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Relation Of Religion To The Pathological In Mental Life

( Originally Published 1910 )

IN the previous chapters of this book our attention has been concentrated in the main upon the method by which religious types of valuation and religious concepts have been built up in men's minds. We have had little to say of these values and concepts as mere mental states, nor have we considered their status in the general mental economy; to certain phases of this problem we shall now turn.

Many recent writers on the psychology of religion have laid so much stress upon relatively pathological phenomena as to suggest that the religious consciousness is more or less intrinsically psychopathic. James, near the close of his Varieties of Religious Experience, a volume devoted largely to unusual if not pathological types of religion (because, as he says, such varieties of religion may be expected to throw valuable light upon the more usual types, p. 22), suggests that in experiences of this type may be the very essence of religion. " We cannot," in his words, " avoid the conclusion that in religion we have a department of human nature with unusually close relations to the transmarginal or subliminal region." This region is "the fountainhead of much that feeds our religion. In persons deep in the religious life, as we have now abundantly seen, and this is my conclusion, the door into this region seems unusually wide open; at any rate, experiences, making their entrance through that door, have had emphatic influence in shaping religious history." It is this apparent relationship between religion and the unusual, or even pathological, phases of mental and motor processes, that we wish to examine in this chapter.

The problem is beset with many difficulties. Upon the one hand, there is the great complexity of the religious attitude itself and the absolute impossibility of giving it any definite delimitations. Upon the other hand, the line of demarcation between the normal and the pathological can never be drawn except approximately. At best it is a shifting one. In the case of certain supposedly pathological mental phenomena, we must ever be uncertain whether they may not be really the manifestations of a healthful mind, and whether it may not be our own view that is perverted or partial.

In human society generally, the individual who varies widely in physical appearance, actions, ideas, or morals from what is customary in his social group is almost inevitably regarded as pathological. So he may be, but there is always the possibility that he may be a quite healthful variation. The early prophets of Israel, for instance, were probably persons distinguished by unusual if not abnormal experiences. In all likelihood their importance in the eyes of their contemporaries was due more largely to their strange aberrations than to any important messages they were able to deliver. In the case of the later prophets, the strange, ecstatic experiences persisted in all likelihood to some extent, but the messages they delivered were by far the most important contribution to the life of their times, and yet, even so, they were regarded as essentially `possessed' persons, as fools, or as insane. Now this reputation for mental deviation was certainly not due merely to their occasional visions or other unusual experiences; it was probably in much larger measure due to the fact that their teaching departed so widely from accepted usages and beliefs. Thus we must not regard a man as actually pathological, in the sense of being diseased mentally, because he is so regarded by his contemporaries.

There is still another difficulty to a satisfactory consideration of this subject that should be noted, and that is the general tendency for all people to consider those experiences as pathological which cannot be clearly defined in intellectual terms. The emotional side of experience cannot be so defined, and in some of its intenser phases it departs so far from anything that can be accurately described in the categories of ordinary experience, that it is assumed to be pathological. Thus the experiences of the mystic, his ecstasies and exaltations, are no doubt very difficult to -describe in ordinary direct language. There is a richness of meaning and a fulness of reality about them that defies description, and the mystic, almost inevitably, drops into some sort of symbolism which seems so extravagant to the ordinary man that he at once brands the expressions as those of an unbalanced mind.

Nevertheless, although there are no criteria of the pathological that can be regarded as final, there are many psychical and motor processes that are at least out of the ordinary, and some of them may with all propriety be called evidences of a diseased personality. It would perhaps be better to state the problem of this chapter as that of determining the extent to which the religious attitude is necessarily productive of, or related to, unusual experiences and unusual motor activities. When the term "pathological" is used, it will have the broad connotation of the unusual, and we shall not feel that it is necessary to commit ourselves on the point of whether the phenomenon in question is actually the product of diseased conditions or not.

In all types of religion, from the crudest to the most refined and spiritual, we find an abundance of these unusual mental and motor phenomena. In one form or another they will be familiar to all who read these pages, and they need not, there-fore, be enumerated or classified here at any length. Almost all religions symbolize their values, as we have seen, in terms of higher powers of some sort. These symbols are, in almost every case, taken by those who feel these values to be descriptions of reality on a par with the ordinary concepts which we apply to the physical world. That is, the spirit or deity is thought to exist in just the same way as the desk at which I sit exists, and just as physical objects can, under certain conditions, cooperate to produce striking occurrences of various kinds, so the beings and forces symbolizing the values of the religious consciousness are supposed to be capable of doing various things beyond the power of man and at variance with the way things ordinarily happen. Now the particular point we wish to make here is that the unusual, if not pathological, phenomena to which all religions can point are regarded by them as the evidences and proofs of the reality or validity of the system of values which each has built up.

