really yield the same safe
income as those investments recommended by the reliable banker. It is
then, after all, no chance that this commercially clever American
nation wastes more in anti-economic fancies than any other people on
the globe. It is the outcome of psychological traits which are rooted
in significant conditions of our educational and social life. Yet as
soon as these connections are recognized and these reasons for waste
are understood, it ought not to be difficult fundamentally to change
all this and to make the savings of the nation everywhere really
sources of national income.


                         SOCIETY AND THE DANCE

The story of the dance is the history of human civilization, of its
progress and regress. To be sure, as the human mind remains ultimately
the same, mankind has often unintentionally returned again to the old
forms. The pirouette, which the artists of the ballet invented a
hundred years ago, and which was applauded as the wonder of its time,
as we now know, was danced by old Egyptians. Not seldom the same outer
forms referred to very different mental motives. We learn that many
people danced half naked as an expression of humility. Who would claim
that the lack of costume in the ballet of to-day is a symbol of
humility, too? Moreover, the right perspective can hardly be gained as
long as we take the narrow view and think only of those few forms of
dance which we saw yesterday in the ballroom and the day before
yesterday on the stage of the theatre. The dance has not meant to
mankind only social pleasure and artistic spectacle, it originally
accompanied the social life and surrounded the individual in every
important function.

Dancing certainly began as a religious cult. It was the form in which
every increase of emotion expressed itself, grief as well as joy, awe
as much as enthusiasm. The primitive peoples danced and in many places
still dance when the seasons change or when the fields are to be
cultivated, when they start on the hunt or go to war, when health is
asked for the sick, and when the gods are to be called upon. The
Iroquois Indians have thirty-two chief types of dances, and even among
civilized nations, for instance the Bohemians, a hundred and
thirty-six dances may be discriminated. Moreover, at first, the dance
is really one with the song; music and dancing were only slowly torn
asunder. And if we look over the whole world of dance, it almost
appears as if what is left to us is after all merely a poor remnant.
Yet in these very days much seems to suggest that the dance is to come
to its own again. At least, he who observes the life along Broadway
may indeed suspect that dancing is now to be intertwined again with
every business of life, and surely with every meal of life. No longer
can any hostelry in New York be found without dancing, and wider still
than the dance sweeps the discussion about it. The dance seems once
more the centre of public interest; it is cultivated from luncheon to
breakfast; it is debated in every newspaper and every pulpit.

But is not all this merely a new demonstration that the story of the
dance is the story of civilization? Can we deny that this recent craze
which, like a dancing mania, has whirled over the country, is a
significant expression of deep cultural changes which have come to
America? Only ten years ago such a dancing fever would have been
impossible. People danced, but they did not take it seriously. It was
set off from life and not allowed to penetrate it. It had still
essentially the rôle which belonged to it in a puritanic, hardworking
society. But the last decade has rapidly swept away that New England
temper which was so averse to the sensuous enjoyment of life, and
which long kept an invisible control over the spirit of the whole
nation. Symptoms of the change abound: how it came about is another
question. Certainly the increase and the wide distribution of wealth
with its comforts and luxuries were responsible, as well as the
practical completion of the pioneer days of the people, the rich
blossoming of science and art, and above all the tremendous influx of
warm-blooded, sensual peoples who came in millions from southern and
eastern Europe, and who altered the tendencies of the cool-blooded,
Teutonic races in the land. They have changed the old American Sunday,
they have revolutionized the inner life, they have brought the operas
to every large city, and the kinometograph to every village, and have
at last played the music to a nation-wide dance. Yet the problem which
faces every one is not how this dancing craze arose, but rather where
it may lead, how far it is healthy and how far unsound, how far we
ought to yield to it or further it, and how far we ought to resist. To
answer this question, it is not enough to watch the outside spectacle,
but we must inquire into the mental motives and mental consequences.
Exactly this is our true problem.

Let us first examine the psychological debit account. No one can doubt
that true dangers are near wherever the dancing habit is prominent.
The dance is a bodily movement which aims at no practical purpose and
is thus not bound by outer necessities. It is simply self-expression:
and this gives to the dancing impulse the liberty which easily becomes
licentiousness. Two mental conditions help in that direction; the mere
movement as such produces increased excitement, and the excitement
reënforces the movement, and so the dance has in itself the tendency
to become quicker and wilder and more and more unrestrained. When gay
Vienna began its waltzing craze in the last century, it waltzed to the
charming melodies of Lanner in a rhythm which did not demand more than
about one hundred and sixty movements in a minute; but soon came
Johann Strauss the father, and the average waltzing rhythm was two
hundred and thirty a minute, and finally the king of the waltz, Johann
Strauss the younger, and Vienna danced at the rhythm of three hundred
movements. But another mental effect is still more significant than
the impulse to increase rapidity. The uniformity of the movements, and
especially of the revolving movement, produces a state of half
dizziness and half numbness with ecstatic elements. We know the almost
hypnotic state of the whirling dervishes and the raptures in the
savage war dances; all this in milder form is involved in every
passionate dance. But nothing is more characteristic of such
half-hypnotic states than that the individual loses control of his
will. He behaves like a drunken man who becomes the slave of his
excitement and of every suggestion from without. No doubt many seek
the dancing excitement as a kind of substitute for the alcoholic

The social injury which must be feared if the social community
indulges in such habits of undisciplined, passionate expression needs
no explaining. The mind is a unit: it cannot be without self-control
in one department and under the desirable self-discipline of the will
in another. A period in which the mad rush of dancing stirs social
life must be unfavourable to the development of thorough training and
earnest endeavour. The fate of imperial Rome ought to be the eternal
warning to imperial Manhattan. Italy, like America, took its art and
science from over the sea, but gave to them abundant wealth. Instead
of true art, it cultivated the virtuosi, and in Rome, which paid three
thousand dancers, the dance was its glory until it began ingloriously
to sink.

