The Foundations of Personality
by Abraham Myerson
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Man's interest in character is founded on an intensely practical need. In whatsoever relationship we deal with our fellows, we base our intercourse largely on our understanding of their characters. The trader asks concerning his customer, "Is he honest?" and the teacher asks about the pupil, "Is he earnest?" The friend bases his friendship on his good opinion of his friend; the foe seeks to know the weak points in the hated one's make-up; and the maiden yearning for her lover whispers to, herself, "Is he true?" Upon our success in reading the character of others, upon our understanding of ourselves hangs a good deal of our life's success or failure.

Because the feelings are in part mirrored on the face and body, the experience of mankind has become crystallized in beliefs, opinions and systems of character reading which are based on physiognomy, shape of head, lines of hand, gait and even the method of dress and the handwriting. Some of these all men believe in, at least in part. For example, every one judges character to a certain extent by facial expression, manner, carriage and dress. A few of the methods used have become organized into specialties, such as the study of the head or phrenology, and the study of the hand or palmistry. All of these systems are really "materialistic" in that they postulate so close a union of mind and body as to make them inseparable.

But there are grave difficulties in the way of character-judging by these methods. Take, for example, the study of the physiognomy as a means to character understanding. All the physiognomists, as well as the average man, look upon the high, wide brow as related to great intelligence. And so it is—sometimes. But it is also found in connection with disease of the brain, as in hydrocephalus, and in old cases of rickets. You may step into hospitals for the feeble-minded or for the insane and find here and there a high, noble brow. Conversely you may attend a scientific convention and find that the finest paper of the meeting will be read not by some Olympian-browed member, but by a man with a low, receding forehead, who nevertheless possesses a high-grade intellect.

So for centuries men have recognized in the large aquiline nose a sign of power and ability. Napoleon's famous dictum that no man with this type of proboscis is a fool has been accepted by many, most of whom, like Napoleon probably, have large aquiline noses. The number of failures with this facial peculiarity has never been studied, nor has any one remarked that many a highly successful man has a snub nose. And in fact the only kind of a nose that has a real character value is the one presenting no obstruction to breathing. The assigned value given to a "pretty" nose has no relation to character, except as its owner is vain because of it.

One might go on indefinitely discussing the various features of the face and discovering that only a vague relationship to character existed. The thick, moist lower lip is the sensual lip, say the physiognomists, but there are saints with sensual lips and chaste thoughts. Squinty eyes may indicate a shifty character, but more often they indicate conjunctivitis or some defect of the optical apparatus. A square jaw indicates determination and courage, but a study of the faces of men who won medals in war for heroism does not reveal a preponderance of square jaws. In fact, man is a mosaic of characters, and a fine nature in one direction may be injured by a defect in another; even if one part of the face really did mean something definite, no one could figure out its character value because of the influence of other features—contradictory, inconsistent, supplementary. Just as the wisest man of his day took bribes as Lord Chancellor, so the finest face may be invalidated by some disharmony, and a fatal weakness may disintegrate a splendid character. Moreover, no one really studies faces disinterestedly, impartially, without prejudice. We like or dislike too readily, we are blinded by the race, sex and age of the one studied, and, most fatal of all, we judge by standards of beauty that are totally misleading. The sweetest face may hide the most arrant egoist, for facial beauty has very little to do with the nature behind the face. In fact, facial make-up is more influenced by diet, disease and racial tendency than by character.

It would be idle to take up in any detail the claims of phrenologist and palmist. The former had a very respectable start in the work of Broca and Gall[1] in that the localization of function in the various parts of the brain made at least partly logical the belief that the conformation of the head also indicated functions of character. But there are two fatal flaws in the system of phrenological claims. First, even if there were an exact cerebral localization of powers, which there is not, it would by no means follow that the shape of the head outlined the brain. In fact, it does not, for the long-headed are not long-brained, nor are the short-headed short-brained. Second, the size and disposal of the sinuses, the state of nutrition in childhood have far more to do with the "bumps" of the head than brain or character. The bump of philoprogenitiveness has in my experience more often been the result of rickets than a sign of parental love.

[1] It is to be remembered that phrenology had a good standing at one time, though it has since lapsed into quackdom. This is the history of many a "short cut" into knowledge. Thus the wisest men of past centuries believed in astrology. Paracelsus, who gave to the world the use of Hg in therapeutics, relied in large part for his diagnosis and cures upon alchemy and astrology.

Without meaning to pun, we may dismiss the claims of palmistry offhand. Normally the lines of the hand do not change from birth to death, but character does change. The hand, its shape and its texture are markedly influenced by illness,[1] toil and care. And gait, carriage, clothes and the dozen and one details by which we judge our fellows indicate health, strength, training and culture, all of which are components of character, or rather are characters of importance but give no clue to the deeper-lying traits.

[1] Notably is the shape of the hand changed by chronic heart and lung disease and by arthritis. But the influence of the endocrinal secretions is very great.

As a matter of fact, judgment of character will never be attained through the study of face, form or hand. As language is a means not only of expressing truth but of disguising it, so these surface phenomena are as often masks as guides. Any sober-minded student of life, intent on knowing himself or his fellows, will seek no royal road to this knowledge, but will endeavor to understand the fundamental forces of character, will strive to trace the threads of conduct back to their origins in motive, intelligence, instinct and emotion.

We have emphasized the practical value of some sort of character analysis in dealing with others. But to know himself has a hugely practical value to every man, since upon that knowledge depends self-correction. For "man is the only animal that deliberately undertakes while reshaping his outer world to reshape himself also."[1] Moreover, man is the only seeker of perfection; he is a deep, intense critic of himself. To reach nobility of character is not a practical aim, but is held to be an end sufficient in itself. So man constantly probes into himself—"Are my purposes good; is my will strong—how can I strengthen my control, how make righteous my instincts and emotions?" It is true that there is a worship—and always has been—of efficiency and success as against character; that man has tended to ask more often, "What has he done?" or, "What has he got?" rather than, "What is he?" and that therefore man in his self-analysis has often asked, "How shall I get?" or, "How shall I do?" In the largest sense these questions are also questions of character, for even if we discard as inadequate the psychology which considers behavior alone as important, conduct is the fruit of character, without which it is sterile.

[1] Hocking.

This book does not aim at any short cuts by which man may know himself or his neighbor. It seeks to analyze the fundamentals of personality, avoiding metaphysics as the plague. It does not define character or seek to separate it from mind and personality. Written by a neurologist, a physician in the active practice of his profession, it cannot fail to bear more of the imprint of medicine, of neurology, than of psychology and philosophy. Yet it has also laid under contribution these fields of human effort. Mainly it will, I hope, bear the marks of everyday experience, of contact with the world and with men and women and children as brother, husband, father, son, lover, hater, citizen, doer and observer. For it is this plurality of contact that vitalizes, and he who has not drawn his universals of character out of the particulars of everyday life is a cloistered theorist, aloof from reality.


The history of Man's thought is the real history of mankind. Back of all the events of history are the curious systems of beliefs for which men have lived and died. Struggling to understand himself, Man has built up and discarded superstitions, theologies and sciences.

Early in this strange and fascinating history he divided himself into two parts—a body and a mind. Working together with body, mind somehow was of different stuff and origin than body and had only a mysterious connection with it. Theology supported this belief; metaphysics and philosophy debated it with an acumen that was practically sterile of usefulness. Mind and body "interacted" in some mysterious way; mind and body were "parallel" and so set that thought-processes and brain-processes ran side by side without really having anything to do with one another.[1] With the development of modern anatomy, physiology and psychology, the time is ripe for men boldly to say that applying the principle of causation in a practical manner leaves no doubt that mind and character are organic, are functions of the organism and do not exist independently of it. I emphasize "practical" in relation to causation because it would be idle for us here to enter into the philosophy of cause and effect. Such discussion is not taken seriously by the very philosophers who most earnestly enter into it.

