Myerson, abraham the foundations of personality

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Myerson, abraham the foundations of personality

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  2. 2. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU2The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital LibraryCONTENTSINTRODUCTIONI. THE ORGANIC BASIS OF CHARACTERII. THE ENVIRONMENTAL BASIS OF CHARACTERIII. MEMORY AND HABITIV. STIMULATION, INHIBITION, ORGANIZINGENERGY, CHOICE AND CONSCIOUSNESSV. HYSTERIA, SUBCONSCIOUSNESS ANDFREUDIANISMVI. EMOTION, INSTINCT, INTELLIGENCE AND WILLVII. EXCITEMENT, MONOTONY AND INTERESTVIII. THE SENTIMENTS OF LOVE, FRIENDSHIP,HATE, PITY AND DUTY, COMPENSATION ANDESCAPEIX. ENERGY RELEASE AND THE EMOTIONSX. COURAGE, RESIGNATION, SUBLIMATION,PATIENCE, THE WISH AND ANHEDONIAXI. THE EVOLUTION OF CHARACTER WITH ESPECIALREFERENCE TO THE GROWTH OF PURPOSE ANDPERSONALITYXII. THE METHODS OF PURPOSE-WORKCHARACTERSXIII. THE QUALITIES OF THE LEADER AND THEFOLLOWERXIV. SEX CHARACTERS AND DOMESTICITYXV. PLAY, RECREATION, HUMOR AND PLEASURESEEKINGXVI. RELIGIOUS CHARACTERS. DISHARMONY INCHARACTERXVII. SOME CHARACTER TYPES
  3. 3. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU3The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital LibraryINTRODUCTIONMans interest in character is founded on anintensely practical need. In whatsoever relationshipwe deal with our fellows, we base our intercourselargely on our understanding of their characters. Thetrader asks concerning his customer, "Is he honest?"and the teacher asks about the pupil, "Is heearnest?" The friend bases his friendship on his goodopinion of his friend; the foe seeks to know theweak points in the hated ones make-up; and themaiden yearning for her lover whispers to, herself,"Is he true?" Upon our success in reading thecharacter of others, upon our understanding ofourselves hangs a good deal of our lifes success orfailure.Because the feelings are in part mirrored onthe face and body, the experience of mankind hasbecome crystallized in beliefs, opinions and systemsof character reading which are based onphysiognomy, shape of head, lines of hand, gait andeven the method of dress and the handwriting.
  4. 4. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU4The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital LibrarySome of these all men believe in, at least in part.For example, every one judges character to acertain extent by facial expression, manner, carriageand dress. A few of the methods used have becomeorganized into specialties, such as the study of thehead or phrenology, and the study of the hand orpalmistry. All of these systems are really"materialistic" in that they postulate so close a unionof mind and body as to make them inseparable.But there are grave difficulties in the way ofcharacter-judging by these methods. Take, forexample, the study of the physiognomy as a meansto character understanding. All the physiognomists,as well as the average man, look upon the high,wide brow as related to great intelligence. And so itis--sometimes. But it is also found in connectionwith disease of the brain, as in hydrocephalus, andin old cases of rickets. You may step into hospitalsfor the feeble-minded or for the insane and find hereand there a high, noble brow. Conversely you mayattend a scientific convention and find that the finest
  5. 5. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU5The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarypaper of the meeting will be read not by someOlympian-browed member, but by a man with a low,receding forehead, who nevertheless possesses ahigh-grade intellect.So for centuries men have recognized in thelarge aquiline nose a sign of power and ability.Napoleons famous dictum that no man with thistype of proboscis is a fool has been accepted bymany, most of whom, like Napoleon probably, havelarge aquiline noses. The number of failures withthis facial peculiarity has never been studied, norhas any one remarked that many a highly successfulman has a snub nose. And in fact the only kind of anose that has a real character value is the onepresenting no obstruction to breathing. The assignedvalue given to a "pretty" nose has no relation tocharacter, except as its owner is vain because of it.One might go on indefinitely discussing thevarious features of the face and discovering thatonly a vague relationship to character existed. Thethick, moist lower lip is the sensual lip, say the
  6. 6. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU6The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryphysiognomists, but there are saints with sensuallips and chaste thoughts. Squinty eyes may indicatea shifty character, but more often they indicateconjunctivitis or some defect of the opticalapparatus. A square jaw indicates determination andcourage, but a study of the faces of men who wonmedals in war for heroism does not reveal apreponderance of square jaws. In fact, man is amosaic of characters, and a fine nature in onedirection may be injured by a defect in another;even if one part of the face really did meansomething definite, no one could figure out itscharacter value because of the influence of otherfeatures--contradictory, inconsistent,supplementary. Just as the wisest man of his daytook bribes as Lord Chancellor, so the finest facemay be invalidated by some disharmony, and a fatalweakness may disintegrate a splendid character.Moreover, no one really studies facesdisinterestedly, impartially, without prejudice. Welike or dislike too readily, we are blinded by the
  7. 7. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU7The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryrace, sex and age of the one studied, and, mostfatal of all, we judge by standards of beauty that aretotally misleading. The sweetest face may hide themost arrant egoist, for facial beauty has very little todo with the nature behind the face. In fact, facialmake-up is more influenced by diet, disease andracial tendency than by character.It would be idle to take up in any detail theclaims of phrenologist and palmist. The former had avery respectable start in the work of Broca andGall[1] in that the localization of function in thevarious parts of the brain made at least partlylogical the belief that the conformation of the headalso indicated functions of character. But there aretwo fatal flaws in the system of phrenological claims.First, even if there were an exact cerebrallocalization of powers, which there is not, it wouldby no means follow that the shape of the headoutlined 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
  8. 8. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU8The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryof the sinuses, the state of nutrition in childhoodhave far more to do with the "bumps" of the headthan brain or character. The bump ofphiloprogenitiveness has in my experience moreoften been the result of rickets than a sign ofparental love.[1] It is to be remembered that phrenologyhad a good standing at one time, though it has sincelapsed into quackdom. This is the history of many a"short cut" into knowledge. Thus the wisest men ofpast centuries believed in astrology. Paracelsus, whogave to the world the use of Hg in therapeutics,relied in large part for his diagnosis and cures uponalchemy and astrology.Without meaning to pun, we may dismissthe claims of palmistry offhand. Normally the lines ofthe hand do not change from birth to death, butcharacter does change. The hand, its shape and itstexture are markedly influenced by illness,[1] toiland care. And gait, carriage, clothes and the dozenand one details by which we judge our fellows
  9. 9. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU9The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryindicate health, strength, training and culture, all ofwhich are components of character, or rather arecharacters of importance but give no clue to thedeeper-lying traits.[1] Notably is the shape of the handchanged by chronic heart and lung disease and byarthritis. But the influence of the endocrinalsecretions is very great.As a matter of fact, judgment of characterwill never be attained through the study of face,form or hand. As language is a means not only ofexpressing truth but of disguising it, so thesesurface phenomena are as often masks as guides.Any sober-minded student of life, intent on knowinghimself or his fellows, will seek no royal road to thisknowledge, but will endeavor to understand thefundamental forces of character, will strive to tracethe threads of conduct back to their origins inmotive, intelligence, instinct and emotion.We have emphasized the practical value ofsome sort of character analysis in dealing with
  10. 10. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU10The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryothers. But to know himself has a hugely practicalvalue to every man, since upon that knowledgedepends self-correction. For "man is the only animalthat deliberately undertakes while reshaping hisouter 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 ofcharacter is not a practical aim, but is held to be anend sufficient in itself. So man constantly probesinto himself--"Are my purposes good; is my willstrong--how can I strengthen my control, how makerighteous my instincts and emotions?" It is true thatthere is a worship--and always has been--ofefficiency and success as against character; thatman has tended to ask more often, "What has hedone?" or, "What has he got?" rather than, "What ishe?" and that therefore man in his self-analysis hasoften asked, "How shall I get?" or, "How shall I do?"In the largest sense these questions are alsoquestions of character, for even if we discard asinadequate the psychology which considers behavior
  11. 11. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU11The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryalone as important, conduct is the fruit of character,without which it is sterile.[1] Hocking.This book does not aim at any short cuts bywhich man may know himself or his neighbor. Itseeks to analyze the fundamentals of personality,avoiding metaphysics as the plague. It does notdefine character or seek to separate it from mindand personality. Written by a neurologist, aphysician in the active practice of his profession, itcannot 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 ofhuman effort. Mainly it will, I hope, bear the marksof everyday experience, of contact with the worldand with men and women and children as brother,husband, father, son, lover, hater, citizen, doer andobserver. For it is this plurality of contact thatvitalizes, and he who has not drawn his universals ofcharacter out of the particulars of everyday life is acloistered theorist, aloof from reality.