Not without inner relation to the inebriety, and yet distinctly
different, is the erotic character of the dance. Lovemaking is the
most central, underlying motive of all the mimic dances all over the
globe. Among many primitive peoples the dance is a real pantomimic
presentation of the whole story from the first tender awaking of a
sweet desire through the warmer and warmer courtship to the raptures
of sensual delight. Civilized society has more or less covered the
naked passion, but from the graceful play of the minuet to the
graceless movements of the turkey trot the sensual, not to say the
sexual, element can easily be recognized by the sociologist. Here
again cause and effect move in a circle. Love excitement expresses
itself in dance, and the dance heightens the love excitement. This
erotic appeal to the senses is the chief reason why the church has
generally taken a hostile attitude. For a long while the dance was
denounced as irreligious and sinful on account of Salome's blasphemous
dancing. Certainly the rigid guardians of morality always look askance
on the contact of the sexes in the ballroom. To be sure, the standards
are relative. What appeared to one period the climax of immorality may
be considered quite natural and harmless in another. In earlier
centuries it was quite usual in the best society for the young man to
invite the girl to a dance by a kiss, and in some times it was the
polite thing for the gentleman after the dance to sit in the lap of
the girl. The shifting of opinion comes to most striking expression,
if we compare our present day acquiescence to the waltz with the moral
indignation of our great-grandmothers. No accusers of the tango to-day
can find more heated words against this Argentine importation than the
conservatives of a hundred years ago chose in their hatred of the
waltz. Good society had confined its dancing to those forms of contact
in which only the hands touched each other, leaving to the peasants
the crude, rustic forms, and now suddenly every mother has to see her
daughter clasped about the waist by any strange man. Even the dancing
masters cried out against the intruder and claimed that it was
illogical for a man to be allowed to press a girl to his bosom at the
sound of music, while no one would dare to do it between the dances.

Thus the immorality of our most recent dances may be hardly worse than
the dancing surprises of earlier fashions, but who will doubt that
these sensual elements of the new social gayeties are to-day
especially dangerous? The whole American atmosphere is filled with
erotic thought to a degree which has been unknown throughout the
history of the republic. The newspapers are filled with intra- and
extra-matrimonial scandals, the playhouses commercialize the sexual
instinct in lurid melodramas, sex problems are the centre of public
discussion, all the old barriers which the traditional policy of
silence had erected are being broken down, the whole nation is
gossiping about erotics. In such inflammable surroundings where the
sparks of the dance are recklessly kindled, the danger is imminent. If
a nation focuses its attention on sensuality, its virile energy must
naturally suffer. There is a well-known antagonism between sex and
sport. Perhaps the very best which may be said about sport is that it
keeps boyhood away from the swamps of sexuality. The dance keeps
boyhood away from the martial field of athletics.

The dance has still another psychological effect which must not be
disregarded from a social point of view. It awakes to an unusual
degree the impulse to imitation. The seeing of rhythmic movements
starts similar motor impulses in the mind of the onlooker. It is well
known that from the eleventh to the sixteenth century Europe suffered
from dancing epidemics. They started from pathological cases of St.
Vitus' dance and released in the excitable crowds cramplike impulses
to imitative movements. But we hear the same story of instinctive
imitations on occasions of less tragic character. It is reported that
in the eighteenth century papal Rome was indignant over the passionate
Spanish fandango. It was decided solemnly to put this wild dance under
the ban. The lights of the church were assembled for the formal
judgment, when it was proposed to call a pair of Spanish dancers in
order that every one of the priests might form his own idea of the
unholy dance. But history tells that the effect was an unexpected one.
After a short time of fandango demonstration the high clerics began
involuntarily to imitate the movements, and the more passionately the
Spaniards indulged in their native whirl, the more the whole court was
transformed into one great dancing party. Even the Italian tarantella
probably began as a disease with nervous dancing movements, and then
spread over the land through mere imitation which led to an ecstatic
turning around and around. Whoever studies the adventures of American
dancing during the last season from New York to San Francisco must be
impressed by this contagious character of our dancing habits. But this
means that the movement carries in itself the energy to spread farther
and farther, and to fill the daily life with increased longing for the
ragtime. We are already accustomed to the dance at the afternoon tea;
how long will it take before we are threatened by the dance at the
breakfast coffee?

We have spoken of three mental effects: the license, the eroticism,
and the imitativeness which are stirred up by the dancing movements.
But in the perspective of history we ought not to overlook another
significant trait: the overemphasis on dancing has usually
characterized a period of political reaction, of indifference to
public life, of social stagnation and carelessness. When the volcanoes
were rumbling, the masses were always dancing. At all times when
tyrants wanted to divert the attention of the crowd, they gave the
dances to their people. A nation which dances cannot think, but lives
from hour to hour. The less political maturity, the more happiness
does a national community show in its dancing pleasures. The Spaniards
and the Polish, the Hungarians and the Bohemians, have always been the
great dancers—the Gypsies dance. There is no fear that the New
Yorkers will suddenly stop reading their newspapers and voting at the
primaries; they will not become Spaniards. But an element of this
psychological effect of carelessness and recklessness and stagnation
may influence them after all, and may shade the papers which they
read, and even the primaries at which they do vote.

Yet how one-sided would it be, if we gave attention only to the
dangers which the dance may bring to a nation's mind. The credit
account of the social dance is certainly not insignificant, and
perhaps momentous just for the Americans of to-day. The dance is a
wonderful discharge of stirred up energy; its rhythmic form relieves
the tension of the motor apparatus and produces a feeling of personal
comfort. The power to do this is a valuable asset, when so much
emotional poverty is around us. The dance makes life smooth in the
midst of hardship and drudgery. For the dancer the cup is always
overflowing, even though it may be small. There is an element of
relaxation and of joyfulness in the rhythm of the music and the
twinkling of the feet, which comes as a blessing into the dulness and
monotony of life. The overworked factory girl does not seek rest for
her muscles after the day of labour, but craves to go on contrasting
them in the rhythmic movements of the dance. So it has been at all
times. The hardest worked part of the community has usually been the
most devoted to the gayety of popular dances. The refined society has
in many periods of civilization declined to indulge in dancing,
because it was too widely spread among the lowest working classes in
towns and in the country. The dance through thousands of years has
been the bearer of harmless happiness: who would refuse a welcome to
such a benefactor? And with the joyfulness comes the sociability. The
dance brings people near together. It is unfair to claim that the
dance is aristocratic, because it presupposes leisure and luxury. On
the contrary, throughout the history of civilization the dance has
been above all, democratic, and has reënforced the feeling of good
fellowship, of community, of intimacy, of unity. Like the popular
games which melt all social groups together by a common joyful
interest, and like humour which breaks all social barriers, the love
for dancing removes mutual distrust and harmonizes the masses.

