Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 15.djvu/66

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56
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

it does not prevent the introduction of moral qualities also. A person may lose the use of a member, for instance, through loss of consciousness of power in that member, and at the same time she may have so much pleasure in the sympathy which the disability excites in those around her as to prefer to be lame or bedridden. Confinement, from any cause, is more apt to be demoralizing than elevating, at the best, and it is not strange that a certain number of bedridden cases should, more through the ignorance and want of tact of those around them than original desire to deceive, form the habit of, first, making the most of their infirmities to increase sympathy, and, finally, come to exaggerate and to falsify; thus they pave the way to becoming the instruments of their own and others' craving to be considered phenomenal. And it may well be, and circumstances seem to establish, that the Brooklyn case alluded to has arrived at that point now. I only insist that it is not logically necessary, in similar cases, to assume intentional deception from the beginning, nor, in many cases, at any time can this be rightfully asserted.

It will be observed that I have not used the word "imagination" in connection with the phenomena under consideration. I have not used that term, because it does not apply to the facts. Imagination is an attribute of the mind, an important but wholly distinct mental faculty. But it is not the whole mind, neither does it represent a special condition of the mind. The imagination is often given full play in many of these cases, and undoubtedly assists in producing that mental state which ultimately ends in mental allotropism. But, however conspicuous the imagination may be in such a case, its only importance consists in being one of the many factors tending to produce a certain definite result, which, when reached, is not imagination nor the direct product of the imagination. I speak of this because I think a great deal of harm has been done by the use of this word. It is employed, generally, as if the use of it carried some explanation, and it is understood by the subjects as casting some imputation. Besides, abnormal mental timbre, productive of positive effects on the organism, is quite as apt to be manifested in certain wholly unimaginative persons as in the imaginative. The most marked cases which have come under my observation have been those of persons whose characteristics have been strong common sense and self-forgetfulness.