These directions are sufficient to start victims along the path taken by Eusapia, and, though we do not know how this woman reached the condition described by Mr. Carrington, yet the men who fostered her deception certainly helped the unfortunate creature in her development of a second personality compounded of delusion and fraud. The description of the other case of Mr. Carrington’s contains a significant phrase: ‘the phenomenon was of that simple order which one would naturally expect to discover in a simple undeveloped medium.’ Just so: the game was only beginning, but, if the medium had developed, the split-off personality would have taken charge and limitless cheating and fraud could have been carried on by a medium who was to all seeming an honest man.
But as I showed that the causes of hysteria are to be found in conflict and repression, only taking the ‘Will to Power’ and ‘repression of the knowledge of deceit’ as particular forms applying to a few cases, so I must allow that the medium may not always be influenced by the last two factors. The hysteric is the prey of emotions and experiences which cannot be faced unaided, and the strivings and desires that arise from the unconscious, which in one individual may find expression in social work, may find vent by a neurosis in another, or by mysticism in a third.
The desires may be of the noblest kind, and, failing to find legitimate expression, may show themselves in fantasies. I am not the first to draw attention to the psychology of Joan of Arc, and we can picture her urged by the noblest emotions to seek in a dissociated stream powers beyond the reach of consciousness; her visions were real to her, and tradition may be believed when it relates the story of her detection of King Charles disguised as one of his own courtiers. ‘Be not amazed, nothing is hid from me’, are the words attributed to her, and the incident well exemplifies the hypersensitivity of a dissociated stream.
I cannot picture a modern medium actuated by high motives, but am ready to admit that even in our days there may be mystics whose dissociations arose from commendable origins. Theosophy is bound up with the story of two women, Madame Blavatsky and Mrs. Besant; the former was a self-confessed deceiver, but the latter is a very different kind of woman. Brought up in strict religious surroundings, she found herself compelled to cast aside her religious beliefs and, at great personal sacrifice, take up a public attitude directly opposite to them; but her old beliefs still lay in the unconscious, and when the opportunity arose she found relief from her conflict in a fantastic creed of the supernatural. No one who has studied her life can deny her honesty, but honesty does not make her beliefs easier of acceptance.
Before leaving the subject of mediums I must allude again to witchcraft. To those who believe in spirits, good or evil, which can take possession of us and make us do their will, and can throw about bricks and sand and furniture in our material world, there is nothing remarkable in epidemics of bewitchery, especially as the witch-finders were more fortunate than our spiritualists in having the unanimous support of the most eminent authorities of their day.
To explain the psychology of witchcraft is beyond the scope of this book, but it is not hard to conceive that when the belief in witchcraft was strong certain unfortunate people who set out to play tricks, maybe for notoriety or temporary gain, became ensnared by credulity and finding escape difficult came to believe in their own powers. Thus dissociation would be set up and on the side of the witch-finders Herd Instinct (or suggestion) and logic-tight compartments did the rest.
The fact that confessions of witchcraft were apparently common makes this explanation more probable.
For a career ending at the stake to have such a trivial origin as a desire for notoriety is in agreement with the history of Sludge, whose downfall began with a desire to draw attention to himself. Call them ambitions and the desires seem less trivial, nor do I shrink from suggesting that the ‘gifts’ of the water-diviner and the most financially disinterested medium, even of Mr. Stainton Moses himself, have origin in a desire to shine before one’s fellows–a neurotic ‘Will to Power’.