This social effect has manifold relation to another aspect of the
dance, which is psychologically perhaps the deepest: the dance is an
art, and as such, of deep æsthetic influence on the whole mental life.
Whenever the joy in dancing comes into the foreground, this art is
developed to high artificiality. No step and no movement is left to
the chance inspiration of the moment; everything is prescribed, and to
learn the dances not seldom means an almost scientific study. In the
great dancing periods of the rococo time the mastery of the exact
rules appeared one of the most difficult parts of higher education,
and as a real test of the truly cultivated gentleman and gentlewoman;
scholarly books analysed every detail of the necessary forms, and the
society dances in the castles of the eighteenth century were more
elaborate than the best prepared ballets on the stage of to-day. But
the popular dances of the really dancing nations are no less bound by
traditions, and we know that even the dances of the savages are moving
on in strictly inherited forms. Far from the license of haphazard
movements, the self-expression of the dancer is thus regulated and
bound by rules which are taken by him as prescriptions of beauty. To
dance thus means a steady adjustment to artistic requirements; it is
an æsthetic education by which the whole system of human impulses
becomes harmonized and unified. The chance movements are blended into
a beautiful whole, and this reflects on the entire inner setting.
Educators have for a long time been aware that calisthenics, with its
subtly tuned movements of the body, develops refinement in the
interplay of mental life. The personality who understands how to live
in gentle, beautiful motions through that trains his mind to beauty.
In Europe, for instance in Hellerau near Dresden, they have recently
begun to establish schools for young men and women in which the main,
higher education is to be moulded by the æsthetics of bodily
expression, and the culture of the symbolic dance.

This æsthetic character of the dance, however, leads still further. It
is not only the training in beautiful expression; it is the
development of an attitude which is detached from practical effects
and from the practical life of outer success. The dance is an action
by which nothing is produced and nothing in the surroundings changed.
It is an oasis in the desert of our materialistic behaviour. From
morning till night we are striving to do things, to manufacture
something in the mill of the nation: but he who dances is satisfied in
expressing himself. He becomes detached from the cares of the hour, he
acquires a new habit of disinterested attitude toward life. Who can
underestimate the value of such detachment in our American life? The
Americans have always been eagerly at work, but have never quite
learned to enjoy themselves and to take the æsthetic attitude which
creates the wonders of beauty and the true harmonies of life. To
forget drudgery and to sink into the rhythms of the dance may bring to
millions that inner completeness which is possible only when practical
and æsthetic attitude are blending in a personality. The one means
restless change; the other means repose, perfection, eternity. This
hardworking, pioneer nation needs the noisy teachings of efficiency
and scientific management less than the melodious teaching of song and
dance and beauty. In short, the dance may bring both treacherous
perils and wonderful gifts to our community. It depends upon us
whether we reënforce the dangerous elements of the dance, or the
beneficial ones. It will depend on ourselves whether the dance will
debase the nation, as it has so often done in the history of
civilization, or whether it will help to lead it to new heights of
beauty and harmony, as it has not seldom done before. Our social
conscience must be wide awake; it will not be a blind fate which will
decide when the door of the future opens whether we shall meet the
lady or the tiger.


                           NAÏVE PSYCHOLOGY

The scientific psychologists started on a new road yesterday. For a
long time their chief interest was to study the laws of the mind. The
final goal was a textbook which would contain a system of laws to
which every human mind is subjected. But in recent times a change has
set in. The trend of much of the best work nowadays is toward the
study of individual differences. The insight into individual
personalities was indeed curiously neglected in modern psychology.
This does not mean that the declaration of psychological independence
insisted that all men are born equal, nor did any psychologist fancy
that education or social surroundings could form all men in equal
moulds. But as scientists they felt no particular interest in the
richness of colours and tints. They intentionally neglected the
question of how men differ, because they were absorbed by the study of
the underlying laws which must hold for every one. It is hardly
surprising that the psychologists chose this somewhat barren way; it
was a kind of reaction against the fantastic flights of the psychology
of olden times. Speculations about the soul had served for centuries.
Metaphysics had reigned and the observation of the real facts of life
and experience had been disregarded. When the new time came in which
the psychologists were fascinated by the spirit of scientific method
and exact study of actual facts, the safest way was for them to
imitate the well-tested and triumphant procedures of natural science.
The physicist and the chemist seek the laws of the physical universe,
and the psychologist tried to act like them, to study the elements
from which the psychical universe is composed and to find the laws
which control them. But while it was wise to make the first forward
march in this one direction, the psychologist finally had to
acknowledge that a no less important interest must push him on an
opposite way. The human mind is not important to us only as a type.
Every social aim reminds us that we must understand the individual
personality. If we deal with children in the classroom or with
criminals in the courtroom, with customers in the market or with
patients in the hospital, we need not only to know what is true of
every human being; we must above all discover how the particular
individual is disposed and composed, or what is characteristic of
special groups, nations, races, sexes, and ages. It is clear that new
methods were needed to approach these younger problems of scientific
psychology, but the scientists have eagerly turned with concerted
efforts toward this unexplored region and have devoted the methods of
test experiments, of statistics, and of laboratory measurements to the
examination of such differences between various individuals and

