Page:EB1911 - Volume 25.djvu/1090

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between the living (telepathy) and communication between the dead and the living. Now, if either or both of these modes of communication should eventually prove to be facts of nature, neither will need the hypothesis of the subliminal self for its explanation. Such evidence as we have of the latter kind of communication is almost wholly of the form of messages written or spoken by entranced persons (see Trance) which claim to be sent by the souls of the dead to friends still living, and these messages (if they are what they claim to be) imply, and were held by Myers himself to imply, possession or control of the brain of the living medium by the soul of the dead who transmits the message. Both phenomena need, then, for their explanation only the two great assumptions — first, that the soul is an entity capable of disembodied existence; second, that in its psychophysical interactions any soul is not strictly confined to interaction with one particular brain.

The third great difficulty is of an emotional order. All the laborious research whose results Myers has sought to harmonize by means of his conception of the “subliminal self” has been initiated and sustained by the desire of proving the continued existence of the human personality after the death of the body. But, if Myers's doctrine is true, that which survives the death of the body is not the normal self-conscious personality of a man such as is known and valued by his friends, but a personality of which this normal personality is but a stunted distorted fragment; and it would therefore seem that according to this doctrine death must involve so great a transformation that such slight continuity as obtains must be insufficient to yield the emotional satisfaction demanded. The hypothesis would thus seem to destroy in great measure the value of the belief which it seeks to justify and establish.

See F. W. H. Myers, Human Personality and its Survival of Bodily Death (1st ed., London, 1903 ; 2nd ed., abridged and edited by L. H. Myers, London, 1907); Morton Prince, The Dissociation of a Personality (London, 1906); J. Jastrow, The Subconscious (London, 1906). See also many papers by various hands in Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, especially in part xlvi., vol. xviii., and the literature referred to under Trance.

 (W. McD.)