1902 Encyclopedia > Psychology > Inner Self

(Part 86)

(K) Presentation of Self, Self Consciousness, and Conduct (cont.)

Inner Self

But with the development of ideation there arises within this what we may call an inner zone of self, having still more unity and permanence. We have at this stage not only an intuition of the bodily self doing or suffering here and now, but also memories of what it has been and done under varied circumstances in the past. External impressions have by this time lost in novelty and become less absorbing, while the train of ideas, largely increased in number, distinctness, and mobility, diverts attention and often shuts out the things of sense altogether. In all such reminiscence or reverie a generic image of self is the centre, and every new image as it arises derives all its interest from relation to this; and so apart from bodily appetites new desires may be quickened and old emotions stirred again when all that is actually present is dull and unexciting. But desires and emotions, it must remembered, though awakened by what is only imaginary, invariably entail actual organic perturbations, and with these the generic image of self comes to be intimately combined. Hence arises a contrast between the inner self, which the natural man locates in his breast or phren [Gk.], the chief seat of these emotional disturbances, and the whole visible and tangible body besides. Although from their nature they do not admit of much ideal representation, yet, when actually present, these organic sensations exert a powerful and often irresistible influence over other ideas; they have each their appropriate train, and so heighten in the very complex and loosely compacted idea of self those traits they originally wrought into it, suppressing to an equal extent all the rest. Normally these is a certain equilibrium to which they return, and which, we may suppose, determines the so-called temperament, naturel, or disposition, thus securing some tolerable uniformity and continuity in the presentation of self. But even within limits of sanity great and sudden changes of mood are possible, as e.g., in hysterical persons of those of a "mercurial temperament," or among the lower animals at the onset of parental or migratory instincts. Beyond those limits – as the concomitant apparently of serious visceral derangements or the altered nutrition of parts of the nervous system itself – complete "alienation" may ensue. A new self may arise, not only distinct from the old and devoid of all save the most elementary knowledge and skill that the old possessed, but diametrically opposed to it in tastes and disposition, -- obscenity, it may be, taking the place of modesty and cupidity or cowardice succeeding to generosity or courage. The most convincing illustrations of the psychological growth and structure of the presentation of self on the lower levels of sensation and ideation are furnished by these melancholy spectacles of minds diseased; but it is impossible to refer to them in detail here.

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