But in all these new efforts the psychologist meets a certain public
resistance, or at least a certain disregard, which he is not
accustomed to find in his routine endeavours. As long as he was simply
studying the laws of the mind, he enjoyed the approval of the wider
public. His work was appreciated as is that of the biologist and the
chemist. But when it becomes his aim to discover mental features of
the individual, and to foresee what he can expect from the social
groups of men, every layman tells him condescendingly that it is a
superfluous task, as instinct and intuition and the naïve psychology
of the street will be more successful than any measurements with
chronoscopes and kymographs. Do we not know how the skilful politician
or the efficient manager looks through the mind of a man at the first
glance? The life insurance agent has hardly entered the door before he
knows how this particular mind must be handled. Every commercial
traveller knows more than any psychologist can tell him, and even the
waiter in the restaurant foresees when the guest sits down how large a
tip he can expect from him. In itself it would hardly be convincing to
claim that scientific efforts to bring a process down to exact
principles are unnecessary because the process can be performed by
instinct. We all can walk without needing a knowledge of the muscles
which are used, and can find nourishment without knowing the
physiology of nutrition. Yet the physiologist has not only brought to
light the principles according to which we actually eat, but he has
been able to make significant suggestions for improved diet, and in
not a few cases his knowledge can render services which no instinctive
appetite could replace. The psychological study of human traits, too,
may not only find out the principles underlying the ordinary knowledge
of men, but may discover means for an insight which goes as far beyond
the instinctive understanding of man as the scientific diet prescribed
by a physician goes beyond the fancies of a cook. The manager may
believe that he can recognize at the first glance for which kind of
work the labourer is fit: and yet the psychological analysis with the
methods of exact experiments may easily demonstrate that his judgment
is entirely mistaken. Moreover, although such practical psychologists
of the street or of the office may develop a certain art of
recognizing particular features in the individual, they cannot
formulate the laws and cannot lay down those permanent relations from
which others may learn.

Yet even this claim of the psychological scholar seems idle pride. Had
the world really to wait for his exact statistics and his formulæ of
correlation of mental traits in order to get general statements and
definite descriptions of the human types and of the mental
diversities? Are not the writings of the wise men of all times full of
such psychological observations? Has not the consciousness of the
nations expressed itself in an abundance of sayings and songs, of
proverbs and philosophic words, which contains this naïve
psychological insight into the characters and temperaments of the
human mind? We may go back thousands of years to the contemplations of
oriental wisdom, we may read the poets of classic antiquity, or
Shakespeare, or Goethe, we may study what the great religious leaders
and statesmen, the historians and the jurists, have said about man and
his behaviour; and we find an over-abundance of wonderful sayings
with which no textbooks of psychology can be compared.

This is all true. And yet, is it not perhaps all entirely false? Can
this naïve psychology of the ages, to which the impressionism and the
wisdom of the finest minds have so amply contributed, really make
superfluous the scientific efforts for the psychology of groups and
correlations and individual traits? It seems almost surprising that
this overwhelmingly rich harvest of prescientific psychology has never
been examined from the standpoint of scientific psychology, and that
no one has sifted the wheat from the chaff. The very best would be not
only to gather such material, but to combine the sayings of the naïve
psychologists in a rounded system of psychology. In all ages they
surely must have been among the best observers of mankind, as even
what is not connected with the name of an individual author, but is
found in proverbs or in the folk-epics of the nations, must have
originated in the minds of individual leaders. My aim here is more
modest: I have made my little pilgrimage through literature to find
out in a tentative fashion whether the supply of psychology, outside
of science, is really so rich and valuable as is usually believed.
What I wish to offer, therefore, is only a first collection of
psychological statements, which the prescientific psychologists have
proclaimed, and surely will go on proclaiming, and ought to go on
proclaiming, as they do it so beautifully, where we scientists have
nothing but tiresome formulæ.

Let us begin at the beginning. There has never been a nation whose
contemplation was richer in wisdom, whose view of man was subtler and
more suggestive, than those of old India. The sayings of its
philosophers and poets and thinkers have often been gathered in large
volumes of aphorisms. How many of these fine-cut remarks about man
contain real psychology? The largest collection which I could discover
is that of Boehtlinck, who translated seventy-five hundred Indian
sayings into German. Not a few of them refer to things of the outer
world, but by far the largest part of them speaks of man and of man's
feeling and doing. But here in India came my first disappointment, a
disappointment which repeated itself in every corner of the globe.
After carefully going through those thousands of general remarks, I
could not find more than a hundred and nine in which the observation
takes a psychological turn. All those other thousands of reflections
on men are either metaphors and comparisons of distinctly æsthetic
intent, or rules of practical behaviour with social or moral or
religious purpose. Yet even if we turn to this 1½ per cent. which
has a psychological flavour, we soon discover that among those hundred
and nine, more than a half are simply definitions of the type of this:
“Foolish are they who trust women or good luck, as both like a young
serpent creep hither and thither,” or this: “Men who are rich are like
those who are drunk; in walking they are helped by others, they
stagger on smooth roads and talk confusedly.” It cannot be said that
any psychological observations of the fool's or of the rich man's mind
are recorded here. If I sift those maxims more carefully, I cannot
find more than two score which, stripped of their picturesque
phrasing, could really enter into that world system of naïve
psychology. And yet even this figure is still too high. Of those
forty, most are after all epigrams, generalizations of some chance
cases, exaggerations of a bit of truth, or expressions of a mood of
anger, of love, of class spirit, or of male haughtiness. The analysis
of woman's mind is typical. “Inclination to lies, falsehood,
foolishness, greediness, hastiness, uncleanliness, and cruelty are
inborn faults of the woman”; or “Water never remains in an unbaked
vessel, flour in a sieve, nor news in the mind of women”; or “The mind
of a woman is less stable than the ear of an elephant or the flash of
lightning.” On the other hand we read: “True women have twice as much
love, four times as much endurance, and eight times as much modesty as
men”; or “The appetite of women is twice as large, their understanding
four times as large, their spirit of enterprise six times as large,
and their longing for love eight times as large as that of men.” Again
we read: “The character of women is as changeable as a wave of the
sea; their affection, like the rosy tint of a cloud in the evening
sky, lasts just for a moment”; or “When women have a man's money, they
let him go, as he is no longer of any use to them.”