In the cruder levels of culture, dreams, visions, and ecstatic experiences are almost always given a religious meaning or in some way play into the current type of religious concepts. Nor have higher religions been free from such interpretations.' At various times and among almost every people the sexual passions and the love of cruelty have been given full license under the sanction of religion. It is not merely in primitive phallic religions that sexuality has played its part. It has appeared throughout the history of religion down unto the very present, as witness the spiritual marriages of the Mormons and other sects, or the open teaching of free love of still other modern religious groups. But phenomena of the sort referred to in this paragraph have been so fully discussed by other writers that we need not take them up again, and indeed we have nothing to add to the very acute psychological analysis of such experiences and manifestations as have been made by others.' For the same reasons we shall not here attempt to discuss the mystic, with his divine revelations, his visions, auditions, exaltations, penances, all of which have been an important figure in the history of religion? We shall also pass by the consideration of the waves of religious persecution, and the religious manias, of which there have been almost every conceivable type, such as the crusades and the crucifixion sects (prominent in Europe in even the nineteenth century, whose adherents thought that religious perfection could be obtained only by imitating every detail in the reputed life of Christ, even to the extent of dying nailed to a cross. Stoll, op. cit.). Neither can we here discuss the varied phenomena of camp-meeting and revival, all of which have been fully treated by others. All of these matters form a large and distinct phase of religious expression, and they require a separate treatment under the pathology of religion. So much has been written upon them that we may quite properly confine ourselves entirely to the question of the significance of such phenomena (granting that they have existed and do exist) for the development of religious values, or possibly first of all to the question of why so many excesses of this sort have constantly appeared in connection with the development of the religious valuational consciousness.

It will be objected, no doubt, that many of the occurrences cited are not the expressions of genuine religion. It is not, however, in the province of psychology, or of any science, for that matter, to establish norms of religious genuineness. As far as psychology is concerned, all religions are genuine, and all the extravagances that might be mentioned are real expressions of actual types of the religious attitude. Of course, if the religious attitude is taken as something separate and apart from the rest of the human consciousness, a special faculty for perceiving and adjusting one's self to a divine order of existence, then all these things are either perversions or besmirchings of its purity by external agencies. If, however, the religious attitude may be properly described as an organization of those elements of personality with reference to the fuller appreciation of certain values which develop within the experience of that person, it must always be considered as definitely related to the rest of the manifestations of personality, not colored by them, but one of them; one of the modes, among others, by which the person expresses himself. The expressions which a person makes of himself, the values which he seems to have developed in his life, may seem quite crude according to the standard which another person supposes to be absolute. But the crudity is simply that of the rest of the person's experience. The values one feels are the values of his own experience. It will never be proper to refer to them as merely approximations of the values of a broader or supposedly absolute experience.

When, therefore, a doubt is raised as to whether a particular extravagance is related to genuine religion or not, it is sufficient to answer that, at any rate, it has occurred under the sanction of something that professed to be religion, and that it is not possible to classify the expressions of religion as true and false, although we may say that some religious valuations are higher than others. If there is any fairly constant quality that be-longs to the religious attitude, as it has appeared at different times and among different people, it would seem that there must be something about it that tends, other conditions favoring, to produce just such unusual if not pathological mental and motor phenomena. In fine, it is not legitimate to attribute all of religion's questionable concomitants to some outside force such as the devil. In some of the great revivals of the past, when unusual manifestations were rampant, these were interpreted at first as the natural evidences of the power of God working upon men. When, however, the manifestations became excessive and grotesque, it was said that Satan had stepped in and was imitating the work of grace to discredit it. "It was originally wholly from God; it is now partly so still, but Satan is now responsible for a share ó in Leslie Stephen's phrase of comment ó `a singular cooperation between God and the devil.' "

To return to our problem, then, is there anything in the nature of the religious attitude itself, with all its protean forms, which has tended to foster unusual mental and motor phenomena or which has in some way laid the religionist open to possibilities of the sort? And finally, is this aspect of religion mere pathology, or has it contributed in any positive way to the development of higher types of religious valuation?

As, regards the first question,' there are two aspects of the attitude we are considering that may conceivably be productive of unusual experiences: first, the nature of religious values themselves; and secondly, the hypothesis of some sort of supernaturalism which is usually associated with religious valuation.

The very fact that religion deals with values that are to be appreciated rather than logically formulated, and the very fact that these values represent either the individual's or the social group's conception of its most vital needs and its ultimate well-being, whether in the present or in the future, causes them to become powerful excitants of the imagination and of the emotions. ∆sthetic values, which, may often be associated with the religious, have an analogous but usually less powerful influence, partly because they are not associated in any intimate way with one's ultimate well-being, and partly because they lack the powerful reŽnforcement of social suggestion. Religious values are, as we have seen, essentially social products, and they usually come most vividly to consciousness in a social milieu of some sort. The curious experiences and the almost incredible motor automatisms of those who celebrate religious festivals and dances, or which are common among those who gather at revivals and camp-meetings, simply to mention a few typical social situations, are all illustrations of the extent to which mutual suggestion exercised by the members of a group may augment, if not actually produce, intense reactions to the valuations proposed by religion. Given, then, valuations of life and concepts of the religious type, and given a social group whose members are conscious of these things with varying intensity, and we have the conditions for experiences and reactions that may easily attain a degree of intensity which will render them pathological.

It was stated above that the hypothesis in most religions of some sort of supernaturalism has been a second cause of the frequent occurrence of unusual manifestations. In the preceding chapters the place of social activities of various kinds in the building up of religious valuations has been so much emphasized that it may not be entirely clear how super-naturalism is related to the process. A slight digression will therefore be necessary in order to clear the way for what we wish to present next.

