메인 The British Journal of Psychiatry The Psychology of Attention. Th. Ribot Professor of Comparative and Experimental Psychologý at the...
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398 Reviews. [July, domain of art. It is truly replied that science and art are only two manifestations of the same phenomenon. The artistic representation of bodily deformities shows, as the authors point out, how artists have been known to unite the worship of the beautiful and the careful study of nature, and, moreover, introduces into the plastic arts a new element of criticism which rises to the highest scientific point, and demands, from medical men more especially, an explanation of its true meaning. It is needless to say that the plates are beautifully executed and are of permanent interest and value. The medical pro fession, and especially psychologists, cannot fail to appreciate the light thrown on these pictures by the authors of this work. Whether in all installÃ©esthe interpretation of the works of art depicted is certainly correct may perhaps be doubted. For instance, in the fragment of Saint Antoine tourmentÃ© par les demons, by Matthias GrÃ¼newald, in the museum of Colmar, in Alsace, which is regarded as an illustration of syphilis, some imagination is required to make this diagnosis from the picture. However, this is an exceptional instance, and we repeat that the work is one of medical as well as artistic value. The Psychology of Attention. By TH. EIBOT, Professor of Comparative and Experimental Psychology at the College de Fi-ance. Authorized Translation. Published by The Open Court Publishing Co., Chicago ; and Longmans, Green, and Co., London, 1890. Attention is certainly one of the most important activities of the mind, since a mental fact only exists for us in so far as we attend to it. Yet in older works on mental science, Attention receives but scant consideration, a few paragraphs or pages only being devoted to it. And even in more modern books, if we except Mr. Sully's " Outlines of Psychology," which contains an excellent, but all too short chapter upon it, the subject is dismissed with much briefer reference than its importance merits. Eecently, however, it has bee; n the object of some very careful study and analysis at the hands of several foreign observers, especially among the Germans,* * Apperception of the Germans may be taken as identical with Attention, though it is MULI-I hm s held equivalent tu volitional or active attention only. 1890.] Renews. 399 who have approached the subject from an experimental point of view. The little book before us, which takes their work into account, is a most welcome contribution, and should cer tainly find a place in the library of all alienists, psycholo gists, and, more than all, those interested in the education of the young. For it is in the early period of life that the habit of attention can be cultivated and trained ; it is upon the accurate observation and careful training of this quality, or rather attitude of the mind, that the after life of the individual so greatly depends. Errors and deficiencies in this respect are no doubt the reasons why so many of the round pegs of society find themselves in square holes. Professor Ribot at the outset defines Attention (p. 12) as an " intellectual monoÃ¯deism;accompanied by spontaneous or artificial adaptation of the individual ; " monoÃ¯deism being taken to mean the temporary predominance of an intellectual state or group of states. This definition is accurate and concise enough, but is it not a trifle abstruse (we had almost said far-fetched) in what purports to be a book for all readers ? Psychologists, he believes, while giving much study to the effects of Attention, have given but little to its mechanism ; and he devotes himself almost entirely to the investigation of the latter point. He recognizes two well-defined forms, and the first chapter treats of Spontaneous, Natural, or Instinctive Attention. It is this forin which alone exists naturally, though in widely-varying degrees, in nearly every living creature ; at any rate everyone capable of experiencing pleasure or pain. The author maintains that wherever found it depends, without exception, on emotional states ; and thus the kind of Â¡Spontaneous Attention evinced by a person reveals more than anything else his character and tastes. Then follow brief, but admirable descriptions of the physical concomitants of Attention, viz., vaso-inotor phe nomena, respiratory phenomena, and motor phenomena or the phenomena of expression ; which are, the author says, neither effects nor causes, but elements of the condition. We miss any reference to the relation of curiosity to Attention, though Surprise, or Spontaneous Attention augmented, is well treated of. A description of this latter and of the origin and evolution of Attention closes the first part. Turning next to Voluntary, Active, or Artificial Attention, 400 Reviews. [JÂ«ly> which in former times was the only kind generally recognized amongst authors, Professor Eibot is at great pains to establish the correctness of his views as to its motor origin ; and, to this end, traces the motor elements in perceptions, emotions, images, and general ideas. Just as " every act of volition, whether impulsive or inhibitory, ' acts only upon muscles and through muscles, ' " so " in all cases of Attention," pre sumably Voluntary Attention, " there must necessarily be a play of muscular elements, real or nascent movements, upon which the power of inhibition acts " (p. 51). This explanation of the mechanism of Attention is pro bably admitted at the present time by the majority of psychologists, but to those who still hold diverse views, we cannot do better than commend the able and lucid argu ments and illustrations contained in this little book. The role played by muscular inhibition and the consequent sensa tion of effort in sustained attention, the source of which the author holds to be peripheral, are well put, and an admirable, though brief, sketch is given of recent experimental re searches upon Voluntary Attention. But undoubtedly