Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

Robin Hood by J. Walker McSpadden

Part 11 out of 13

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 1.5 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

Kant says that a man's honor consists in what people think about
him, a woman's in what people say about her. Another authority
believes that honor and a sense of honor are an extension of the
sense of self in and through others. The essence of my honor is
my belief that I exist for others, that my conduct will be judged and
valued not only by myself but by others. Falstaff calls honor the
painted picture at a funeral. Our authors are both right and wrong,
for honor is simply the position a man takes with regard to the
world, so that even gamins may be said to have honor. Unwillingness
to see this may cause us criminalists considerable trouble. One
of the worst men I ever met in my profession, a person guilty of the
nastiest crimes, so nasty that he had driven his honorable parents
to suicide, had at the expiration of his last sentence of many years in
prison, said literally, ``I offer no legal objection against the sentence.
I beg, however, for three days' suspension so that I may write a
series of farewell letters which I could not write as a prisoner.''
Even in the heart of this man there was still the light of what other
people call honor. We often find similar things which may be used
to our advantage in examination. Not, of course, for the purpose
of getting confession, accusation of accomplices, etc. This might,


indeed, serve the interests of the case, but it is easy to identify a
pliable attitude with an honorable inclination, and the former must
certainly not be exploited, even with the best intention. Moreover,
among persons of low degree, an inclination toward decency will
hardly last long and will briefly give way to those inclinations which
are habitual to bad men. Then they are sorry for what they had
permitted to occur in their better moment and curse those who
had made use of that moment.

It is often funny to see the points at which the criminal seeks his
``honor.'' What is proper for a thief, may be held improper for a
robber. The burglar hates to be identified with the pick-pocket.
Many a one finds his honor in this wise deeply attacked, particularly
when it is shown him that he is betraying an accomplice, or that he
has swindled his comrades in the division of booty, etc. I remember
one thief who was inconsolable because the papers mentioned that
he had foolishly overlooked a large sum of money in a burglary.
This would indicate that criminals have professional ambitions and
seek professional fame.

Section 97. (g) Superstition.

For a discussion of Superstition see my Handbuch fr
Untersuchungsrichter, etc. (English translation by J. Adam, New York,
1907), and H. Gross's Archiv I, 306; III, 88; IV, 340; V, 290,
207; IX, 253; IV, 168; VI, 312; VII, 162; XII, 334.

Topic 3. MISTAKES.

(a) Mistakes of the Senses.

Section 98. (1) General Considerations.

As sensation is the basis of knowledge, the sensory process must
be the basis of the correctness of legal procedure. The information
we get from our senses and on which we construct our conclusion,
may be said, all in all, to be reliable, so that we are not justified
in approaching things we assume to depend on sense-perception
with exaggerated caution. Nevertheless, this perception is not
always completely correct, and the knowledge of its mistakes must
help us and even cause us to wonder that we make no greater ones.

Psychological examination of sense-perception has been going on
since Heraclitus. Most of the mistakes discovered have been used
for various purposes, from sport to science. They are surprising
and attract and sustain public attention; they have, hence, become


familiar, but their influence upon other phenomena and their consequences
in the daily life have rarely been studied. For two reasons.
First, because such illusions seem to be small and their far-reaching
effects are rarely thought of, as when, e. g., a line drawn on paper
seems longer or more inclined than it really is. Secondly, it is supposed
that the influence of sensory illusions can not easily make a
difference in practical life. If the illusion is observed it is thereby
rendered harmless and can have no effect. If it is not observed and
later on leads to serious consequences, their cause can not possibly
be sought out, because it can not be recognized as such, and because
there have been so many intermediate steps that a correct retroduction
is impossible.

This demonstrates the rarity of a practical consideration of sense-
perception, but does not justify that rarity. Of course, there are
great difficulties in applying results of limited experiments to extensive
conditions. They arise from the assumption that the conditions
will be similar to those which the scientist studies, and that
a situation which exhibits certain phenomena under narrow experimental
conditions will show them, also, in the large. But this
is not the case, and it is for this reason that the results of modern
psychology have remained practically unproductive. This, of course,
is not a reproach to the discipline of experimental psychology, or
an assault upon the value of its researches. Its narrow limitations
were necessary if anything definite was to be discovered. But
once this has been discovered the conditions may be extended and
something practical may be attained to, particularly in the matter
of illusion of sense. And this possibility disposes of the second
reason for not paying attention to these illusions.

Witnesses do not of course know that they have suffered from
illusions of sense; we rarely hear them complain of it, anyway.
And it is for this very reason that the criminalist must seek it out.
The requirement involves great difficulties for we get very little
help from the immense literature on the subject. There are two
roads to its fulfilment. In the first place, we must understand the
phenomenon as it occurs in our work, and by tracing it back determine
whether and which illusion of the sense may have caused an
abnormal or otherwise unclear fact. The other road is the theoretical
one, which must be called, in this respect, the preparatory road.
It requires our mastery of all that is known of sense-illusion and
particularly of such examples of its hidden nature as exist. Much of
the material of this kind is, however, irrelevant to our purpose, par-


ticularly all that deals with disease and lies in the field of medicine.
Of course, where the nature of the disease is uncertain or its very
presence is unknown, it is as well for us to consider the case as for
the physician. But above all, it is our duty to consult the physician.

Apart from what belongs to the physician there is the material
which concerns other professions than ours. That must be set
aside, though increasing knowledge may require us to make use
even of that. It is indubitable that we make many observations
in which we get the absolute impression that matters of sensory
illusion which do not seem to concern us lie behind some witnesses'
observations, etc., although we can not accurately indicate what
they are. The only thing to do when this occurs is either to demonstrate
the possibility of their presence or to wait for some later
opportunity to test the witness for them.

Classification will ease our task a great deal. The apparently
most important divisions are those of ``normal'' and ``abnormal.''
But as the boundary between them is indefinite, it would be well
to consider that there is a third class which can not fall under either
heading. This is a class where especially a group of somatic conditions
either favor or cause illusory sense-perceptions, e. g., a rather
over-loaded stomach, a rush of blood to the head, a wakeful night,
physical or mental over-exertion. These conditions are not abnormal
or diseased, but as they are not habitual, they are not normal
either. If the overloaded stomach has turned into a mild indigestion,
the increase of blood into congestion, etc., then we are very near
disease, but the boundary between that and the other condition
can not be determined.

Another question is the limit at which illusions of sense begin,
how, indeed, they can be distinguished from correct perceptions.
The possibility of doing so depends upon the typical construction
of the sense-organs in man. By oneself it would be impossible to
determine which sensation is intrinsically correct and which is
an illusion. There are a great many illusions of sense which all
men suffer from under similar conditions, so that the judgment of the
majority can not be normative. Nor can the control of one sense by
another serve to distinguish illusory from correct perception. In
many cases it is quite possible to test the sense of sight by touch,
or the sense of hearing by sight, but that is not always so. The
simplest thing is to say that a sense-impression is correct and implies
reality when it remains identical under various circumstances, in
various conditions, when connected with other senses, and observed


by different men, with different instruments. It is illusory when it
is not so constant. But here again the limit of the application of the
term ``illusion'' is difficult to indicate. That distant things seem
to be smaller than they are; that railway tracks and two sides of
a street seem to run together are intrinsically real illusions of sense,
but they are not so called--they are called the laws of perspective,
so that it would seem that we must add to the notion of sense-
perception that of rarity, or extraordinary appearance.

I have found still another distinction which I consider important.
It consists in the difference between real illusions and those false
conceptions in which the mistake originates as false inference. In
the former the sense organ has been really registering wrongly,
as when, for example, the pupil of the eye is pressed laterally and
everything is seen double. But when I see a landscape through a
piece of red glass, and believe the landscape to be really red, the
mistake is one of inference only, since I have not included the effect
of the glass in my concluding conception. So again, when in a rain
I believe mountains to be nearer than they really are, or when I
believe the stick in the water to be really bent, my sensations are
perfectly correct, but my inferences are wrong. In the last instance,
even a photograph will show the stick in water as bent.

This difference in the nature of illusion is particularly evident
in those phenomena of expectation that people tend to miscall
``illusions of sense.'' If, in church, anybody hears a dull, weak
tone, he will believe that the organ is beginning to sound, because
it is appropriate to assume that. In the presence of a train of steam
cars which shows every sign of being ready to start you may easily
get the illusion that it is already going. Now, how is the sense to
have been mistaken in such cases? The ear has really heard a noise,
the eye has really seen a train, and both have registered correctly,
but it is not their function to qualify the impression they register,
and if the imagination then effects a false inference, that can not
be called an illusion of sensation.

The incorrectness of such classification becomes still more obvious
when some numerical, arithmetical demonstration can be given of
the presence of faulty inference. For example, if I see through
the window a man very far away clearing a lot with an ax, I naturally
see the ax fall before I hear the noise of the blow. Now, it may
happen that the distance may be just great enough to make me
hear the sound of the second blow at the moment in which I see the
delivery of the third blow. Thus I perceive at the same moment,


in spite of the great distance, both the phenomena of light and of
sound, just as if I were directly on the spot. Perhaps I will wonder
at first about these physical anomalies, and then, if I have made
my simple mistake in inference, I shall tell somebody about the
remarkable ``sensory illusion'' I had today, although no one had
ever supposed me capable of being deceived in this way. Schopenhauer
calls attention to the familiar fact that on waking after a
short nap all localizations are apparently perverted, and the mind
does not know what is in front, what behind, what to the right, and
what to the left. To call also this sensory illusion, would again
be wrong, since the mind is not fully awake, and sufficiently orientated
to know clearly its condition. The matter is different when
we do not properly estimate an uncustomary sense-impression. A
light touch in an unaccustomed part of the body is felt as a heavy
weight. After the loss of a tooth we feel an enormous cave in the
mouth, and what a nonsensical idea we have of what is happening
when the dentist is drilling a hole in a tooth! In all these cases the
senses have received a new impression which they have not yet
succeeded in judging properly, and hence, make a false announcement
of the object. It is to this fact that all fundamentally incorrect
judgments of new impressions must be attributed,--for example,
when we pass from darkness into bright light and find it very sharp;
when we find a cellar warm in winter that we believe to be ice-cold
in summer; when we suppose ourselves to be high up in the air the
first time we are on horseback, etc. Now, the actual presence of
sensory illusions is especially important to us because we must
make certain tests to determine whether testimony depends on
them or not, and it is of great moment to know whether the illusions
depend on the individual's mind or on his senses. We may trust
a man's intellect and not his senses, and conversely, from the very
beginning.