Religious values and needs are, as we have seen, a possible outcome of the various processes of social activity which are aroused by all sorts of objects of general interest and concern. These objects may be economic. Thus, in those regions where the procuring of food is necessarily accompanied with some foresight and effort, that process, in all its details, tends to excite the attention of the group as a body. Times of seeding and harvest are naturally important in some regions, and the emotional stress of such periods 1 will be great in proportion as much uncertainty attends the results and in proportion as failure means disaster to the group. We have given illustrations of the large numbers of accessory activities which may originate in such times of anxious attention, acts which express the intensity of the feeling and actually serve to increase this feeling. Thus, it may be truly said that these relatively spontaneous and unevaluated social reactions, whether they be practical or accessory, that is, the result of mere emotional overflow, give the object of attention individuality and importance and build up about it systems of conscious appreciations. Among other occasions which naturally interest primitive social communities are those of birth, the attainment of maturity, marriage, and death. So also with physical objects of unusual size or shape, or such as possess dangerous qualities. In all cases it should be borne in mind that the occasion which excites attention, i.e. the strange and unusual object or phenomenon, is first recognized because it seems to have a close connection with some of the already existing activities of the individual or of the group. Thus a certain South African tribe saw a large and otherwise remarkable rock in the vicinity at the time of their winning an unexpected victory over a much-feared enemy. They at once concluded that the rock contained a `power,' or spirit, of some sort, and it became for them, henceforth, an object of worship. If the course of events had presented nothing out of the ordinary, it is more than likely that the stone would have remained unnoticed. It is often said that for the savage the idea of the supernatural has its rise in that which appears to him in some way unusual. Whatever occurs regularly does not ordinarily excite his attention. Thus, in most cases, it is not the regular rising and setting of the sun, but the eclipse that is an evidence of some superior power. This is all true, but it is important to remember that these things attract the savage because of the part they appear to play in something he is occupied in doing.

Primitive man's first concern is not, then, with supernatural powers, but with the doing of certain things, and the concept of a force beyond himself enters his mind in connection with the unexpected thwarting or furthering of his active interests. It does not develop as a separate object of interest, but rather as a possible phase or element in all his interests. It will therefore play a part in determining the development of his systems of activity in the various situations of life which concern him and upon the basis of which his religious consciousness is built up. In this way, then, the concept of superior or supernatural powers becomes a factor in the development of religious values.

From the account we have given, it may be seen that these values are not, as they are often seemingly represented, mere detached states of adoration or of fear aroused by a general sense of mystery in nature; they have a definite background of social activity which has itself been the condition of man's first noticing unusual things and the condition of his supposition of a power superior to his own. So much, then, for the development of this concept and its connection with religion.

Now, among the various performances, both individual and collective, which are excited in connection with the different objects and occasions mentioned above, there are some acts which are more or less pathological, or at least unusual. These acts or experiences are not induced in people by priests or rulers in order to retain their power over them. All people, under appropriate conditions, are more or less subject to them. Possibly primitive man was more suggestible than modern man, more easily thrown into abnormal mental conditions. The conditions of his existence were quite precarious, and he probably never attained entire emotional stability. Many of the forms of social activity within the primitive group, as dancing, or other mimes, we know from observation of natural races of today, are frequently productive of trances and ecstatic states with accompanying motor automatisms which have a startling effect upon the mind of the savage. All such strange occurrences as these just mentioned, as well as visions and dreams, the speaking with tongues, and the hearing of voices, are readily interpreted by him as incursions of some higher power into the customary RELIGION AND THE PATHOLOGICAL 317 order of his life. It is in this way that these pathological phenomena acquire a religious significance and become incorporated in the recognized religious activities of the group. Just because they occur in connection with the things the group is interested in doing do they attract attention and acquire religious meanings. Because they have these meanings they are sought after and cultivated, that is to say, one of the objects of religious activity is to get into rapport with this `power' which shows itself in a person who has an unusual experience.

No phase of human thought has prevailed more widely or has been more persistent than that concerning spirits and spirit activity.' Taking its rise in the wonder of the savage in the presence of occurrences which seemed to concern him, and which he yet knew not how to explain, it has developed with a momentum of its own into a sort of world philosophy, appearing, with variations, in all ages and in all grades of culture. As we have suggested, whether it postulates merely a semi-mechanical force such as manitou or wakonda, a force working in and through natural objects, and yet in some way separable from them, or whether it presumes definite and individualized spirit beings or even deities, this quasi-philosophy tends to accentuate, if not actually to produce in men, unusual and perhaps pathological conditions of consciousness and behavior. The `power,' spirit, or god is something essentially mysterious, something incapable of being definitely reckoned with. It is a means through which things that transcend ordinary or natural human powers may be brought to pass. It is thus associated in a peculiar way with the projective aspects of experience. Inasmuch as the supernatural power, however it be conceived, is felt to be a very real, though relatively indeterminate, quantity, with great influence for both good and ill, its capacity to excite the imagination, to stir up the emotions, and set going all sorts of activities is well-nigh unlimited. If a person believes he has been in rapport with it when in a state of unusual mental excitation, he will naturally tend to cultivate such states in order to realize more fully those life-values which religion has built up for him, and which have become associated with the manifestation of higher powers. Thus we have the Algonkin Indian boy ,going into the woods alone to fast until he shall obtain a vision of his manitou; thus also the bands of early Hebrew prophets, as well as similar persons of other peoples, worked themselves into a frenzied state through music and dancing, in order that they might communicate with Yahweh. Likewise the mediśval Christian ascetic, through fasting and self-inflicted tortures of the most refined type, sought a vision, or an ecstatic state, or an experience even of a voluptuous sort through that close contact with God he supposed he thus attained. Likewise the modern Protestant revivalist or other devotee seeks by much concentration of thought and vehemence in prayer to obtain the communion or assistance of a supernatural potency, the Holy Spirit. In all such cases, and others as well, that might be mentioned, the motives and ends of the seekers may well be of the highest character, but they, one and all, attempt to accomplish them under what may be called the inevitable spell of a primitive philosophy or a naÔve mode of thought. One and all have in some form the notion of superior powers of some sort that may have great influence in determining man's well-being either now or hereafter. In one form or another, all believe what is of everyday occurrence is in some way insignificant or trivial or without ultimate value for life, while what is unusual, exceptional, or transcending known laws is of much significance and possibly of the highest value.