the most interesting portion of the book is the third section, which deals with morbid states of Atten tion. The border-land conditions, distraction and absorp tion, for which many great scholars have been famed, do not strictly come within this category, and are only briefly referred to. Abnormal states are classified into (1) Hyper trophy of Attention ; (2) Ati'ophy of Attention ; and (3) Congenital Deficiency. The terms hypertrophy and atrophy are so intimately connected by custom with somatic changes that it would perhaps have been better to employ some other terms, such as Hyper-Attention, and Deficient Attention or Inattention. The normal condition of mind, as Professor Eibot points out, is a plurality of states of consciousness, orâ€”according to the expression of certain authorsâ€”polyÃ¯deism. Attention is the momentary inhibition, to the exclusive benefit of a simple state, of this perpetual progression, it is monoÃ¯deism. However, Attention is only relative monoÃ¯deism,that is, it supposes the existence of a master idea, drawing to itself all that relates to it and nothing else, allowing associations to produce themselves only within very narrow limits, and on condition that they converge towards a common point. Fixed idea, the first of the pathological varieties coming under " Hypertrophy of Attention," is this attitude of 1890.] Reviews. 401 mind in a more marked form. AB a matter of fact, 'in every sound human being there is always a dominant idea that regulates his conduct. "The Metamorphosis of Attention," the author says, " into a fixed idea is much more clearly seen in great men," and he quotes Alfred de Vigny's answer to the question, " What is a great life ? " " A thought of our youth, realized in mature age." How ever, a fixed idea is more than a mere dominant thought ; it is in marked cases the nearest approach to absolute monoÃ¯deism that is attainable with the retention of consciousness. It represents a more or less chronic form of hypertrophy of Attention. In keeping with the methodical character of the book, a feature which eveiywhere pervades its pages, the author classifies fixed ideas into three categories :â€”(1) Simple fixed ideas of a purely intellectual nature ; (2) Fixed ideas accom panied by emotions, such as terror ; (3) Fixed ideas of an im pulsive form, known as irresistible tendencies, which manifest themselves in violent or criminal acts. The first of these groups is discussed in detail, and the conditions, arithmomania and onomotornania, are referred to. Ecstasy is another, a more acute form of hypertrophy of at tention. In a moderate degree it is after this manner that men endowed with great power of attention are enabled to abstract themselves from the external world. The biographies of several great men are referred to as furnishing good examples of this intellectual state. Monsieur Ribot gives a most in teresting illustration, drawn from the "Castillo Interior" of Saint Theresa, of concentration of thought progressively reaching, step by step, a condition of absolute monoÃ¯deism. Turing next to atrophy, or abnormally deficient attention, this may be due to an abnormal rapidity and exuberance of ideas, so that all is disorder and no particular state of consciousness lasts even for a moment, as in the case of delirium or acute mania. Or, secondly, it may be due, and this is more frequent, to an absence or diminution of the power of inhibition. Numerous instances of this latter form are met with in hysterical patients, in persons suffering from irritable weakness, in convalescents, in apathetic and in sensible individuals, in intoxication and extreme states of bodily or mental fatigue. It is pointed out that deficient attention and motor weakness go side by side, and this is one of the facts on which the author relies to show the motor origin of this mental state. 402 Reviews. [Jtdy, Tlie last of the three categories of morbid states of atten tion comprises idiots, imbeciles, weak-minded, and the like, where there is a congenital deficiency, or rather a state of inattention. We have only been able to touch on the salient features of this interesting little book, but enough has been said to indicate its character and scope. It is, as we have said, small in compass, but it contains a great "deal of valuable material, which is well and concisely put, and is all the more welcome in these days of copious writing. Upon the manner in which the translation has been performed we have nothing but praise to bestow. There are none of those inelegant French idioms so frequently seen in even the best translations, and the profit we have derived from the matter has been only equalled by the pleasure we have derived from the style in which it is placed before the English reader. In truth, we are not always fond of the philosophy of the French, which too often has an air of superficiality about it, and sometimes seems to lack the solidity which is so characteristic a feature of the German school. We are, therefore, glad to take this opportunity of bringing under the notice of our readers a work which deals very thoroughly with the matter in hand. On Aphasia or Loss of Speech, and the Localization of the Faculty of Articulate Language. By FREDERICBATEMAN, M.D. J. and A. Churchill, London ; Jarrold and Sons, 3, Paternoster Buildings. 1890. The second edition of this work is much enlarged, and has evidently cost the learned author much labour and anxious thought. As is well known, Dr. Bateman ventured, in his " Darwinism tested by Language," to take different views on the localization of speech in its relation to Darwinism from those generally held at the present day by cerebral physiolo gists. This need not be regretted. It is well to have a critic who will point out what may be the vulnerable points in the armour of the now popular faith. Dogmatism is to be deplored on either side of the controversy, and perhaps Broca had some justification for his sarcastic remark on what he regarded as our Darwinic fanaticismâ€”that we were ready to burn at the stake those who refused to fall down and worship our idol.