[1] William James in Volume 1 of his "Psychology" gives an interesting resume of the theories that consider the relationship of mind (thought and consciousness) to body. He quotes the "lucky" paragraph from Tyndall, "The passage from the physics of the brain to the corresponding facts of consciousness is unthinkable. Granted that a definite thought and a definite molecular action in the brain occur simultaneously; we do not possess the intellectual organ, or apparently any trace of the organ which would enable us to pass by a process of reasoning from one to the other." This is the "parallel" theory which postulates a hideous waste of energy in the universe and which throws out of count the same kind of reasoning by which Tyndall worked on light, heat, etc. We cannot understand the beginning and the end of motion, we cannot understand causation. Probably when Tyndall's thoughts came slowly and he was fatigued he said—"Well, a good cup of coffee will make me think faster." In conceding this practical connection between mind and body, every "spiritualist" philosopher gives away his case whenever he rests or eats.

The statement that mind is a function of the organism is not necessarily "materialistic." The body is a living thing and as such is as "spiritualistic" as life itself. Enzymes, internal secretions, nervous activities are the products of cells whose powers are indeed drawn from the ocean of life.

To prove this statement, which is a cardinal thesis of this book, I shall adduce facts of scientific and facts of common knowledge. One might start with the statement that the death of the body brings about the abolition of mind and character, but this, of course, proves nothing, since it might well be that the body was a lever for the expression of mind and character, and with its disappearance as a functioning agent such expression was no longer possible.

It is convenient to divide our exposition into two parts, the first the dependence upon proper brain function and structure, and the second the dependence upon the proper health of other organs. For it is not true that mind and character are functions of the brain alone; they are functions of the entire organism. The brain is simply the largest and most active of the organs upon which the mental life depends; but there are minute organs, as we shall see, upon whose activity the brain absolutely depends.

Any injury to the brain may destroy or seriously impair the mentality of the individual. This is too well known to need detailed exposition. Yet some cases of this type are fundamental in the exquisite way they prove (if anything can be proven) the dependence of mind upon bodily structure.

In some cases of fracture of the skull, a piece of bone pressing upon the brain may profoundly alter memory, mood and character. Removal of the piece of bone restores the mind to normality. This is also true of brain tumor of certain types, for example, frontal endotheliomata, where early removal of the growth demonstrates first that a "physical" agent changes mind and character, and second that a "physical" agent, such as the knife of the surgeon, may act to reestablish mentality.

In cases of hydrocephalus (or water on the brain), where there is an abnormal secretion of cerebro-spinal fluid acting to increase the pressure on the brain, the simple expedient of withdrawing the fluid by lumbar puncture brings about normal mental life. As the fluid again collects, the mental life becomes cloudy, and the character alters (irritability, depressed mood, changed purpose, lowered will); another lumbar puncture and presto!—the individual is for a time made over more completely than conversion changes a sinner,—and more easily.

Take the case of the disease known as General Paresis, officially called Dementia Paralytica. This disease is caused by syphilis and is one of its late results. The pathological changes are widespread throughout the brain but may at the onset be confined mostly to the frontal lobes. The very first change may be—and usually is—a change in character! The man hitherto kind and gentle becomes irritable, perhaps even brutal. One whose sex morals have been of the most conventional kind, a loyal husband, suddenly becomes a profligate, reckless and debauched, perhaps even perverted. The man of firm purposes and indefatigable industry may lose his grip upon the ambitions and strivings of his lifetime and become an inert slacker, to the amazement of his associates. Many a fine character, many a splendid mind, has reached a lofty height and then crumbled before the assaults of this disease upon the brain. Philosopher, poet, artist, statesman, captain of industry, handicraftsman, peasant, courtesan and housewife,—all are lowered to the same level of dementia and destroyed character by the consequences of the thickened meninges, the altered blood vessels and the injured nerve cells.

Now and then one is fortunate enough to treat with success an early case of General Paresis. And then the reversed miracle takes place, unfortunately too rarely! The disordered mind, the altered character, leaps upward to its old place,—after being dosed by the marvelous drug Salvarsan, created by the German Jewish scientist, Paul Ehrlich.

Of extraordinary interest are the rare cases of loss of personal identity seen after brain injury, say in war. A man is knocked unconscious by a blow and upon restoration of consciousness is separated from that past in which his ego resides. He does not know his history or his name, and that continuity of the "self" so deeply prized and held by all religions to be part of his immortality is gone. Then after a little while, a few days or weeks, the disarranged neuronic pathways reestablish themselves as usual,—and the ego comes back to the man.

One might cite the feeble-mindedness that results from meningitis, brain tumor, brain abscess, brain wounds, etc., as further evidence of the dependence of mind upon brain, of its status as a function of brain. No philosopher seriously doubts that equilibrium and movement are functions of the brain, and yet to prove this there is no evidence of any other kind than that cited to prove the relationship of mind to brain.[1] And what applies to the intelligence applies as forcibly to character, for purpose, emotion, mood, instinct and will are altered with these diseases.

[1] Except that equilibrium does not itself judge of its relationship to brain, whereas mind is the sole judge of its relationship and dependence on brain. Since everything in the world is a mental event, mentality cannot be dependent upon anything, and everything depends upon mind for its existence, or at least its recognition. But we get nowhere by such "logic" gone mad. Apply the same kind of reasoning to brain-mind, body-mind relationship which anatomists and physiologists apply to other functions, and one can no longer separate body and mind.

Interesting as is the relationship between mind and character and the brain, it is at the present overshadowed by the fascinating relationship between these psychical activities and the bodily organs. What I am about to cite from medicine and biology is part of the finest achievements of these sciences and hints at a future in which a true science of mind and character will appear.

Certain of the glands of the body are described as glands of internal secretions in that the products of their activity, their secretions, are poured into the blood stream rather than on the surface of the body or into the digestive tract. The most prominent of these glands, all of which are very small and extraordinarily active, are as follows:

The Pituitary Body (Hypophysis)—a tiny structure which is situated at the base of the brain but is not a part of that organ.

The Pineal Body (Epiphysis)—a still smaller structure, located within the brain substance, having, however, no relationship to the brain. This gland has only lately acquired a significance. Descartes thought it the seat of the soul because it is situated in the middle of the brain.

The Thyroid gland, a somewhat larger body, situated in the front of the neck, just beneath the larynx. We shall deal with this in some detail later on.

The Parathyroids, minute organs, four in number, just behind the thyroid.

The Thymus, a gland placed just within the thorax, which reaches its maximum size at birth and then gradually recedes until at twenty it has almost disappeared.

The Adrenal glands, one on each side of the body, above and adjacent to the kidney. These glands, which are each made up of two opposing structures, stand in intimate relation to the sympathetic nervous system and secrete a substance called adrenalin.

The Sex organs, the ovary in the female and the testicle in the male, in addition to producing the female egg (ovum) and the male seed (sperm), respectively, produce substances of unknown character that have hugely important roles in the establishment of mind, temperament and sex character.

Without going into the details of the functions of the endocrine glands, one may say that they are "the managers of the human body." Every individual, from the time he is born until the time he dies, is under the influence of these many different kinds of elements,—some of them having to do with the development of the bones and teeth, some with the development of the body and nervous system, some with the development of the mind, etc. (and character), and later on with reproduction. These glands are not independent of one another but interact in a marvelous manner so that under or overaction of any one of them upsets a balance that exists between them, and thus produces a disorder that is quite generalized in its effects. The work on this subject is a tribute to medicine and one pauses in respect and admiration before the names and labors of Brown, Sequard, Addison, Graves and Basedow, Horsley, King, Schiff, Schafer, Takamine, Marie, Cushing, Kendal, Sajous and others of equal insight and patient endeavor.

But let us pass over to the specific instances that bear on our thesis, to wit, that mind and character are functions of the organism and have their seat not only in the brain but in the entire organism.