In comment upon these things, we may say that the religious attitude, which expresses in a way the fervor, the aspiration of the human mind, may find embodiment in some sort of supernaturalism, but the supernaturalism is not the cause of the attitude, nor can it be used to prove its validity. It is merely a symbol, which becomes something crass and even absurd when it is offered as a proof of the aspiration it symbolizes. The occurrences which, to the savage mind, are evidences of the reality of superior powers have little by little been found to fit into the natural order of things, and it is the same with all the strange experiences of the religious mind even to this day. The only conclusion is that if religious values depend absolutely upon the reality of a super-natural so conceived, those values must soon cease to exist for many well-informed persons.

We have now arrived at the point where we may profitably discuss the place as well as the limitation of the so-called subconscious factors in the religious consciousness. As James points out, in the passage quoted at the beginning of this chapter, for the religious mind, the door into the sub-liminal regions of the mind seems to be more or less ajar. The striking experiences of the religious consciousness of all ages are shown in these studies of James to be largely the outcome of unusual subconscious activity. Primitive man, as we have seen, not being acquainted with the theory of the subliminal, regarded them as the manifestations of superior powers of some sort. And James, as is well known, suggests that this aspect of mental process may really open the mind to powers above ourselves, thus apparently lending the weight of modern psychology to the primitive conception of the relation of the human to the divine.

It is not our purpose, nor is it necessary, to enter here into a criticism of this hypothesis.' We wish merely to get the setting of the idea. It appears, as we say, under the guise of modern science, to be identical with the primitive notion that whatever is unusual is caused by supernatural forces. Now, while all the presuppositions of science are against the savage view, and while modern psychology claims to be able to account for all these strange happenings without recourse to forces outside of nature, we need not here be dogmatic in our assertions for or against, for our particular problem lies in another direction. There are two related questions which have not, to our knowledge, received adequate consideration thus far. The first : Even though modern psychology takes the stand here attributed to it, does the religious consciousness nevertheless require the hypothesis of the supernatural in this traditional form? Can its valuations of life be sustained except on the basis of some such intercourse with beings and powers of a higher order than ourselves? Second: What is the place and meaning of the so-called subconscious or subliminal regions of the mind in the development of religious valuations? The first of these questions can best be treated in a chapter by itself.' The second properly forms the conclusion of the topic here under discussion.

What, then, is the psychological mechanism of religious valuation? To what extent is some particular type of mental activity especially concerned in its development? May we say, while we deny for the time being any such thing as supernatural visitation, that it is nevertheless true that the person who is in an intoxicated or ecstatic condition has any peculiar insight into the meanings and values of life? These questions can be answered only upon the basis of the organization and function of mentality, as we know it, in the general economy of life. The account which follows may be inadequate or untrue, but some account we must have before we can pass judgment upon the significance of unusual or pathological experiences in the development of religious valuation.

If the concept of evolution, as developed in biology, may be extended to apply to the development of mind as well, it is almost inevitable that we should conceive of mentality as appearing in the life-series in connection with the necessity of making more complicated adjustments to the environment or perishing in the struggle for existence. Manifestly the ability to sense mechanical or etheric vibrations of various kinds will be decidedly useful to any form of life. So also the capacity to perceive an object as a definite thing with a definite meaning, to recall past experiences with reference to present needs, to concentrate or focalize one's energies in an act of attention, to compare, to judge, to reason, to feel values, to retain past experiences in the form of useful habits, all of these things, it goes without saying, are more or less useful in the life struggle and have probably evolved in connection with it.'

Now, these phases of mental activity do not normally occur in isolation or unconnected with others, but organized in reactive systems of various sorts. They are each of them somewhat arbitrarily isolable phases of the process by which a complicated organism may grapple with its environment; each phase involves the others, and contributes in some way to the organism's reaction. Thus, memory is necessary to reason and to the organization of mental processes known as attention, and in all of these operations, moreover, there is usually some appreciation or feeling of worthfulness or the opposite. Every moment of a person's life may be described broadly as a reaction to some phase of his world. These reactions differ greatly from moment to moment, both in object and in intensity, but one and all they are more or less definite organizations of the person to some aspect of his environment.