It would be superfluous to talk of the importance of sensory
illusion in the determination of a sentence. The correctness of the
judgment depends on the correctness of the transmitted observations,
and to understand the nature of sense-illusion and its frequency is
to know its significance for punishment. There are many mistakes
of judges based entirely on ignorance of this matter. Once a man
who claimed, in spite of absolute darkness, to have recognized an
opponent who punched him in the eye, was altogether believed,
simply because it was assumed that the punch was so vigorous that
the wounded man saw sparks by the light of which he could recognize


the other. And yet already Aristotle knew that such sparks are only
subjective. But that such things were believed is a notable warning.[1]

[1] For literature of Edmund Parish: ber Trugwahrnehmung. Leipsig 1894.
A Cramer: Geriehtliche Psychiatrie. Jena 1897.
Th. Lipps: sthetische Eindrcke u. optische. Taschung.
J. Sully: Illusions, London, 1888.

Section 99. (2) _Optical Illusions_.

It will be best to begin the study of optical illusions with the
consideration of those conditions which cause extraordinary, lunatic
images. They are important because the illusion is recognizable
with respect to the possibility of varied interpretations by any
observer, and because anybody may experiment for himself with a
bit of paper on the nature of false optical apprehension. If we
should demonstrate no more than that the simplest conditions
often involve coarse mistakes, much will have been accomplished
for the law, since the ``irrefutable evidence'' of our senses would
then show itself to need corroboration. Nothing is proved with
``I have seen it myself,'' for a mistake in one point shows the equal
possibility of mistakes in all other points.

Generally, it may be said that the position of lines is not without
influence on the estimation of their size.[2] Perpendicular dimensions
are taken to be somewhat greater than they are. Of two crossed
lines, the vertical one seems longer, although it is really equal to the
horizontal one. An oblong, lying on its somewhat longer side, is
taken to be a square; if we set it on the shorter side it seems to be
still more oblong than it really is. If we divide a square into equal
angles we take the nearer horizontal ones to be larger, so that we
often take an angle of thirty degrees to be forty-five. Habit has
much influence here. It will hardly be believed, and certainly is
not consciously known, that in the letter S the upper curve has a
definitely smaller radius than the lower one; but the inverted S
shows this at once. To such types other false estimations belong:
inclinations, roofs, etc., appear so steep in the distance that it is
said to be impossible to move on them without especial help. But
whoever does move on them finds the inclination not at all so great.
Hence, it is necessary, whenever the ascension of some inclined
plane is declared impossible, to inquire whether the author of the
declaration was himself there, or whether he had judged the thing
at a distance.

[2] Cf. Lotze: Medizinische Psychologie. Leipzig 1852.

Slight crooks are underestimated. Exner[1] rightly calls attention
to the fact that in going round the rotunda of the Viennese Prater,
he always reached the exit much sooner than he expected. This is
due to the presence of slight deviations and on them are based the
numerous false estimates of distance and the curious fact that
people, on being lost at night in the woods, go round in a significantly
small circle. It is frequently observed that persons, who for one
reason or another, i. e., robbery, maltreatment, a burglarious assault,
etc., had fled into the woods to escape, found themselves at daybreak,
in spite of their flight, very near the place of the crime, so
that their honesty in fleeing seems hardly believable. Nevertheless
it may be perfectly trustworthy, even though in the daytime the fugitive
might be altogether at home in the woods. He has simply underestimated
the deviations he has made, and hence believes that he
has moved at most in a very flat arc. Supposing himself to be
going forward and leaving the wood, he has really been making a
sharp arc, and always in the same direction, so that his path has
really been circular.

[1] Cf. Entwurf, etc.

Some corroboration for this illusion is supplied by the fact that
the left eye sees objects on the left too small, while the right eye
underestimates the right side of objects. This underestimation
varies from 0.3 to 0.7%. These are magnitudes which may naturally
be of importance, and which in the dark most affect deviations that
are closely regarded on the inner side of the eye--i. e., deviations
to the left of the left eye or the right of the right eye.

Such confusions become most troublesome when other estimations
are added to them. So long as the informant knows that he has only
been estimating, the danger is not too great. But as a rule the informant
does not regard his conception as an estimate, but as certain
knowledge. He does not say, ``I estimate,'' he says, ``It is so.''
Aubert tells how the astronomer Frster had a number of educated
men, physicians, etc., estimate the diameter of the moon. The
estimation varied from 1'' to 8'' and more. The proper diameter
is 1.5'' at a distance of 12''.

It is well known that an unfurnished room seems much smaller
than a furnished one, and a lawn covered with snow, smaller than a
thickly-grown one. We are regularly surprised when we find an
enormous new structure on an apparently small lot, or when a lot
is parcelled out into smaller building lots. When they are planked
off we marvel at the number of planks which can be laid on the sur-


face. The illusions are still greater when we look upward. We are
less accustomed to estimation of verticals than of horizontals. An
object on the gutter of a roof seems much smaller than at a similar
distance on the ground. This can be easily observed if any figure
which has been on the roof of a house for years is once brought
down. Even if it is horizontally twice as far as the height of the
house, the figure still seems larger than before. That this illusion
is due to defective practice is shown by the fact that children make
mistakes which adults find inconceivable. Helmholtz tells how, as
child, he asked his mother to get him the little dolls from the gallery
of a very high tower. I remember myself that at five years I proposed
to my comrades to hold my ankles so that I could reach for
a ball from the second story of a house down to the court-yard. I
had estimated the height as one-twelfth of its actual magnitude.
Certain standards of under and overestimations are given us when
there is near the object to be judged an object the size of which we
know. The reason for the fact that trees and buildings get such
ideal sizes on so-called heroic landscape is the artistically reduced
scale. I know that few pictures have made such a devilish impression
on me as an enormous landscape, something in the style
of Claude Lorraine, covering half a wall. In its foreground
there is to be seen a clerk riding a horse in a glen. Rider and horse
are a few inches high, and because of this the already enormous
landscape becomes frightfully big. I saw the picture as a student,
and even now I can describe all its details. Without the diminutive
clerk it would have had no particular effect.

In this connection we must not forget that the relations of magnitude
of things about us are, because of perspective, so uncertain
that we no longer pay any attention to them. ``I find it difficult,''
says Lipps,[1] ``to believe that the oven which stands in the corner
of the room does not look larger than my hand when I hold it a
foot away from my eyes, or that the moon is not larger than the
head of a pin, which I look at a little more closely.... We must
not forget how we are in the custom of comparing. I compare hand
and oven, and I think of the hand in terms of the oven.'' That is
because we know how large the hand and the oven are, but very
often we compare things the sizes of which we do not know, or which
we can not so easily get at, and then there are many extraordinary
illusions.

[1] Die Grundtatsachen des Seelenlebens. Bonn 1883.

In connection with the cited incident of the estimation of the


moon's diameter, there is the illusion of Thomas Reid who saw
that the moon seemed as large as a plate when looked at with the
unhampered eye, but as large as a dollar when looked at through a
tube. This mistake establishes the important fact that the size of
the orifice influences considerably the estimation of the size of
objects seen through it. Observations through key-holes are not
rarely of importance in criminal cases. The underestimations of
sizes are astonishing.

{illust. caption = FIG. 1.}

{illust. caption = FIG. 2.}

Arial perspective has a great influence on the determination of
these phenomena, particularly such as occur in the open and at
great distances. The influence is to be recognized through the
various appearances of distant objects, the various colors of distant
mountains, the size of the moon on the horizon, and the difficulties
which arial perspective offers painters. Many a picture owes


its success or failure to the use of arial perspective. If its influence
is significant in the small space of a painting, the illusions in nature
can easily become of enormous significance, particularly when extremes
are brought together in the observations of objects in unknown
regions. The condition of the air, sometimes foggy and not pellucid,
at another time particularly clear, makes an enormous difference,
and statements whether about distance, size, colors, etc., are completely
unreliable. A witness who has several times observed an
unknown region in murky weather and has made his important
observation under very clear skies, is not to be trusted.

An explanation of many sensory illusions may be found in the
so-called illusory lines. They have been much studied, but Zllner[1]
has been the first to show their character. Thus, really quite parallel
lines are made to appear unparallel by the juxtaposition of inclined
or crossing lines. In figures 1 and 2 both the horizontal lines are
actually parallel, as may be determined in various ways.

[1] Poggendorf's Annelen der Physik, Vol. 110, p. 500; 114, 587; 117, 477.

The same lines looked at directly or backwards seem, in Fig. 1,
convex, in Fig. 2 concave.

{illust. caption = FIG. 3.}

Still more significant is the illusion in Fig. 3, in which the convexity
is very clear. The length, etc., of the lines makes no difference
in the illusion.

On the other hand, in Fig. 4 the diagonals must be definitely
thicker than the parallel horizontal lines, if those are to appear not
parallel. That the inclination is what destroys the appearance
of parallels is shown by the simple case given in Fig. 5,
where the distance from A
to B is as great as from B
to C, and yet where the
first seems definitely smaller
than the second.

Still more deceptive is
Fig. 6 where the first line
with the angle inclined inwards
seems incomparably
smaller than the second
with the angle inclined
outwards.

{illust. caption = FIG 4.}

All who have described this remarkable subject have attempted
to explain it. The possession of such an explanation might put

{illust. caption = FIG. 5.}

{illust. caption = FIG. 6.}

us in a position to account for a large number of practical difficulties.
But certain as the facts are, we are still far from their _*why_ and _*how_.
We may believe that the phenomenon shown in Figs. 1 and 2 appears
when the boundaries of a field come straight up to a street with
parallel sides, with the result that at the point of meeting the street
seems to be bent in. Probably we have observed this frequently
without being aware of it, and have laid no particular stress on it,
first of all, because it was really unimportant, and secondly, because
we thought that the street was really not straight at that point.

In a like manner we may have seen the effect of angles as shown
in Figs. 5 and 6 on streets where houses or house-fronts were built
cornerwise. Then the line between the corners seemed longer or
shorter, and as we had no reason for seeking an accurate judgment


we paid no attention to its status. We simply should have made
a false estimate of length if we had been required to judge it. It is
also likely that we may have supposed an actual or suppository
line on the side of the gables of a house enclosed by angles of the
gables, to be short,--but until now the knowledge of this supposition
has had no practical value. Nevertheless, the significance of
these illusions should not be underestimated. They mean most of
all the fact that we really can be much deceived, even to the degree
of swearing to the size of a simple thing and yet being quite innocently
mistaken. This possibility shows, moreover, that the certainty
of our judgment according to sensible standards is inadequate
and we have no way of determining how great this inadequacy is.
We have already indicated that we know only the examples cited
by Zllner, Delboeuf and others. It is probable that they were
hit upon by accident and that similar ones can not be discovered
empirically or intentionally. Hence, it may be assumed that such
illusions occur in great number and even in large dimensions. For
example, it is known that Thompson discovered his familiar ``optical
circle illusion'' (six circles arranged in a circle, another in the middle.
Each possesses bent radii which turn individually if the whole drawing
is itself turned in a circle) by the accident of having seen the geometrical
ornament drawn by a pupil. Whoever deals with such optical
illusions may see very remarkable ones in almost every sample of
ladies' clothes, particularly percale, and also in types of carpets and
furniture. And these are too complicated to be described. In the
course of time another collection of such illusions will be discovered
and an explanation of them will be forthcoming, and then it may
be possible to determine how our knowledge of their existence can
be turned to practical use.