How do the endocrines prove this? As well as they prove that physical growth and the growth of the secondary sex characters are dependent on these glands. Take diseases of the thyroid gland as the first and shining example.

The thyroid secretes a substance which substantially is an "iodized globulin,"—and which can be separated from the gland products. This secretion has the main effect of "activating metabolism" (Vassale and Generali); in ordinary phrase it acts to increase the discharge of energy of the cells of the body. In all living things there is a twofold process constantly going on: first the building up of energy by means of the foodstuffs, air and water taken in, and second a discharge of energy in the form of heat, motion and—in my belief —emotion and thought itself, though this would be denied by many psychologists. Yet how escape this conclusion from the following facts?

There is a congenital disease called cretinism which essentially is due to a lack of thyroid secretion. This disease is particularly prevalent in Southern France, Spain, Upper Italy and Switzerland. It is characterized mainly by marked dwarfism and imbecility, so that the adult untreated cretin remains about as large as a three or four-year-old child and has the mental level about that of a child of the same age. But, this comparison as to intelligence is a gross injustice to the child, for it leaves out the difference in character between the child and the cretin. The latter has none of the curiosity, the seeking for experience, the active interest, the pliant expanding will, the sweet capacity for affection, friendship and love present in the average child. The cretin is a travesty on the human being in body, mind and character.

But feed him thyroid gland. Mind you, the dried substance of the glands, not of human beings, but of mere sheep. The cretin begins to grow mentally and physically and loses to a large extent the grotesqueness of his appearance. He grows taller; his tongue no longer lolls in his mouth; the hair becomes finer, the hands less coarse, and the patient exhibits more normal human emotions, purposes, intelligence. True, he does not reach normality, but that is because other defects beside the thyroid defect exist and are not altered by the thyroid feeding.

There is a much more spectacular disease to be cited, —a relatively infrequent but well-understood condition called myxoedema, which occurs mainly in women and is also due to a deficiency in the thyroid secretion. As a result the patient, who may have been a bright, capable, energetic person, full of the eager purposes and emotions of life, gradually becomes dull, stupid, apathetic, without fear, anger, love, joy or sorrow, and without purpose or striving. In addition the body changes, the hair becomes coarse and scanty, the skin thick and swollen (hence the name of the disease) and various changes take place in the sweat secretion, the heart action, etc.

Then, having made the diagnosis, work the great miracle! Obtain the dried thyroid glands of the sheep, prepared by the great drug houses as a by-product of the butcher business, and feed this poor, transformed creature with these glands! No fairy waving a magical wand ever worked a greater enchantment, for with the first dose the patient improves and in a relatively short time is restored to normal in skin, hair, sweat, etc., and MIND and character! To every physician who has seen this happen under his own eyes and by his direction there comes a conviction that mind and character have their seat in the organic activities of the body,—and nowhere else.

An interesting confirmation of this is that when the thyroid is overactive, a condition called hyperthyroidism, the patient becomes very restless and thin, shows excessive emotionality, sleeplessness, has a rapid heart action, tremor and many other signs not necessary to detail here. The thyroid in these cases is usually swollen. One of the methods used to treat the disease is to remove some of the gland surgically. In the early days an operator would occasionally remove too, much gland and then the symptoms, of myxoedema would occur. This necessitated the artificial feeding of thyroid the rest of the patient's life! With the proper dosage of the gland substance the patient remains normal; with too little she becomes dull and stupid; with too much she becomes unstable and emotional!

There are plenty of other examples of the influence of the endocrines on mind, character and personality. I here briefly mention a few of these.

In the disease called acromegaly, which is due to a change in the pituitary gland, amongst other things are noted "melancholic tendencies, loss of memory and mental and physical torpor."

A very profound effect on character and personality, exclusive of intelligence, is that of the sex glands. One need not accept the Freudian extravagances regarding the way in which the sex feelings and impulses enter into our thoughts, emotions, purposes and acts. No unbiased observer of himself or his fellows but knows that the satisfaction or non-satisfaction of the sex feeling, its excitation or its suppression are of great importance in the destinies of character. Further, man as herdsman and man as tyrant have carried on huge experiments to show how necessary to normal character the sex glands are.

As herdsman he has castrated his male Bos and obtained the ox. And the ox is the symbol of patience, docility, steady labor, without lust or passion,—and the very opposite of his non-castrated brother, the bull. The bull is the symbol of irritability and unteachableness, who will not be easily yoked or led and who is the incarnation of lust and passion. One is the male transformed into neuter gender; and the other is rampant with the fierceness of his sex.

Compare the eunuch and the normal man. If the eunuch state be imposed in infancy, the shape of the body, its hairiness, the quality of the voice and the character are altered in characteristic manner. The eunuch essentially is neither man nor woman, but a repelling Something intermediate.

Enough has been said to show that mind and character are dependent upon the health of the brain and the glands of the body; that somewhere in the interaction of tissues, in the chemistry of life, arises thought, purpose, emotion, conduct and deed. But we need not go so far afield as pathology to show this, for common experience demonstrates it as well.

If character is control of emotions, firmness of purpose, cheerfulness of outlook and vigor of thought and memory, then the tired man, worn out by work or a long vigil, is changed in character. Such a person in the majority of cases is irritable, showing lack of control and emotion; he slackens in his life's purposes, loses cheerfulness and outlook and finds it difficult to concentrate his thoughts or to recall his memories. Though this change is temporary and disappears with rest, the essential fact is not altered, namely, fatigue alters character. It is also true that not all persons show this vulnerability to fatigue in equal measure. For that matter, neither do they show an equal liability to infectious diseases, equal reaction to alcohol or injury. The feeling of vigor which rest gives changes the expression of personality to a marked degree. It is true that we are not apt to think of the tired man as changed in character; yet we must admit on reflection that he has undergone transformation.

Even a loaded bowel may, as is well known, alter the reaction to life. Among men who are coarse in their language there is a salutation more pertinent than elegant that inquires into the state of the bowels.[1] The famous story of Voltaire and the Englishman, in which the sage agreed to suicide because life was not worth living when his digestion was disordered and who broke his agreement when he purged himself, illustrates how closely mood is related to the intestinal tract. And mood is the background of the psychic life, upon which depends the direction of our thoughts, cheerful or otherwise, the vigor of our will and purpose. Mood itself arises in part from the influences that stream into the muscles, joints, heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys, digestive tract and all the organs and tissues by way of the afferent nerves (sympathetic and cerebro-spinal). Mood is thus in part a reflection of the health and proper working of the organism; it is the most important aspect of the subconsciousness, and upon it rests the structure of character and personality.

[1] What is called coarse is frequently crudely true. Thus, in the streets, in the workshops, and where men untrammeled by niceties engage in personalities the one who believes the other to be a "crank" informs him in crude language that he has intestinal stasis (to put the diagnosis in medical language) and advises him accordingly to "take a pill."

This does not mean that only the healthy are cheerful, or that the sick are discouraged. To affirm the dependence of mind upon body is not to deny that one may build up faith, hope, courage, through example and precept, or that one may not inherit a cheerfulness and courage (or the reverse). "There are men," says James, "who are born under a cloud." But exceptional individuals aside, the mass of mankind generates its mood either in the tissues of the body or in the circumstances of life.

Children, because they have not built up standards of thought, mood and act, demonstrate in a remarkable manner the dependence of their character upon health.

A child shows the onset of an illness by a complete change in character. I remember one sociable, amiable lad of two, rich in the curiosity and expanding friendliness of that time of life, who became sick with diphtheria. All his basic moods became altered, and all his wholesome reactions to life disappeared. He was cross and contrary, he had no interest in people or in things, he acted very much as do those patients in an insane hospital who suffer from Dementia Praecox. What is character if it is not interest and curiosity, friendliness and love, obedience and trust, cheerfulness and courage? Yet a sick child, especially if very young, loses all these and takes on the reverse characters. The little lad spoken of became "himself" again when the fever and the pain lifted. Yet for a long time afterward he showed a greater liability to fear than before, and it was not until six months or more had repaired the more subtle damage to his organism that he became the hardy little adventurer in life that he had been before the illness.

