Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 64.djvu/199

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THE

 

POPULAR SCIENCE

 

MONTHLY



JANUARY, 1904.



A CASE OF AUTOMATIC DRAWING.
By Professor WILLIAM JAMES,
HARVARD UNIVERSITY.

'AUTOMATISMS' have recently been made a frequent topic of investigation by psychologists, and although the exact reason why some persons have them and others do not remains as little explained as does the precise character and content which they may affect in a given individual, yet we are now so well acquainted with their variety that we can class them under familiar types.

The rudiment of all the motor-automatisms seems to be the tendency of our muscles to act out any performance of which we may think. They do so without deliberate intention, and often without awareness on our part, as where one swings a ring by a thread in a glass and finds that it strikes the number of times of which we think; or as when we play the willing game, and, laying our hands on the blindfolded 'percipient,' involuntarily guide him by our checking or encouraging pressure until he lays his hands upon the object which is hid.

The next higher grade of motor automatism, involving considerable subconscious action of intelligence, is found in the various alphabet using forms of amateur mediumship, such as table tipping, the 'Ouija-board,' and certain other devices for making our muscles leaky and liable to escape from control.

'Graphic' automatisms, of which planchette-writing is the most popularly known example, is a more widespread accomplishment than ordinary people think. We have no statistics, but I am inclined to suspect that in twenty persons taken at random an automatic writer of some degree can always be found.

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