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Illusions





A physician who wishes to use psychotherapy effectively should know
something about physiological psychology, or analytical or
experimental psychology, as it is variously called, because of the
help that he will derive from it in understanding many of his
patients' symptoms. Fortunately this branch is now being taught in
some of the medical schools, and the greater requirements for
preliminary training bring to the medical school men who have already
had a course in this subject. The chapter on Illusions is particularly
important because it affords many illustrations of how easy it is to
be deceived by the senses and, therefore, how many precautions have to
be taken in order to be sure that impressions produced on patients'
minds that seriously disturb them may not merely be due to
exaggeration of the significance of information brought them by their
senses.

These illusions are of special interest because they represent not
only failures of the senses to convey truth, but because they
illustrate how easy it is for the mind to be led astray by the senses.
People often declare that they have seen things with their own eyes or
in some other way have definite sensory knowledge of them, yet these
illusions make it clear that it is perfectly possible for such sensory
phenomena to convey quite mistaken information. People who are
suffering from many symptoms are persuaded that they must pay
attention to their sensations. The main purpose of the
psychotherapeutist often is to have them neglect their sensations and
correct them by means of information gathered from other sources. We
do this with regard to our sensory illusions, why not also with regard
to many sensations which are probably quite as mistaken, in certain
individuals at least, as these universal illusions of mankind. The
argument from analogy holds very well and can be used to decided
advantage in many cases.

A startling illusion which makes it clear that care is needed in
interpreting our sensations, is the so-called tube illusion or
experiment. If a sheet of note paper be rolled into a tube of
something less than an inch in diameter and then held close to one
eye, both eyes being kept open, while the hand opposite to the eye
before which the tube is held is placed palm faceward against the side
of the tube about its middle, a hole will be seen, as it were, through
the palm of the hand. This false vision is as clear as can be and
persists after any number of repetitions of the experiment. It merely
illustrates two-eyed vision. We have a picture in each eye and we
combine them. When the pictures cannot be combined for any reason,
optical illusions result. There are many more optical illusions than
we think and there are many reasons besides two-eyed vision for them.

Other illusions of two-eyed vision may be illustrated rather easily.
If two dots are made on a sheet of paper about two inches apart
and the eyes look at them in a dreamy way, looking far beyond the
paper, with vision more or less fixed between them, after a few
moments a number of things happen. Usually the two dots exhibit a
tendency to float together.



After an interval four dots will be seen--each of the dots having a
picture in each eye. Then only one dot may be seen because the
pictures combine. Sometimes three dots will be seen. When the dots
swim toward one another, a curious feeling of insecurity comes over
the experimenter, showing how much our sense of stability is dependent
on vision and illustrating why vision from a height is so disturbing
because objects cannot be properly fixed on the distant background.


vertical line, a bird)]

Just as the two dots may be made to come together, so, after a little
practice, a bird may be made to go into a cage (Fig, 27) or an apple
made to go onto a plate (Fig. 28),



These illusions show how many things that people "see with their
own eyes" are not so. All depends on the attention and the state of
mind at the time when the seeing is done. In day-dreams these
illusions often occur and may be the basis of delusions.



There are, however, a number of optical illusions which illustrate
certain defects of our vision that cannot be corrected, no matter how
much we may desire to see correctly. We continue to see them not as
they are but as they seem, and we must correct our vision by
information from other sources. The Mueller-Lyer lines are familiar and
are given here (Fig. 29) because they show how easily the senses
may deceive us, even that most acute of our senses, vision, as to the
sizes of things.


each is like a funnel cut parallel to its axis and laid flat. )]

Figure 30 illustrates how easy it is to be deceived by the
juxtaposition of different portions of objects. I have had a woman who
had cut out high collars for children and who happened to put them in
the juxtaposition of the sketch here given think that she was either
losing her sight or her judgment was being affected by the nervous
condition in which she was. Nothing would persuade her that some
serious development was not taking place until I showed her this
illustration. In this illusion the juxtaposition of the short curved
line to the long curved line of the other figure produces all the
disturbance of judgment of size.

The illusions of filled and unfilled space are interesting and are
quite inevitable. They are due to physiological visual effects and are
very strikingly illustrated by what is known as the sun and moon
illusion. Both these luminaries seem larger at the horizon than they
are at the zenith. This is entirely an optical illusion. The horizon
seems farther away than the zenith because vision to it is
interrupted. The heavens appear not to be a half sphere, but more like
an old-fashioned watch glass.


vertical lines; B--a square consisting of closely spaces horizontal
lines; C--a empty square with only its exterior boundaries.)]