There is plenty of chemical proof of this thesis as here set forth. Men have from time immemorial put things "in their bellies to steal their brains away." The chemical substance known as ethyl alcohol has been an artificial basis of good fellowship the world over, as well as furnishing a very fair share of the tragedy, the misery and the humor of the world. This is because, when ingested in any amount, its absorption produces changes in the flow of thought, in the attitude toward life, in the mood, the emotions, the purposes, the conduct,—in a word, in character. One sees the austere man, when drunk, become ribald; the repressed, close-fisted become open-mouthed and open-hearted; the kindly, perhaps brutal; the controlled, uncontrolled. In the change of character it effects is the regret over its passing and the greatest reason for prohibition.

Alcohol causes several well-defined mental diseases as well as mere drunkenness. In Delirium Tremens there is an acute delirium, with confusion, excitement and auditory and visual hallucinations of all kinds. The latter symptom is so prominent as to give the reason for the popular name of the "snakes." In alcoholic hallucinosis the patient has delusions of persecution and hears voices accusing him of all kinds of wrong-doing. Very frequently, as all the medical writers note, these voices are "conscience exteriorized"; that is, the voices say of him just what he has been saying of himself in the struggle against drink. Then there is Alcoholic Paranoia, a disease in which the main change is a delusion of jealousy directed against the mate, who is accused of infidelity. It is interesting that in the last two diseases the patient is "clear-headed"; memory and orientation are good; the patient speaks well and gives no gross signs of his trouble. As the effects of the alcohol wear away, the patient recovers,—i.e., his character returns to its normal.

It becomes necessary at this point to take up a reverse side of our study, namely, what is often called the influence of "mind over matter." Such cures of disease as seem to follow prayer and faith are cited; such incidents as the great strength of men under emotion or the disturbances of the body by ideas are listed as examples. This is not the place to discuss cures by faith. It suffices to say this: that in the first place most of such cures relate to hysteria, a disease we shall discuss later but which is characterized by symptoms that appear and disappear like magic. I have seen "cured" (and have "cured") such patients, affected with paralysis, deafness, dumbness, blindness, etc., with reasoning, electricity, bitter tonics, fake electrodes, hypnotism, and in one case by a forcible slap upon a prominent and naked part of the body. Hysteria has been the basis of many a saint's reputation and likewise has aided many a physician into affluence.

Nor is the effect of coincidence taken into account in estimating cures, whether by faith or by drugs. Many a physician has owed his start to the fact that he was called in on some obscure case just when the patient was on the turn towards recovery. He then receives the credit that belonged to Nature. Medical men understand this,—that many diseases are "self-limited" and pass through a cycle influenced but little by treatment. But faith curists do not so understand, and neither does the mass of people, so that neither one nor the other separates "post hoc" from "propter hoc." If the truth were told, most of the miracle and faith cures that are not of hysterical origin are due to coincidence. Faith curists report in detail their successes, but we have no statistics whatever of their failures.

If thought is a product of the brain activated by the rest of the organism, it would be perfectly natural to expect that thought would influence the organism. That thought is intimately associated with impulses to action is well known. This action largely takes place in the speech muscles but also it irradiates into the rest of the organism. Especially is this true if the thought is associated with some emotion. Emotion, as we shall discuss it later, is at least in large part a bodily reaction, a disturbance in heart, lungs, abdominal organs, blood vessels, sympathetic nervous system, endocrines, etc. The effect of thought and emotion upon the body, whether to heighten its activity or to lower its activity, is, from my point of view, merely the effect of one function of the organism upon others. We are not surprised if digestion affects thinking and mood, and we need not be surprised if thought and mood disturb or improve digestion. And we may substitute for digestion any other organic function.

As a working basis, substantiated by the kind of proof we use in our daily lives in laboratories and machine shops, we may state that mind, character and personality are organic in their origin and are functions of the entire organism. What a man thinks, does and feels (or perhaps we should reverse this order) is the result of environmental forces playing upon a marvelously intricate organism in which every part reacts on every other part, in which nervous energy influences digestion and digestion influences nervous energy, in which enzymes, hormones, and endocrines engage in an extraordinary game of checks and balance, which in the normal course of events make for the individual's welfare. What a man thinks, does, and feels influences the fate of his organism from one end of life to the other.

We have not adduced in favor of the organic nature of mind, character and personality the facts of heredity. This is a most important set of facts, for if the egg and the sperm carry mentality and personality, they may be presumed to carry them in some organic form, as organic potentialities, just as they carry size,[1] color, sex, etc. That abnormal mind is inherited is shown in family insanity in the second, third and fourth generation cases of mental disease. Certain types of feeble-mindedness surely are transmitted from generation to generation, as witness the case of the famous (or infamous) Jukes family. In this group vagabondage, crime, immorality and other character abnormalities appeared linked with the feeble-mindedness. But there is plenty of evidence to show that normal character qualities are inherited as well as the abnormal.[2] Galton, the father of eugenics, collected facts from the history of successful families to prove this. It is true that he failed to take into account the facts of SOCIAL heredity, in that a gifted man establishes a place for himself and a tradition for his family that is of great help to his son. Nevertheless, musical ability runs in families and races, as does athletic ability, high temper, passion, etc. In short, at least the potentialities, the capacities for character, are transmitted together with other qualities as part of the capital of heredity.

[1] I have collected and published from the records and wards of the State Hospital at Taunton, Mass., many such cases. The whole subject is to be reviewed in a following book on the transmission of mental disease, but no one seriously doubts that there is a transference of "insane" character from generation to generation. In fact, I believe that a little too much stress hag been laid on this aspect of mental disease and not enough on the fact that sickness may injure a family stock and cause the descendants to be insane. Any one who has seen a single case of congenital General Paresis, where a child has a mental disease due to the syphilis of a parent, and can doubt that character and mind are organic, simply is blinded by theological or metaphysical prejudice.

[2] See his book "Genius."

This means that in studying character and personality, we must start with an analysis of the physical make-up of the individual. We are not yet at the point in science where we can easily get at the activities of the endocrinal glands in normal mentality. We are able to recognize certain fundamental types, but more we cannot do; nor are we able to measure nervous energy except in relatively crude ways, but these crude ways have great value under certain conditions.

When there has been a change in personality, the question of bodily disease is always paramount. The first questions to be asked under such circumstances are, "Is this person sick?" "Is the brain involved?" "Are endocrinal glands involved?" "Is there disease of some organ of the body, acting to lower the feeling of well-being, acting to slacken the purposes and the will or to obscure the intelligence?"

There are other important questions of this type to answer, some of which may be deferred for the time. Meanwhile, the next equally fundamental thesis is on the effect of the environment upon mind, character and personality.


From the time any one of us is born into the world he is subject to the influences of forces that reach backwards to the earliest days of the race. The "dead hand" rules,—yes, and the dead thought, belief and custom continue to shape the lives and character of the living. The invention and development of speech and writing have brought into every man's career the mental life and character of all his own ancestors and the ancestors of every other man.

A child is not born merely to a father and a mother. He is born to a group, fiercely and definitely prejudiced in custom, belief and ideal, with ways of doing, feeling and thinking which it seeks to impose on each of its new members. Family, tribe, race and nation all demand of each accession that he accept their ideals, habits and beliefs on peril of disapproval and even of punishment. And man is so constituted that the approval and disapproval of his group mean more to him even than his life.