Practical application is easier in the so-called inversion of the
visual object. Fig. 7
shows the simplest case
of it--the possibility of
seeing the middle vertical
line as either deeper or
higher than the others.
In the first instance you
have before you a gutter,

{illust. caption = FIG. 7.}

{illust. caption = FIG. 8.}

in the second a room.
Similar relations are to be observed in the case of a cube in which the
corner a may be seen as either convex or concave according as


you think it behind or before the background of the angles from
which _a_ proceeds. It is still clearer when, in a rhomboid, the
line _XY_ is drawn. Then _x_ or _y_
may be seen alternately as nearer
or further and the figure can
thereby be brought into a different
position. (Fig. 9.) Done once it
may be repeated voluntarily.

There are many practical examples
of these illusions. Sinsteden
saw one evening the silhouette of
a windmill against a luminous
background. The arms seemed now

{illust. caption = FIG. 9.}

to go to the right, now to the left--clearly because he did not
make out the body of the mill and might equally assume that he
saw it from the front or from the rear, the wheels going toward the
right in the first, and toward the left in the other case. An analogous
case is cited by Bernstein. If (Fig. 10) the cross made of the thin
lines stand for the bars of a
weather vane and the heavy
lines represent the weather
vane itself, it may be impossible
under the conditions
of illumination for an
eye looking from N to
distinguish whether the
weather vane points NE
or SW; there is no way
of determining the starting
point of motion. All that
can certainly be said is that
the weather vane lies between
NE and SW and that

{illust. caption = FIG. 10.}

its angle is at the crossing of the two lines, but the direction in
which its heads point can not be determined at even a slight
distance. Both forms of this illusion may occur in a criminal trial.
If once a definite idea of some form of order has been gained,
it is not abandoned or doubted, and is even sworn to. If asked,
for example, whether the mill-wheel moved right or left, the
observer will consider hardly one time in a hundred whether
there might not have been an optical illusion. He will simply assure


us that the thing was as he thinks he saw it, and whether he saw it
correctly is purely a matter of luck.

To all these illusions may be added those which are connected
with movement or are exposed by movement. During the movement
of certain bodies we can distinguish their form only under definite
conditions. As their movement increases they seem shorter in
the direction of movement and as it decreases they seem broader
than normally. An express train with many cars seems shorter when
moving directly near us, and rows of marching men seem longer.
The illusion is most powerful when we look through a stationary
small opening. The same thing occurs when we move quickly past
bodies, for this makes them seem very short as we go by.

Of such cases sense-illusion does not constitute an adequate
explanation; it must be supplemented by a consideration of certain
inferences which are, in most instances, comparatively complex.[1]
We know, e. g., that objects which appear to us unexpectedly at
night, particularly on dark, cloudy nights, seem inordinately magnified.
The process is here an exceedingly complex one. Suppose I
see, some cloudy night, unexpectedly close to me a horse whose
environment, because of the fog, appears indistinct. Now I know
from experience that objects which appear from indistinct environments
are as a rule considerably distant. I know, further, that
considerably distant objects seem much smaller, and hence I must
assume that the horse, which in spite of its imaginary distance
appears to retain its natural size, is really larger than it is. The
train of thought is as follows: ``I see the horse indistinctly. It
seems to be far away. It is, in spite of its distance, of great size.
How enormous it must be when it is close to me!'' Of course these
inferences are neither slow nor conscious. They occur in reflection
with lightning-like swiftness and make no difference to the certainty
of the instantaneous judgment. Hence it is frequently very difficult
to discover the process and the mistake it contains.

[1] W. Larden: Optical Illusion. Nature LXIII, 372 (1901).

If, however, the observer finds an inexplicable hiatus in an event
he happens to notice, he finds it strange because unintelligible. In
this way is created that notion of strangeness which often plays so
great a rle in the examination of witnesses. Hence when under
otherwise uncomfortable conditions, I see a horse run without hearing
the beat of his hoofs, when I see trees sway without feeling any
storm; when I meet a man who, in spite of the moonlight, has no
shadow, I feel them to be very strange because something is lacking


in their logical development as events. Now, from the moment
a thing becomes strange to an individual his perceptions are no
longer reliable, it is doubtful whether he knows what he has really
experienced before his world became strange to him. Add to this
that few people are unwilling to confess that they felt ill at ease,
that perhaps they do not even know it,[1] and you get the complicated
substitution of sensory illusions and uncanny sensation, the one
causing the other, the other magnifying the one, and so on until
the whole affair is turned into something quite unrecognizable.
So we find ourselves in the presence of one of the inexplicable situations
of the reality of which we are assured by the most trustworthy
individuals.

[1] H. Gross: Lehrbuch fr den Ausforschungsdienst der Gendarmerie.

To magnify this phenomenon, we need only think of a few slightly
abnormal cases. It has already been indicated that there are many
such which are not diseased, and further, that many diseased cases
occur which are not known as such, at least, as being so much so
as to make the judge call in the doctor. This is the more likely
because there are frequently, if I may say so, localized diseases
which do not exhibit any extraordinary symptoms, at least to laymen,
and hence offer no reason for calling in experts. If we set aside all
real diseases which are connected with optical illusions as not concerning
us, there are still left instances enough. For example, any
medical text-book will tell you that morphine fiends and victims of
the cocaine habit have very strong tendencies to optical illusions
and are often tortured by them. If the disease is sufficiently advanced,
such subjects will be recognized by the physician at a single
glance. But the layman can not make this immediate diagnosis.
He will get the impression that he is dealing with a very nervous
invalid, but not with one who is subject to optical illusions. So,
we rarely hear from a witness that he knows such people, and certainly
not that he is one himself. A very notable oculist, Himly,
was the first to have made the observation that in the diseased
excitability of the retina every color is a tone higher. Luminous
black looks blue, blue looks violet, violet looks red, red looks yellow.
Torpor of the retina inverts the substitution.

Dietz[2] tells of color-illusions following upon insignificant indigestion;
Foder of hysterics who see everything reversed, and Hoppe[3]
says, ``If the order of the rods and cones of the retina is somewhat
disturbed by an inflammatory touch, the equilibrium of vision is

[2] ber die Quelle der Sinnestuschungen. Magazin fr Seelenkunde VIII.

[3] Erklrung der Sinnestuschungen. Wurzburg 1888.


altered and changes in size, in form, or appearance occur.'' Naturally
the criminalist can not perceive slight indigestion, weak hysteria,
or an inflamed area in the retina when he is examining witnesses, yet
false observations like those described may have a definite influence
upon the decision in a case.

If such abnormal occasions are lacking the reasons for optical
illusions are of another nature. As a rule optical illusions occur
when there is an interruption in the communication between the
retina, the sense of movement, and the sense of touch, or when we
are prevented from reducing the changes of the retinal image to the
movement of our body or of our eyes. This reduction goes on so
unconsciously that we see the idea of the object and its condition
as a unit. Again, it is indubitable that the movement of the body
seems quicker when we observe it with a fixed glance than when we
follow it with our eyes. The difference may be so significant that it
is often worth while, when much depends on determining the speed
of some act in a criminal case, to ask how the thing was looked at.

Fechner has made a far-reaching examination of the old familiar
fact that things on the ground appear to run when we ride by them
rapidly.[1] This fact may be compared with the other, that when
you look directly into swift-moving water from a low bridge, the
latter seems all of a sudden to be swimming rapidly up stream,
though the water does not appear to stand still. Here some unknown
factor is at work and may exercise considerable influence on many
other phenomena without our being able to observe the results.
To this class may be added the extraordinary phenomenon that
from the train objects easily seem too near and hence appear smaller
than they are. It may be, however, that the converse is true and
objects appear smaller, or at least shorter, and that inasmuch as we
are in the habit of attributing the diminution of size in objects to
their distance, we tax the latter as false. So much is certain--that
whenever we ourselves move quickly we make false judgments of
size, distance, and even color. The last may be due to the fact that
during a quick passage, colors may so compose themselves, that
green and red become white, and blue and yellow, green, etc. I
believe that all these illusions are increasing in connection with the
spread of bicycling, inasmuch as many observations are made from
the fleeting wheel and its motion tends to increase the illusions
considerably. Concerning the differences in movement Stricker[2]

[1] Elemente die Psychophysik. Leipzig 1889.

[2] Studien ber die Sprachvorstellung. Vienna 1880.


says: ``If I lie on my back and see a bird fly in the uniformly blue
heaven, I recognize the movement although I have no object with
which to compare it. This can not be explained by the variety of
points on the retina which are affected, for when the bird pauses
and I turn my eye, I know that it is not moving.'' The last argument
is not correct. If the bird is sitting on a branch I know, in spite of
all my occipital movement, that it is quiet, but only because I perceive
and observe the bird's immobility. If, however, I lie on my
back like Stricker and see above me a bird of the class that, so to
speak, swim motionless in the air for minutes at a time, and if then
I turn my head, I can not tell when the bird begins to move. Here
then we have no exception to the general rule and can always say
that we are speaking of movement optically perceived when the
rays issuing from any body progressively touch various points on
the retina. And since this occurs when we are in motion as well as
when the object is in motion it happens that we can not locate the
movement, we cannot say whether it be in us or in the object.

Of course, the possibility that fanciful images may appear during
movement is familiar. If I sit quietly in the forest and at some
distance see a stone or a piece of wood or a little heap of dried leaves,
etc., it may be that, because of some illusion, I take it to be a rolled
up hedgehog, and it may happen that I am so convinced of the
nature of the object while I am looking at it that I see how the hedgehog
stretches itself, sticks out its paws and makes other movements.
I remember one winter when, because of some delay, a commission
on which I was serving had failed to reach a village not far from the
capital. We had gone to investigate a murder case and had found
the body frozen stiff. The oven in the room was heated and the
grave-digger placed the stiff body near the oven in order to thaw it
out. We at this time were examining the place. After a while I
was instructed by the examining justice to see about the condition
of the corpse, and much to my disgust, I found it sitting near the
oven, bent over. It had thawed out and collapsed. During the
subsequent obduction I saw most clearly how the corpse made all
kinds of movements, and even after the section, during the dictation
of the protocol, my imagination still seemed to see the corpse moving
a hand or a foot.

The imagination may also cause changes in color. Once, I saw
on my desk, which stood next to a window, a great round drop
of water on the left side of which the panes of the window
were reflected. (Fig. 11). The whole business was about a meter


from my eye. I saw it repeatedly while working and it finally
occurred to me to inquire how such a great drop of water could
get there. I had sat at my desk for hours without
moving. I must have observed it if it had dropped
there. Refraining intentionally from going closer, I
started, without avail, to consider how it could have

{illust. caption = FIG. 11.}

come. Some time after I examined the drop of water FIG. 11.
and found it to be an ink-blot, long ago completely dried, and bearing
on its left side a few grains of white cigar ash. I had taken these to
be the image of the window, and hence, had immediately attached
to it the idea of the shining, raised drop of water. I had altogether
overlooked the deep black color of the drop. On the witness stand
I would have sworn that I had seen a drop of water, even if I had
known the evidence on the matter to be important.

