Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 49.djvu/528

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508
POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

"SPIRIT" WRITING AND "SPEAKING WITH TONGUES."
By Prof. WILLIAM ROMAINE NEWBOLD.

THE word "automatism" not only designates a group of phenomena but also connotes a theory as to their origin, and this theory rests upon the popular conception of the relation of "soul" and body. The soul, according to it, is an entity of a peculiar kind, entirely distinct from and independent of the body. The body is a material machine, and does not essentially differ from the machines made by man. The relation between soul and body is one of reciprocal action and interaction. The body is the medium through which material realities external to it are communicated to the soul under the guise of the sensations and conceptions of consciousness; it possesses also the capacity of executing certain movements—as, for example, reflexes—without the concurrence of the soul. But the more complex movements of the body, especially those which adjust it to a constantly shifting environment and those which serve as the exponents of mental life, can not be executed without the co-operation of the soul. Occasionally these normal relations appear to be disturbed. Movements take place of the kind usually ascribed to the activity of the soul, and that soul disavows them. Sensations and perceptions enter into the range of consciousness for which no external reality can be found, and thoughts strangely unlike those proper to the thinker troop through his mind and force themselves upon his unwilling attention. These phenomena are ascribed to the agency of the body as distinguished from that of the soul on the one hand, and that of the material world on the other. The body is a machine out of gear; it is no longer controlled by the indwelling soul, and is constantly executing movements on its own account and forcing upon the soul sensations, perceptions, and ideas which stand for no realities save that of the disordered mechanism which produces them. Thus the three chief forms of automatism are: the automatism of movement, of sensation, and of thought or ideation. While I shall use the word automatism and its derivatives, I do not, of course, wish to be understood as subscribing to the theory which it connotes.

Automatic movements may be of any and all kinds. The simplest are those of which the actor is thinking at the time although himself unaware that his thought is passing over into movement. To this type belong the marvels of the pendulum which swings above a reflecting surface only, of the divining rod, of most forms of table-turning, of "thought transference" as practiced by Bishop and Cumberland, et id genus omne. Space forbids my entering