  12. 12. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU12The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Library
  13. 13. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU13The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital LibraryChapter I. THE ORGANIC BASIS OF CHARACTERThe history of Mans thought is the realhistory of mankind. Back of all the events of historyare the curious systems of beliefs for which menhave lived and died. Struggling to understandhimself, Man has built up and discardedsuperstitions, theologies and sciences.Early in this strange and fascinating historyhe divided himself into two parts--a body and amind. Working together with body, mind somehowwas of different stuff and origin than body and hadonly a mysterious connection with it. Theologysupported this belief; metaphysics and philosophydebated it with an acumen that was practicallysterile of usefulness. Mind and body "interacted" insome mysterious way; mind and body were"parallel" and so set that thought-processes andbrain-processes ran side by side without reallyhaving anything to do with one another.[1] With thedevelopment of modern anatomy, physiology andpsychology, the time is ripe for men boldly to say
  14. 14. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU14The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarythat applying the principle of causation in a practicalmanner leaves no doubt that mind and character areorganic, are functions of the organism and do notexist independently of it. I emphasize "practical" inrelation to causation because it would be idle for ushere to enter into the philosophy of cause andeffect. Such discussion is not taken seriously by thevery philosophers who most earnestly enter into it.[1] William James in Volume 1 of his"Psychology" gives an interesting resume of thetheories that consider the relationship of mind(thought and consciousness) to body. He quotes the"lucky" paragraph from Tyndall, "The passage fromthe physics of the brain to the corresponding facts ofconsciousness is unthinkable. Granted that a definitethought and a definite molecular action in the brainoccur simultaneously; we do not possess theintellectual organ, or apparently any trace of theorgan which would enable us to pass by a process ofreasoning from one to the other." This is the"parallel" theory which postulates a hideous waste of
  15. 15. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU15The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryenergy in the universe and which throws out ofcount the same kind of reasoning by which Tyndallworked on light, heat, etc. We cannot understandthe beginning and the end of motion, we cannotunderstand causation. Probably when Tyndallsthoughts came slowly and he was fatigued he said--"Well, a good cup of coffee will make me thinkfaster." In conceding this practical connectionbetween mind and body, every "spiritualist"philosopher gives away his case whenever he restsor eats.The statement that mind is a function of theorganism is not necessarily "materialistic." The bodyis a living thing and as such is as "spiritualistic" aslife itself. Enzymes, internal secretions, nervousactivities are the products of cells whose powers areindeed drawn from the ocean of life.To prove this statement, which is a cardinalthesis of this book, I shall adduce facts of scientificand facts of common knowledge. One might startwith the statement that the death of the body brings
  16. 16. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU16The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryabout the abolition of mind and character, but this,of course, proves nothing, since it might well be thatthe body was a lever for the expression of mind andcharacter, and with its disappearance as afunctioning agent such expression was no longerpossible.It is convenient to divide our exposition intotwo parts, the first the dependence upon properbrain function and structure, and the second thedependence upon the proper health of other organs.For it is not true that mind and character arefunctions of the brain alone; they are functions ofthe entire organism. The brain is simply the largestand most active of the organs upon which themental life depends; but there are minute organs, aswe shall see, upon whose activity the brainabsolutely depends.Any injury to the brain may destroy orseriously impair the mentality of the individual. Thisis too well known to need detailed exposition. Yetsome cases of this type are fundamental in the
  17. 17. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU17The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryexquisite way they prove (if anything can be proven)the dependence of mind upon bodily structure.In some cases of fracture of the skull, apiece of bone pressing upon the brain mayprofoundly alter memory, mood and character.Removal of the piece of bone restores the mind tonormality. This is also true of brain tumor of certaintypes, for example, frontal endotheliomata, whereearly removal of the growth demonstrates first thata "physical" agent changes mind and character, andsecond that a "physical" agent, such as the knife ofthe surgeon, may act to reestablish mentality.In cases of hydrocephalus (or water on thebrain), where there is an abnormal secretion ofcerebro-spinal fluid acting to increase the pressureon the brain, the simple expedient of withdrawingthe fluid by lumbar puncture brings about normalmental life. As the fluid again collects, the mentallife becomes cloudy, and the character alters(irritability, depressed mood, changed purpose,lowered will); another lumbar puncture and presto!-
  18. 18. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU18The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Library-the individual is for a time made over morecompletely than conversion changes a sinner,--andmore easily.Take the case of the disease known asGeneral Paresis, officially called Dementia Paralytica.This disease is caused by syphilis and is one of itslate results. The pathological changes arewidespread throughout the brain but may at theonset be confined mostly to the frontal lobes. Thevery first change may be--and usually is--a changein character! The man hitherto kind and gentlebecomes irritable, perhaps even brutal. One whosesex 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 industrymay lose his grip upon the ambitions and strivingsof his lifetime and become an inert slacker, to theamazement of his associates. Many a fine character,many a splendid mind, has reached a lofty heightand then crumbled before the assaults of this
  19. 19. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU19The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarydisease upon the brain. Philosopher, poet, artist,statesman, captain of industry, handicraftsman,peasant, courtesan and housewife,--all are loweredto the same level of dementia and destroyedcharacter by the consequences of the thickenedmeninges, the altered blood vessels and the injurednerve cells.Now and then one is fortunate enough totreat with success an early case of General Paresis.And then the reversed miracle takes place,unfortunately too rarely! The disordered mind, thealtered 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 casesof loss of personal identity seen after brain injury,say in war. A man is knocked unconscious by a blowand upon restoration of consciousness is separatedfrom that past in which his ego resides. He does notknow his history or his name, and that continuity ofthe "self" so deeply prized and held by all religions
  20. 20. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU20The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryto be part of his immortality is gone. Then after alittle while, a few days or weeks, the disarrangedneuronic pathways reestablish themselves as usual,--and the ego comes back to the man.One might cite the feeble-mindedness thatresults from meningitis, brain tumor, brain abscess,brain wounds, etc., as further evidence of thedependence of mind upon brain, of its status as afunction of brain. No philosopher seriously doubtsthat equilibrium and movement are functions of thebrain, and yet to prove this there is no evidence ofany other kind than that cited to prove therelationship of mind to brain.[1] And what applies tothe intelligence applies as forcibly to character, forpurpose, emotion, mood, instinct and will are alteredwith these diseases.[1] Except that equilibrium does not itselfjudge of its relationship to brain, whereas mind isthe sole judge of its relationship and dependence onbrain. Since everything in the world is a mentalevent, mentality cannot be dependent upon
  21. 21. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU21The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryanything, and everything depends upon mind for itsexistence, or at least its recognition. But we getnowhere by such "logic" gone mad. Apply the samekind of reasoning to brain-mind, body-mindrelationship which anatomists and physiologistsapply to other functions, and one can no longerseparate body and mind.Interesting as is the relationship betweenmind and character and the brain, it is at thepresent overshadowed by the fascinatingrelationship between these psychical activities andthe bodily organs. What I am about to cite frommedicine and biology is part of the finestachievements of these sciences and hints at a futurein which a true science of mind and character willappear.Certain of the glands of the body aredescribed as glands of internal secretions in that theproducts of their activity, their secretions, arepoured into the blood stream rather than on thesurface of the body or into the digestive tract. The
  22. 22. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU22The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarymost prominent of these glands, all of which arevery small and extraordinarily active, are as follows:The Pituitary Body (Hypophysis)--a tinystructure which is situated at the base of the brainbut is not a part of that organ.The Pineal Body (Epiphysis)--a still smallerstructure, located within the brain substance,having, however, no relationship to the brain. Thisgland has only lately acquired a significance.Descartes thought it the seat of the soul because itis situated in the middle of the brain.The Thyroid gland, a somewhat larger body,situated in the front of the neck, just beneath thelarynx. We shall deal with this in some detail lateron.The Parathyroids, minute organs, four innumber, just behind the thyroid.The Thymus, a gland placed just within thethorax, which reaches its maximum size at birth andthen gradually recedes until at twenty it has almostdisappeared.