In many cases it is possible to control the imagination, but only
when it is known that the images can not be as they are seen. Everybody
is aware how a half-covered object at a distance, or objects
accidentally grouped in one way or another, are taken for God knows
what. Thus once, looking from my desk to my smoking table, I
saw an enormous pair of tailor's scissors half-covered by a letter.
It remained identical under a number of repeated glances. Only
when I thought vigorously that such a thing could not possibly be
in my room did it disappear. A few scales of ashes, the lower round
of the match safe, the metal trimmings of two cigar boxes half-
covered by a letter and reflected by the uncertain light breaking
through the branches of a tree, were all that the tailor's scissors was
composed of. If there had been such a thing in the house, or if I
had believed something like it to exist in the house, I should have
sought no further and should have taken my oath that I had seen
the thing. It is significant that from the moment I understood the
phenomenon I could not restore the image of the scissors. How
often may similar things be of importance in criminal trials!

The so-called captivation of our visual capacity plays a not
unimportant part in distinguishing correct from illusory seeing. In
order to see correctly we must look straight and fully at the object.
Looking askance gives only an approximate image, and permits
the imagination free play. Anybody lost in a brown study who
pictures some point in the room across the way with his eyes can
easily mistake a fly, which he sees confusedly askance, for a great
big bird. Again, the type of a book seems definitely smaller if the
eyes are fixed on the point of a lead pencil with a certain distance


before or above the book. And yet again, if you stand so that at
an angle of about 90 degrees from the fixation point, you look at a
white door in a dark wall, observing its extent in indirect vision,
you will find it much higher than in direct vision.

These examples indicate how indirect vision may be corrected
by later correct vision, but such correction occurs rarely. We see
something indirectly; we find it uninteresting, and do not look at it
directly. When it becomes of importance later on, perhaps enters
into a criminal case, we think that we have seen the thing as it is,
and often swear that ``a fly is a big bird.''

There are a number of accidents which tend to complete illusion.
Suppose that the vision of a fly, which has been seen indirectly and
taken for a big bird happens to be synchronous with the shriek of
some bird of prey. I combine the two and am convinced that I
have seen that bird of prey. This may increase, so much so that
we may have series of sense-illusions. I cite the example of the
decorative theatrical artist, who can make the most beautiful images
with a few, but very characteristic blots. He does it by emphazising
what seems to us characteristic, e. g., of a rose arbor, in such a way
that at the distance and under the conditions of illumination of the
theatre we imagine we really see a pretty rose arbor. If the scene
painter could give definite rules he would help us lawyers a great
deal. But he has none, he proceeds according to experience, and is
unable to correct whatever mistakes he has committed. If the rose
arbor fails to make the right impression, he does not try to improve
it--he makes a new one. This may lead to the conclusion that not
all people require the same characteristics in order to identify a
thing as such, so that if we could set the rose arbor on the stage
by itself, only a part of the public would recognize it as properly
drawn, the other part would probably not recognize it at all. But
if, of an evening, there is a large number of decorations on the stage,
the collective public will find the arbor to be very pretty. That will
be because the human senses, under certain circumstances, are
susceptible to sympathetic induction. In the case of the rose arbor
we may assume that the artist has typically represented the necessary
characteristics of the arbor for one part of the audience, for
another part those of a castle, for another part those of a forest,
and for a fourth those of a background. But once an individual
finds a single object to be correct, his senses are already sympathetically
inductive, i. e., captivated for the correctness of the whole
collection, so that the correctness passes from one object to the total


number. Now, this psychic process is most clear in those optical
illusions which recently have been much on public exhibition (the
Battle of Gravelotte, the Journey of the Austrian Crown Prince in
Egypt, etc.). The chief trick of these representations is the presenting
of real objects, like stones, wheels, etc., in the foreground in such a
way that they fuse unnoticeably with the painted picture. The
sense of the spectator rests on the plastic objects, is convinced of
their materiality and transfers the idea of this plasticity to the
merely pictured. Thus the whole image appears as tri-dimensional.

The decorations of great parks at the beginning of the last century
indicate that illumination and excited imagination are not alone in
causing such illusions. Weber tells ecstatically of an alley in Schwetzing
at the end of which there was a highly illuminated concave
wall, painted with a landscape of mountains and water-falls. Everybody
took the deception for a reality because the eye was captivated
and properly inducted. The artist's procedure must have been
psychologically correct and must have counted upon the weakness
of our observation and intellection. Exner points to the simple
circumstance that we do not want to see that things under certain
conditions must terminate. If we draw a straight line and cover
an end with a piece of paper, every one wonders that the line is not
longer when the paper is removed.

I know of no case in criminal procedure where illusions of this
kind might be of importance, but it is conceivable that such illusions
enter in numberless instances. This is especially susceptible of
observation when we first see some region or object hastily and then
observe it more accurately. We are astonished how fundamentally
false our first conception was. Part of this falseness may be adduced
to faults of memory, but these play little or no part if the time is
short and if we are able to recall that the false conception appeared
just as soon as we observed the situation in question. The essential
reason for false conception is to be found only in the fact that our
first hasty view was incorrectly inducted, and hence, led to illusions
like those of the theatre. Thus, it is possible to take a board fence
covered at points with green moss, for a moss-covered rock, and
then to be led by this to see a steep cliff. Certain shadows may so
magnify the size of the small window of an inn that we may take it
to be as large as that of a sitting room. And if we have seen just one
window we think all are of the same form and are convinced that
the inn is a mansion. Or again, we see, half-covered, through the
woods, a distant pool, and in memory we then see the possibly,


but not necessarily, present river. Or perhaps we see a church spire,
and possibly near it the roof of a house rises above the trees; then
we are inducted into having seen a village, although there really are
visible only the church and the house.

These illusions again, I must repeat, are of no importance if they
are at all doubted, for then the truth is ascertained. When, however,
they are not doubted and are sworn to, they cause the greatest
confusion in trials. A bar-room quarrel, a swung cane, and a red
handkerchief on the head, are enough to make people testify to
having seen a great brawl with bloody heads. A gnawing rat, a
window accidentally left open through the night, and some misplaced,
not instantaneously discovered object, are the ingredients
of a burglary. A man who sees a rather quick train, hears a shrill
blowing of the whistle, and sees a great cloud, may think himself
the witness of a wreck. All these phenomena, moreover, reveal
us things as we have been in the habit of seeing them. I repeat,
here also, that the photographic apparatus, in so far as it does not
possess a refracting lens, shows things much more truly than our
eye, which is always corrected by our memory. If I permit a man
sitting on a chair to be photographed, front view, with his legs
crossed and stretched far out, the result is a ludicrous picture because
the boots seem immensely larger than the head of the subject. But
the photograph is not at fault, for if the subject is kept in the same
position and then the apparent size of head and boot are measured,
we get accurately the same relation as on the photograph. We know
by experience how big a head is. And hence, we ordinarily see all
relations of size in proper proportion. But on the photograph we
can not apply this ``natural'' standard because it is not given in
nature, and we blame the camera.

If, in a criminal case, we are dealing with a description of size,
and it is given as it is known from experience, not as it really appears,
then if experience has deceived us, our testimony is also wrong,
although we pretend to have testified on the basis of direct sense-
perception.

The matter of after-images, probably because of their short
duration, is of no criminalistic importance. I did once believe that
they might be of considerable influence on the perception of witnesses,
but I have not succeeded in discovering a single example in which
this influence is perceptible.

On the other hand, the phenomenon of irradiation, the appearance
of dark bodies as covered with rays of light by adjacent luminosities,


is of importance. This phenomenon is well-known, as are Helmholtz's
and Plateau's explanations of it. But it is not sufficiently
applied. One needs only to set a white square upon the blackest possible
ground and at the same time a similar black square of equal size
on a white ground, and then to place them under a high light, to
perceive how much larger the white square appears to be. That such
phenomena often occur in nature need not be expounded. Whenever
we are dealing with questions of size it is indubitably necessary to
consider the color of the object and its environment with respect
to its background and to the resulting irradiation.

Section 100. (3) _Auditory Illusions_.

From the point of view of the criminalist, auditory illusions are
hardly less significant than visual illusions, the more so, as incorrect
hearing is much more frequent than incorrect seeing. This is due
to the greater similarity of tones to each other, and this similarity is
due to the fact that sound has only one dimension, while vision
involves not only three but also color. Of course, between the booming
of cannons and the rustling of wings there are more differences
than one, but the most various phenomena of tones may be said to
vary only in degree. For purposes of comparison moreover, we can
make use only of a class of auditory images on the same plane,
e. g., human voices, etc. Real acoustic illusions are closely connected
with auditory misapprehension and a distinction between these
two can not be rigorously drawn. A misapprehension may, as a
rule, be indicated by almost any external condition, like the relations
of pitch, echo, repetition, false coincidence of waves of sound, etc.
Under such circumstances there may arise real illusions.

The study of auditory illusions is rendered especially difficult by
the rarity of their repetition, which makes it impossible reliably
to exclude accidents and mistakes in observation. Only two phenomena
are susceptible of accurate and sufficient study. For three
summers a man used to ride through the long street in which I
live. The man used to sell ice and would announce himself by
crying out, ``Frozen,'' with the accent on the Fro. This word was
distinctly audible, but if the man came to a definite place in the
street, there were also audible the words ``Oh, my.'' If he rode on
further the expression became confused and gradually turned into
the correct, ``Frozen.'' I observed this daily, got a number of
others to do so, without telling them of the illusion, but each heard


the same thing in spite of the distinct difference between ``frozen,''
and ``oh, my.''

I made a similar observation at a bicycle school. As is known,
beginners are able frequently to ride by themselves but need help
in mounting and dismounting their machines. To do so they call
a teacher by crying out: ``Herr Maier.'' At a certain place this
sound would seem distinctly to be ``mamma.'' I was at first much
surprised to hear people of advanced age cry cheerfully, ``mamma.''
Later I discovered what the word really was and acquaintances
whose attention I called to the matter confirmed my observation.
Such things are not indifferent, they show that really very different
sounds may be mistaken for one another, that the test of misunderstandings
may often lead to false results, since only during the test
of an illusion are both auditor and speaker accurately in the same
position as before. Finally, these things show that the whole business
of correcting some false auditions is very difficult. Yet this
work of correction may be assumed to be much more easy with
respect to hearing than with respect to seeing. If, e. g., it is asserted
that the revolver has been seen somewhere, and if it has been known
that the sight was impossible, it becomes just as impossible, almost,
to determine what the object seen really was. In the rarest cases
only will it be something altogether similar, e. g., a pistol; most of
the time it will be an object which could not be inferred from no
matter what combinations. In hearing, on the contrary, if once it
is determined that there has been a false audition, the work of placing
it, though difficult, need not be unprofitable. This work is often
compulsory upon the criminalist who receives protocols which have
not been read aloud, and in which mistakes of hearing and dictation
have been made. Such mistakes are considerably disturbing, and
if the case is important their source and status must be inferred.
This may almost always be done. Of course, strange, badly heard
proper names can not be corrected, but other things can.