The social setting into which each one is born is his social heredity. "The heredity with which civilization is most supremely concerned," says Sir Edwin Ray Lankester, "is not that which is inborn in the individual. It is the SOCIAL inheritance which constitutes the dominant factor in human progress."[1] It is this social inheritance which shapes our characters, rough-hewn by nature. It is by the light of each person's social inheritance that we must also judge his character.

[1] The Eugenists fiercely contest this statement, and rightly, for it is extreme. Society is threatened at its roots by the present high birth rate of the low grade and the low birth rate of the high grade. Environment, culture, can do much, but they cannot make a silk purse out of a sow's ear. Neither can heredity make a silk purse out of silk; without culture and the environmental influences, without social heredity, the silk remains crude and with no special value. The aims of a rational society, which we are born a thousand years too soon to see would be twofold: to control marriage and birth so that the number of the unfit would be kept as low as possible, and then to bring fostering influences to bear on the fit.

"Education," says Oliver Wendell Holmes, "is only second to nature. Imagine all the infants born this year in Boston and Timbuctoo to change places!" And education is merely social inheritance organized by parents and teachers for the sake of molding the scholar into usefulness and conformity to the group into which he is born. There may be in each individual an innate capacity for this ability or that, for expressing and controlling this or that emotion, for developing this or that purpose. Which ability will be developed, which emotion or purpose will be expressed, is a matter of the age in which a man is born, the country in which he lives, the family which claims him as its own. In a warrior age the fighting spirit chooses war as its vocation and develops a warlike character; in a peaceful time that same fighting spirit may seek to bring about such reforms as will do away with war.[1] When the world said that a man might and really ought now and then to beat his wife and rule her by force, the really conformable man did so, while his descendant, living in a time and country where woman is the domestic "boss," submits, humorously and otherwise, to a good-natured henpecking. And in the times where a woman had no vocation but that of housewife, the wife of larger ability merely became a discontented, futile woman; whereas in an age which opens up politics to her, the same type of person expands into a vigorous, dominating political leader. Though the force of the water remain the same, the nature of the land determines whether the water shall collect as a river, carrying the produce of the land to the sea, or as a stagnant lake in which idlers fish. Time, social circumstances, education and a thousand and one factors determine whether one shall be a "Village Hampden," quarreling in a petty way with a petty autocrat over some petty thing, or a national Hampden, whose defiance of a tyrannical king stirs a nation into revolt.

[1] Indeed, a reformer is to-day called a crusader, though the knight of the twelfth century armed cap-a-pie for a joust with the Saracen would hardly recognize as his spiritual descendant a sedentary person preaching against rum. Yet to the student of character there is nothing anomalous in the transformation.

How conceptions of right and wrong, of proper and improper conduct, ideals and thoughts arise, it is not my function to treat in detail. That intelligence primarily uses the method of trial and error to learn is as true of groups as of individuals; and established methods of doing things—customs—are often enough temporary conclusions, though they last a thousand years. The feeling that such group customs are right and that to depart from them is wrong, is perhaps based on a specific instinct, the moral instinct; but much more likely, in my opinion, is it obedience to leadership, fear of social disapproval and punishment, conscience, imitation, suggestibility and sympathy, all of which are parts of that social cement substance, the social instinct. No child ever learns "what is right and wrong" except through teaching, but no child would ever conform, except through gross fear, unless he found himself urged by deep-seated instincts to be in conformity, in harmony and in sympathy with his group,—to be one with that group. Perhaps it is true, as Bergson suggests, as Galton[1] hints and as Samuel Butler boldly states, that there are no real individuals in life but we are merely different aspects of reality or, to phrase it materialistically, corpuscles in the blood stream of an organism too vast and complicated to be encompassed by our imagination. Just as a white blood cell obeys laws of which it can have no conception, fulfills purposes whose meaning transcends its own welfare, so we, with all our self-consciousness and all the paraphernalia of individuality, are perhaps parts of a life we cannot understand.

[1] For example, read what the hard-headed Galton says ("Hereditary Genius," p. 376):

"There is decidedly a solidarity as well as a separateness in all human and probably in all lives whatsoever, and this consideration goes far, I think, to establish an opinion that the constitution of the living universe is a pure theism and that its form of activity is what may he described as cooperative. It points to the conclusion that all life is single in its essence, but various, ever-varying and interactive in its manifestations, and that men and all other living animals are active workers and sharers in a vastly more extended system of cosmic action than any of ourselves, much less of them, can possibly comprehend. It also suggests that they may contribute, more or less unconsciously, to the manifestation of a far higher life than our own, somewhat as . . . the individual cells of one of the more complex animals contribute to the manifestations of its higher order of personality." Perhaps such a unity is the basis of instinct, of knowledge without teaching, of desire and wish that has not the individual welfare as its basis. No man can reject such phenomena as telepathy or thought transference merely because he cannot understand them on a basis of strict human individuality. To reject because one cannot understand is the arrogance of the "clerico-academic" type of William James.

No one can read the stories of travelers or the writings of anthropologists without concluding that codes of belief and action arise out of the efforts of groups to understand and to influence nature and that out of this practical effort AND seeking of a harmonious reality arises morality. "Man seeks the truth, a world that does not contradict itself, that does not deceive, that does not change; a real world,—a world in which there is no suffering. Contradiction, deception and variability are the causes of suffering. He does not doubt there is such a thing as, a world as it might be, and he would fain find a road to it."[1] But alas, intelligence and knowledge both are imperfect, and one group seeking a truth that will bring them good crops, fine families, victory over enemies, riches, power and fellowship, as well as a harmonious universe, finds it in idol worship and polygamy; another group seeking the same truth finds it in Christianity and monogamy. And the members of some groups are born to ideals, customs and habits that make it right for a member to sing obscene songs and to be obscene at certain periods, to kill and destroy the enemy, to sacrifice the unbeliever, to worship a clay image, to have as many wives as possible, and that make it WRONG to do otherwise. Indeed, he who wishes a child to believe absolutely in a code of morals would better postpone teaching him the customs and beliefs of other people until habit has made him adamant to new ideas.

[1] Nietzsche.

It is with pleasure that I turn the attention of the reader to the work of Frazier in the growth of human belief, custom and institutions that he has incorporated into the stupendous series of books called "The Golden Bough." The things that influence us most in our lives are heritages, not much changed, from the beliefs of primitive societies. Believing that the forces of the world were animate, like himself, and that they might be moved, persuaded, cajoled and frightened into favorable action, undeveloped man based most of his customs on efforts to obtain some desired result from the gods. Out of these customs grew the majority of our institutions; out of these queer beliefs and superstitions, out of witchcraft, sympathetic magic, the "Old Man" idea, the primitive reaction to sleep, epilepsy and death grew medicine, science, religion, festivals, the kingship, the idea of soul and most of the other governing and directing ideas of our lives. It is true that the noble beliefs and sciences also grew from these rude seeds, but with them and permeating our social structure are crops of atrophied ideas, hampering customs, cramping ideals. Further, in every race in every country, in every family, there are somewhat different assortments of these directing traditional forces; and it is these social inheritances which are more responsible for difference in people than a native difference in stock.

Consider the difference that being born and brought up in Turkey and being born, let us say, in New York City, would make in two children of exactly the same disposition, mental caliber and physical structure. One would grow up a Turk and the other a New Yorker, and the mere fact that they had the same original capacity for thought, feeling and action would not alter the result that in character the two men would stand almost at opposite poles. One need not judge between them and say that one was superior to the other, for while I feel that the New Yorker might stand OUR inspection better, I am certain that the Turk would be more pleasing to Turkish ideas. The point is that they would be different and that the differences would result solely from the environmental forces of natural conditions and social inheritance.