  23. 23. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU23The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital LibraryThe Adrenal glands, one on each side of thebody, above and adjacent to the kidney. Theseglands, which are each made up of two opposingstructures, stand in intimate relation to thesympathetic nervous system and secrete asubstance called adrenalin.The Sex organs, the ovary in the female andthe testicle in the male, in addition to producing thefemale egg (ovum) and the male seed (sperm),respectively, produce substances of unknowncharacter that have hugely important roles in theestablishment of mind, temperament and sexcharacter.Without going into the details of thefunctions of the endocrine glands, one may say thatthey are "the managers of the human body." Everyindividual, from the time he is born until the time hedies, is under the influence of these many differentkinds of elements,--some of them having to do withthe development of the bones and teeth, some withthe development of the body and nervous system,
  24. 24. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU24The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarysome with the development of the mind, etc. (andcharacter), and later on with reproduction. Theseglands are not independent of one another butinteract in a marvelous manner so that under oroveraction of any one of them upsets a balance thatexists between them, and thus produces a disorderthat is quite generalized in its effects. The work onthis subject is a tribute to medicine and one pausesin respect and admiration before the names andlabors of Brown, Sequard, Addison, Graves andBasedow, Horsley, King, Schiff, Schafer, Takamine,Marie, Cushing, Kendal, Sajous and others of equalinsight and patient endeavor.But let us pass over to the specific instancesthat bear on our thesis, to wit, that mind andcharacter are functions of the organism and havetheir seat not only in the brain but in the entireorganism.How do the endocrines prove this? As well asthey prove that physical growth and the growth ofthe secondary sex characters are dependent on
  25. 25. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU25The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarythese glands. Take diseases of the thyroid gland asthe first and shining example.The thyroid secretes a substance whichsubstantially is an "iodized globulin,"--and which canbe separated from the gland products. This secretionhas the main effect of "activating metabolism"(Vassale and Generali); in ordinary phrase it acts toincrease the discharge of energy of the cells of thebody. In all living things there is a twofold processconstantly going on: first the building up of energyby means of the foodstuffs, air and water taken in,and second a discharge of energy in the form ofheat, motion and--in my belief --emotion andthought itself, though this would be denied by manypsychologists. Yet how escape this conclusion fromthe following facts?There is a congenital disease called cretinismwhich essentially is due to a lack of thyroidsecretion. This disease is particularly prevalent inSouthern France, Spain, Upper Italy andSwitzerland. It is characterized mainly by marked
  26. 26. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU26The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarydwarfism and imbecility, so that the adult untreatedcretin remains about as large as a three or four-year-old child and has the mental level about that ofa child of the same age. But, this comparison as tointelligence is a gross injustice to the child, for itleaves out the difference in character between thechild and the cretin. The latter has none of thecuriosity, the seeking for experience, the activeinterest, the pliant expanding will, the sweetcapacity for affection, friendship and love present inthe average child. The cretin is a travesty on thehuman being in body, mind and character.But feed him thyroid gland. Mind you, thedried substance of the glands, not of human beings,but of mere sheep. The cretin begins to growmentally and physically and loses to a large extentthe grotesqueness of his appearance. He growstaller; his tongue no longer lolls in his mouth; thehair becomes finer, the hands less coarse, and thepatient exhibits more normal human emotions,purposes, intelligence. True, he does not reach
  27. 27. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU27The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarynormality, but that is because other defects besidethe thyroid defect exist and are not altered by thethyroid feeding.There is a much more spectacular disease tobe cited, --a relatively infrequent but well-understood condition called myxoedema, whichoccurs mainly in women and is also due to adeficiency in the thyroid secretion. As a result thepatient, who may have been a bright, capable,energetic person, full of the eager purposes andemotions of life, gradually becomes dull, stupid,apathetic, without fear, anger, love, joy or sorrow,and without purpose or striving. In addition the bodychanges, the hair becomes coarse and scanty, theskin thick and swollen (hence the name of thedisease) and various changes take place in thesweat secretion, the heart action, etc.Then, having made the diagnosis, work thegreat miracle! Obtain the dried thyroid glands of thesheep, prepared by the great drug houses as a by-product of the butcher business, and feed this poor,
  28. 28. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU28The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarytransformed creature with these glands! No fairywaving a magical wand ever worked a greaterenchantment, for with the first dose the patientimproves and in a relatively short time is restored tonormal in skin, hair, sweat, etc., and MIND andcharacter! To every physician who has seen thishappen under his own eyes and by his directionthere comes a conviction that mind and characterhave their seat in the organic activities of the body,--and nowhere else.An interesting confirmation of this is thatwhen the thyroid is overactive, a condition calledhyperthyroidism, the patient becomes very restlessand thin, shows excessive emotionality,sleeplessness, has a rapid heart action, tremor andmany other signs not necessary to detail here. Thethyroid in these cases is usually swollen. One of themethods used to treat the disease is to removesome of the gland surgically. In the early days anoperator would occasionally remove too, much glandand then the symptoms, of myxoedema would
  29. 29. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU29The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryoccur. This necessitated the artificial feeding ofthyroid the rest of the patients life! With the properdosage of the gland substance the patient remainsnormal; with too little she becomes dull and stupid;with too much she becomes unstable and emotional!There are plenty of other examples of theinfluence of the endocrines on mind, character andpersonality. I here briefly mention a few of these.In the disease called acromegaly, which isdue to a change in the pituitary gland, amongstother things are noted "melancholic tendencies, lossof memory and mental and physical torpor."A very profound effect on character andpersonality, exclusive of intelligence, is that of thesex glands. One need not accept the Freudianextravagances regarding the way in which the sexfeelings and impulses enter into our thoughts,emotions, purposes and acts. No unbiased observerof himself or his fellows but knows that thesatisfaction or non-satisfaction of the sex feeling, itsexcitation or its suppression are of great importance
  30. 30. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU30The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryin the destinies of character. Further, man asherdsman and man as tyrant have carried on hugeexperiments to show how necessary to normalcharacter the sex glands are.As herdsman he has castrated his male Bosand obtained the ox. And the ox is the symbol ofpatience, docility, steady labor, without lust orpassion,--and the very opposite of his non-castratedbrother, the bull. The bull is the symbol of irritabilityand unteachableness, who will not be easily yokedor 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 hissex.Compare the eunuch and the normal man. Ifthe eunuch state be imposed in infancy, the shapeof the body, its hairiness, the quality of the voiceand the character are altered in characteristicmanner. The eunuch essentially is neither man norwoman, but a repelling Something intermediate.Enough has been said to show that mind and
  31. 31. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU31The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarycharacter are dependent upon the health of thebrain and the glands of the body; that somewhere inthe 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 toshow this, for common experience demonstrates itas well.If character is control of emotions, firmnessof purpose, cheerfulness of outlook and vigor ofthought and memory, then the tired man, worn outby 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 inhis lifes purposes, loses cheerfulness and outlookand finds it difficult to concentrate his thoughts or torecall his memories. Though this change istemporary and disappears with rest, the essentialfact is not altered, namely, fatigue alters character.It is also true that not all persons show thisvulnerability to fatigue in equal measure. For thatmatter, neither do they show an equal liability to
  32. 32. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU32The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryinfectious diseases, equal reaction to alcohol orinjury. The feeling of vigor which rest gives changesthe expression of personality to a marked degree. Itis true that we are not apt to think of the tired manas changed in character; yet we must admit onreflection that he has undergone transformation.Even a loaded bowel may, as is well known,alter the reaction to life. Among men who are coarsein their language there is a salutation more pertinentthan elegant that inquires into the state of thebowels.[1] The famous story of Voltaire and theEnglishman, in which the sage agreed to suicidebecause life was not worth living when his digestionwas disordered and who broke his agreement whenhe purged himself, illustrates how closely mood isrelated to the intestinal tract. And mood is thebackground of the psychic life, upon which dependsthe direction of our thoughts, cheerful or otherwise,the vigor of our will and purpose. Mood itself arisesin part from the influences that stream into themuscles, joints, heart, lungs, liver, spleen, kidneys,
  33. 33. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU33The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarydigestive tract and all the organs and tissues by wayof the afferent nerves (sympathetic and cerebro-spinal). Mood is thus in part a reflection of thehealth and proper working of the organism; it is themost important aspect of the subconsciousness, andupon it rests the structure of character andpersonality.[1] What is called coarse is frequentlycrudely true. Thus, in the streets, in the workshops,and where men untrammeled by niceties engage inpersonalities the one who believes the other to be a"crank" informs him in crude language that he hasintestinal stasis (to put the diagnosis in medicallanguage) and advises him accordingly to "take apill."This does not mean that only the healthyare cheerful, or that the sick are discouraged. Toaffirm the dependence of mind upon body is not todeny that one may build up faith, hope, courage,through example and precept, or that one may notinherit a cheerfulness and courage (or the reverse).