It is further to be noted that all such terms as " truth " or " value " develop in connection with this reactive experience.' It would appear from this that there are neither different kinds of truth nor different avenues for the perception of it. The whole psychophysical organism is a mechanism for the apprehension of the true and for the appreciation of its values. We need not, then, inquire which part of this organism is most effective in directing action in the practical world, or which furnishes the key to scientific truth, or which is most valuable for discerning the things of the spirit, but rather how they all work together to produce now this result, now that. From this point of view, also, that is true which `works,' as far as it can be tested in some more or less complicated aspect of life's struggle. The more complex the struggle, the more difficult it becomes to be sure of the ultimate validity of the element in question. It is the same of values. Value is but one side of the true. The true is valid because it works, but it appeals to us as worthful because it seems to us to be some-thing in which we can live and move, something in which we can really work out our innate impulse to be doing something.

So much, then, for the general concept of the mind as an organized system of activities for the apprehension of the true and the appreciation of values. What account shall be taken of the so-called subconscious in this process?

As is well known, modern psychology has greatly enlarged our notion of the extent and content of the individual mind. In a given reaction to the world there are always many more factors operative than can be said to be present in consciousness. We are all possessed of a large background of habit and instinct which continually exerts some sort of influence upon our conduct. So, also, there are all sorts of shadows, as it were, of past experiences, ideas, relationships, percepts, valuations, probably in the form of mere neural dispositions, lying behind all conscious activity and inevitably contributing some-thing to its organization and furthering it in some way. Some psychologists give to this subliminal region a dim consciousness, and regard it as more or less detached from the ordinary conscious life and possessed of peculiar powers. This view has with great justice been drastically criticised by others.' But it will not be necessary here to enter into any controversy over the matter. The essential point is that there are always regions beyond the point of attention, or the organized centre of the reaction, which contribute in some way to its movement.

As the reaction of the individual changes from moment to moment, different aspects of these outlying regions acquire prominence; in fact, what is at the centre of consciousness at one time, may at another be at the margin, or in the subliminal region, while what was before subliminal may now be uppermost. There is, in fact, no aspect of the personality that can be definitely and permanently set off in a world of its own, possessed of peculiar powers or with extraordinary capacities for apprehending truth or a particular kind of truth. From the evolutionary point of view, the subliminal may be regarded, in part at least, as the matrix out of which definite conscious states arise. Its content, as far as it is conscious at all, may be thought of as mere undefined feeling. In an individual of developed personality it embraces all that is not present at the centre of attention. Habit, in the broad sense of the term, includes much that goes to make up the subliminal. It may be said that here also, in the main, are the values of the adjustments, individual and instinctive, hitherto worked out, in so far as they are elements of consciousness at all. The presence of this marginal region constantly affects the action at the centre, the centre, in fact, being simply the point in consciousness where the values of past experience are brought into most direct contact with the needs of the moment, or the point at which the subliminal portions of the mind are controlled and utilized. The passage from these outer regions to the centre is a passage from more or less incoherent and uncoordinated elements to the organized and controlled side of consciousness.

It is on this account, when the organization of conscious elements which characterizes the individual at ordinary times chances to disintegrate, that he is particularly open to suggestion. Hence the subconscious is sometimes referred to as the low-grade portion of the mind. Although this is only partially true, it would seem probable that the mind habitually under the domination of the subliminal would not ordinarily have a well-organized individuality and would be relatively low-grade. To maintain that new truth may be discovered by these outskirts of the mental life would seem little less than an absurdity, for it apparently contains nothing better than a more or less refined sublimate of past experience and instinct, and the deliverance from it may be a gleaning from the grossest instincts as well as a prophetic inspiration. The opinions, the `spiritual judgments," visions of truth,' and the like, are not the more certain because they are accompanied with none of the feelings of effort with which the decisions and view-points, which are consciously worked out, are frequently burdened. Nevertheless, the ease with which they seem to come is apt to lead one to class them with that which is ultimate and incontrovertible.

Although there is no sufficient ground for attributing to the subconscious any peculiar virtue for the discovery of truth, material or spiritual, it is probably true that, within the limits of what previous experience has provided, there may be a certain amount of elaboration of subconscious elements which, when they finally work their way into consciousness, may seem like inspirations from another world. Such phenomena as post-hypnotic suggestion, so-called unconscious cerebration, and the like, seem to indicate a certain amount of activity in the subliminal region that may at times bud into consciousness. The only way to account for the appearance in consciousness of fully formed ideas with apparently no antecedents is to suppose that in some neural system, determined either by habit or hereditary tendency, there have been a succession of changes which have eventually led to a connection with the processes on the conscious level, or that within consciousness changes have occurred which have brought it into closer connection with some unconscious process, with the result of raising the latter to the conscious level.