Since the sun and moon occupying the same space on the retina are,
because of this apparent difference of distance, judged to be farther
away at the horizon than they are at the zenith, we are inevitably
forced to the conclusion that they are larger in size than when in the
other position. The over-estimation of filled space as compared with
the unfilled is mainly due to the interrupted muscular action of
the eyes in traveling over the space requiring more effort. This makes
it seem longer. Probably physiological processes on the retina also
contribute to the illusion. A series of objects, even dots, will cause
a greater physiological excitation of the retina than an equal amount
of space, the boundaries of which alone are brought to our attention.

Illusions of size are even more startling than illusions of distance.
It is perfectly possible to take three spaces, each exactly a square
inch, and by drawing lines in two of them in different directions to
make the figures appear of very different size. This is a rather
disturbing illusion, particularly for women who are apt to think that
perpendicular lines make them appear tall and thin, while horizontal
lines have the opposite effect. This is true if the lines are not
placed quite close together. The reason why women wear many ribbons,
however, whether they themselves recognize it or not, is that the
attraction of attention to these makes the space in which they are
seem longer. Hussars are dressed in uniforms with many rows of gilt
cord or braid running across their chests in order to increase their
apparent height. As a rule, a cavalry man must not weigh over 140
pounds or his horse will break down in long, forced marches. Such men
are often of small stature and their apparent height must be increased
by their uniform, so as to make them look formidable. Advantage is
taken of this optical illusion of filled space to produce this effect.



Other illusions of size are quite frequent. It is rather hard for the
ordinary observer to think that the half circles, a and a' (Fig.
32), are the same size, or that b and b' in the same chart are the
same curve. The interruption in the circles c and c' produce very
curious erroneous impressions which require a knowledge of this
illusion to correct.

Optical illusions with regard to directions of lines are extremely
common. Quite unconsciously we translate directions into special
meanings. This is what enables perspective to be effective in
drawings. It has many disturbing features, however. Some of these are
striking illustrations of the defects of our vision.


lines passing under them.)]


diagonal white lines; each diagonal line has several intersecting
lines; the upper left diagonal has horizontal intersecting lines,
the next diagonal has vertical intersections; etc.)]

Poggendorf's illustration of the displacement of oblique lines (Figure
33) and Zoellner's distortion of parallel lines as illustrated by
Figure 34, make it very clear that our judgment of direction must
depend on many factors besides our vision, if we are not to make
serious mistakes.

These optical illusions might seem to be of little significance, but
the Greeks thought them of so much importance and recognized so
thoroughly that they could not be corrected, and that the distortions
and displacements would inevitably take place, that they deliberately
put certain optical corrections into their great architectural
monuments in order to avoid these false appearances. These have been
traced very accurately in the Parthenon, for instance. In a word, the
Greeks, knowing of these optical illusions, in order to make the lines
of their buildings appear correct, deliberately made them wrong to a
sufficient degree to correct the optical illusion; This frank mode of
yielding to a limitation of human nature is a fine lesson for patients
to learn if they can only be made to learn it from these
illustrations.

It is with regard to colors, however, that we have the best examples
of optical illusions depending on the individual and his special
anatomy and physiology. Color-blind people are quite sure that they
see color, just as other people do, until their defect is demonstrated
to them. A man who is color blind for red thinks that he sees that
color as other people do, while all that he sees is a particular shade
of brightness which, because other people call it red, he has come to
call red. When asked to pick out red from a series of other colors he
may often succeed. When asked, however, to take a skein of red wool
selected for him to a basket containing a number of different colored
wools, and to bring back all those that are of the same color, he will
select grays and browns and sometimes greens as well as reds, and
present them as all matched colors. A man who is color blind for all
colors will still think that he sees colors as other people do. The
ingenious illustration of the American flag as it appears to people
suffering from different forms of color blindness, though they are all
persuaded that they see the same kind of flag, is an interesting
example of how different may be people's sensations, though their
conclusions are the same. It may be seen in many of the text books of
analytical or experimental psychology.



Dalton, to whom we owe the atomic theory, was himself color blind for
red and made the first investigations in that subject. He was of
Quaker origin and found that a great many of his brethren were
deficient in color vision. It becomes much easier from this to
understand why they resolved to wear nothing but gray. They did not
see colors as other people do and therefore could not understand nor
sympathize with the joy of other people in color. Dalton tells the
story of a Quaker prominent in his sect who once went to town to buy a
gray waistcoat and purchased instead one of bright red. When he
appeared at meeting in this he was promptly tried for heresy and
violation of church regulations.