  34. 34. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU34The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Library"There are men," says James, "who are born undera cloud." But exceptional individuals aside, the massof mankind generates its mood either in the tissuesof the body or in the circumstances of life.Children, because they have not built upstandards of thought, mood and act, demonstrate ina remarkable manner the dependence of theircharacter upon health.A child shows the onset of an illness by acomplete change in character. I remember onesociable, amiable lad of two, rich in the curiosity andexpanding friendliness of that time of life, whobecame sick with diphtheria. All his basic moodsbecame altered, and all his wholesome reactions tolife disappeared. He was cross and contrary, he hadno interest in people or in things, he acted verymuch as do those patients in an insane hospital whosuffer from Dementia Praecox. What is character if itis not interest and curiosity, friendliness and love,obedience and trust, cheerfulness and courage? Yeta sick child, especially if very young, loses all these
  35. 35. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU35The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryand takes on the reverse characters. The little ladspoken of became "himself" again when the feverand the pain lifted. Yet for a long time afterward heshowed a greater liability to fear than before, and itwas not until six months or more had repaired themore subtle damage to his organism that he becamethe hardy little adventurer in life that he had beenbefore the illness.There is plenty of chemical proof of thisthesis as here set forth. Men have from timeimmemorial put things "in their bellies to steal theirbrains away." The chemical substance known asethyl alcohol has been an artificial basis of goodfellowship the world over, as well as furnishing avery fair share of the tragedy, the misery and thehumor of the world. This is because, when ingestedin any amount, its absorption produces changes inthe flow of thought, in the attitude toward life, in themood, the emotions, the purposes, the conduct,--ina word, in character. One sees the austere man,when drunk, become ribald; the repressed, close-
  36. 36. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU36The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryfisted become open-mouthed and open-hearted; thekindly, perhaps brutal; the controlled, uncontrolled.In the change of character it effects is the regretover its passing and the greatest reason forprohibition.Alcohol causes several well-defined mentaldiseases as well as mere drunkenness. In DeliriumTremens there is an acute delirium, with confusion,excitement and auditory and visual hallucinations ofall kinds. The latter symptom is so prominent as togive the reason for the popular name of the"snakes." In alcoholic hallucinosis the patient hasdelusions of persecution and hears voices accusinghim of all kinds of wrong-doing. Very frequently, asall the medical writers note, these voices are"conscience exteriorized"; that is, the voices say ofhim just what he has been saying of himself in thestruggle against drink. Then there is AlcoholicParanoia, a disease in which the main change is adelusion of jealousy directed against the mate, whois accused of infidelity. It is interesting that in the
  37. 37. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU37The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarylast two diseases the patient is "clear-headed";memory and orientation are good; the patientspeaks well and gives no gross signs of his trouble.As the effects of the alcohol wear away, the patientrecovers,--i.e., his character returns to its normal.It becomes necessary at this point to takeup a reverse side of our study, namely, what is oftencalled the influence of "mind over matter." Suchcures of disease as seem to follow prayer and faithare cited; such incidents as the great strength ofmen under emotion or the disturbances of the bodyby ideas are listed as examples. This is not the placeto discuss cures by faith. It suffices to say this: thatin the first place most of such cures relate tohysteria, a disease we shall discuss later but whichis characterized by symptoms that appear anddisappear 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
  38. 38. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU38The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryand naked part of the body. Hysteria has been thebasis of many a saints reputation and likewise hasaided many a physician into affluence.Nor is the effect of coincidence taken intoaccount in estimating cures, whether by faith or bydrugs. Many a physician has owed his start to thefact that he was called in on some obscure case justwhen the patient was on the turn towards recovery.He then receives the credit that belonged to Nature.Medical men understand this,--that many diseasesare "self-limited" and pass through a cycleinfluenced but little by treatment. But faith curistsdo not so understand, and neither does the mass ofpeople, 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 ofhysterical origin are due to coincidence. Faith curistsreport in detail their successes, but we have nostatistics whatever of their failures.If thought is a product of the brain activatedby the rest of the organism, it would be perfectly
  39. 39. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU39The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarynatural to expect that thought would influence theorganism. That thought is intimately associated withimpulses to action is well known. This action largelytakes place in the speech muscles but also itirradiates into the rest of the organism. Especially isthis true if the thought is associated with someemotion. Emotion, as we shall discuss it later, is atleast in large part a bodily reaction, a disturbance inheart, lungs, abdominal organs, blood vessels,sympathetic nervous system, endocrines, etc. Theeffect of thought and emotion upon the body,whether to heighten its activity or to lower itsactivity, is, from my point of view, merely the effectof one function of the organism upon others. We arenot surprised if digestion affects thinking and mood,and we need not be surprised if thought and mooddisturb or improve digestion. And we may substitutefor digestion any other organic function.As a working basis, substantiated by thekind of proof we use in our daily lives in laboratoriesand machine shops, we may state that mind,
  40. 40. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU40The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarycharacter and personality are organic in their originand are functions of the entire organism. What aman thinks, does and feels (or perhaps we shouldreverse this order) is the result of environmentalforces playing upon a marvelously intricate organismin which every part reacts on every other part, inwhich nervous energy influences digestion anddigestion influences nervous energy, in whichenzymes, hormones, and endocrines engage in anextraordinary game of checks and balance, which inthe normal course of events make for theindividuals welfare. What a man thinks, does, andfeels influences the fate of his organism from oneend of life to the other.We have not adduced in favor of the organicnature of mind, character and personality the factsof heredity. This is a most important set of facts, forif the egg and the sperm carry mentality andpersonality, they may be presumed to carry them insome organic form, as organic potentialities, just asthey carry size,[1] color, sex, etc. That abnormal
  41. 41. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU41The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarymind is inherited is shown in family insanity in thesecond, third and fourth generation cases of mentaldisease. Certain types of feeble-mindedness surelyare transmitted from generation to generation, aswitness the case of the famous (or infamous) Jukesfamily. In this group vagabondage, crime,immorality and other character abnormalitiesappeared linked with the feeble-mindedness. Butthere is plenty of evidence to show that normalcharacter qualities are inherited as well as theabnormal.[2] Galton, the father of eugenics,collected facts from the history of successful familiesto prove this. It is true that he failed to take intoaccount the facts of SOCIAL heredity, in that a giftedman establishes a place for himself and a traditionfor his family that is of great help to his son.Nevertheless, musical ability runs in families andraces, as does athletic ability, high temper, passion,etc. In short, at least the potentialities, thecapacities for character, are transmitted togetherwith other qualities as part of the capital of heredity.
  42. 42. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU42The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Library[1] I have collected and published from therecords and wards of the State Hospital at Taunton,Mass., many such cases. The whole subject is to bereviewed in a following book on the transmission ofmental disease, but no one seriously doubts thatthere is a transference of "insane" character fromgeneration to generation. In fact, I believe that alittle too much stress hag been laid on this aspect ofmental disease and not enough on the fact thatsickness may injure a family stock and cause thedescendants to be insane. Any one who has seen asingle case of congenital General Paresis, where achild has a mental disease due to the syphilis of aparent, and can doubt that character and mind areorganic, simply is blinded by theological ormetaphysical prejudice.[2] See his book "Genius."This means that in studying character andpersonality, we must start with an analysis of thephysical make-up of the individual. We are not yetat the point in science where we can easily get at
  43. 43. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU43The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarythe activities of the endocrinal glands in normalmentality. We are able to recognize certainfundamental types, but more we cannot do; nor arewe able to measure nervous energy except inrelatively crude ways, but these crude ways havegreat value under certain conditions.When there has been a change inpersonality, the question of bodily disease is alwaysparamount. The first questions to be asked undersuch circumstances are, "Is this person sick?" "Isthe brain involved?" "Are endocrinal glandsinvolved?" "Is there disease of some organ of thebody, acting to lower the feeling of well-being,acting to slacken the purposes and the will or toobscure the intelligence?"There are other important questions of thistype to answer, some of which may be deferred forthe time. Meanwhile, the next equally fundamentalthesis is on the effect of the environment uponmind, character and personality.
