Page:Psychology and preaching.djvu/272

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254 PSYCHOLOGY AND PREACHING

tences, made rhythmical by his own emotion, and the mas terly use he made of imagery which associated his cause with some of the deepest and most powerful sentiments of our human hearts, developed a tide of emotion which set the convention wild (perhaps literally) and overwhelmed his oppenents. 1

We should turn now to a consideration of the kinds of emotion which are most effective in welding heterogeneous individuals into a homogeneous crowd. These are to be found among the emotions which are embedded most deeply in the instincts of human nature. When aroused they are the most powerful, the most pervasively contagious and the most difficult to control.

First, we may consider fear, which in the psychology books is generally mentioned as the first of the simple emo tions. How powerful it is, how completely in its intense developments it paralyses reason, how thoroughly sug gestible it renders its subject or victim needs no dem onstration or illustration. Every man s experience fur nishes numerous examples of its power to upset the rational processes. When a group of people are seized by this emo tion and it is intensified by reflection from face to face, or by screams and shrieks, it quickly overwhelms reason and conscience, and all other emotions as well, in its turbid flood ; and men are converted into maddened beasts, each of whom seeks only his own safety. While, therefore, it annihilates the higher individualizing factors of the several personalities and fuses them in the sense that they are all reduced to a like mental state which is intensified by reflection from one to another, it desocializes them, so to speak; it deadens the social instincts of each and so has a certain disintegrating effect. This is especially notable in panics. It reduces the individuals to a common denominator, but that common de nominator is an impulse to take care of self without regard to others. There is no emotion which, when it gains ex clusive sway, is so absolutely demoralizing. And yet when 1 See Scott s " Psychology of Public Speaking," pp. 165-6.

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