There is an interesting tendency on the part of people who are
themselves defective in certain faculties of sensation, to conclude
that when other people are wrapt in admiration of something that they
cannot perceive, it is because these other people have some mental
defect that leads them to enthuse too easily over their sensations. A
story is told of a newspaper man who used to insist that all that was
said about the beauty of the song of birds was due to the vivid
imagination of the writers, for he could find nothing to admire about
the songs of birds. He was placed in a room with a number of fine song
birds all round him and it proved that he could not hear any of the
higher notes at all. It was easy, then, to understand his condemnation
of the enthusiasm of others as hysterical and imaginative. Nearly this
same thing is true of many quite intelligent people with regard to
music. They hear ordinary sounds, as did the newspaper man, very well.
They are tone-deaf however, that is, they are quite unable to hear and
appreciate combinations of sounds or even to catch melodious
successions of single notes. They cannot recognize one tune from
another and often do not know "Yankee Doodle" from the "Doxology," or,
at most, know only the most familiar tunes, but they set themselves up
very calmly as judges of the intellects of others and conclude that
music lovers are really a hysterical set of people who go into
ecstasies over certain quite insignificant sensations.

These interesting tendencies are helpful in enabling the physician to
understand his patients better. They often serve as texts from which
the physician can explain curious things to patients who are prone to
draw wrong conclusions from them and often suggestions unfavorable to
their health.

These illustrations and their discussion serve to make very clear the
distinction between illusions, delusions and hallucinations, which are
often confounded. Illusions are deceptions of the senses. If a man
walking along a country road where he fears the presence of snakes
sees in the gathering twilight a piece of rope coiled, he will almost
surely mistake it for a snake. This is an illusion produced by the
conditions in which the object is seen. If walking along the same road
the next day, more timorous than ever as to snakes, he should see in
broad daylight the same coil of rope, he might in his fright not stay
long enough to decide whether it was a snake or not, and his illusion
would continue, though it would partake somewhat of the nature of a
delusion due to fright disturbing his judgment. If, in spite of
careful examination, however, of it, such as would satisfy any
ordinary mind that it was a coil of rope and not a snake, he should
still insist in believing that it was a snake, this would be a
delusion. There is always a mental element in delusions. If, having
seen nothing, he should insist, owing to fright and nervousness
or to some other cause, that he sees a snake where there is nothing at
all resembling a snake and where evidently whatever is the basis of
his idea of the presence of the snake, is within his own mind, then he
is suffering from an hallucination.

Illusions may be quite inevitable. Most of the optical illusions
continue to appeal to us as truths even when we know that they
represent errors of vision. In spite of the fact that we know that the
sun and moon are not larger at the horizon than they are at the
zenith, by optical illusion we continue to see them of larger size. It
is our duty to correct such illusions by information gathered from
other sources. To follow an illusion, that is, to give it credit, when
we should correct it, is a delusion. To think that because we cannot
see red that therefore there is no red, or because we do not hear the
sounds of notes of birds that they do not utter any notes, in spite of
the fact that we have the testimony of nearly the whole human race to
the contrary, is a delusion. When, using the verb in its broadest
sense, as "perceive," we seem to see things very differently from the
generality of people around us, there is every reason to suspect that
there is some specific or individual limitation of our senses which
makes us fail to perceive these things as others do. We have to
suspect our sources of information then and to correct them by what we
can learn from the experience of others. These are important
considerations for many of the ideas that patients cherish with regard
to themselves and their ills.

Hallucinations are entirely mental. But the phenomena that sometimes
appear to be hallucinations may be due to illusions of the senses
within the organism. For instance, those who indulge in cocaine often
have the feeling of having a veil over the face, or of having run into
a cobweb or something of that kind. The presence of the veil or the
cobweb on the face is probably not an hallucination, but is due to
certain disturbances in the circulation, or perhaps in the nerves
themselves, which affect the nerve endings of the face, causing them
to tingle in a particular way, and this sensation is translated as
coming from without in terms of something that has been felt before.
Some of the appearances of muscae volitantes, or of specks before
the eyes, or occasionally of wavy lines, are due to disturbances of
the circulation within the eyeball which cause corresponding
disturbances of the optic nerve, with consequent apparent visions.
When the eyeball is pressed upon, the sensation first produced is that
of light and not of pain, because whenever a nerve of special sense is
irritated, it produces its own specific sensation in the brain.

The chilly stage in malaria is a typical example of a physical
condition having an effect upon sensory nerves that more or less
necessarily produces a delusion. The patient is actually at the height
of his fever when the chilliness and shivering come on and when he
demands a larger amount of covers in order to protect himself from the
cold he will often have a temperature of 104 degrees Fahrenheit, or
even higher. What has happened is that the little blood vessels at the
surface of the body are shut up by the effect of the plasmodium upon
the system. Whenever we are cold these little blood vessels shut up in
order to protect the blood from being chilled by the external
atmosphere. The shutting up of the little blood vessels deprives, for
the time being, the terminal nerves in the neighborhood of some of
their nourishment. Their response is to set up a tremor or shivering,
which will mechanically tend to open the blood vessels so that
they may have their nourishment once more. Whenever we have a set of
sensations that correspond to this connected set of events, we
translate them as feeling cold. The outer air does feel cold to the
body because the blood is not flowing through to the surface as it
would normally in order to warm it. Hence the chilliness. This is not
an hallucination; but an illusion with something of a delusion in it;
until we know how things are. Nervousness may set our teeth chattering
just as it may cause tremor through our sympathetic nervous system,
disturbing the flow of blood through muscles and so disturbing control
of them. Vehement emotion, anger, fright, and even those of less
violence may cause similar effects. All these phenomena illustrate the
close relation between mind and body.