The same one-sidedness and epigrammatic exaggeration can always be
felt where whole groups of men are to be characterized. “The faults of
the dwarf are sixty, of the red-haired man eighty, of the humpback a
hundred, and of the one-eyed man innumerable.”

But let us rather turn to sayings in which the subtlety of
psychological observation deserves admiration: “The drunkard, the
careless, the insane, the fatigued, the angry, the hungry, the greedy,
the timid, the hasty, and the lover know no law”; “If a man commits a
crime, his voice and the colour of his face become changed, his look
becomes furtive, and the fire is gone from his eye”; “The best remedy
for a pain is no longer to think of it; if you think of it, the pain
will increase”; “A greedy man can be won by money, an angry man by
folding the hands, a fool by doing his will, and an educated man by
speaking the truth”; “The wise man can recognize the inner thoughts of
another from the colour of his face, from his look, from the sound of
his words, from his walk, from the reflections in his eyes, and from
the form of his mouth”; “The good and bad thoughts, however much they
are hidden, can be discovered from a man when he talks in his sleep or
in his drunkenness”; “The ignorant can be satisfied easily, and still
more easily the well educated, but a man who has become confused by a
little knowledge cannot be won over even by Brahma”; “Good people are
pacified by fair treatment, even if they have been very angry, but not
common people; gold, though it is hard, can be melted, but not grass”;
“By too great familiarity we produce low esteem, by too frequent
visits, indifference; in the Malaja mountains a beggar woman uses the
sandalwood tree for firewood”; “The silly man steps in without being
invited, talks much without being questioned, and trusts him who does
not deserve confidence”; “New knowledge does not last in the mind of
the uneducated any more than a string of pearls about the neck of a
monkey”; “The inner power of great men becomes more evident in their
misfortune than in their fortune; the fine perfume of aloes wood is
strongest when it falls into the fire”; “The anger of the best man
lasts an instant, of the mediocre man six hours, of the common man a
day and a night, and the rascal will never get rid of it”; “The
scholar laughs with his eyes, mediocre people show their teeth when
they laugh, common people roar, and true men of wisdom never laugh”;
“Truthfulness and cleverness can be found out in the course of a
conversation, but modesty and restraint are visible at the first
glance”; “Grief destroys wisdom, grief destroys scholarship, grief
destroys endurance; there is no perturbation of the mind like grief.”
Often we hardly know whether a psychological observation or a metaphor
is given to us. In any case we may appreciate the fineness of a saying
like this: “Even a most translucent, beautiful, perfectly round and
charming pearl can be strung on a thread as soon as it has been
pierced; so a mind which longs for salvation, perfectly pure, free
from quarrel with any one and full of goodness, will nevertheless be
bound down to the earthly life as soon as it quarrels with itself.” On
the borderland of psychology we may find sayings like these: “As a
tailor's needle fastens the thread in the garment, so the thread of
our earthly life becomes fastened by the needle of our desires”; “An
elephant kills us if he touches us, a snake even if he smells us, a
prince even if he smiles on us, and a scoundrel even if he adores us.”
But there is one saying which the most modern psychologist would
accept, as it might just as well be a quotation from a report of the
latest exact statistics. The Indian maxim says: “There is truth in the
claim that the minds of the sons resemble more the minds of the
fathers, those of the daughters more those of the mothers.”

We may leave the banks of the Ganges and listen to the wisdom of
Europe. Antiquity readily trusted the wonderful knowledge of men which
Homer displays. He has instinctively delineated the characters with
the inner truth of life. How far was this art of the creative poet
accompanied by the power of psychological abstraction? I do not think
that we can find in the forty-eight books of Homer even a dozen
contributions to our unwritten system of the naïve psychology of the
nations. To be sure we ought not to omit in such a system the
following reflections from the “Odyssey”: “Wine leads to folly, making
even the wise to love immoderately, to dance, and to utter what had
better have been kept silent”; or “Too much rest itself becomes a
pain”; or still better, “The steel blade itself often incites to
deeds of violence.” We may have more doubt whether it is
psychologically true when we read: “Few sons are equal to their sires,
most of them are less worthy, only a few are superior to their
fathers”; or, “Though thou lovest thy wife, tell not everything which
thou knowest to her, but unfold some trifle while thou concealest the
rest.” From the “Iliad” we may quote: “Thou knowest the over-eager
vehemence of youth, quick in temper, but weak in judgment”; or,
“Noblest minds are easiest bent”; or, “With everything man is
satiated—sleep, sweet singing, and the joyous dance; of all these man
gets sooner tired than of war.” Some may even doubt whether Homer's
psychology is right when he claims: “Even though a man by himself may
discover the best course, yet his judgment is slower and his
resolution less firm than when two go together.” And in the alcohol
question he leaves us a choice: “Wine gives much strength to wearied
men”; or if we prefer, “Bring me no luscious wines, lest they unnerve
my limbs and make me lose my wonted powers and strength.”

It is not surprising that the theoretical psychology of the Bible is
no less meagre. Almost every word which deals with man's mind reflects
the moral and religious values and is thus removed from pure
psychology into ethics. Or we find comparisons which suggestively
illuminate the working of the mind without amplifying our
psychological understanding. We approach empirical psychology most
nearly in verses like these: “Foolishness is bound in the heart of the
child, but the word of correction should drive it far from him”; or
“He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much;
and he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much”; or
“Stolen waters are sweet, and bread eaten in secret is pleasant”; or
“The full soul loatheth an honeycomb, but to the hungry soul every
bitter thing is sweet”; or “For if any man be a hearer of the word and
not a doer, he is like a man beholding his natural face in a glass,
for he beholdeth himself and goeth his way and straightway forgetteth
what manner of man he was”; or “Sorrow is better than laughter, for by
the sadness of the countenance the heart is made better.” But here we
have almost overstepped the limits of real psychology; we are moving
toward ethics. Nor can we call metaphors like this psychology: “He
that hath no rule over his own spirit is like a city that is broken
down and without walls.”