Study the immigrant to the United States and his descendant, American born and bred. Compare Irishman and Irish-American, Russian Jew and his American-born descendant; compare Englishman and the Anglo-Saxon New England descendant. Here is a race, the Jew, which in the Ghetto and under circumstances that built up a tremendously powerful set of traditions and customs developed a very distinctive type of human being. Poor in physique, with little physical pugnacity, but worshiping, learning and reaching out for wealth and power in an unusually successful manner, the crucible of an adverse and hostile environment rendered him totally different in manners from his Gentile neighbors. With a high birth rate and an intensely close and pure family life, the Ghetto Jew lived and died shut off by the restrictions placed upon him and his own social heredity from the life of the country of his birth. Then came immigration to the United States through one cause or another,—and note the results.

With the old social heredity still at work, another set of customs, traditions and beliefs comes into open competition with it in the bosom of the American Jew. Nowhere is the struggle between the old and the new generations so intense as in the home of the Orthodox Jew. His descendant is clean-shaven and no longer observes (or observes only perfunctorily or with many a gross inconsistency) the dietary and household laws. He is a free spender and luxurious in his habits as compared with his economical, ascetic forefathers. He marries late and the birth rate drops with most astonishing rapidity, so that in one generation the children of parents who had eight or ten children have families of one or two or three children. He becomes a follower of sports, and with his love for scholarship still strong, as witness his production of scholars and scientists, the remarkable rise of the Jewish prize fighter stands out as a divergence from tradition that mocks at theories of inborn racial characters. And a third generation differs in customs, manners, ideals, purposes and physique but little from the social class of Americans in which the individual members move. The names become Anglicized; gone are the Abrahams and Isaacs and Jacobs, the Rachels and Leahs and Rebeccas, and in their place are Vernon, Mortimer, Winthrop, Alice, Helen and Elizabeth. And this change in name symbolizes the revolution in essential characters.

Has the racial stock changed in one generation or two? No. A new social heredity has overcome—or at least in part supplanted—an older social heredity and released and developed characters hitherto held in check. In every human being—and this is a theme we shall enlarge upon later—there are potential lines of development far outnumbering those that can be manifested, and each environment and tradition calls forth some and suppresses others. Every man is a garden planted with all kinds of seeds; tradition and teaching are the gardeners that allow only certain ones to come to bloom. In each age, each country and each family there is a different gardener at work, repressing certain trends in the individual, favoring and bringing to an exaggerated growth other trends.

That each family, or type of family, acts in this way is recognized in the value given to the home life. The home, because of its sequestration, allows for the growth of individual types better than would a community house where the same traditions and ideals governed the life of each child. In the home the parents seek to cultivate the specific type of character they favor. The home is par excellence the place where prejudice and social attitude are fostered. Though the mother and father seek to give broadmindedness and wide culture to the child, their efforts must largely be governed by their own attitudes and reactions,—in short, by their own character and the resultant examples and teaching. It is true that the native character of the child may make him resistant to the teachings of the parents or may even develop counter-prejudices, to react violently against the gardening. This is the case when the child is of an opposing temperament or when in the course of time he falls under the influence of ideals and traditions that are opposed to those of his home. Unless the home combines interest and freedom, together with teaching, certain children become violent rebels, and, seeking freedom and interest outside of the home, find themselves in a conflict, both with their home teaching and the home teachers, that shakes the unity and the happiness of parent and child. Like all civil wars this war between new and old generations reaches great bitterness.

In studying the cases of several hundred delinquent girls, as a consultant to the Parole Department of Massachusetts, it was found that the family life of the girls could be classified in two ways. The majority of the girls that reached the Reformatory came from bad homes,—homes in which drunkenness, prostitution, feeble-mindedness, and insanity were common traits of the parents. Or else the girls were orphans brought up by a stepmother or some careless foster mother. In any case, through either example, cruelty or neglect, they drifted into the streets.

And the streets! Only the poor child (or the child brought up over strictly) can know the lure of the streets. THERE is excitement, THERE is freedom from prohibitions and inhibitions. So the boy or girl finds a world without discipline, is without the restraints imposed on the sex instincts and comes under the influence of derelicts, sex-adventurers, thieves, vagabonds and the aimless of all sorts. Into this university of the vices most of the girls I am speaking of drifted, largely because the home influence either was of the street type or had no advantages to offer in competition with the street.

But the child on the streets is no more a solitary individual than the savage is, or for that matter the civilized man. He quickly forms part of a group, a roving group, called "The Gang." In the large cities gangs are usually composed of boys of one age or nearly so; in the small towns the gangs will consist of the boys of a neighborhood. In fact, regardless of whether they are street children or home children, boys form gangs spontaneously. The gang is the first voluntary organization of society, for the home, in so far as the child is concerned, is an involuntary organization. The gang has its leader or leaders, usually the strongest or the best fighter. At any rate, the best fighter is the nominal leader, though a shrewder lad may assume the real power. The gang has rules, it plays according to regulations, its quarrels are settled according to a code, property has a definite status and distribution.[1] The members of the gang are always quarreling with each other, but here, as in the larger aggregations of older human beings, "politics ends at the border," and the gang is a unit against foreign aggression. Indeed, gangs of a neighborhood may league against a group of other gangs, as did the quarreling cities of Greece against Persia.

[1] In the gang of which I was a member there was a ritual in the formation of partnership, an association within the association. Two boys, fond of each other and desiring to become partners, would link little fingers, while a third boy acting as a sort of priest—an elder of the gang—would raise his hand and strike the link, shouting, "Partners, partners, never break!" This ritual was a symbol of the unity of the pair, so that they fought for each other, shared all personal goods (such as candy, pocket money, etc.,) and were to be loyal and sympathetic throughout life. Alas, dear partner of my boyhood, most gallant of fighters and most generous of souls, where are you, and where is our friendship, now?

For the student of mankind the gang is one of the most fascinating phenomena. Here the power of tradition, without the aid of records, is seen. Throughout America, in a mysterious way, all the boys start spinning tops at a certain season and then suddenly cease and begin, to play marbles. Without any standardization of a central type they have the same rules for their games, call them by the same names and use in their songs the same rhymes and airs. Every generation of children has the same jokes and trick games: "Eight and eight are sixteen, stick your nose in kerosene"—"A dead cat, I one it, you two it, I three it, you four it, I five it, you six it, I seven it, you eight it!" The fact is, of course, that there are no generations as distinct entities; there are always individuals of one age, and there is a mutual teaching and learning going on at all times, which is the basis of transmission of tradition. Children are usually more conservative and greater sticklers for form and propriety than even men are; only now and then a freer mind arises whose courage and pertinacity change things.

Therefore, in the understanding of character the influence of the environment becomes of as fundamental importance as the consideration of the organic make-up of the individual. The environment in the form of tradition, social ideal, social status, economic situation, race, religion, family, education is thus on the one hand the directing, guiding, eliciting factor in character and on the other is the repressing, inhibiting, limiting factor.

Putting the whole thing in another way: the organism is the Microcosmos, or little world, in which the potentialities of character are elaborated in the germ plasm we inherit from our ancestors, in the healthy interaction of brain with the rest of the body, especially the internal glands. The outside world is the Macrocosmos, or large world, and includes the physical conditions of existence (climate, altitude, plentiness of food, access to the sea) as well as the social conditions of existence (state of culture of times and race and family). The social conditions of existence are of especial interest in that they reach back ages before the individual was born so that the lives, thoughts, ideals of the dead may dominate the character of the living.

This macrocosmos both brings to light and stifles the character peculiarities of the microcosmos and the character of no man, as we see or know it, ever expresses in any complete manner his innate possibilities.

The question arises: What is the basis of the influence of the social heredity, of the forces, in the character of the person born in a social group? Certain aspects of this we must deal with later, in order to keep to a unified presentation of the subject. Other aspects are pertinently to be discussed now.

