Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 32.djvu/870

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848
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

and bane, badly. Each of these would-be teachers and guides of the young knew that he, or she, was "guessing" in the most shameless manner—that is to say, practicing one of the very vices to which school-children are most prone, and which it is the duty of their teachers most earnestly to reprehend and repress.

Of course, it will be said that the worst cases of ignorance and incompetency were culled out by the examination; but the language of the article referred to indicates clearly enough that the general average of the candidates was low; and, if so, it may be assumed that many very poorly qualified persons crept through and got their certificates. And this is how the system is working to-day, when so many improvements on the old order of things are supposed to have been made. We greatly fear that, between the politics that make good teachers insecure, and bad ones secure, in their positions, and examinations that are largely farcical in their character, the interests of the rising generation are not being very intelligently or conscientiously studied. Good men and women no doubt there are, and many of them, engaged in the State schools; but these, we fear, can not avail to save the whole system from gravitating to that low point of efficiency which marks governmental action in all matters which lie outside the necessary and natural functions of government.

 


LITERARY NOTICES.

Animal Magnetism. By Alfred Binet and Charles Féré. "International Scientific Series," Vol. LIX. New York: D. Appleton & Co. Pp. 378. Price, $1.50.

Mesmerism, hypnotism, or animal magnetism, has had varied fortunes. Forced into the field of scientific discussion about a century ago by the elaborate pretensions of Mesmer, it has been alternately cultivated, condemned, and neglected by scientific men, and has been fostered chiefly by quacks as a ready means of exciting the admiration and opening the purses of the curious. At present the subject is one of growing interest. It is receiving respectful attention generally in the scientific world, and is being studied in a conservative manner by certain specialists. The exceptional advantages for the study of nervous phenomena afforded by the medical practice in the Salpêtrière, the great hospital for women in Paris, have been employed with important results. The observations and experiments recorded in the present volume have been made in that hospital, and in accordance with the method inaugurated by M. Charcot, the chief of the school of the Salpêtrière. The book aims only to give an account of these researches, and, notwithstanding their number and variety, the authors do not feel that enough material has yet been collected to base general conclusions on. In the first three chapters a history of the subject is given, after which the investigations of Charcot and his pupils are taken up. These observers recognize three chief states of hypnotism: catalepsy, lethargy, and artificial somnambulism, the modes of producing which, together with their symptoms, are described. Then follows a study of suggestion, or the power of an experimenter to make a hypnotized subject speak, act, think, and feel as it pleases the former to dictate. Hallucinations affecting each of the senses may be impressed upon the subject, and even unilateral hallucinations may be produced. Suggestions of acts to be performed at once or at some future time may be given, and, though the acts may be repugnant to the subject, be can not refrain from performing them. Insensibility to touch, and even to the pain of a surgical operation, may be produced by suggestion, and motor paralysis as well. All these phases of the subject are illustrated by a great variety of cases. Attention is called in the two closing chapters to certain applications of hypnotism. First, hypnotism may become a valuable curative agent for real diseases caused by the imagination, which appear in persons having a certain weakness of the nervous system. This fact throws light on the subject of miraculous cures and mental healing, which has recently attracted so much attention. Second, it