Let us turn for a moment to the greatest knower of men in mediæval
days, to Dante. How deeply his poetic eye looked into the hearts of
men, how living are the characters in his “Divine Comedy”; and yet he
left us hardly any psychological observations. Some psychology may be
acknowledged in words like these: “The man in whose bosom thought on
thought awakes is always disappointed in his object, for the strength
of the one weakens the other”; “When we are wholly absorbed by
feelings of delight or of grief, our soul yields itself to this one
object, and we are no longer able to direct our thoughts elsewhere”;
“There is no greater grief than to remember our happy time in misery.”
It is hardly psychology if we hear, “The bad workman finds fault with
his tools”; or, “Likeness ever gives birth to love”; or “The wisest
are the most annoyed to lose time.”

From Dante we naturally turn to Shakespeare. We have so often heard
that he is the greatest psychologist, and yet we ought not to forget
that such a popular classification does not in itself really mean that
Shakespeare undertakes the work of the psychologist. It does mean that
he creates figures with the temperament, character, thought, and will
so similar to life and so full of inner mental truth that the
psychologist might take the persons of the poet's imagination as
material for his psychological studies. But this by no means suggests
that Shakespeare phrased abstract judgments about mental life; and as
we seek his wisdom in his dramatic plays, it may be taken for granted
that in this technical sense he must be a poor psychologist, because
he is a great dramatist. Does not the drama demand that every word
spoken be spoken not from the author's standpoint, but from the
particular angle of the person in the play? And this means that every
word is embedded in the individual mood and emotion, thought, and
sentiment of the speaker. A truly psychological statement must be
general and cannot be one thing for Hamlet and another for Ophelia.
The dramatist's psychological sayings serve his art, unfolding before
us the psychological individuality of the speaker, but they do not
contribute to the textbooks of psychology, which ought to be
independent of personal standpoints. And yet what a stream of verses
flows down to us, which have the ring of true psychology!

    “Smooth runs the water where the brook is deep.”

                  “Trifles light as air
    Are to the jealous confirmation strong
    As proofs of holy writ.”

    “Lovers and madmen have such seething brains,
    Such sharp fantasies, that apprehend
    More than cool reason ever comprehends.”

    “Thus conscience does make cowards of us all.”

                      “Present fears
    Are less than horrible imagining.”

    “Too swift runs as tardy as too slow.”

    “Never anger made good guard for itself.”

                        “Anger is like
    A full-hot horse; who being allow'd his way
    Self-mettle tires him.”

    “Suspicion always haunts the guilty mind.”

              “All things that are,
    Are with more spirit chased than enjoy'd.”

    “Celerity is never more admir'd
    Than by the negligent.”

    “Strong reasons make strong actions.”

                    “The whiteness in thy cheek
    Is apter than thy tongue to tell thy errand.”

    “The man that hath no music in himself,
    Nor is not mov'd with concord of sweet sounds,
    Is fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils.”

      “Sweet love, I see, changing his property,
    Turns to the sourest and most deadly hate.”

    “Love is a smoke rais'd with the fume of sighs.”

    “I do not know the man I should avoid
    So soon as that spare Cassius; he reads much;
    He is a great observer....”

And so on.

       *       *       *       *       *

We all know it, and we know it so well and feel so much with Cæsar or
with Lear or with Othello or with Macbeth, that we instinctively take
it all for true psychology, while it after all covers just the
exceptional cases of the dramatic situation.

No! If we are to seek real generalities, we must not consult the
playwright. Perhaps we may find the best conditions for general
statement where we do not even have to deal with an individual, but
can listen to the mind of the race and can absorb its wisdom from its
proverbs. Let us take the word proverb in its widest sense, including
popular sayings which have not really the stamp of the proverb. There
is surely no lack of sharply coined psychology. This is true of all
countries. I find the harvest richest in the field of the German
proverbs, but almost as many in the field of the English, and a large
number of sayings are common to the two countries. Very
characteristic psychological remarks can be found among the Russian
proverbs, and not a few among those in Yiddish. But this type of
psychology is sufficiently characterized, if we confine ourselves here
to the English proverbial phrases. Often they need a commentary in
order to be understood in their psychological truth. We hear in almost
all countries: “Children and fools speak the truth.” As a matter of
course we all know that their chance of speaking the objective truth
is very small. What is psychologically tenable is only that they are
unable to hide the subjective truth. Many such phrases are simply
epigrams where the pleasure in the play of words must be a substitute
for the psychological truth; for instance: “Long hair and short wit.”
Not a few contradict one another, and yet there is not a little wisdom
in sayings like these: “Beware of a silent dog and still water”;
“Misery loves company”; “Hasty love is soon hot and soon cold”; “Dogs
that put up many hares kill none”; “He that will steal an egg will
steal an ox”; “Idle folks have the least leisure”; “Maids say no and
take”; “A boaster and a liar are cousins german”; “A young twig is
easier twisted than an old tree”; “Imitation is the sincerest
flattery”; “Pride joined with many virtues chokes them all”;
“Offenders never pardon”; “The more wit, the less courage”; “We are
more mindful of injuries than of benefits”; “Where there's a will,
there's a way”; “An idle brain is the devil's workshop”; “Anger and
haste hinder good counsel”; “Wise men change their minds, fools
never”; “Sudden joy kills sooner than excessive grief”; “Lazy folks
take the most pains”; “Nature passes nurture”; “Necessity is the
mother of invention”; “We are apt to believe what we wish for”; “Where
your will is ready, your foot is light.”

