Page:American Journal of Psychology Volume 21.djvu/240
study, he could not decide to present himself for examination; he finally became impotent, and merged into a psychosis in which, whenever he was alone, he took delight in walking about in his room on his toes in order to appear taller. The word “short,” therefore, signified to him a great many painful experiences. This is usually the case with the repeated words; they always contain something very important for the individual psychology of the test person.
The signs thus far depicted are not found arbitrarily spread throughout the whole experiment, but only in very definite locations; namely, in those stimulus words which strike against special emotionally accentuated complexes. This fact is the foundation of the so-called “diagnosis of facts” (Tatbestandsdiagnostik); that is, of the method employed to discover by means of an association experiment, the culprit among a number of persons suspected of a crime. That this is possible I should like to demonstrate briefly in a concrete case.
On the 6th of February, 1908, our supervisor reported to me that a nurse complained to her of having been robbed during the forenoon of the previous day. The facts were as follows: The nurse kept her money, amounting to 70 francs, in a pocketbook which she had placed in her cupboard where she also kept her clothes. The cupboard contained two compartments, of which one belonged to the nurse who was robbed, and the other to the head nurse. These two nurses and a third one, who was an intimate friend of the head nurse, slept in the same room where the cupboard was. The room was in a section which was regularly occupied in common by six nurses who had free access to this room. Given such a state of affairs it is not to be wondered that the supervisor shrugged her shoulders when I asked her whom she most suspected.
Further investigation showed that on the morning of the theft the above-mentioned friend of the head nurse was slightly indisposed and remained in bed in the room the whole morning. Hence, following the indications of the plaintiff, the theft could have taken place only in the afternoon. Of the other four nurses upon whom suspicion could fall, there was only one who regularly attended to the cleaning of the room in question, while the remaining three had nothing to do in this room, nor was it shown that any of them had spent any time there on the previous day.
It was therefore natural that these last three nurses should be regarded for the time being as less implicated, and I therefore began by subjecting the first three to the experiment.
From the particulars of the case, I also knew that the cupboard was locked but that the key was kept not far away in a