As regards the general treatment of auditory illusions, it is necessary,
first of all, to consider their many and significant differences.
In the first place, there are the varieties of good hearing. That
normal and abnormal hearers vary in degree of power is well known.
There are also several special conditions, causing, e. g., the so called
hyper-auditive who hear more acutely than normal people. Of
course, such assertions as those which cite people who can hear the
noise of sulphur rubbed on the poles of quartz crystals and so on
are incorrect, but it is certain that a little attention will reveal a


surprising number of people whose hearing is far acuter than that
of normal individuals. Apart from children, the class is made up
of musicians, of young girls, and of very nervous, excitable, and
sickly persons. The musicians in fact have become so because of
their ears; the young girls hear well largely because of their delicate
organization and the very fine construction of their ears; and the
nervous people because of their sensibility to the pain involved in
loud noises. Many differences of perception among witnesses are
to be explained by differences of audition, and the reality of apparent
impossibilities in hearing must not be denied but must be tested
under proper conditions. One of these conditions is location. The
difference between hearing things in the noisy day and in the quiet
night, in the roar of the city, or in the quiet of the mountains, is
familiar. The influence of resonance and pitch, echo and absorption
of tones, i. e., the location of the sound, is of great importance.
Finally, it must not be forgotten that people's ability to hear varies
with the weather. Colds reduce the power, and not a few people
are influenced by temperature, atmospheric pressure, etc. These
considerations show the degree in which auditory illusions can be
of importance even in tests of their nature and existence. They
show above all that the same object of comparison under the
same circumstances must be used in every test. Otherwise much
confusion inevitably results.

The presence of auditory illusions in diseases, fever, hysteria,
nervousness, alcoholism and its associates, mental disturbances,
hypermia, diseases of the ear, etc., is well known, but concerns us
only as pointing to the necessity of calling in the physician immediately.
They have their definite characteristics and rarely leave
the layman in doubt of his duty in that direction. The great difficulty
comes in dealing with diseases or apparent diseases while it
is still impossible to know of their existence, or where the pain is
of such character that the layman does not know of its presence
and thus has no ground for consulting the doctor. For example, it is
well known that a large amount of ear wax in the aural passage may
cause all sorts of ringing and sighing in the ear, and may even produce
real hallucinations. Yet a person having an abnormal amount of ear
wax may be otherwise absolutely sound. How is the need of a
physician to be guessed in such a case? Again, the perforation of
the drum, especially when it follows a catarrh, may cause a definite
auditory illusion with regard to the sound of voices, or the illusion
may be effected by the irritation of the skin in the ear passage, or


by anemia, or by a strong carotid pulse and a distention of the
bloodvessels, as happens in alcoholism. Many people become abnormally
sensitive to sound at the beginning of fevers. Women at
the time of their climacterium hear all kinds of voices. Inasmuch
as this soon stops, the abnormality and incorrectness of their audition
is hard to establish. Childbirth, too, makes a difference. Old, otherwise
conscientious midwives claim to have heard unborn children
breathe and cry.

Examples of this sort of thing are innumerable and they teach
that whenever any questionable assertion is made about a thing
heard the doctor must be called in to determine whether the witness
heard it under abnormal, though not diseased conditions. Again,
merely accidental or habitual general excitability tends to intensify
all sounds, and whether the witness under consideration was in
such condition can be determined only by the expert physician.

The illusions of hearing which completely normal people are
subject to are the most difficult of all. Their number and frequency
is variously estimated. The physician has nothing to do with them.
The physicist, the acoustician and physiologist do not care about
the criminalist's needs in this matter, and we ourselves rarely have
time and opportunity to deal with it. As a result our information
is very small, and no one can say how much is still undiscovered.
One of my friends has called my attention to the fact that when the
beats of the clock are counted during sleepiness, one too many is
regularly counted. I tested this observation and my experience
confirmed it. If, now, we consider how frequently the determination
of time makes the whole difference in a criminal case and how easily
it is possible to mistake a whole hour, we can get some notion of the
importance of this illusion. Its explanation is difficult and it may
be merely a single instance of a whole series of unknown auditory
illusions resting on the same basis. Another and similar phenomenon
is the ``double beat of the hammer.'' If you have an assistant
strike the table with a hammer while you hold both ears with your
fingers and then open them half a second or a second after the blow,
you hear the blow again. And if you open and shut your ears quickly
you can hear the blow several times. This is explained through the
fact that a number of reflections of the sound occur in the room, and
that these are perceivable only by the unfatigued ear. The explanation
is unsatisfactory because the experiment is sometimes successful
in the open. Taken in itself, this matter seems very theoretical
and without practical value. But this kind of action may occur


automatically. It is well known that swallowing closes the Eustachian
tubes for a moment, especially if done when lying down.
Now, if this occurs during a blow, a shot, etc., the sound must be
heard twice. Again, it may easily happen that because of the noise
a man wakes up half asleep and, frightened, swallows the collected
saliva; then this accident, which in itself seems unimportant, may
lead to very significant testimony. Such occurrences are not infrequent.

The intensity of a sound already heard may be of considerable
influence. Certain experimenters have indicated the remarkable
character of slightly intensive effects of sound. If you hold a watch
so far from the ear as to hear it clearly but weakly, the sound decreases
until finally it is not heard at all, and after awhile it is again
heard, etc. This may lead to hearing distinct sounds made up of
many tones, and need not evince any great illusion with regard to
the ticking of a watch. But the thing may occur also in connection
with more powerful and more distant sounds, e. g., the murmur of
a brook, the rush of a train, the pounding in a distant factory. Noises
far removed are influenced by reflections of sound, waves of air, etc.,
and it is possible that all kinds of things may be heard in a completely
monotonous noise. This can be easily learned by listening to the
soft murmur of a distant brook at night. Given the disposition
and supposing the existence of the brook unknown, it is easy
to hear in its monotonous murmur, human voices, sighs, shrieks,
etc.

Another remarkable observation shows that in the dark very
distinct things are heard during the playing of delicate instruments,
such as mouth-organs. The humming approaches and withdraws,
then it comes on various sides, and finally one has the feeling that
the whole room is full of humming and winging insects. And this
may go on indefinitely. There is a large collection of reasons for
this reduplication of monotonous sounds. Everybody knows the
accord of the olian harp which consists of identical notes, and the
melodies which seem to lie in the pounding of the train on the rails.
This can become especially clear when one is half asleep. If ever
thinking begins to be ousted by slumber, the rhythmic pound begins
to dominate consciousness. Then the rhythm gets its appropriate
melody which becomes progressively more intense, and if one grows
suddenly wide awake one wonders why the clearly-heard music is
missing. Similarly, it is often asserted that a row of travelling wild
swans make pleasant chords, although each swan is able to utter


only one cry. Difference in distance and alterations in the air
cause the chords.

The difficulties in distinguishing the intensity or weakness of a
sound are of importance. Fechner learned from the violinist Wasilewski
that he observed that a male choir of four hundred voices did
not sound essentially louder than one of two hundred. At the same
time one clock is not heard at a great distance, a hundred clocks
are heard. One locust can not be heard eating; when 1000 eat
they are heard; hence each one must make a definite noise.[1] Early
authorities have already indicated how difficult it is to distinguish
the number of bells ringing together. Even musicians will often
take two or three to be five or six.

Certain dispositions make some difference in this respect. The
operating physician hears the low groaning of the patient after the
operation without having heard his loud cries during the operation.
During the operation the physician must not hear anything that is
likely to disturb his work, but the low groan has simply borne in upon
him. The sleeping mother often is deaf to considerable noise, but
wakes up immediately when her child draws a deeper breath than
usual. Millers and factory hands, travellers, etc., do not hear the
pounding of their various habitual environmental noises, but they
perceive the slightest call, and everybody observes the considerable
murmur of the world, the sum of all distant noises, only in the
silence of the night that misses it.

Illusions of direction of sound are very common. It is said that
even animals are subject to them; and everybody knows how few
human beings can distinguish the source and direction of street
music, a rolling wagon, or a ringing bell. Even when long practice
enables one to determine direction with correctness, an accidental
event, perhaps the weather, especial sounds, a different grouping of
individuals on the street, may result in serious mistakes. I tried
to learn to judge from my office-desk whether the ring of the horse-
car came from above or below. I succeeded so well that I could
not understand how it was difficult not to learn the difference, and
yet I failed many a time altogether in judgment. The reason for
it I do not know.

All these enumerated circumstances must show how very uncertain
all acoustic perceptions are, and how little they may be trusted if
they are not carefully tested under similar conditions, and if--what
is most important--they are not isolated. We are here led back

[1] Max Meyer: Zur Theorie der Geruschempfindungen. Leipzig 1902.


to the old principle that every observation is not proof but means of
proof, and that it may be trusted only when it is confirmed by many
parallel actions which are really consistent. That even after that
mistakes are possible, is true, but ``after that'' is when we have
done all that lies within human power.

Section 101. (4) _Illusions of Touch_.

The high standing of the sense of touch which make it in certain
directions even the organ of control of the sense of sight, is well
known, and Condillac's historic attempt to derive all the senses from
this one is still plausible. If what is seen is to be seen accurately
there is automatic resort to the confirmatory aid of the sense of touch,
which apprehends what the eye has missed. Hence we find many
people touching things, whose vision is not altogether reliable--
i. e., people of considerable age, children unpracticed in seeing, an
uneducated people who have never learned to see quickly and comprehensively.
Moreover, certain things can be determined only by
touching, i. e., the fineness of papers, cloth, etc., the sharpness or
pointedness of instruments, or the rawness of objects. Even when
we pat a dog kindly we do so partly because we want to see whether
his skin is as smooth and fine as the eye sees it; moreover, we want
to test the visual impression by that of touch.

But important and reliable as the sense of touch is, it is nevertheless
not to be trusted when it is the sole instrument of perception.
We must never depend on the testimony of a witness based entirely
on perceptions by touch, and the statements of a wounded person
concerning the time, manner, etc., of his wound are unreliable unless
he has also seen what he has felt. We know that most knife and
bullet wounds, i. e., the most dangerous ones, are felt, in the first
instance, as not very powerful blows. Blows on the extremities are
not felt as such, but rather as pain, and blows on the head are regularly
estimated in terms of pain, and falsely with regard to their
strength. If they were powerful enough to cause unconsciousness
they are said to have been very massive, but if they have not had
that effect, they will be described by the most honest of witnesses
as much more powerful than they actually were. Concerning the
location of a wound in the back, in the side, even in the upper arm,
the wounded person can give only general indications, and if he
correctly indicates the seat of the wound, he has learned it later
but did not know it when it occurred. According to Helmholtz,


practically all abdominal sensations are attributed to the anterior
abdominal wall. Now such matters become of importance when an
individual has suffered several wounds in a brawl or an assault
and wants to say certainly that he got wound A when X appeared,
wound B when Y struck at him, etc. These assertions are almost all
false because the victim is likely to identify the pain of the moment
of receiving the wound with its later painfulness. If, for example,
an individual has received a rather long but shallow knife wound
and a deep stab in the back, the first will cause him very considerable
burning sensation, the latter only the feeling of a heavy blow. Later
on, at the examination, the cut has healed and is no longer painful;
the dangerous stab which may have reached the lung, causes pain
and great difficulty in breathing, so that the wounded man assigns
the incidence of the stab to the painful sensation of the cut, and
conversely.