All these proverbs and the maxims of other nations may be true, but
can we deny that they are on the whole so trivial that a psychologist
would rather hesitate to proclaim them as parts of his scientific
results? As far as they are true they are vague and hardly worth
mentioning, and where they are definite and remarkable they are hardly
true. We shall after all have to consult the individual authors to
gather the subtler observations on man's behaviour, even though they
furnish only semi-naïve psychology. But the English contributions are
so familiar to every reader that it may be more interesting to listen
to the foreigners. Every nation has its thinkers who have the
reputation of being especially fine knowers of men. The French turn
most readily to La Rochefoucauld, and the Germans to Lichtenberg.
Certainly a word of La Rochefoucauld beside the psychologizing proverb
looks like the scintillating, well-cut diamond beside a moonstone. “We
imitate good actions through emulation, and bad ones through a
malignity in our nature which shame concealed and example sets at
liberty”; “It is much easier to suppress a first desire than to
satisfy those that follow”; “While the heart is still agitated by the
remains of a passion, it is more susceptible to a new one than when
entirely at rest”; “Women in love more easily forgive great
indiscretions than small infidelities”; “The reason we are not often
wholly possessed by a single vice is that we are distracted by
several.” But is this not ultimately some degrees too witty to be
true, and has our system of prescientific psychology the right to open
the door to such glittering epigrams which are uttered simply to
tickle or to whip the vanity of man? Or what psychologist would
believe Lichtenberg when he claims: “All men are equal in their mental
aptitudes, and only their surroundings are responsible for their
differences”? He observes better when he says: “An insolent man can
look modest when he will, but a modest man can never make himself look
insolent”; or when he remarks: “Nothing makes a man old more quickly
than the thought that he is growing older”; or “Men do not think so
differently about life as they talk about it”; or “I have always found
that intense ambition and suspicion go together”; or “I am convinced
that we not only love ourselves in loving others, but that we also
hate ourselves in hating others.” Often his captivating psychological
words are spoiled by an ethical trend. For instance, he has hardly the
right to say: “In the character of every man is something which cannot
be broken; it is the skeleton of his character.” But he balances such
psychological rashness by fine observations like these: “The character
of a man can be recognized by nothing more surely than by the joke he
takes amiss”; and “I believe that we get pale from fright also in
darkness, but I do not think that we would turn red from shame in the
dark, because we are pale on our own account, but we blush on account
of others as well as on account of ourselves.” And we are in the midst
of the up-to-date psychology when we read what he said a hundred years
ago: “From the dreams of a man, if he report them accurately enough,
we might trace much of his character, but one single dream is not
sufficient; we must have a large number for that.”

I add a few characteristic words of distinctly psychological temper
from the great nonpsychological authors of modern times. Lessing
says: “The superstition in which we have grown up does not lose its
power over us when we see through it; not all who laugh about their
chains are free”; or again, “We are soon indifferent to the good and
even to the best, when it becomes regular”; “The genius loves
simplicity, while the wit prefers complexity”; “The characteristic of
a great man is that he treats the small things as small, and the
important things as important”; “Whoever loses his mind from love
would have lost it sooner or later in any case.” But on the whole,
Lessing was too much of a fighter to be truly an objective
psychologist. We may put more confidence in Goethe's psychology:
“Where the interest fades away, the memory soon fails, too”; “The
history of man is his character”; “From nature we have no fault which
may not become a virtue, and no virtue which may not become a fault”;
“A quiet, serious woman feels uncomfortable with a jolly man, but not
a serious man with a jolly woman”; “Whatever we feel too intensely, we
cannot feel very long”; “It is easy to be obedient to a master who
convinces when he commands”; “Nobody can wander beneath palms without
punishment; all the sentiments must change in a land where elephants
and tigers are at home”; “A man does not become really happy until
his absolute longing has determined its own limits”; “Hate is an
active displeasure, envy a passive one, and it is therefore not
surprising that envy so easily turns into hate”; “No one can produce
anything important unless he isolate himself”; “However we may strive
for the general, we always remain individuals whose nature necessarily
excludes certain characteristics, while it possesses certain others”;
“The only help against the great merits of another is love”; “Man
longs for freedom, woman for tradition”; “A talent forms itself in
solitude, a character in the stream of the world”; “The miracle is the
dearest child of belief”; “It is not difficult to be brilliant if one
has no respect for anything.”

Whoever falls into the habit of looking for psychologizing maxims in
his daily reading will easily bring home something which he picks up
in strolling through the gardens of literature. Only we must always be
on our guard lest the beautifully coloured and fragrant flowers which
we pluck are poisonous. Is it really good psychology when Vauvenargues
writes: “All men are born sincere and die impostors,” or, when
Brillat-Savarin insists: “Tell me what you eat, and I shall tell you
who you are”? Or can we really trust Mirabeau: “Kill your conscience,
as it is the most savage enemy of every one who wants success”; or
Klopstock: “Happiness is only in the mind of one who neither fears nor
hopes”; or Gellert: “He who loves one vice, loves all the vices”? Can
we believe Chamfort: “Ambition more easily takes hold of small souls
than great ones, just as a fire catches the straw roof of the huts
more easily than the palaces”; or Pascal: “In a great soul, everything
is great”; or the poet Bodenstedt when he sings: “A gray eye is a sly
eye, a brown eye is roguish and capricious, but a blue eye shows
loyalty”? And too often we must be satisfied with opposites. Lessing
tells us: “All great men are modest”; Goethe: “Only rascals are
modest.” The psychology of modesty is probably more neatly expressed
in the saying of Jean Paul: “Modest is he who remains modest, not when
he is praised, but when he is blamed”: and Ebner-Eschenbach adds:
“Modesty which comes to consciousness, comes to an end.”

But in our system of naïve psychology, we ought not to omit such
distinctly true remarks as Rabelais' much-quoted words: “The appetite
comes during the eating”; or Fox's words: “Example will avail ten
times more than precept”; or Moltke's: “Uncertainty in commanding
produces uncertainty in obedience”; or Luther's: “Nothing is
forgotten more slowly than an insult, and nothing more quickly than a
benefaction.” It is Fichte who first said: “Education is based on the
self-activity of the mind.” Napoleon coins the good metaphor: “A mind
without memory is a fortress without garrison.” Buffon said what
professional psychologists have repeated after him: “Genius is nothing
but an especial talent for patience.” Schumann claims: “The talent
works, the genius creates.” We may quote from Jean Paul: “Nobody in
the world, not even women and princes, is so easily deceived as our
own conscience”; or from Pascal: “Habit is a second nature which
destroys the original one.” Nietzsche says: “Many do not find their
heart until they have lost their head”; Voltaire: “The secret of ennui
is to have said everything”; Jean Paul: “Sorrows are like the clouds
in a thunderstorm; they look black in the distance, but over us hardly
gray.” Once more I quote Nietzsche: “The same emotions are different
in their rhythm for man and woman: therefore men and women never cease
to misunderstand each other.”