The link that binds man to man is called the social instinct, though perhaps it would be better to call it the group of social instincts. The link is one of feeling, primarily, though it has associated with it, in an indissoluble way, purpose and action. The existence of the social instinct is undisputed; its explanation is varied and ranges from the mystical to the evolutionary. For the mystical (which crops out in Bergson, Butler and even in Galton), the unity of life is its basis, and there is a sort of recognition of parts formerly united but now separate individuals. This does not explain hate, racial and individual. The evolutionary aspect has received its best handling in recent years in Trotter's "The Herd," where the social instincts are traced in their relation to human history. One writer after another has placed as basic in social instinct, sympathy, imitation, suggestibility and the recognition of "likeness." These are merely names for a spreading of emotion from one member of a group to another, for a something that makes members of the group teachable and makes them wish to teach; that is back of the wish to conform and help and has two sets of guiding forces, reward and its derivative praise; punishment and its derivative blame. Perhaps the term "derivative" is not correct, and perhaps praise and blame are primary and reward and punishment secondary.

So eminent a philosopher as the elder Mill declared the distribution of praise and blame is the greatest problem of society." This view of the place of praise and blame in the organization of character and in directing the efforts and activity of men is hardly exaggerated. From birth to death the pleasure of reward and praise and the pain of punishment and blame are immensely powerful human motives. It is true that now and then individuals seek punishment and blame, but this is always to win the favor of others or of the most important observer of men's actions,—God, The child is trained through the effect of reward and punishment, praise and blame; and these are used to set up, on the one hand, habits of conduct, and on the other an inner mentor and guide called Conscience. It may be true that conscience is innate in its potentialities, but whether that is so or not, it is the teaching and training of the times or of some group that gives to conscience its peculiar trend in any individual case. And before a child has any inward mentor it depends for its knowledge of right and wrong upon the efforts of its parents, their use of praise-reward and blame-punishment; it reacts to these measures in accordance with the strength and vigor of its social instincts and in accordance with its fear of punishment and desire for reward. The feelings of duty and the prickings of conscience serve to consolidate a structure already formed.

Here we must discuss a matter of fundamental importance in character analysis. Men are not born equal in any respect. This inequality extends to every power, possibility and peculiarity and has its widest range in the mental and character life. A tall man is perhaps a foot taller than a very short man; a giant is perhaps twice as tall as a dwarf. A very fleet runner can "do" a hundred yards in ten seconds, and there are few except the crippled or aged who cannot run the distance in twenty seconds. Only in the fables has the hero the strength of a dozen men. But where dexterity or knowledge enters things become different, and one man can do what the most of men cannot even prepare to do. Where abstract thought or talent or genius is involved the greatest human variability is seen. There we have Pascals who are mathematicians at five and discoverers at sixteen; there we have Mozarts, composers at three; there we have our inspired boy preachers already consecrated to their great ideal of work; and we have also our Jesse Pomeroys, fiendish murderers before adolescence. I believe with Carlyle that it is the heroes, the geniuses of the race, to whom we owe its achievements; and the hero and the genius are the men and women of "greatest variability" in powers. The first weapon, the starting of fire, the song that became "a folk song" were created by the prehistoric geniuses and became the social heritage of the group or race. And "common man" did little to develop religions or even superstitions; he merely accepted the belief of a leader.

This digression is to emphasize that children and the men and women they grow to be are widely variable in their native social feeling, in their response to praise, blame, reward and punishmept. One child eagerly responds to all, is moved by praise, loves reward, fears punishment and hates blame. Another child responds mainly to reward, is but little moved by praise, fears punishment and laughs at blame. Still another only fears punishment, while there is a type of deeply antisocial nature which goes his own way, seeking his own egoistic purposes, uninfluenced by the opinion of others, accepting reward cynically and fighting against punishment. More than that, each child shows peculiarities in the types of praise, reward, blame and punishment that move him. Some children need corporal punishment[1] and others who are made rebels by it are melted into conformity by ostracism.

[1] It is a wishy-washy ideal of teaching that regards pain as equivalent to cruelty. On the contrary, it may be real cruelty to spare pain,—cruelty to the future of the child. Pain is a great teacher, whether inflicted by the knife one has been told not to play with, or by the parent when the injunction not to play with the knife has been disregarded.

The distribution of praise and blame constitutes the distribution of public opinion. Wherever public opinion is free to exercise its power it is a weapon of extraordinary potency before which almost nothing can stand. One might define a free nation as one where public opinion has no limits,[1] where no one is prevented from the expression of belief about the action of others, and no one is exempted from the pressure of opinion. Conversely an autocracy is one where there is but little room for the public use of praise and but little power to blame, especially in regard to the rulers. But in all societies, whether free or otherwise, people are constantly praising, constantly blaming one another, whether over the teacups or the wine glasses, in the sewing circle or the smoking rooms, in the midst of families, in the press, in the great halls of the states and nations. These are "the mallets" by which society beats or attempts to beat individuals into the accepted shape.

[1] In fact, Oliver Wendell Holmes has defined as the great object of human society the free growth and expression of human thought. How far we are from that ideal!

Men and women and children all strive to be praised, if not by their own group, by some other group or by some generation. It is, therefore, a high achievement to introduce a new ideal of character and personality to the group. Men—whose opinion as to desirability and praiseworthiness has been the prepotent opinion—love best of all beauty in woman. Therefore, the ideal of beauty as an achievement is a leading factor in the character formation of most girls and young women. The first question girls ask about one another is, "Is she pretty?" and in their criticism of one another the personal appearance is the first and most, important subject discussed. A personal beauty ideal has little value to the character; in fact, it tends to exaggerate vanity and triviality and selfishness; it leads away from the higher aspects of reality. If you ask the majority of women which would they rather be, very beautiful or very intelligent, most will say without question (in their frank moments) that they would rather be very beautiful. Those who are attempting to introduce the ideal of intelligence as a goal to women need of course to balance it with other ideals, but if successful they will revolutionize the attitude of women toward life and change the trend of their character.

Such ideals as beauty and wealth, however, do not acquire their imperativeness unless at the same time they gratify some deep-seated group of desires or instincts. Wealth gives too many things to catalogue here, but fundamentally it gives power, and so beauty which may lead to wealth is always a source of power, although this power carries with it danger to the owner. Mankind has been praising unselfishness for thousands of years, and all men hate to be called selfish, but selfishness still rules in the lives of most of the people of the world. Chastity and continence receive the praise of the religious of the world, as well as of the ascetic-minded of all types, yet the majority of men, in theory accepting this ideal, reject it in practice. Selfishness leads to self-gratification and pleasure; chastity imposes a burden on desire, and praise and blame are in this instance not powerful enough to control mankind's acts, though powerful enough to influence them. Wherever social pressure and education influence men and women to conduct which is contrary to the gratification of fundamental desires, it causes an uneasiness, an unhappiness and discomfort upon which Graham Wallas[1] has laid great stress as the balked desire. The history of man is made up of the struggle of normal instincts, emotions and purposes against the mistaken inhibitions and prohibitions, against mistaken praise and blame, reward and punishment. Moral and ethical ideals develop institutions, and these often press too heavily upon the life and activities of those who accept them as authoritative.

[1] See his book "The Great Society" for a fine discussion of this important matter.

We have spoken as if praise and blame invariably had the same results. On the contrary, though in general they tend to bring about uniformity and conformity, people vary remarkably from one another in their reaction and the same person is not uniform in his reactions. The reaction to praise is on the whole an increased happiness and vigor, but of course it may, when undeserved, demoralize the character and lead to a foolish vanity and to inefficiency. To those whose conscience is highly developed, undeserved praise is painful in that it leads to a feeling that one is deceiving others. Speaking broadly, this is a rare reaction. Most people accept praise as their due, just as they attribute success to their merits.[1] The reaction to blame may be anger, if the blame is felt to be undeserved, and there are people of irritable ego who respond in this way to all blame or even the hint of adverse criticism. The reaction may be humiliation and lowered self-valuation, greatly deenergizing the character and lowering efficiency. There, again, though this reaction occurs in some degree to all, others are so constituted that all criticism or blame is extremely painful and needs to be tempered with praise and encouragement. Where blame is felt to be deserved, and where the character is one of striving after betterment, where the ego is neither irritable nor tender, blame is an aid to growth and efficiency. Many a man flares up under blame who "cools" down when he sees the justice of the criticism, and changes accordingly.