  44. 44. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU44The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital LibraryChapter II. THE ENVIRONMENTAL BASIS OFCHARACTERFrom the time any one of us is born into theworld he is subject to the influences of forces thatreach 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 andcharacter of the living. The invention anddevelopment of speech and writing have broughtinto every mans career the mental life andcharacter of all his own ancestors and the ancestorsof every other man.A child is not born merely to a father and amother. He is born to a group, fiercely and definitelyprejudiced in custom, belief and ideal, with ways ofdoing, feeling and thinking which it seeks to imposeon each of its new members. Family, tribe, race andnation all demand of each accession that he accepttheir ideals, habits and beliefs on peril of disapprovaland even of punishment. And man is so constitutedthat the approval and disapproval of his group mean
  45. 45. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU45The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarymore to him even than his life.The social setting into which each one isborn is his social heredity. "The heredity with whichcivilization is most supremely concerned," says SirEdwin Ray Lankester, "is not that which is inborn inthe individual. It is the SOCIAL inheritance whichconstitutes the dominant factor in humanprogress."[1] It is this social inheritance whichshapes our characters, rough-hewn by nature. It isby the light of each persons social inheritance thatwe must also judge his character.[1] The Eugenists fiercely contest thisstatement, and rightly, for it is extreme. Society isthreatened at its roots by the present high birth rateof the low grade and the low birth rate of the highgrade. Environment, culture, can do much, but theycannot make a silk purse out of a sows ear. Neithercan heredity make a silk purse out of silk; withoutculture and the environmental influences, withoutsocial heredity, the silk remains crude and with nospecial value. The aims of a rational society, which
  46. 46. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU46The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarywe are born a thousand years too soon to see wouldbe twofold: to control marriage and birth so that thenumber of the unfit would be kept as low aspossible, and then to bring fostering influences tobear on the fit."Education," says Oliver Wendell Holmes,"is only second to nature. Imagine all the infantsborn this year in Boston and Timbuctoo to changeplaces!" And education is merely social inheritanceorganized by parents and teachers for the sake ofmolding the scholar into usefulness and conformityto the group into which he is born. There may be ineach individual an innate capacity for this ability orthat, for expressing and controlling this or thatemotion, for developing this or that purpose. Whichability will be developed, which emotion or purposewill be expressed, is a matter of the age in which aman is born, the country in which he lives, thefamily which claims him as its own. In a warrior agethe fighting spirit chooses war as its vocation anddevelops a warlike character; in a peaceful time that
  47. 47. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU47The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarysame fighting spirit may seek to bring about suchreforms as will do away with war.[1] When the worldsaid that a man might and really ought now andthen to beat his wife and rule her by force, the reallyconformable man did so, while his descendant, livingin a time and country where woman is the domestic"boss," submits, humorously and otherwise, to agood-natured henpecking. And in the times where awoman had no vocation but that of housewife, thewife of larger ability merely became a discontented,futile woman; whereas in an age which opens uppolitics to her, the same type of person expands intoa vigorous, dominating political leader. Though theforce of the water remain the same, the nature ofthe land determines whether the water shall collectas a river, carrying the produce of the land to thesea, or as a stagnant lake in which idlers fish. Time,social circumstances, education and a thousand andone factors determine whether one shall be a"Village Hampden," quarreling in a petty way with apetty autocrat over some petty thing, or a national
  48. 48. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU48The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital LibraryHampden, whose defiance of a tyrannical king stirs anation into revolt.[1] Indeed, a reformer is to-day called acrusader, though the knight of the twelfth centuryarmed cap-a-pie for a joust with the Saracen wouldhardly recognize as his spiritual descendant asedentary person preaching against rum. Yet to thestudent of character there is nothing anomalous inthe transformation.How conceptions of right and wrong, ofproper and improper conduct, ideals and thoughtsarise, it is not my function to treat in detail. Thatintelligence primarily uses the method of trial anderror to learn is as true of groups as of individuals;and established methods of doing things--customs--are often enough temporary conclusions, thoughthey last a thousand years. The feeling that suchgroup customs are right and that to depart fromthem is wrong, is perhaps based on a specificinstinct, the moral instinct; but much more likely, inmy opinion, is it obedience to leadership, fear of
  49. 49. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU49The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarysocial disapproval and punishment, conscience,imitation, suggestibility and sympathy, all of whichare parts of that social cement substance, the socialinstinct. No child ever learns "what is right andwrong" except through teaching, but no child wouldever conform, except through gross fear, unless hefound himself urged by deep-seated instincts to bein conformity, in harmony and in sympathy with hisgroup,--to be one with that group. Perhaps it is true,as Bergson suggests, as Galton[1] hints and asSamuel Butler boldly states, that there are no realindividuals in life but we are merely different aspectsof reality or, to phrase it materialistically, corpusclesin the blood stream of an organism too vast andcomplicated to be encompassed by our imagination.Just as a white blood cell obeys laws of which it canhave no conception, fulfills purposes whose meaningtranscends its own welfare, so we, with all our self-consciousness and all the paraphernalia ofindividuality, are perhaps parts of a life we cannotunderstand.
  50. 50. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU50The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Library[1] For example, read what the hard-headedGalton says ("Hereditary Genius," p. 376):"There is decidedly a solidarity as well as aseparateness in all human and probably in all liveswhatsoever, and this consideration goes far, I think,to establish an opinion that the constitution of theliving universe is a pure theism and that its form ofactivity is what may he described as cooperative. Itpoints to the conclusion that all life is single in itsessence, but various, ever-varying and interactive inits manifestations, and that men and all other livinganimals are active workers and sharers in a vastlymore extended system of cosmic action than any ofourselves, much less of them, can possiblycomprehend. It also suggests that they maycontribute, more or less unconsciously, to themanifestation of a far higher life than our own,somewhat as . . . the individual cells of one of themore complex animals contribute to themanifestations of its higher order of personality."Perhaps such a unity is the basis of instinct, of
  51. 51. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU51The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryknowledge without teaching, of desire and wish thathas not the individual welfare as its basis. No mancan reject such phenomena as telepathy or thoughttransference merely because he cannot understandthem on a basis of strict human individuality. Toreject because one cannot understand is thearrogance of the "clerico-academic" type of WilliamJames.No one can read the stories of travelers orthe writings of anthropologists without concludingthat codes of belief and action arise out of theefforts of groups to understand and to influencenature and that out of this practical effort ANDseeking of a harmonious reality arises morality."Man seeks the truth, a world that does notcontradict itself, that does not deceive, that does notchange; a real world,--a world in which there is nosuffering. Contradiction, deception and variabilityare the causes of suffering. He does not doubt thereis such a thing as, a world as it might be, and hewould fain find a road to it."[1] But alas, intelligence
  52. 52. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU52The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryand knowledge both are imperfect, and one groupseeking a truth that will bring them good crops, finefamilies, victory over enemies, riches, power andfellowship, as well as a harmonious universe, finds itin idol worship and polygamy; another groupseeking the same truth finds it in Christianity andmonogamy. And the members of some groups areborn to ideals, customs and habits that make it rightfor a member to sing obscene songs and to beobscene at certain periods, to kill and destroy theenemy, to sacrifice the unbeliever, to worship a clayimage, to have as many wives as possible, and thatmake it WRONG to do otherwise. Indeed, he whowishes a child to believe absolutely in a code ofmorals would better postpone teaching him thecustoms and beliefs of other people until habit hasmade him adamant to new ideas.[1] Nietzsche.It is with pleasure that I turn the attentionof the reader to the work of Frazier in the growth ofhuman belief, custom and institutions that he has
  53. 53. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU53The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryincorporated into the stupendous series of bookscalled "The Golden Bough." The things that influenceus most in our lives are heritages, not muchchanged, 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 favorableaction, undeveloped man based most of his customson efforts to obtain some desired result from thegods. Out of these customs grew the majority of ourinstitutions; out of these queer beliefs andsuperstitions, 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 ofthe other governing and directing ideas of our lives.It is true that the noble beliefs and sciences alsogrew from these rude seeds, but with them andpermeating our social structure are crops ofatrophied ideas, hampering customs, crampingideals. Further, in every race in every country, in
  54. 54. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU54The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryevery family, there are somewhat differentassortments of these directing traditional forces;and it is these social inheritances which are moreresponsible for difference in people than a nativedifference in stock.Consider the difference that being born andbrought up in Turkey and being born, let us say, inNew York City, would make in two children ofexactly the same disposition, mental caliber andphysical structure. One would grow up a Turk andthe other a New Yorker, and the mere fact that theyhad the same original capacity for thought, feelingand action would not alter the result that incharacter the two men would stand almost atopposite poles. One need not judge between themand say that one was superior to the other, for whileI feel that the New Yorker might stand OURinspection better, I am certain that the Turk wouldbe more pleasing to Turkish ideas. The point is thatthey would be different and that the differenceswould result solely from the environmental forces of