Various perceptions of victims on receiving a wound are remarkable,
and I have persuaded a police surgeon of considerable learning
and originality to collect and interpret his great mass of material.
It is best done by means of tabulation, accurate description of
wounds according to their place, size, form, and significance, the
statement of the victim concerning his feeling at the moment of
receiving the wound, the consequences of healing, and at the end
explanatory observations concerning the reasons for true or incorrect
sensations of the victim. As this work is to have only psychological
value it is indifferent whether the victim is veracious or not. What
we want to know is what people say about their perception. The
true and the false will distinguish themselves automatically, the
material being so rich, and the object will be to compare true subjective
feelings with true subjective deeds. Perhaps it may even
be possible to draw generalizations and to abstract certain
rules.

There are many examples of the fact that uncontrolled touch leads
to false perceptions. Modern psychophysics has pointed to a large
group of false perceptions due to illusions of pressure, stabs, or other
contact with the skin. The best known, and criminalistically most
important experiments, are those with open compasses. Pressed
on the less sensitive parts of the body, the back, the thigh, etc.,
they are always felt as one, although they are quite far apart. The
experiments of Flournoy, again, show how difficult it is to judge
weights which are not helped by the eye's appreciation of their form
and appearance. Ten objects of various forms were judged by fifty


people for their weight; only one discovered that they all had the
same weight.

Similarly, mere touch can not give us proper control over the organs
of the body. Sully says that in bed we may voluntarily imagine
that a leg has a position quite different from that it really has. Let
me cite some similar examples from my ``Manual for Investigating
Judges.'' If we take a pea between the thumb and the index
finger, we feel the pea simply, although its tactile image comes to
us through two fingers, i. e., double. If now we cross the third
finger over the fourth and hold the pea between the ends of these
two fingers, we feel it to be double because the fingers are not in
their customary positions and hence give double results. From one
point of view this double feeling is correct, but when we touch the
pea naturally, experience helps us to feel only one pea. Another
example consists in crossing the hands and turning them inward
and upward, so that the left fingers turn to the left and the right
fingers to the right. Here the localization of the fingers is totally
lost, and if a second person points to one of the fingers without
touching it, asking you to lift it, you regularly lift the analogous
finger of the other hand. This shows that the tactile sense is not in a
very high stage of development, since it needs, when unhelped by long
experience, the assistance of the sense of sight. Perceptions through
touch alone, therefore, are of small importance; inferences are made
on the basis of few and more coarse characteristic impressions.

This is shown by a youthful game we used to play. It consisted
of stretching certain harmless things under the table--a soft piece
of dough, a peeled, damp potato stuck on a bit of wood, a wet glove
filled with sand, the spirally cut rind of a beet, etc. Whoever got
one of these objects without seeing it thought he was holding some
disgusting thing and threw it away. His sense of touch could present
only the dampness, the coldness, and the motion, i. e., the coarsest
traits of reptilian life, and the imagination built these up into a
reptile and caused the consequent action. Foolish as this game seems,
it is criminalistically instructive. It indicates what unbelievable
illusions the sense of touch is capable of causing. To this inadequacy
of the tactile imagination may be added a sort of transferability of
certain touch sensations. For example, if ants are busy near my
seat I immediately feel that ants are running about under my clothes,
and if I see a wound or hear it described, I often feel pain in the
analogous place on my own body. That this may lead to considerable
illusion in excitable witnesses is obvious.

Finally, this dependence of the sense of touch may be supplemented
by the fact that it is counted only relatively, and its value
varies with the individual. We find the cellar warm in winter and
cold in summer, because we only feel the difference with the outer
air, and when we put one hand in hot, and the other in cold
water, and then put both in tepid water one finds the tepid water
cold, the other warm. The record of tactile sensations is frequent
in our protocols and requires constant consideration of the sense's
unreliability.

Diseased conditions are of course to be referred to the physician.
I need only mention that slight poisonings by means of chloroform,
morphine, atropine, daturine, decrease, and that strychnine increases
the sensitivity of the touch organ.

Section 102. (5) _Illusions of the Sense of Taste_.

Illusions of taste are of importance for us only in cases of poisoning
in which we want the assistance of the victim, or desire to taste the
poison in question in order to determine its nature. That taste
and odor are particularly difficult to get any unanimity about is
an old story, and it follows that it is still more difficult clearly to
understand possible illusions of these senses. That disease can cause
mistaken gustatory impressions is well known. But precedent
poisoning may also create illusions. Thus, observation shows that
poisoning by rose-santonin (that well-known worm remedy to which
children are so abnormally sensitive) causes a long-enduring, bitter
taste; sub-cutaneous morphine poisoning causes illusory bitter
and sour tastes. Intermittent fevers tend to cause, when there is
no attack and the patient feels comparatively well, a large number of
metallic, particularly coppery tastes. If this is true it may lead to
unjustified suspicions of poisoning, inasmuch as the phenomena
of intermittent fever are so various that they can not all be identified.

Imagination makes considerable difference here. Taine tells
somewhere of a novelist, who so graphically described the poisoning
of his heroine that he felt the taste of arsenic and got indigestion.
This may be possible, for perhaps everybody has already learned
the great influence of the false idea of the nature of a food. If some
salt meat is taken to be a sweet pastry, the taste becomes disgusting
because the imaginary and the actual tastes seem to be mixed. The
eye has especial influence, and the story cited and denied a hundred
times, that in the dark, red wine and white wine, chicken and goose,


can not be distinguished, that the going out of a cigar is not noted,
etc., is true. With your eyes closed it may be possible to eat an
onion instead of an apple.

Prior tastes may cause significant gustatory illusions. Hence,
when assertions are made about tastes, it is always necessary to
inquire at the outset what had been eaten or drunk before. Experienced
housewives take this fact into consideration in setting their
tables and arranging their wines. The values of the wines are considerably
raised by complete illusions of taste. All in all, it must not
be forgotten that the reliability of the sense of taste can not be estimated
too low. The illusions are greatest especially when a thing
has been tasted with a preconceived notion of its taste.

Section 103. (6) _The Illusions of the Olfactory Sense_.

Olfactory illusions are very rare in healthy people and are hence
of small importance. They are frequent among the mentally diseased,
are connected in most cases with sexual conditions and then are
so vivid that the judge can hardly doubt the need of calling in the
physician. Certain poisons tend to debauch the olfactory sense.
Strychnine, e. g., tends to make it finer, morphine duller. People
with weak lungs try, in most cases, to set their difficulty of breathing
outside themselves and believe that they are inhaling poisoned air,
coal-gas, etc. If one considers in this connection the suspiciousness
which many people suffering from lung trouble often exhibit, we
may explain many groundless accusations of attempted murder by
stifling with poisonous or unbreathable gas. If this typical illusion
is unknown to the judge he may find no reason for calling in the
physician and then--injustice.

The largest number of olfactory illusions are due to imagination.
Carpenter's frequently cited case of the officials who smelled a corpse
while a coffin was being dug up, until finally the coffin was found to
be empty, has many fellows. I once was making an examination of
a case of arson, and on approaching the village noted a characteristic
odor which is spread by burned animals or men. When we learned:
that the consumed farm lay still an hour's ride from the village,
the odor immediately disappeared. Again, on returning home, I
thought I heard the voice of a visitor and immediately smelled her
characteristic perfume, but she had not been there that day.

Such illusions are to be explained by the fact that many odors
are in the air, that they are not very powerfully differentiated and


may hence be turned by means of the imagination into that one which
is likely to be most obvious.

The stories told of hyper-sensitives who think they are able to
smell the pole of a magnet or the chemicals melted into a glass,
belong to this class. That they do so in good faith may be assumed,
but to smell through melted glass is impossible. Hence it must be
believed that such people have really smelled something somewhere
and have given this odor this or that particular location. Something
like this occurs when an odor, otherwise found pleasant, suddenly
becomes disgusting and unbearable when its source is unknown.
However gladly a man may eat sardines in oil he is likely to turn
aside when his eyes are closed and an open can of sardines is held
under his nose. Many delicate forms of cheese emit disgusting
odors so long as it is not known that cheese is the source. The
odor that issues from the hands after crabs have been eaten is unbearable;
if, however, one bears in mind that the odor is the odor
of crabs, it becomes not at all so unpleasant.

Association has much influence. For a long time I disliked to
go to a market where flowers, bouquets, wreaths, etc., were kept
because I smelled dead human bodies. Finally, I discovered that
the odor was due to the fact that I knew most of these flowers to
be such as are laid on coffins--are smelled during interment. Again,
many people find perfumes good or bad as they like or dislike the
person who makes use of them, and the judgment concerning the
pleasantness or unpleasantness of an odor is mainly dependent
upon the pleasantness or unpleasantness of associative memories.
When my son, who is naturally a vegetarian and who could never
be moved to eat meat, became a doctor, I thought that he could
never be brought to endure the odor of the dissecting room. It
did not disturb him in the least, however, and he explained it by
saying: ``I do not eat what smells like that, and I can not conceive
how you can eat anything from the butcher shops where the odor
is exactly like that of the dissecting room.'' What odor is called
good or bad, ecstatic or disgusting, is purely a subjective matter
and never to be the basis of a universal judgment. Statements by
witnesses concerning perceptions of odor are valueless unless otherwise
confirmed.

Section 104. (b) Hallucinations and Illusions.

The limits between illusions of sense and hallucinations and
illusions proper can in no sense be definitely determined inasmuch


as any phenomena of the one may be applied to the other, and vice
versa.[1] Most safely it may be held that the cause of illusions of
sense lies in the nature of sense-organs, while the hallucinations and
illusions are due to the activity of the brain. The latter are much
more likely to fall within the scope of the physician than sense-
illusions, but at the same time many of them have to be determined
upon by the lawyer, inasmuch as they really occur to normal people
or to such whose disease is just beginning so that the physician can
not yet reach it. Nevertheless, whenever the lawyer finds himself
face to face with a supposed illusion or hallucination he must absolutely
call in the physician. For, as rarely as an ordinary illusion of
sense is explicable by the rules of logic or psychology, or even by
means of other knowledge or experience at the command of any
educated man, so, frequently, do processes occur in cases of hallucination
and illusion which require, at the very least, the physiological
knowledge of the physician. Our activity must hence be limited
to the perception of the presence of hallucination or illusion; the
rest is matter for the psychiatrist. Small as our concern is, it is
important and difficult, for on the one hand we must not appeal to
the physician about every stupid fancy or every lie a prisoner utters,
and on the other hand we assume a heavy responsibility if we interpret
a real hallucination or illusion as a true and real observation.
To acquire knowledge of the nature of these things, therefore, can
not be rigorously enough recommended.

