Mind and Body
Format: Global Grey free PDF, epub, Kindle ebook
Pages (PDF): 93
Publication Date: 1910
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From the Foreword: 'Mind and Body—Mental States and Physical Conditions! To the mind of those who have contented themselves with merely the superficial aspects of things, these two things—mind and body; and mental states and physical conditions—seem to be as far apart as the two poles; seem to be opposites and contradictories impossible of reconciliation. But to those who have penetrated beneath the surface of things, these two apparent opposites are seen to be so closely related and inter-related—so blended and mingled together in manifestation—that it is practically impossible to scientifically determine where the one leaves off and the other begins.'
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In order to understand the nature of the influence of the mind upon the body—the effect of mental states upon physical functions—we must know something of that wonderful field of mental activity which in the New Psychology is known as “The Subconscious Mind,” and which by some writers has been styled the “Subjective Mind;” the “Involuntary Mind;” the “Subliminal Mind;” the “Unconscious Mind,” etc., the difference in names arising because of the comparative newness of the investigation and classification.
Among the various functions of the Subconscious Mind, one of the most important is that of the charge and control of the involuntary activities and functions of the human body through the agency of the sympathetic nervous system, the cells, and cell-groups. As all students of physiology know, the greater part of the activities of the body are involuntary—that is, are independent (or partly so) of the control of the conscious will. As Dr. Schofield says: “The unconscious mind, in addition to the three qualities which it shares in common with the conscious—viz., will, intellect and emotion—has undoubtedly another very important one—nutrition, or the general maintenance of the body.” And as Hudson states: “The subjective mind has absolute control of the functions, conditions and sensations of the body.” Notwithstanding the dispute which is still raging concerning what the Subconscious mind is, the authorities all agree upon the fact that, whatever else it may be, it may be considered as that phase, aspect, part, or field of the mind which has charge and control of the greater part of the physical functioning of the body.
Von Hartmann says: “The explanation that unconscious psychical activity itself appropriately forms and maintains the body has not only nothing to be said against it, but has all possible analogies from the most different departments of physical and animal life in its favor, and appears to be as scientifically certain as is possible in the inferences from effect to cause.” Maudsley says: “The connection of mind and body is such that a given state of mind tends to echo itself at once in the body.” Carpenter says: “If a psychosis or mental state is produced by a neurosis or material nerve state, as pain by a prick, so also is a neurosis produced by a psychosis. That mental antecedents call forth physical consequents is just as certain as that physical antecedents call forth mental consequents.” Tuke says: “Mind, through sensory, motor, vaso-motor and trophic nerves, causes changes in sensation, muscular contraction, nutrition and secretion.... If the brain is an outgrowth from a body corpuscle and is in immediate relation with the structures and tissues that preceded it, then, though these continue to have their own action, the brain must be expected to act upon the muscular tissue, the organic functions and upon the nervous system itself.”
Von Hartmann also says: “In willing any conscious act, the unconscious will is evoked to institute means to bring about the effect. Thus, if I will a stronger salivary secretion, the conscious willing of this effect excites the unconscious will to institute the necessary means. Mothers are said to be able to provide through the will a more copious secretion, if the sight of the child arouses in them the will to suckle. There are people who perspire voluntarily. I now possess the power of instantaneously reducing the severest hiccoughs to silence by my own will, while it was formerly a source of great inconvenience to me.... An irritation to cough, which has no mechanical cause, may be permanently suppressed by the will. I believe we might possess a far greater voluntary power over our bodily functions if we were only accustomed from childhood to institute experiments and to practice ourselves therein.... We have arrived at the conclusion that every action of the mind on the body, without exception, is only possible by means of an unconscious will; that such an unconscious will can be called forth partly by means of a conscious will, partly also through the conscious idea of the effect, without conscions will, and even in opposition to the conscious will.”
Henry Wood says of the Subconscious Mind: “It acts automatically upon the physical organism. It cognizes external facts, conditions, limitations, and even contagions, quite independent of its active counterpart. One may, therefore, ‘take’ a disease and be unaware of any exposure. The subconsciousness has been unwittingly trained to fear, and accept it; and it is this quality, rather than the mere inert matter of the body, that succumbs. Matter is never the actor, but is always acted upon. This silent, mental partner, in operation, seems to be a living, thinking personality, conducting affairs on its own account. It is a compound of almost unimaginable variety, including wisdom and foolishness, logic and nonsense, and yet having a working unitary economy. It is a hidden force to be dealt with and educated, for it is often found insubordinate and unruly. It refuses co-operation with its lesser but more active and wiser counterpart. It is very ‘set’ in its views, and only changes its qualities and opinions by slow degrees. But, like a pair of horses, not until these two mental factors can be trained together can there be harmony and efficiency.”
In order to understand the important part played in the physical economy by the Subconscious Mind, it is only necessary to understand the various processes of the human system which are out of the ordinary field of the voluntary or conscious mind. We then realize that the entire process of nutrition, including digestion, assimilation, etc., the processes of elimination, the processes of circulation, the processes of growth, in fact the entire processes manifested in the work of the cells, cell-groups, ganglia, physical organs, etc., are in charge of and controlled by the Subconscious Mind.
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