  55. 55. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU55The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarynatural conditions and social inheritance.Study the immigrant to the United Statesand his descendant, American born and bred.Compare Irishman and Irish-American, Russian Jewand his American-born descendant; compareEnglishman and the Anglo-Saxon New Englanddescendant. Here is a race, the Jew, which in theGhetto and under circumstances that built up atremendously powerful set of traditions and customsdeveloped a very distinctive type of human being.Poor in physique, with little physical pugnacity, butworshiping, learning and reaching out for wealth andpower in an unusually successful manner, thecrucible of an adverse and hostile environmentrendered him totally different in manners from hisGentile neighbors. With a high birth rate and anintensely close and pure family life, the Ghetto Jewlived and died shut off by the restrictions placedupon him and his own social heredity from the life ofthe country of his birth. Then came immigration tothe United States through one cause or another,--
  56. 56. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU56The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryand note the results.With the old social heredity still at work,another set of customs, traditions and beliefs comesinto open competition with it in the bosom of theAmerican Jew. Nowhere is the struggle between theold and the new generations so intense as in thehome of the Orthodox Jew. His descendant is clean-shaven and no longer observes (or observes onlyperfunctorily or with many a gross inconsistency)the dietary and household laws. He is a free spenderand luxurious in his habits as compared with hiseconomical, ascetic forefathers. He marries late andthe birth rate drops with most astonishing rapidity,so that in one generation the children of parentswho had eight or ten children have families of one ortwo or three children. He becomes a follower ofsports, and with his love for scholarship still strong,as witness his production of scholars and scientists,the remarkable rise of the Jewish prize fighterstands out as a divergence from tradition that mocksat theories of inborn racial characters. And a third
  57. 57. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU57The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarygeneration differs in customs, manners, ideals,purposes and physique but little from the socialclass of Americans in which the individual membersmove. The names become Anglicized; gone are theAbrahams and Isaacs and Jacobs, the Rachels andLeahs and Rebeccas, and in their place are Vernon,Mortimer, Winthrop, Alice, Helen and Elizabeth. Andthis change in name symbolizes the revolution inessential characters.Has the racial stock changed in onegeneration or two? No. A new social heredity hasovercome--or at least in part supplanted--an oldersocial heredity and released and developedcharacters hitherto held in check. In every humanbeing--and this is a theme we shall enlarge uponlater--there are potential lines of development faroutnumbering those that can be manifested, andeach environment and tradition calls forth some andsuppresses others. Every man is a garden plantedwith all kinds of seeds; tradition and teaching arethe gardeners that allow only certain ones to come
  58. 58. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU58The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryto bloom. In each age, each country and each familythere is a different gardener at work, repressingcertain trends in the individual, favoring andbringing to an exaggerated growth other trends.That each family, or type of family, acts inthis way is recognized in the value given to thehome life. The home, because of its sequestration,allows for the growth of individual types better thanwould a community house where the same traditionsand ideals governed the life of each child. In thehome the parents seek to cultivate the specific typeof character they favor. The home is par excellencethe place where prejudice and social attitude arefostered. Though the mother and father seek to givebroadmindedness and wide culture to the child, theirefforts must largely be governed by their ownattitudes and reactions,--in short, by their owncharacter and the resultant examples and teaching.It is true that the native character of the child maymake him resistant to the teachings of the parentsor may even develop counter-prejudices, to react
  59. 59. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU59The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryviolently against the gardening. This is the casewhen the child is of an opposing temperament orwhen in the course of time he falls under theinfluence of ideals and traditions that are opposed tothose of his home. Unless the home combinesinterest and freedom, together with teaching,certain children become violent rebels, and, seekingfreedom and interest outside of the home, findthemselves in a conflict, both with their hometeaching and the home teachers, that shakes theunity and the happiness of parent and child. Like allcivil wars this war between new and old generationsreaches great bitterness.In studying the cases of several hundreddelinquent girls, as a consultant to the ParoleDepartment of Massachusetts, it was found that thefamily life of the girls could be classified in twoways. The majority of the girls that reached theReformatory came from bad homes,--homes inwhich drunkenness, prostitution, feeble-mindedness,and insanity were common traits of the parents. Or
  60. 60. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU60The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryelse the girls were orphans brought up by astepmother or some careless foster mother. In anycase, through either example, cruelty or neglect,they drifted into the streets.And the streets! Only the poor child (or thechild brought up over strictly) can know the lure ofthe streets. THERE is excitement, THERE is freedomfrom prohibitions and inhibitions. So the boy or girlfinds a world without discipline, is without therestraints imposed on the sex instincts and comesunder the influence of derelicts, sex-adventurers,thieves, vagabonds and the aimless of all sorts. Intothis university of the vices most of the girls I amspeaking of drifted, largely because the homeinfluence either was of the street type or had noadvantages to offer in competition with the street.But the child on the streets is no more asolitary individual than the savage is, or for thatmatter the civilized man. He quickly forms part of agroup, a roving group, called "The Gang." In thelarge cities gangs are usually composed of boys of
  61. 61. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU61The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryone age or nearly so; in the small towns the gangswill consist of the boys of a neighborhood. In fact,regardless of whether they are street children orhome children, boys form gangs spontaneously. Thegang is the first voluntary organization of society,for the home, in so far as the child is concerned, isan involuntary organization. The gang has its leaderor 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, propertyhas a definite status and distribution.[1] Themembers of the gang are always quarreling witheach other, but here, as in the larger aggregationsof older human beings, "politics ends at the border,"and the gang is a unit against foreign aggression.Indeed, gangs of a neighborhood may leagueagainst a group of other gangs, as did the quarrelingcities of Greece against Persia.[1] In the gang of which I was a member
  62. 62. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU62The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarythere was a ritual in the formation of partnership, anassociation within the association. Two boys, fond ofeach other and desiring to become partners, wouldlink little fingers, while a third boy acting as a sort ofpriest--an elder of the gang--would raise his handand strike the link, shouting, "Partners, partners,never break!" This ritual was a symbol of the unityof the pair, so that they fought for each other,shared all personal goods (such as candy, pocketmoney, etc.,) and were to be loyal and sympatheticthroughout 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 oneof the most fascinating phenomena. Here the powerof tradition, without the aid of records, is seen.Throughout America, in a mysterious way, all theboys start spinning tops at a certain season andthen suddenly cease and begin, to play marbles.Without any standardization of a central type theyhave the same rules for their games, call them by
  63. 63. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU63The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarythe same names and use in their songs the samerhymes and airs. Every generation of children hasthe same jokes and trick games: "Eight and eightare sixteen, stick your nose in kerosene"--"A deadcat, I one it, you two it, I three it, you four it, I fiveit, you six it, I seven it, you eight it!" The fact is, ofcourse, that there are no generations as distinctentities; there are always individuals of one age,and there is a mutual teaching and learning going onat all times, which is the basis of transmission oftradition. Children are usually more conservativeand greater sticklers for form and propriety thaneven men are; only now and then a freer mindarises whose courage and pertinacity change things.Therefore, in the understanding of characterthe influence of the environment becomes of asfundamental importance as the consideration of theorganic make-up of the individual. The environmentin the form of tradition, social ideal, social status,economic situation, race, religion, family, educationis thus on the one hand the directing, guiding,
  64. 64. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU64The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryeliciting factor in character and on the other is therepressing, inhibiting, limiting factor.Putting the whole thing in another way: theorganism is the Microcosmos, or little world, inwhich the potentialities of character are elaboratedin the germ plasm we inherit from our ancestors, inthe healthy interaction of brain with the rest of thebody, especially the internal glands. The outsideworld is the Macrocosmos, or large world, andincludes the physical conditions of existence(climate, altitude, plentiness of food, access to thesea) as well as the social conditions of existence(state of culture of times and race and family). Thesocial conditions of existence are of especial interestin that they reach back ages before the individualwas born so that the lives, thoughts, ideals of thedead may dominate the character of the living.This macrocosmos both brings to light andstifles the character peculiarities of the microcosmosand the character of no man, as we see or know it,ever expresses in any complete manner his innate