Hallucination and illusion have been distinguished by the fact
that hallucination implies no external object whatever, while in
illusion objects are mistaken and misinterpreted. When one thing
is taken for another, e. g., an oven for a man, the rustle of the wind
for a human song, we have illusion. When no objective existence
is perceived, e. g., when a man is seen to enter, a voice is heard, a
touch is felt, although nothing whatever has happened, we have
hallucination. Illusion is partial, hallucination complete, supplementation
of an external object. There is not a correct and definite
difference between illusion and hallucination inasmuch as what is
present may be so remotely connected with what is perceived that it
is no more than a stimulus, and thus illusion may be turned into
real hallucination. One authority calls illusion the conception of
an actually present external event which is perceived by the peripheral
organs in the form of an idea that does not coincide with the

[1] C. Wernicke ber Halluzinationen, Ratlosigkeit, Desorientierung etc.
Monatschrift f. Psychiatrie u. Neurologie, IX, 1 (1901).


event. The mistake does not lie in the defective activity of the
senses so much as in the fact that an apperceptive idea is substituted
for the perceptive view. In hallucination every external event is
absent, and hence, what is seen is due to a stimulation of the periphery.
Some authorities believe hallucination to be caused by
cramp of the sensory nerve. Others find illusions to be an externally
stimulated sense-perception not corresponding to the stimulus, and
still others believe it to be essentially normal. Most human beings
are from time to time subject to illusions; indeed, nobody is always
sober and intelligent in all his perceptions and convictions. The
luminous center of our intelligent perceptions is wrapped in a cloudy
half-shadow of illusion.

Sully[1] aims to distinguish the essential nature of illusion from
that characterized by ordinary language. Illusion, according to
him, is often used to denote mistakes which do not imply untrue
perceptions. We say a man has an illusion who thinks too much of
himself, or when he tells stories otherwise than as they happen
because of a weakness of memory. Illusion is every form of mistake
which substitutes any direct self-evident or intuitive knowledge,
whether as sense-perception or as any other form.

Nowadays the cause of hallucination and illusion is sought in
the over-excitement of the cerebro-spinal system. As this stimulation
may be very various in its intensity and significance, from the
momentary rush of blood to complete lunacy, so hallucinations and
illusions may be insignificant or signs of very serious mental
disturbances. When we seek the form of these phenomena, we find
that all those psychical events belong to it which have not been
_*purposely_ performed or lied about. When Brutus sees Csar's
ghost; Macbeth, Banquo's ghost; Nicholas, his son; these are
distinctly hallucinations or illusions of the same kind as those
``really and truly'' seen by our nurses. The stories of such people
have no significance for the criminalist, but if a person has seen an
entering thief, an escaping murderer, a bloody corpse, or some
similar object of criminal law, and these are hallucinations like classical
ghosts, then are we likely to be much deceived. Hoppe[2] enumerates
hallucinations of apparently sound (?) people. 1. A priest
tired by mental exertion, saw, while he was writing, a boy's head
look over his shoulder. If he turned toward it it disappeared, if
he resumed writing it reappeared. 2. ``A thoroughly intelligent''

[1] James Sully. Illusions.

[2] J, J. Hoppe. Erklrungen des Sinnestauschungen.


man always was seeing a skeleton. 3. Pascal, after a heavy blow,
saw a fiery abyss into which he was afraid he would fall. 4. A man
who had seen an enormous fire, for a long time afterward saw flames
continually. 5. Numerous cases in which criminals, especially
murderers, always had their victims before their eyes. 6. Justus
Mser saw well-known flowers and geometrical figures very distinctly.
7. Bonnet knows a ``healthy'' man who saw people, birds,
etc., with open eyes. 8. A man got a wound in his left ear and
for weeks afterward saw a cat. 9. A woman eighty-eight years old
often saw everything covered with flowers,--otherwise she was
quite ``well.''

A part of these stories seems considerably fictitious, a part applies
to indubitable pathological cases, and certain of them are confirmed
elsewhere. That murderers, particularly women-murderers of
children, often see their victims is well known to us criminalists.
And for this reason the habit of confining prisoners in a dark cell for
twenty-four hours on the anniversary of a crime must be pointed to
as refined and thoroughly medival cruelty. I have repeatedly
heard from people so tortured of the terror of their visions on such
days of martyrdom. Cases are told of in which prisoners who were
constipated had all kinds of visual and auditory hallucinations and
appeared, e. g., to hear in the rustling of their straw, all sorts of
words. That isolation predisposes people to such things is as well
known as the fact that constipation causes a rush of blood to the
head, and hence, nervous excitement. The well-known stories of
robbers which are often told us by prisoners are not always the fruit
of malicious invention. Probably a not insignificant portion are
the result of hallucination.

Hoppe tells of a great group of hallucinations in conditions of
waking and half-waking, and asserts that everybody has them and
can note them if he gives his attention thereto. This may be an
exaggeration, but it is true that a healthy person in any way excited
or afraid may hear all kinds of things in the crackling of a fire, etc.,
and may see all kinds of things, in smoke, in clouds, etc. The movement
of portraits and statues is particularly characteristic, especially
in dim light, and under unstable emotional conditions. I own a
relief by Ghiberti called the ``Rise of the Flesh,'' in which seven
femurs dance around a corpse and sing. If, at night, I put out the
lamp in my study and the moon falls on the work, the seven femurs
dance as lively as may be during the time it takes my eyes to adapt
themselves from the lamplight to the moonlight. Something similar


I see on an old carved dresser. The carving is so delicate that in
dim light it shows tiny heads and flames after the fashion of the
Catholic church pictures of ``poor souls,'' in purgatory. Under
certain conditions of illumination the flames flicker, the heads move,
and out of the fire the arms raise themselves to the clouds floating
above. Now this requires no unusual excitement, simply the weary
sensing of evening, when the eyes turn from prolonged uniform
reading or writing to something else.[1] It has happened to me from
my earliest childhood. High bodily temperature may easily cause
hallucinations. Thus, marching soldiers are led to shoot at non-
existing animals and apparently-approaching enemies. Uniform
and fatiguing mental activity is also a source of hallucination.
Fechner says that one day having performed a long experiment
with the help of a stop-watch, he heard its beats through the whole
evening after. So again when he was studying long series of figures
he used to see them at night in the dark so distinctly that he could
read them off.

Then there are illusions of touch which may be criminalistically
important. A movement of air may be taken for an approaching
man. A tight collar or cravat may excite the image of being stifled!
Old people frequently have a sandy taste while eating,--when this
is told the thought occurs that it may be due to coarsely powdered
arsenic, yet it may be merely illusion.

The slightest abnormality makes hallucinations and illusions very
easy. Persons who are in great danger have all kinds of hallucinations,
particularly of people. In the court of law, when witnesses
who have been assaulted testify to having seen people, hallucination
may often be the basis of their evidence. Hunger again, or loss of
blood, gives rise to the most various hallucinations. Menstruation
and hmorrhoids may be the occasions of definite periodic visions,
and great pain may be accompanied by hallucinations which begin
with the pain, become more distinct as it increases, and disappear
when it ceases.

It might seem that in this matter, also, the results are destructive
and that the statements of witnesses are untrue and unreliable. I
do not assert that our valuation of these statements shall be checked
from all possible directions, but I do say that much of what we
have considered as true depends only on illusions in the broad sense
of the word and that it is our duty before all things rigorously to
test everything that underlies our researches.

[1] Cf. A. Mosso: Die Ermdung. Leipzig 1892.


Section 105. (C) Imaginative Ideas.

Illusions of sense, hallucinations, and illusions proper taken as
a group, differ from imaginative representations because the individual
who has them is more or less passive and subject to the
thing from which they arise, while with the latter the individual is
more active and creates new images by the _*combination_ of existing
or only imagined conditions. It does not matter whether these
consist of the idea only, or whether they are the product of word,
manuscript, picture, sculpture, music, etc. We have to deal only
with their occurrence and their results. Of course there is no sharp
boundary between imaginative ideas and sense-perception, etc.
Many phenomena are difficult to classify and even language is
uncertain in its usage. The notion ``illusion'' has indicated many
a false ideal, many a product of incoherent fancy.

The activity of the imagination, taken in the ordinary sense,
requires analysis first of all. According to Meinong[1] there are two
kinds of imaginative images--a generative, and a constructive
kind. The first exhibits elements, the second unites them. Thus:
I imagine some familiar house, then I reproduce the idea of fire
(generative), now I unite these two elements, and imagine the
house in question in flames (constructive). This involves several
conditions.

The conditions of generation offer no difficulties. The difficulty
lies in the constructive aspect of the activity, for we can imagine
astonishingly little. We can not imagine ourselves in the fourth
dimension, and although we have always had to make use of such
quantities, we all have the idea that the quantity A represents, e. g,,
a line, A<2S>, a square, A<3S>, a cube, but as soon as we have to say what
image A<5S>, A<6S>, etc., represents, our mathematical language is at an
end. Even twelve men or a green flame seen through red glass or
two people speaking different things can barely be imagined with
any clearness. We have the elements but we can not construct their
compounds. This difficulty occurs also in the consideration of
certain objects. Suppose we are looking at an artistically complete
angel; we are always bothered by the idea that his wings are much
too small to enable him to fly. If an angel constructed like a man
is to be borne by his wings, they must be so gigantic as to be
unreproducible by an artist. Indeed a person slightly more grubby,

[1] Phantasie u. Phantasienvorstellung. Zeitsehrift f. Philosophie u.
philosophische Kritik. Vol. 95.


and interested in anatomy, will bother, at the sight of the most beautiful
statue of an angel, concerning the construction of the limbs, the
wings, and their relation to the skeleton. In certain directions,
therefore, the imagination is too weak to conceive an ethereal being
in human form floating in the air. Further, one authority points
out that we think more frequently of centaurs than of human beings
with serpentine bodies, not because centaurs are more sthetic
but because horses are more massive than serpents. I do not believe
this to be the true explanation, for otherwise we should have had to
imagine people with canine bodies, inasmuch as we see as many dogs
as horses, if not more. But the fact is correct and the explanation
may be that we imagine a centaur because of the appropriate size,
the implied power, and because it is not a wide leap from a horseman
to a centaur. In short, here also we see that the imagination prefers
to work where difficulties are fewer. Thus, with the ease of imagining
an object there goes its definite possibility. I know an old gentleman
in A and another one in B who have never seen each other, but I
can easily imagine them together, speaking, playing cards, etc., and
only with difficulty can I think of them as quarreling or betting. In
the _*possibility_ there is always a certain ease, and this is appropriated
by the imagination.