[1] A very striking example of this was noticeable during the Great War. American business men in general, producers, distributors, wholesalers, retailers and speculators all got "rich,"—some in extraordinary measure. Did many of them attribute this to the fact that there was a "sellers' market" caused by the conditions over which the individual business man had no control? On the contrary, the overwhelming majority quite complacently attributed the success (which later proved ephemeral) to their own ability.

Therefore, in estimating the character of any individual, one must ask into the nature of his environment, the traits and teachings of the group from which he comes and among whom he has lived. To understand any one this inquiry must be detailed and reach back into his early life. Yet not too much stress must be laid upon certain influences in regard to certain qualities. For example, the average child is not influenced greatly by immorality until near puberty, but dishonesty and bad manners strike at him from early childhood. The large group, the small group, family life, gang life influence character, but not necessarily in a direct way. They may act to develop counter- prejudices, for there is no one so bitter against alcoholism as the man whose father was a drunkard and who himself revolts against it. And there is no one so radical as he whose youth was cramped by too much conservatism.

One might easily classify people according to their reaction to reward, praise, punishment and blame. This would lead us too far afield. But at least it is safe to say that in using these factors in directing conduct and character the individual must be studied in a detailed way. The average child, the average man and woman is found only in statistics. Everywhere, to deal successfully, one must deal with the individual.

There is a praise-reacting type to whom praise acts as a tonic of incomparable worth, especially when he who administers the praise is respected. And there are employers, teachers and parents who ignore this fact entirely, who use praise too little or not at all and who rely on adverse criticism. The hunger for appreciation is a deep, intense need, and many of the problems of life would melt before the proper use of praise.

"Fine words butter no parsnips" means that reward of other kinds is needed to give substance to praise. Praise only without reward losses its value. "I get lots of 'Thank you's' and 'You are a good fellow'," complained a porter to me once, "but I cannot bring up my family on them." In their hearts, no matter what they say, the majority of people place highly him who is just in compensation and reward and they want substantial goods. Many a young scientist of my acquaintance has found that election to learned societies and praise and respect palled on him as compared to a living salary. Money can be exchanged for vacations, education, books, good times and the opportunity of helping others, but praise has no cash exchange value.

Blame and punishment are intensely individual matters. Where they are used to correct and to better the character, where they are the tools of the friends and teacher and not the weapons of the enemy, great care must be used. Character building is an aim, not a technique, and the end has justified the means. Society has just about come to the conclusion that merely punishing the criminal does not reform him, and merely to punish the child has but part of the effect desired. In character training punishment and blame must bring PAIN, but that pain must be felt to be deserved (at least in the older child and adult) and not arouse lasting anger or humiliation. It must teach the error of the ways and prepare the recipient for instruction as to the right away. Often enough the pain of punishment and blame widens the breach between the teacher and pupil merely because the former has inflicted pain without recompense.

One might put it thus: The pleasure of praise and reward must energize, the pain of blame and punishment. must teach, else teacher and society have misused these social tools.

"Very well," I hear some readers say, "is conscience to be dismissed so shortly? Have not men dared to do right in the face of a world that blamed and punished; have they not stood without praise or reward or the fellowship of others for the actions their conscience dictated?"

Yes, indeed. What, then, is conscience? For the common thought of the world it is an inward mentor placed by God within the bosom of man to guide him, to goad him, even, into choosing right and avoiding wrong. Where the conception of conscience is not quite so literal and direct it is held to be an immanent something of innate origin. Whatever it may be, it surely does not guide us very accurately or well, for there are opposing consciences on every side of every question, and opponents find themselves equally spurred by conscience to action and are equally convinced of righteousness. In the long run it would be difficult to decide which did more harm in the world, a conscientious persecutor or bigot, an Alvarez or James the First, or a dissolute, conscienceless sensualist like Charles the Second. Certainly consciences differ as widely as digestions.

Conscience, so it seems to me, arises in early childhood with the appearance of fixed purposes. It is entirely guided at first by teaching and by praise and blame, for the infant gives no evidence of conscience. But the infant (or young child) soon wants to please, wants the favor and smiles of its parents. Why does it wish to please? Is there a something irreducible in the desire? I do not know and cannot pretend to answer.

This, however, may be definitely stated. Conscience arises or grows in the struggle between opposing desires and purposes in the course of which one purpose becomes recognized as the proper guide to conduct. Let us take a simple case from the moral struggles of the child.

A three-year-old, wandering into the kitchen, with mother in the back yard hanging out the clothes, makes the startling discovery that there is a pan of tarts, apple tarts, on the kitchen table, easily within reach, especially if Master Three-Year-Old pulls up a chair. Tarts! The child becomes excited, his mouth waters, and those tarts become the symbol and substance of pleasure,—and within his reach. But in the back of his mind, urging him to stop and consider, is the memory of mother's injunction, "You must always ask for tarts or candy or any goodies before you take them." And there is the pain of punishment and scolding and the vision of father, looking stern and not playing with one. These are distant, faint memories, weak forces,—but they influence conduct so that the little one takes a tart and eats it hurriedly before mother returns and then runs into the dining room or bedroom. Thus, instead of merely obeying an impulse to take the tart, as an uninstructed child would, he has now become a little thief and has had his first real moral struggle.

But it is a grim law that sensual pleasures do not last beyond the period of gratification. If this were not so there could be no morality in the world, and conscience would never reach any importance. Whether we gratify sex appetite or gastric hunger, the pleasure goes at once. True, there may be a short afterglow of good feeling, but rarely is it strongly affective, and very often it is replaced by a positive repulsion for the appetite. On the other hand, to be out of conformity with your group is a permanent pain, and the fear of being found out is an anxiety often too great to be endured. And so our child, with the tart gone, wishes he had not taken it, perhaps not clearly or verbally; he is regretful, let us say. Out of this regret, out of this fear of being found out, out of the pain of nonconformity, arises the conscience feeling which says, "Thou shalt not" or "Thou shalt," according to social teaching.

It may be objected that "Conscience often arrays itself against society, against social teaching, against perhaps all men." It is not my place to trace the growth in mind of the idea of the Absolute Good, or absolute right and wrong, with which a man must align himself. I believe it is the strength of the ego feeling which gives to some the vigor and unyieldingness of their conscience. "I am right," says such a person, "and the rest of the world is wrong. God is with me, my conscience and future times will agree," thus appealing to the distant tribunal as James pointed out. All the insane hospitals have their sufferers for conscience's sake, paranoid personalities whose egos have expanded to infallibility and whose consciences are correspondingly developed.

Conscience thus represents the power of the permanent purposes and ideals of the individuals, and it wars on the less permanent desires and impulses, because there is in memory the uneasiness and anxiety that resulted from indulgence and the pain of the feeling of inferiority that results when one is hiding a secret weakness or undergoing reproof or punishment. This group of permanent purposes, ideals and aspirations corresponds closely to the censor of the Freudian concept and here is an example where a new name successfully disguises an age-old thought.

In other words, conscience is social in its origin, developing differently in different people according to their teaching, intelligence, will, ego-feeling, instincts, etc. From the standpoint of character analysis there are many types of people in regard to conscience development.

In respect to the reactions to praise and blame the following types are conspicuous:

1. A "weak" group in whom these act as apparently the sole motives.

2. A group energized by love of praise.

3. A group energized mainly by fear of blame.

4. A type that scorns anything but material reward.

5. Another, that "takes advantage" of reward; likes praise but is merely made conceited by it, hates blame but is merely made angry by it, fears punishment and finds its main goad to good conduct in this fear.

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