The seeming chaos of the subconscious is possibly more apparent than real. We know it only as its processes chance to form connections with the centre of consciousness, or at those times when this centre disintegrates sufficiently to permit of the subliminal elements forming an organization which is conscious. Appearing under such circumstances, they may sometimes seem, by contrast with normal consciousness, to be simply masses of rubbish, disconnected tendencies, irrational, uncontrolled impulses. The centre of consciousness is the adjusting point of the psychophysical organism. Here all the canons of logic have been evolved; the very fact that it is the adjusting centre indicates that reasoning is its special prerogative. The subconscious is thus apparently illogical and without control, except as it is organized with a conscious process. Within limits this is true, but it is equally true that there is another aspect of activity in this region. It may represent more adequately the character of its possessor than does the central configuration of elements at some given moment. Hence, under certain circumstances, there may be a certain corrective value for the centre in permitting these marginal processes to have free play. Leuba has given an excellent analysis of some extreme forms of this in his article entitled, `The state of death." It appears in less marked degree in the ideals of self-abasement, humility, the cultivation of the spiritual life, as these concepts are held by the average member of the Christian Church. The results aimed at under cover of these terms are real, and have a certain value with reference to the rest of consciousness. James put the matter tersely when he said, "The hubbub of the waking life might close a door which in the dreamy subliminal might remain ajar or open." This may have a meaning without our accepting his suggestion that the door may be ajar to supernatural influences. It may yet be true that within these regions there is a certain healing virtue. Its tensions are, in part, the sublimation of the values that all one's previous experience has brought to consciousness. It possibly acts upon the things uppermost in the mind at a given moment after the analogy of the action of the overtones upon a fundamental in music, giving it richness and color. The centre of consciousness, because it is primarily an adjusting apparatus, is often inadequate as an index to the entirety of life. The view of things from this point must of necessity be partial. Thus, at times, it may be worth while for this central point to distintegrate, or its movement to be held in suspension, that the outlying regions, in so far as they represent one's life in a truer perspective, may assert themselves. The religious notion of dying to one's self and obtaining thereby a fuller or `divine life' is not at all without meaning, even though we may reject any mystical interpretation of the process. It is certainly a good thing, sometimes, for one to stop striving, and give past values a chance to come in as correctives of the present stress. Life as seen from the point of stress is bound to be distorted, and it therefore needs correction, or at least color, more or less constantly, from the emotional values and intuitions of experience as a whole.

We should not deduce from this that the feelings, or over-tones, of the subliminal regions of the mind are intrinsically superior to any other phase of mental process. They have no meaning except in some particular organization of mental activity. It cannot be said that it is either good or bad for religion that it tends to be emotional, should such a characterization prove to be true. It is without doubt good for every attitude of mind to be emotional if the emotions are of the appropriate kind. Feeling, appreciation, value, or whatever we may call it, plays an important part in the development of all our activities. Just how far it may be dissociated from this function and still produce no undesirable results, it is impossible to say. In the complexities of highly developed experiences there are numerous ways in which this matrix of value and emotion may contribute to what one is trying to do at any one moment. As was said in the preceding paragraph, it may even be advantageous for the centre of gravity to shift from the organized to the relatively diffused portions of consciousness. The letting of the centre of emphasis pass from the focus of activity over to the margin, or to what is normally subliminal, is naturally accompanied by a peculiar feeling of ease, the feeling of resignation so well known to certain types of the religious mind. It is a feeling clearly due to cessation of effort in effecting adjustments and to reliance, for the time, upon habit and upon the instinctive forces of the organism.

We may properly say, then, that the action of the subconscious is indispensable to the most adequate functioning of consciousness, and in this we naturally include the religious types of mind. But to say this is not equivalent to setting up the impulses originating in it as intrinsically better than the organized activities developed in the full light of conscious deliberation.

We see, then, in the so-called subconscious, not a region having mysterious and extraordinary powers, sharply divided from the reasoning level of mental life, but an organic and necessary part of that life, a part which ordinarily functions in closest connection with it. We know, also, that the part played by the subconscious is very different in different sorts of reactions. That is to say, at times the activity of the moment is restricted; at other times it is rich with the overtones of past experiences organized in forceful and even surprising ways.

In view of what has preceded, we may properly say that the religious mind does have a view of reality that is closed to one whose mental processes are organized from a rigidly rationalistic point of view, not, however, because the former has any influx or inspiration from a supernatural world, but because its point of view is appreciative rather than aggressive and rational. But this advantage of the religious mind over the scientific or rational one is not ultimate ó the one must supplement the other, or each will be productive of serious extravagances. That relatively pathological phenomena have appeared so largely in connection with religion in all ages is the best evidence that religion requires the ballast of reason. The religious consciousness, when it is intense, tends, of course, to be quite intolerant to the proposals of reason. Its own valuations appeal to it so directly, so immediately, that it seems impious to question them or even discuss them. This attitude has found symbolic expression in the theory of miraculous illumination by higher powers. The historical setting of this idea we have already outlined at length. The theory of a mystic intercourse between the divine and the human, by which the deliverances of religion attain to a superior validity, is not, of course, the cause of the uncompromising attitude assumed by religion in the presence of science and reason ; it is rather a crude and primitive way of expressing it. If the belief in this sort of supernaturalism were abandoned, the religious mind would still tend to feel as it does in the presence of the more rational or deliberative phases of consciousness. The mere fact, however, that, in times of intense religious appreciation, the deliberative processes may be held in relative abeyance, does not indicate that they are thereby bad, psychologically, or that they are uncertain guides to far-reaching, truthful views of life. Unless such processes are more or less constantly at hand to guide religious aspiration, the latter, in spite of its more inclusive and possibly even truer outlook upon life, will, as repeated observation affirms, evaporate into vagaries, if not into actual pathologies.