  65. 65. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU65The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarypossibilities.The question arises: What is the basis of theinfluence of the social heredity, of the forces, in thecharacter of the person born in a social group?Certain aspects of this we must deal with later, inorder to keep to a unified presentation of thesubject. Other aspects are pertinently to bediscussed now.The link that binds man to man is called thesocial instinct, though perhaps it would be better tocall it the group of social instincts. The link is one offeeling, primarily, though it has associated with it, inan indissoluble way, purpose and action. Theexistence of the social instinct is undisputed; itsexplanation is varied and ranges from the mysticalto the evolutionary. For the mystical (which cropsout in Bergson, Butler and even in Galton), the unityof life is its basis, and there is a sort of recognitionof parts formerly united but now separateindividuals. This does not explain hate, racial andindividual. The evolutionary aspect has received its
  66. 66. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU66The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarybest handling in recent years in Trotters "The Herd,"where the social instincts are traced in their relationto human history. One writer after another hasplaced as basic in social instinct, sympathy,imitation, suggestibility and the recognition of"likeness." These are merely names for a spreadingof emotion from one member of a group to another,for a something that makes members of the groupteachable and makes them wish to teach; that isback of the wish to conform and help and has twosets of guiding forces, reward and its derivativepraise; punishment and its derivative blame.Perhaps the term "derivative" is not correct, andperhaps praise and blame are primary and rewardand punishment secondary.So eminent a philosopher as the elder Milldeclared the distribution of praise and blame is thegreatest problem of society." This view of the placeof praise and blame in the organization of characterand in directing the efforts and activity of men ishardly exaggerated. From birth to death the
  67. 67. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU67The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarypleasure of reward and praise and the pain ofpunishment and blame are immensely powerfulhuman motives. It is true that now and thenindividuals seek punishment and blame, but this isalways to win the favor of others or of the mostimportant observer of mens actions,--God, The childis trained through the effect of reward andpunishment, praise and blame; and these are usedto set up, on the one hand, habits of conduct, andon the other an inner mentor and guide calledConscience. It may be true that conscience is innatein its potentialities, but whether that is so or not, itis the teaching and training of the times or of somegroup that gives to conscience its peculiar trend inany individual case. And before a child has anyinward mentor it depends for its knowledge of rightand wrong upon the efforts of its parents, their useof praise-reward and blame-punishment; it reacts tothese measures in accordance with the strength andvigor of its social instincts and in accordance with itsfear of punishment and desire for reward. The
  68. 68. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU68The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryfeelings of duty and the prickings of conscienceserve to consolidate a structure already formed.Here we must discuss a matter offundamental importance in character analysis. Menare not born equal in any respect. This inequalityextends to every power, possibility and peculiarityand has its widest range in the mental and characterlife. A tall man is perhaps a foot taller than a veryshort man; a giant is perhaps twice as tall as adwarf. A very fleet runner can "do" a hundred yardsin ten seconds, and there are few except thecrippled or aged who cannot run the distance intwenty seconds. Only in the fables has the hero thestrength of a dozen men. But where dexterity orknowledge enters things become different, and oneman can do what the most of men cannot evenprepare to do. Where abstract thought or talent orgenius is involved the greatest human variability isseen. There we have Pascals who aremathematicians at five and discoverers at sixteen;there we have Mozarts, composers at three; there
  69. 69. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU69The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarywe have our inspired boy preachers alreadyconsecrated to their great ideal of work; and wehave also our Jesse Pomeroys, fiendish murderersbefore adolescence. I believe with Carlyle that it isthe heroes, the geniuses of the race, to whom weowe its achievements; and the hero and the geniusare the men and women of "greatest variability" inpowers. The first weapon, the starting of fire, thesong that became "a folk song" were created by theprehistoric geniuses and became the social heritageof the group or race. And "common man" did little todevelop religions or even superstitions; he merelyaccepted the belief of a leader.This digression is to emphasize that childrenand the men and women they grow to be are widelyvariable in their native social feeling, in theirresponse to praise, blame, reward and punishmept.One child eagerly responds to all, is moved bypraise, loves reward, fears punishment and hatesblame. Another child responds mainly to reward, isbut little moved by praise, fears punishment and
  70. 70. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU70The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarylaughs at blame. Still another only fearspunishment, while there is a type of deeplyantisocial nature which goes his own way, seekinghis own egoistic purposes, uninfluenced by theopinion of others, accepting reward cynically andfighting against punishment. More than that, eachchild shows peculiarities in the types of praise,reward, blame and punishment that move him.Some children need corporal punishment[1] andothers who are made rebels by it are melted intoconformity by ostracism.[1] It is a wishy-washy ideal of teaching thatregards pain as equivalent to cruelty. On thecontrary, it may be real cruelty to spare pain,--cruelty to the future of the child. Pain is a greatteacher, whether inflicted by the knife one has beentold not to play with, or by the parent when theinjunction not to play with the knife has beendisregarded.The distribution of praise and blameconstitutes the distribution of public opinion.
  71. 71. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU71The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital LibraryWherever public opinion is free to exercise its powerit is a weapon of extraordinary potency before whichalmost nothing can stand. One might define a freenation as one where public opinion has no limits,[1]where no one is prevented from the expression ofbelief about the action of others, and no one isexempted from the pressure of opinion. Converselyan autocracy is one where there is but little room forthe public use of praise and but little power toblame, especially in regard to the rulers. But in allsocieties, whether free or otherwise, people areconstantly praising, constantly blaming one another,whether over the teacups or the wine glasses, in thesewing circle or the smoking rooms, in the midst offamilies, in the press, in the great halls of the statesand nations. These are "the mallets" by whichsociety beats or attempts to beat individuals into theaccepted shape.[1] In fact, Oliver Wendell Holmes hasdefined as the great object of human society thefree growth and expression of human thought. How
  72. 72. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU72The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryfar we are from that ideal!Men and women and children all strive to bepraised, if not by their own group, by some othergroup or by some generation. It is, therefore, a highachievement to introduce a new ideal of characterand personality to the group. Men--whose opinion asto desirability and praiseworthiness has been theprepotent opinion--love best of all beauty in woman.Therefore, the ideal of beauty as an achievement isa leading factor in the character formation of mostgirls and young women. The first question girls askabout one another is, "Is she pretty?" and in theircriticism of one another the personal appearance isthe first and most, important subject discussed. Apersonal beauty ideal has little value to thecharacter; in fact, it tends to exaggerate vanity andtriviality and selfishness; it leads away from thehigher aspects of reality. If you ask the majority ofwomen which would they rather be, very beautiful orvery intelligent, most will say without question (intheir frank moments) that they would rather be very
  73. 73. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU73The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarybeautiful. Those who are attempting to introduce theideal of intelligence as a goal to women need ofcourse to balance it with other ideals, but ifsuccessful they will revolutionize the attitude ofwomen toward life and change the trend of theircharacter.Such ideals as beauty and wealth, however,do not acquire their imperativeness unless at thesame time they gratify some deep-seated group ofdesires or instincts. Wealth gives too many things tocatalogue here, but fundamentally it gives power,and so beauty which may lead to wealth is always asource of power, although this power carries with itdanger to the owner. Mankind has been praisingunselfishness for thousands of years, and all menhate to be called selfish, but selfishness still rules inthe lives of most of the people of the world. Chastityand continence receive the praise of the religious ofthe world, as well as of the ascetic-minded of alltypes, yet the majority of men, in theory acceptingthis ideal, reject it in practice. Selfishness leads to
  74. 74. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU74The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryself-gratification and pleasure; chastity imposes aburden on desire, and praise and blame are in thisinstance not powerful enough to control mankindsacts, though powerful enough to influence them.Wherever social pressure and education influencemen and women to conduct which is contrary to thegratification of fundamental desires, it causes anuneasiness, an unhappiness and discomfort uponwhich Graham Wallas[1] has laid great stress as thebalked desire. The history of man is made up of thestruggle of normal instincts, emotions and purposesagainst the mistaken inhibitions and prohibitions,against mistaken praise and blame, reward andpunishment. Moral and ethical ideals developinstitutions, and these often press too heavily uponthe life and activities of those who accept them asauthoritative.[1] See his book "The Great Society" for afine discussion of this important matter.We have spoken as if praise and blameinvariably had the same results. On the contrary,
  75. 75. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU75The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarythough in general they tend to bring aboutuniformity and conformity, people vary remarkablyfrom one another in their reaction and the sameperson is not uniform in his reactions. The reactionto praise is on the whole an increased happiness andvigor, but of course it may, when undeserved,demoralize the character and lead to a foolish vanityand to inefficiency. To those whose conscience ishighly developed, undeserved praise is painful inthat it leads to a feeling that one is deceiving others.Speaking broadly, this is a rare reaction. Mostpeople accept praise as their due, just as theyattribute success to their merits.[1] The reaction toblame may be anger, if the blame is felt to beundeserved, and there are people of irritable egowho respond in this way to all blame or even thehint of adverse criticism. The reaction may behumiliation and lowered self-valuation, greatlydeenergizing the character and lowering efficiency.There, again, though this reaction occurs in somedegree to all, others are so constituted that all