It is significant that when others help us and we happen to find
pleasure therein, we answer to very difficult demands upon the
imagination. In the opera the deviation from reality is so powerful
that it seems silly to one unaccustomed to it. But we do not need
the unaccustomed person. We need only to imagine the most
ordinary scene in an opera, i. e., a declaration of love, sung; an
aria declining it; an aria before committing suicide; a singing choir
with a moral about this misfortune. Has anything even remotely
like it ever been seen in real life? But we accept it quietly and find
it beautiful and affecting simply because others perform it without
difficulty before our eyes and we are willing to believe it possible.

The rule to be derived from all the foregoing is this. Whenever
we believe a statement to be based on imagination, or to have been
learned from some imaginative source, we must always connect
it with its most proximate neighbors, and step by step seek out its
elements and then compound them in the simplest possible form.
We may, in this fashion, get perhaps at the proper content of the
matter. Of course it need not yield another imaginary image. And
its failure to do so would be an objection if the compound were the
end of the work and were to be used in itself. But that is not the


case. All that is required is to derive a certain starting-point from
the hodge-podge of uncertainties and unintelligibility. When the
construction is made it must be compared with all the material at
hand and tested by that material. If the two agree, and only when
they agree, may it be assumed that the starting-point has been
properly chosen. But not to make this construction means to feel
around aimlessly, and to give up the job before it has been really
begun.

Let us take the simplest possible instance of such a situation.
In a bowling alley, two youths, A and B, had a lively quarrel, in
which A held the ball in his hand and threatened to throw it at
B's head. B, frightened, ran away, A pursued him, after a few
steps threw the ball into the grass, caught B, and then gave him an
easy blow with the fiat of his hand on the back of his head. B began
to wabble, sank to the ground, became unconscious, and showed all
the signs of a broken head (unconsciousness, vomiting, distention of
the pupils, etc.). All the particular details of the event are unanimously
testified to by many witnesses, non-partisan friends of A
and B, and among them the parish priest. Simulation is completely
excluded inasmuch as B, a simple peasant lad, certainly did not know
the symptoms of brain-fever, and could not hope for any damages
from the absolutely poor A. Let us now consider what the nearest
facts are. The elements of the case are: B sees a heavy ball in A's
hand; A threatens B with it and pursues him; B feels a blow on the
head. The compounding of these elements results in the invincible
assumption on B's part that A had struck him on the head with the
ball. The consequence of this imaginative feeling was the development
of all the phenomena that would naturally have followed if
B had actually been struck on the head.

It would be wrong to say that these cases are so rare as to be useless
in practice. We simply do not observe them for the reason that
we take much to be real because it is confirmed reliably. More
accurate examination would show that many things are merely
imaginative. A large portion of the contradictions we meet in our
cases is explicable by the fact that one man is the victim of his
fancies and the other is not. The great number of such fancies is
evinced by the circumstance that there can nowhere be found a chasm
or boundary between the simplest fancies of the normal individual
and the impossible imaginings of the lunatic. Every man imagines
frequently the appearance of an absent friend, of a landscape he
has once seen. The painter draws even the features of an absent


model; the practiced chess-master plays games without having
the board before him; persons half asleep see the arrival of absentees;
persons lost in the wood at night see spirits and ghosts; very
nervous people see them at home, and the lunatic sees the most
extraordinary and disgusting things--all these are imaginations
beginning with the events of the daily life, ending with the visions
of diseased humanity. Where is the boundary, where a lacuna?

Here, as in all events of the daily life, the natural development
of the extremely abnormal from the ordinary is the incontrovertible
evidence for the frequency of these events.

Of course one must not judge by one's self. Whoever does not
believe in the devil, and never as a child had an idea of him in mind,
will never see him as an illusion. And whoever from the beginning
possesses a restricted, inaccessible imagination, can never understand
the other fellow who is accompanied by the creatures of his
imagination. We observe this hundreds of times. We know that
everybody sees a different thing in clouds, smoke, mountain tops,
ink blots, coffee stains, etc.; that everybody sees it according to
the character and intensity of his imagination, and that whatever
seems to be confused and unintelligible is to be explained as
determined by the nature of the person who expresses or possesses it.

So in the study of any work of art. Each is the portrayal of
some generality in concrete form. The concrete is understood by
anybody who knows enough to recognize it. The generality can
be discovered only by him who has a similar imagination, and hence
each one draws a different generalization from the same work of
art. This variety holds also in scientific questions. I remember
how three scholars were trying to decipher hieroglyphs, when that
branch of archology was still very young. One read the inscription
as a declaration of war by a nomadic tribe, another as the acquisition
of a royal bride from a foreign king; and the third as an account
of the onions consumed by Jews contributing forced labor. ``Scientific''
views could hardly of themselves have made such extraordinary
differences; only imagination could have driven scholars in such
diverse directions.

And how little we can apprehend the imaginations of others or
judge them! This is shown by the fact that we can no longer tell
whether children who vivify everything in their imagination see
their fancies as really alive. It is indubitable that the savage who
takes his fetish to be alive, the child that endows its doll with life,
would wonder if fetish and doll of themselves showed signs of


vitality--but whether they really take them to be alive is unknown
to the adult. And if we can not sympathetically apprehend the
views and imaginings of our own youth, how much less possible is
it so to apprehend those of other people. We have to add to this
fact, moreover, the characteristic circumstance that less powerful
effects must be taken into consideration. The power of imagination
is much more stimulated by mild, peaceful impressions than by
vigorous ones. The latter stun and disquiet the soul, while the former
lead it to self-possession. The play of ideas is much more excited
by mild tobacco smoke, than by the fiery column of smoking Vesuvius;
the murmur of the brook is much more stimulating than the
roar of the stormy sea. If the converse were true it would be far
easier to observe the effects in others. We see that a great impression
is at work, our attention is called to its presence, and we are then
easily in the position of observing its effect in others. But the small,
insignificant phenomena we observe the less, the less obvious their
influence upon the imagination of others appears to be. Such small
impressions pass hundreds of times without effect. For once, however,
they find a congenial soul, their proper soil, and they begin
to ferment. But how and when are we to observe this in others?

We rarely can tell whether a man's imagination is at work or
not. Nevertheless, there are innumerable stories of what famous
men did when their imagination was at work. Napoleon had to
cut things to pieces. Lenau used to scrape holes in the ground.
Mozart used to knot and tear table-cloth and napkins. Others
used to run around; still others used to smoke, drink, whistle, etc.
But not all people have these characteristics, and then we who are
to judge the influence of the imagination on a witness or a criminal
are certainly not present when the imagination is at work. To
get some notion of the matter through witnesses is altogether too
unsafe a task. Bain once justly proposed keeping the extremities
quiet as a means of conquering anger. Thus it may be definitely
discovered whether a man was quite angry at a given instant by
finding out whether his hands and feet were quiet at the time, but
such indices are not given for the activity of imagination.

Moreover, most people in whom the imagination is quite vigorously
at work know nothing about it. Du Bois-Reymond says somewhere,
``I've had a few good ideas in my life, and have observed myself
when I had them. They came altogether involuntarily, without
my ever having thought of them.'' This I do not believe. His
imagination, which was so creative, worked so easily and without


effort that he was not aware of its activity, and moreover, his fundamental
ideas were so clear that everything fell into lines spontaneously
without his being conscious of it later. This ``working'' of the
imagination is so effortless to fortunate natures that it becomes an
ordinary movement. Thus Goethe tells of an imaginary flower which
broke into its elements, united again, broke again, and united in
another form, etc. His story reveals one of the reasons for the
false descriptions of perception. The perception is correct when
made, then the imagination causes movements of ideas and the
question follows which of the two was more vigorous, the perceptive
or the imaginal activity? If the one was intenser, memory was
correct; if the other, the recollection was erroneous. It is hence
important, from the point of view of the lawyer, to study the nature
and intensity of witnesses' imagination.[1] We need only to observe
the influence of imaginal movements on powerful minds in order to
see clearly what influence even their weak reflection may have on ordinary
people. Schopenhauer finds the chief pleasure of every work of
art in imagination; and Goethe finds that no man experiences or
enjoys anything without becoming productive.

Most instructive is the compilation of imaginative ideas given
by Hfler[2] and put together from the experiences of scholars,
investigators, artists, and other important persons. For our purposes
it would be better to have a number of reliable statements from
other people which would show how normal individuals were led
astray by their imaginations. We might then learn approximately
what imaginative notions might do, and how far their limits extend.
Sully calls attention to the fact that Dickens's characters were real
to him and that when the novel was completed, its dramatic person
became personal memories. Perhaps all imaginative people are
likely to take their imaginings as actual remembered events and
persons. If this happens to a witness, what trouble he may cause us!

A physician, Dr. Hadekamp, said that he used to see the flow
of blood before he cut the vein open. Another physician, Dr.
Schmeisser, confirms this experience. Such cases are controlled physically,
the flow of blood can not be seen before the knife is removed.
Yet how often, at least chronologically, do similar mistakes occur
when no such control is present? There is the story of a woman who
could describe so accurately symptoms which resulted from a swallowed
needle, that the physicians were deceived and undertook

[1] Cf. Witasek: Zeitschrift f. Psychologie. Vol. XII. ``ber Willkrliche
Vorstellungsverbindung.''

[2] Psychologie. Wien u. Prag. 1897.


operations which only served to show that the woman had merely
imagined it all. A similar case is that of a man who believed himself
to have swallowed his false teeth. He even had serious feelings of
choking which immediately disappeared on the discovery of the
teeth under his night-table. A prominent oculist told me that he
had once treated for some time a famous scholar because the latter
so accurately described a weakening of the retina that the physician,
in spite of his objective discoveries, was deceived and learned his
mistake only when it appeared that the great scholar fortunately
had been made game of by his own imagination. Maudsley tells
how Baron von Swieten once saw burst a rotten corpse of a dog,
and, for years after, saw the same thing whenever he came to the
same place. Many people, Goethe, Newton, Shelley, William Black,
and others, were able completely to visualize past images. Fechner
tells of a man who claimed voluntarily to excite anywhere on his
skin the feeling of pressure, heat, and cold, but not of cut, prick
or bruise, because such imaginations tended to endure a long time.
There is the story of another man who had a three days' pain in his
finger because he had seen his child crush an analogous finger.

Abercrombie tells of an otherwise very excitable person who
believed in the reality of the luck that a fortune-teller had predicted
for him, and some authorities hold that practically everybody who
eagerly awaits a friend hears his step in every sound. Hoppe's
observation that pruritus vulv excites in imaginative women the
illusion of being raped is of considerable importance, and we criminalists
must watch for it in certain cases. Lieber tells of a colored
preacher who so vividly painted the tortures in hell that he himself
could merely cry and grunt for minutes at a time. Mller cites a

Book of the day: