Philosophical Institute Of Canterbury.
First Meeting: 3rd May, 1911.
Present: Mr. A. M. Wright, President, in the chair, and eighty others.
New Members.—Messrs. L. S. Jennings, W. Brock, H. R. Hogg, and J. Caughley.
A large number of donations were received and laid on the table.
Anton Dohrn Fund.—A letter was received from Dr. Benham, enclosing circulars and asking for subscriptions to the Anton Dohrn Fund. Dr. Chilton explained the reason for making the appeal, and hoped members would subscribe to such a worthy object.
Address.—Mr. R. M. Laing, the retiring President, then delivered his ex-presidential address on “A Study in Multiple Personality.”
The lecturer pointed out that this address was really a continuation and development along specialized lines of an address previously given by himself to the Institute on the subject of hypnotism.
The investigation into the phenomena of multiple personality has now reached a highly technical stage. Three different types of theory have been put forward to explain these aberrations of personality and allied phenomena. These three types may be roughly classified as follows: (a.) The “unconscious cerebration” theory. This has been put forward in different forms by W. B. Carpenter, A. H. Pierce, and Munsterberg. According to it the automatic speech and writing of a secondary personality were no more accompanied by intelligence than the song of a gramophone. The lecturer considered this theory was quite insufficient to account for the phenomena witnessed in the more remarkable cases of alternation of personality, such as shown by Miss Beauchamp, the Rev. Thomas Hanna, and Ansell Bourne. (b.) The second type of hypothesis may be termed the “stratification” theory. According to it there underlies the normal consciousness one or more deeper strata of consciousness often possessed of supernormal powers. Forms of this theory may be found in the “transcendental” consciousness of Du Prel, in the “subliminal” consciousness of Myers, and the “subjective” consciousness of various popular American writers, such as Hudson. This type of theory appeared to the lecturer to be largely unsubstantiated. (c.) The “dissociation” theory. According to this theory certain complexes are dissociated by amnesia from the normal consciousness and lead to “automatonisms,” or, when very fully developed, sometimes assume control of the bodily organism and more or less permanently play the rôle of the normal consciousness. This theory appeared to the lecturer to provide a firm foothold for the study of multiple personality and many related phenomena. Dissociation, indeed, is exhibited in sleep, dreams, hypnosis, sensory and motor automatonisms, such as crystal visions, auditory and visual hallucinations, automatic speech and writing, the phenomena of revivals, conversion, demoniacal possession, spirit-control, and many cases of insanity. Thus a naturalistic explanation was obtained of many phenomena usually termed occult. However, after full scope had been given to explanation by dissociation, there still remained a residuum of unexplained phenomena, which might for the present at least be regarded as “supernormal.”
The body of the address consisted of a detailed description of the above-phenomena as exhibited by Miss Christine Beauchamp and described by Dr Morton Prince. With infinite patience Dr. Morton Prince was able to synthesize the disintegrated memories of Miss Beauchamp and restore her to normal health. Under ordinary circumstances her neurasthenic and psychasthenic condition would inevitably lead to her confinement in a mental hospital, but Dr. Prince by his close investigation of the case and his treatment of it by therapeutic suggestion was able to control the various personalities developed and bring out renewed mental equilibrium.
Second Meeting: 7th June, 1911.
Present: Mr. A. M. Wright, President, in the chair, and nearly one hundred others, including the officers of the s.s. “Terra Nova,” and Captain Bollons of the G.s.s. “Hinemoa.”
New Members.—Messrs. W. W. Garton, Richard Finch, T. Fletcher. G. D. Hansford, W. D. Kirkpatrick, B. Seth Smith, C. Foweraker, I. E. Newton, M.A., G. Whitehead, B.A., H. D. Acland.
Address.—“The Natural History of Whales.”
The lecturer first gave a brief outline of the phylogenetic development of the various orders of the mammalia, with special reference to the whales, and detailed the chief differences between these animals and fishes. He showed the relationship between the whales and the mammals most closely connected with them, specially mentioning the modification of the various organs to suit a marine environment. He noted that the grooves which appear in the skin of the rorquals probably function in respiration. The lecturer concluded with an account of the classification of whales and of their habits. The address was illustrated with an extensive and excellent series of drawings.
In moving a hearty vote of thanks to the lecturer Mr. Edgar R. Waite referred to the original work which had already been done by Mr. Lillie in connection with whales, a subject of investigation of the greatest difficulty.
In acknowledging the vote of thanks, Mr. Lillie gave some brief indications as to how the different species of whales could be determined by any one seeing them from the deck of a ship, but said that it was very difficult indeed to come to a correct conclusion without long experience.
Third Meeting: 12th July, 1911.
Present: Mr. A. M. Wright, President, in the chair, and forty others.
New Members.—Messrs. W. Goss, J. Deans, and W. C. Colee.
Address.—“Recent Advances in Radioactivity.” By D. C. H. Florance, M.A., M.Sc.
The lecturer gave a very clear and interesting account of the methods adopted during the last two years for investigating the phenomena of radioactivity, and illustrated his remarks with exhibits and experiments. He paid special attention to the series of products derived from uranium, and the behaviour of atoms under the influence of the α, β, and γ rays. At the close he was accorded a very hearty vote of thanks.
“The Action of Alkyl Iodides on Copper-oxide.” By H. G. Denham, M.A., D.Sc., Ph.D. (See page 29.)
“Note on the Species of Hydra found in New Zealand.” By G. Archey; communicated by Dr. Chilton. (See page 25.)
“Additions to the Fish Fauna of the Kermadec Islands.” By Edgar R. Waite, F.L.S. (See page 28.)
Inset—Proc pt i,