This leads us to the one topic to which perhaps more naïve psychology
has been devoted than to any other psychological problem, the mental
difference between men and women. Volumes could be filled, and I
think volumes have been filled, with quotations about this eternal
source of happiness and grief. But if we look into those hundreds of
thousands of crisp sayings and wise maxims, we find in the material of
modern times just what we recognized in the wisdom of India. Almost
all is metaphor and comparison, or is practical advice and warning, or
is enthusiastic praise, or is maliciousness, but among a hundred
hardly one contains psychology. And if we really bring together such
psychologizing observations, we should hardly dare to acknowledge that
they deserve that right of generality by merit of which they might be
welcomed to our psychological system. Bruyere insists: “Women are
extreme; they are better or worse than men”; and the same idea is
formulated by Kotzebue: “When women are good they stand between men
and angels; when they are bad, they stand between men and devils.”
Rousseau remarks: “Woman has more esprit, and man more genius; the
woman observes, and the man reasons.” Jean Paul expresses the contrast
in this way: “No woman can love her child and the four quarters of the
globe at the same time, but a man can do it.” Grabbe thinks: “Man
looks widely, woman deeply; for man the world is the heart, for woman
the heart is the world.” Schiller claims: “Women constantly return to
their first word, even if reason has spoken for hours.” Karl Julius
Weber, to whom German literature has to credit not a few psychological
observations, says: “Women are greater in misfortune than men on
account of the chief female virtue, patience, but they are smaller in
good fortune than men, on account of the chief female fault, vanity.”
Yet as to patience, a German writer of the seventeenth century,
Christoph Lehmann, says: “Obedience and patience do not like to grow
in the garden of the women.” But I am anxious to close with a more
polite German observation. Seume holds: “I cannot decide whether the
women have as much reason as the men, but I am perfectly sure that
they have not so much unreason.” And yet: “How hard it is for women to
keep counsel,” and how many writers since Shakespeare have said this
in their own words.

The poets, to be sure, feel certain that in spite of all these inner
contradictions, they know better than the psychologists, and where
their knowledge falls short, they at least assure the psychologist
that he could not do better. Paul Heyse, in his booklet of
epigrammatic stanzas, writes a neat verse which, in clumsy prose,
says: “Whoever studies the secrets of the soul may bring to light
many a hidden treasure, but which man fits which woman no psychologist
will ever discover.” To be sure, as excuse for his low opinion of us
psychologists, it may be said that when he wrote it in Munich thirty
years ago there was no psychological laboratory in the university of
his jolly town and only two or three in the world. But to-day we have
more than a hundred big laboratories in all countries, and even Munich
now has its share in them, so that Heyse may have improved on his
opinion since then. But in any case we psychologists do not take our
revenge by thinking badly of the naïve psychology of the poets and of
the man on the street. Yet we have seen that their so-called
psychology is made up essentially of picturesque metaphors, or of
moral advice, of love and malice, and that we have to sift big volumes
before we strike a bit of psychological truth; even then, how often it
has shown itself haphazard and accidental, vague and distorted! The
mathematical statistics of the professional students of the mind and
their test experiments in the laboratories are certainly less
picturesque, but they have the one advantage that the results are
true. Mankind has no right to deceive itself with half-true, naïve
psychology of the amateur, when our world is so full of social
problems which will be solved only if the aptitudes and the workings
of the mind are clearly recognized and traced. The naïve psychology is
sometimes stimulating and usually delightful, but if reliable
psychology is wanted, it seems after all that only one way is open—to
consult the psychologists.

                                THE END

                        THE COUNTRY LIFE PRESS
                          GARDEN CITY, N. Y.

                       BOOKS BY HUGO MÜNSTERBERG

    Psychology and Life, Boston, 1899
    Grundzüge der Psychologie, Leipzig, 1900
    American Traits, Boston, 1902
    Die Amerikaner, Berlin, 1904
    The Americans, New York, 1904
    Principles of Art Education, New York, 1905
    The Eternal Life, Boston, 1905
    Science and Idealism, Boston, 1906
    Philosophie der Werte, Leipzig, 1907
    On the Witness Stand, New York, 1908
    Aus Deutsch Amerika, Berlin, 1908
    The Eternal Values, Boston, 1909
    Psychotherapy, New York, 1909
    Psychology and the Teacher, New York, 1910
    American Problems, New York, 1910
    Psychologie und Wirtschaftsleben, Berlin, 1912
    Vocation and Learning, St. Louis, 1912
    Psychology and Industrial Efficiency, Boston, 1913
    American Patriotism, New York, 1913
    Grundzüge der Psychotechnik, Leipzig, 1914
    Psychology and Social Sanity, New York, 1914

                          TRANSCRIBER'S NOTE

Obvious printer's errors have been fixed. See below for the full list.
The list of books by Hugo Münsterberg has been moved from the
beginning to the end of the project.

                             Errors fixed

page viii—typo fixed: changed 'pyschology' to 'psychology'
page 067—typo fixed: changed 'pulsebeat' to 'pulse-beat'
page 086—spelling normalized: changed 'world-wide' to 'worldwide'
page 281—typo fixed: changed 'mratial' to 'martial'
page 283—spelling normalized: changed 'onesided' to 'one-sided'
page 299—spelling normalized: changed 'onesidedness' to 'one-sidedness'
page 315—typo fixed: changed 'Eschenback' to 'Eschenbach'

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