  76. 76. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU76The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarycriticism or blame is extremely painful and needs tobe tempered with praise and encouragement. Whereblame is felt to be deserved, and where thecharacter is one of striving after betterment, wherethe ego is neither irritable nor tender, blame is anaid to growth and efficiency. Many a man flares upunder blame who "cools" down when he sees thejustice of the criticism, and changes accordingly.[1] A very striking example of this wasnoticeable during the Great War. American businessmen in general, producers, distributors, wholesalers,retailers and speculators all got "rich,"--some inextraordinary measure. Did many of them attributethis to the fact that there was a "sellers market"caused by the conditions over which the individualbusiness man had no control? On the contrary, theoverwhelming majority quite complacently attributedthe success (which later proved ephemeral) to theirown ability.Therefore, in estimating the character ofany individual, one must ask into the nature of his
  77. 77. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU77The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryenvironment, the traits and teachings of the groupfrom which he comes and among whom he haslived. To understand any one this inquiry must bedetailed and reach back into his early life. Yet nottoo much stress must be laid upon certain influencesin regard to certain qualities. For example, theaverage child is not influenced greatly by immoralityuntil near puberty, but dishonesty and bad mannersstrike at him from early childhood. The large group,the small group, family life, gang life influencecharacter, but not necessarily in a direct way. Theymay act to develop counter- prejudices, for there isno one so bitter against alcoholism as the manwhose father was a drunkard and who himselfrevolts against it. And there is no one so radical ashe whose youth was cramped by too muchconservatism.One might easily classify people according totheir reaction to reward, praise, punishment andblame. This would lead us too far afield. But at leastit is safe to say that in using these factors in
  78. 78. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU78The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Librarydirecting conduct and character the individual mustbe studied in a detailed way. The average child, theaverage man and woman is found only in statistics.Everywhere, to deal successfully, one must deal withthe individual.There is a praise-reacting type to whompraise acts as a tonic of incomparable worth,especially when he who administers the praise isrespected. And there are employers, teachers andparents who ignore this fact entirely, who use praisetoo little or not at all and who rely on adversecriticism. The hunger for appreciation is a deep,intense need, and many of the problems of lifewould melt before the proper use of praise."Fine words butter no parsnips" means thatreward of other kinds is needed to give substance topraise. Praise only without reward losses its value. "Iget lots of Thank yous and You are a goodfellow," complained a porter to me once, "but Icannot bring up my family on them." In their hearts,no matter what they say, the majority of people
  79. 79. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU79The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryplace highly him who is just in compensation andreward and they want substantial goods. Many ayoung scientist of my acquaintance has found thatelection to learned societies and praise and respectpalled on him as compared to a living salary. Moneycan 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 intenselyindividual matters. Where they are used to correctand to better the character, where they are the toolsof the friends and teacher and not the weapons ofthe enemy, great care must be used. Characterbuilding is an aim, not a technique, and the end hasjustified the means. Society has just about come tothe conclusion that merely punishing the criminaldoes not reform him, and merely to punish the childhas but part of the effect desired. In charactertraining punishment and blame must bring PAIN, butthat pain must be felt to be deserved (at least in theolder child and adult) and not arouse lasting anger
  80. 80. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU80The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryor humiliation. It must teach the error of the waysand prepare the recipient for instruction as to theright away. Often enough the pain of punishmentand blame widens the breach between the teacherand pupil merely because the former has inflictedpain without recompense.One might put it thus: The pleasure ofpraise and reward must energize, the pain of blameand punishment. must teach, else teacher andsociety have misused these social tools."Very well," I hear some readers say, "isconscience to be dismissed so shortly? Have notmen dared to do right in the face of a world thatblamed and punished; have they not stood withoutpraise or reward or the fellowship of others for theactions their conscience dictated?"Yes, indeed. What, then, is conscience? Forthe common thought of the world it is an inwardmentor placed by God within the bosom of man toguide him, to goad him, even, into choosing rightand avoiding wrong. Where the conception of
  81. 81. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU81The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryconscience is not quite so literal and direct it is heldto be an immanent something of innate origin.Whatever it may be, it surely does not guide us veryaccurately or well, for there are opposingconsciences on every side of every question, andopponents find themselves equally spurred byconscience to action and are equally convinced ofrighteousness. In the long run it would be difficult todecide which did more harm in the world, aconscientious persecutor or bigot, an Alvarez orJames the First, or a dissolute, consciencelesssensualist like Charles the Second. Certainlyconsciences differ as widely as digestions.Conscience, so it seems to me, arises inearly childhood with the appearance of fixedpurposes. It is entirely guided at first by teachingand by praise and blame, for the infant gives noevidence of conscience. But the infant (or youngchild) soon wants to please, wants the favor andsmiles of its parents. Why does it wish to please? Isthere a something irreducible in the desire? I do not
  82. 82. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU82The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryknow and cannot pretend to answer.This, however, may be definitely stated.Conscience arises or grows in the struggle betweenopposing desires and purposes in the course ofwhich one purpose becomes recognized as theproper guide to conduct. Let us take a simple casefrom the moral struggles of the child.A three-year-old, wandering into thekitchen, with mother in the back yard hanging outthe clothes, makes the startling discovery that thereis 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 becomesexcited, his mouth waters, and those tarts becomethe symbol and substance of pleasure,--and withinhis reach. But in the back of his mind, urging him tostop and consider, is the memory of mothersinjunction, "You must always ask for tarts or candyor any goodies before you take them." And there isthe pain of punishment and scolding and the visionof father, looking stern and not playing with one.
  83. 83. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU83The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital LibraryThese are distant, faint memories, weak forces,--butthey influence conduct so that the little one takes atart and eats it hurriedly before mother returns andthen runs into the dining room or bedroom. Thus,instead of merely obeying an impulse to take thetart, as an uninstructed child would, he has nowbecome a little thief and has had his first real moralstruggle.But it is a grim law that sensual pleasures donot last beyond the period of gratification. If thiswere 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 ashort afterglow of good feeling, but rarely is itstrongly affective, and very often it is replaced by apositive repulsion for the appetite. On the otherhand, to be out of conformity with your group is apermanent pain, and the fear of being found out isan anxiety often too great to be endured. And so ourchild, with the tart gone, wishes he had not taken it,
  84. 84. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU84The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryperhaps not clearly or verbally; he is regretful, let ussay. Out of this regret, out of this fear of beingfound out, out of the pain of nonconformity, arisesthe conscience feeling which says, "Thou shalt not"or "Thou shalt," according to social teaching.It may be objected that "Conscience oftenarrays itself against society, against social teaching,against perhaps all men." It is not my place to tracethe growth in mind of the idea of the Absolute Good,or absolute right and wrong, with which a man mustalign himself. I believe it is the strength of the egofeeling which gives to some the vigor andunyieldingness of their conscience. "I am right,"says such a person, "and the rest of the world iswrong. God is with me, my conscience and futuretimes will agree," thus appealing to the distanttribunal as James pointed out. All the insanehospitals have their sufferers for consciences sake,paranoid personalities whose egos have expanded toinfallibility and whose consciences arecorrespondingly developed.
  85. 85. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU85The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital LibraryConscience thus represents the power of thepermanent purposes and ideals of the individuals,and it wars on the less permanent desires andimpulses, because there is in memory theuneasiness and anxiety that resulted fromindulgence and the pain of the feeling of inferioritythat results when one is hiding a secret weakness orundergoing reproof or punishment. This group ofpermanent purposes, ideals and aspirationscorresponds closely to the censor of the Freudianconcept and here is an example where a new namesuccessfully disguises an age-old thought.In other words, conscience is social in itsorigin, developing differently in different peopleaccording to their teaching, intelligence, will, ego-feeling, instincts, etc. From the standpoint ofcharacter analysis there are many types of people inregard to conscience development.In respect to the reactions to praise andblame the following types are conspicuous:1. A "weak" group in whom these act as
  86. 86. 1DODQGDLJLWDO/LEUDU86The Foundations of Personality by Abraham MyersonE-Text Conversion by Nalanda Digital Libraryapparently the sole motives.2. A group energized by love of praise.3. A group energized mainly by fear ofblame.4. A type that scorns anything but materialreward.5. Another, that "takes advantage" ofreward; likes praise but is merely made conceited byit, hates blame but is merely made angry by it, fearspunishment and finds its main goad to good conductin this fear.6. Then there are those in whom all thesemotives operate in greater or lesser degree,--the so-called normal person. In reality he has his specialinclinations and dreads.7. The majority of people are influencedmainly by the group with which they have cast theirpositions, the blame of others being relativelyunimportant or arousing anger. For there is thisgreat difference between our reactions to praise andblame: that while the praise of almost any one and

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