One further question should be briefly considered in connection with this discussion of the place of unusual mental experiences in religious development. It is the question of the connection of such phenomena with the development of the modern and relatively individualistic types of religious attitude.

Mental pathology, up to a certain point, is, we believe, especially associated with the development of individuality. The primitive individual, as we have seen, is submerged in his tribe. The deities care for the social group rather than for the separate persons which compose it. This primitive belief regarding the interest of the gods is but the obverse of the practical fact that in early society the desires, thoughts, and feelings of the individual have no independent validity of their own? If they vary from those of the group, they are apt to be concealed as bad, and if they are followed up, it is usually in secret, through the medium of magic. However, even among very primitive people, the person who is subject to unusual experiences, or who knows how to induce them, has always enjoyed a certain preeminence. If he could not maintain himself as an individual in a normal frame of mind, he could do so readily, if `possessed' or insane, simply because he was then no longer a mere individual, but was in the control of higher powers or of the `power.' Thus, among all primitive people we find a superstitious respect paid to everything that savors of the abnormal in the sphere of the psychophysical. It was in seeking some supranormal experience that the individual first broke loose from the trammels of custom and of tribal religion. In doing so he was simply seeking for a special visitation of the `power' recognized by his whole group as supremely potent. The extent to which this private approach to superior powers is admissible varies among different peoples. For instance, it was forbidden in ancient Israel, as witness the laws against those having `familiar spirits.' The condemnation is, how-ever, usually brought against those who are thought to seek rapport with powers not recognized as friendly to the tribe, because in this case the individual is supposed to have sinister designs against his fellows. But leaving out of account cases of this kind, there is quite an extended sphere in which it seems to be generally recognized as legitimate for the individual to seek the `power' which manifests itself through some unusual experience. Many illustrations of this, drawn from various Indian tribes, might be given. Practically all primitive peoples of ancient and modern times have had their diviners, oracles, healers, medicine-men, and others of this ilk, and among many of these peoples it is entirely proper for a youth to go into retirement, seeking for an experience that will bestow upon him a guardian spirit.

It would be too much to say that such unusual experiences have been the most important means of enabling the individual to emerge from the group, in possession of a definite and recognizedly valid personality, although they have certainly exerted some influence in this direction. The theory of supernatural visitation has served to fix the attention of the individual upon his personal experience, and for the same reason it is granted a sort of unquestioned validity by his fellow-tribesmen. Hence, not merely has the person of great personal powers tended to lead his fellows, but as well the man who dreams, sees visions, hears voices, or is occasionally `possessed' in some other way. In fact, the current coin of `possession' is quite likely to be utilized by the normally forceful individual to reŽnforce his own sense of the worthfulness of his purposes and ideas. Thus, the `born leader' of men has frequently sought an `experience' by fasting, prayer, and self-torture. In fact, the very condition of his maintaining his supremacy has often been his ability to show some `sign' of his power. The shaman, or medicine-man, who cannot, or ceases to be able to offer such proofs of his power, is usually rejected. Prophets in all ages have sought to prove the truth of their messages by super-natural signs. It is from this point of view that Moses and Aaron are reported to have worked certain miracles before Pharaoh on the return of the former from the desert. All the earlier and to some extent the later prophets of Yahweh believed they obtained their messages through such unusual mental experiences, and it was due to these that they attained their influence and general preeminence among their people.

Now, if there is any fundamental difference between mod-ern and primitive types of religion, it is in the different place assigned in each to the individual person. The development of the higher types of modern religions is largely co-ordinate with the emergence of the person from the primitive, undifferentiated social group. In so far, then, as unusual experiences of any type have tended to emphasize individuality, tended to develop an inner, subjective life with a validity of its own, they have contributed to the development of the modern subjective religious type.

The development of the individual has not, however, necessarily destroyed his sense of, or dependence upon, social relationships. It has rather tended to strengthen and deepen them. The effect of modern subjectivity has, in the main, been the same upon religion. As in the beginning, religion continues to be essentially a social matter, but it has differentiated as personality has grown in complexity. It has ceased to be an affair of the mass, and has become one in which all the finer shades of personality may find expression, to which each one contributes his own angle of valuation, the peculiar force of his own personality.

Even the most subjective types of religious life are dependent in one way or another upon the background of society, with its various stimuli, and its various forms of approval and disapproval. The respect and awe manifested by one's fellows is an important stimulus to even extreme asceticism. If Simon Stylites had not been visited by thousands of awe-struck pilgrims, it is questionable whether he would have kept up his abode upon the top of the pillar for so lengthy a period. Likewise, when the individual seeks a `vision,' he cannot entirely abstract himself from the meaning it will have in his social world. And even if earthly social relationships melt away from consciousness, he inevitably builds up in their place a socialized background for his religious values in the spirits or deity of the `other world,' with whom he holds communion and whose favor and approval he seeks to attain. But even then, he usually comes back eventually to his actual social world with a spirit renewed for its needful activities.

