Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 67.djvu/487

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THE

POPULAR SCIENCE

MONTHLY

 

OCTOBER, 1905.




THE LAPSES OF CONSCIOUSNESS.[1]
By Professor JOSEPH JASTROW,

UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN.

Introductory: The Formula of Conduct.

THE purpose of the present study is to set forth the range of certain common and normal types of thought and conduct that reach expression without the usual and attentive guidance of consciousness. Such subconscious direction of what we think and say and do plays a constant part in the ordinary, and occasionally in the extraordinary, operations of our mental machinery. So long as the operations are successful in purpose, there is little occasion for bringing to the light of our own awareness the process by which the result is accomplished. This is, indeed, the normal emphasis of nature, which places a premium upon the issue, but is relatively indifferent as to the means, giving its sanction of survival to such processes as effectively and economically lead to the desired end. It thus comes about that a variety of procedures may be developed for a common purpose. Owing to the similarity of human needs and endowment, there arise familiar types of mental habits, which become established without definite awareness of their nature or of the manner of their use. It is a peculiar type of straying of the process from the intended path that directs attention to it and makes one aware of a momentary lapse in the relation of issue and


  1. The substance of this article in a modified and abridged form serves as a chapter in a volume entitled 'The Subconscious,' now in the press of Houghton, Mifflin & Co., and shortly to be issued by them. The present article deals in the main with the presentation and classification of the evidence for the more common types of such subconscious action, and does not consider as carefully as the subject demands the synthetic interpretation of the data. This aspect of the problem is treated in another chapter of the volume. There is also included in the present article material presented in other chapters of the book.