We cannot here take the space to illustrate at length the essential sociality of the higher and more subjective religious experiences? The point we have wished to emphasize is that the unusual experiences associated with religious appreciation have contributed in important ways to the differentiation of religious attitudes, one aspect of which has been an increasing subjectivity, but in the development of this, the primitive element of sociality has not necessarily been lost.

The unusual experience functions in religious development, not only by giving the individual an abnormal prominence in his group, and thus contributing to his sense of personality, but also by actually provoking reflective thought, which, more than anything else, is the sign of growing individuality. It is scarcely possible that the person `possessed' should always remain in his state of exaltation. When in his normal frame of mind, he will retain some of the preeminence acquired through his unusual states. Even then he will tend to be regarded with a certain respect by his fellows, and they will give to his words more weight than is granted to the sayings of ordinary persons. All this will stimulate his tendency to think, even though he be capable of thinking only upon a very crude level. In times of normal consciousness, also, he will often reflect upon his experiences, and attempt to interpret them in terms of the canons of `possession' current in his environment. But the thinking, whether crude or refined, is a factor to be reckoned with in religious development.

An interesting illustration of what is referred to in the above paragraph is furnished by the case of William Monod, a self-styled messiah living in France in the last century (b. 1800, d. 1896). When he was a comparatively young man, he was attacked by an acute dementia necessitating his confinement. In this period he at times heard voices which were at first undefined, but which he gradually interpreted as words from God, and which he finally understood to be conveying to him the information that he was Christ, returned to earth. After this early aberration he was apparently sane to the end of a long and active life, unless we are to regard his persistent, though for many years concealed belief in his messiahship as a mild reverberation of his early acute attack. In his long periods of silence and apparent sanity he elaborated with the utmost care and logical acumen a body of doctrine and a justification for his supposed messiahship. As his biographer says: "Through reflection, through theological elaboration, through contact with men and through the endeavor to adjust his ideas to social conditions, that which was at first mere morbid exaltation and hallucination became, little by little, a defendable religion."

The case of Monod thus illustrates an important aspect of the influence of the pathological in religious development. In the case of some persons having such experiences, doctrines so erratic will be put forth that they can find no permanent place in the existing religious attitudes of the social body. These will either die out or, if forcefully enough presented and if, by chance, expressive of real needs, not sufficiently recognized by existing religions, will result in the development of new sects such as that of Mormonism or of Christian Science, to mention only two among many. On the other hand, the messages of these ` inspired' persons may in a measure effect an actual reconstruction in contemporary religion. The later Hebrew prophets illustrate this alternative. They, without doubt, had unusual experiences, as did the earlier prophets. They seem to have heard `voices' and to have had their visions. If they had periods of exaltation or rapture, it is psychologically conceivable that they gained in this way peculiar discernments of the moral and religious needs of their times.' But, after all, the most important contributions of such experiences must have been a certain sense of assurance that their meditations upon contemporary social conditions were valid and worth promulgating, even at great personal suffering. They believed they spoke the words of Yahweh, but they were, to start with, men of profound insight into life, and it is to this personal character, developed in part by their remarkable experiences, that we must go for the ex-planation of their lofty messages.

It is this interaction of the unusual experience with periods of reflection (periods induced in part, perhaps, by antecedent experiences) that we may safely look for the greatest positive significance of the relatively pathological in the development of higher religious values. As far as the religious consciousness is bound down by custom, its values are static. It often actually requires one with extraordinary fervor and the momentum acquired from pathological experiences to break with traditional values and blaze new trails for religious progress. It is an actual fact of human history that the prophetic messages which have met with the widest acceptance have come under circumstances such as these.

If the deliverance of the prophet or messiah chances to connect with genuine human needs, and if it is promulgated by disciples who know how to translate it effectively into the varied conditions of social life, it comes to be regarded as true. But the conditions which make for social acceptance are many and subtle, and if the new teaching is lacking in some of these respects, although it may be otherwise quite worthy, it becomes a false doctrine, and its enunciator is finally classed with the spurious prophets, of whom there have been many. The biographer of W. Monod says, truly, that the only reason for classing this man with the `false christs' was his inability to gain wide social acceptance. His life was pure, dignified, and yet humble. There can be no fault found with his ethical teaching, which, in fact, did not differ materially from accepted Christian doctrine, and his theological justification of his mission was as adequate as anything that the New Testament can put forth in maintenance of Jesus as the Messiah.

We have come at length to the end of a long and difficult inquiry, and yet we do not imagine we have solved or even stated all the problems involved. Perhaps we have indicated at least a legitimate way in which such things are to be approached. The pathological phenomena which have al-ways been more or less associated with religion are seen to be, in part, an outcome of the very fervor of religious valuation itself and, in part, of the primitive belief in supernaturalism which has tended to induce in the individual unusual states of mind and unusual modes of behavior. It has been further pointed out that, while subconscious processes do not furnish any basis for a continuance of the primitive belief in the possibility of the interaction of superior powers with the human mind, these same processes may actually contribute in positive ways to religious appreciations, and finally, that the unusual experience has been one of the phases of the differentiation of the individual from the social group, and consequently that it has contributed something to the highly differentiated consciousness of some of the modern culture races. As was seen, however, the ultimate validity of any such experience, historically, at least, has been determined by the degree in which it weaves itself into some social organism or, failing in that, constructs a social matrix of its own.



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