APPENDIX II

RELIGION AND PSYCHOTHERAPY


Religion and psychotherapy have, of late, come to have many relations
to each other and many interests in common, at least in the minds of a
number of clergymen, and in popular estimation. There is no doubt but
that religion can do much to soothe troubled men and women, even when
their troubles are entirely physical in nature and origin. It at least
lessens the unfavorable effect of worry in exaggerating such
pathological processes as are at work. All diseases, functional and
organic, are rendered worse by solicitude, while many troublesome
symptoms become quite bearable if only the patient does not dwell on
them too much but takes them as they come, carefully refraining from
emphasizing them by over-attention. That is the very essence of
psychotherapy. Religion, in the sense of trust in divine wisdom, can
do much to originate and maintain this imperturbed frame of mind.
People who are without religion, that is, without the feeling that
somehow all their ills are a part of the great plan of the universe,
the mystery of which is insoluble, but the recognition of which is
demanded by reason, and who lack the assurance that somehow, in
Browning's phrase:

"God's in His Heaven-
All's right with the world!"

-- are more prone to give way to over-anxiety and consequently to make
themselves suffer more in all their ills, than is necessary or even
likely in the more favorable state of mind of those whose trust in
Providence is thorough and efficient.

In recent years there has been in the general population a distinct
loss of faith in the great religious truths that are so helpful in
engendering a peaceful state of mind in suffering. Many have come, if
not to doubt of the Providence of the Creator, at least to feel that
we do not know enough about it to place any such supreme dependence on
it in the trials of life as would make it a source of relief, or at
least consolation, in suffering. This same spirit of doubt has
paralyzed faith in the hereafter and in all that trust in it brings,
to sufferers, of consolation to come for their ills if these are borne
as becomes rational creatures whose suffering has a purpose, though we
may not comprehend it. Some people are destined by their physical
make-up or by accidental conditions to considerable suffering. There
are many ailments that are incurable and are definitely known to be
incurable. Some of these entail great suffering of body and even more
suffering of mind. Such suffering becomes quite unbearable unless the
patient is of a very stoic disposition, or unless the thought of a
hereafter in which the sufferings of this life will have a meaning is
present to console.



Great scientists in the midst of all our advance in science--one need
but mention here such men as Lord Kelvin, Clerk Maxwell, Johann
Mueller, Laennec, Pasteur, Claude Bernard, though the number might
easily be multiplied--have insisted that the existence of a Creator is
absolutely demanded by what we know of the physical universe. "Science
demonstrates the existence of a Creator," is Lord Kelvin's expression.
The existence of a Creator implies, also, the existence of laws made
by Him, by which His universe is regulated in every detail, nothing
being left to chance. Chance is indeed only a term which indicates
that we do not know the causes at work. If somehow the Creator's power
has been sufficient to bring the manifold things of the universe into
existence according to a plan in which there is no such interference
with one another as would cause serious disturbance of the universal
order around us, then He can be trusted also to care for even the
minutest details of creation and of human life.

In the gradual disintegration of the religious sense which has come as
a consequence of certain materialistic tendencies in nineteenth
century education and science, these religious sources of consolation
have been shut off from a great many people. They have come to the
feeling of being portions of a machine that moves hopelessly on,
somehow, on the old principle, "The mills of the gods grind slow, but
they grind exceeding fine." The sufferings of humanity then, are, for
these people, only a portion of a great universe of suffering that is
constantly going on but for which they can see no reason and no
purpose. Lucretius's lines which make human sufferings the butt of the
jokes of the gods who look gleefully on from their Elysian happiness,
would represent the feelings of these doubters better than any
religious expression. We have come back in this age, when evolution
has so much influenced the thought of the time, after the curious
cyclic fashion in which human thought repeats itself from era to era,
to the attitude of mind of the old Roman poet who almost singly among
his contemporaries, had been deeply affected by the same doctrine of
evolution. The pessimism he was prone to as to the significance of
human life has become once more the fashion.

Such pessimistic thoughts do not come, as a rule, while people are in
good health, but they assert themselves with double emphasis in
moments of trial and suffering. Lucretius himself is said to have
committed suicide. The result of the diffusion of this materialistic
pessimism in our time has been a gradual preparation for a revulsion
of feeling in many minds. One manifestation of this reaction has been
seen in a form of religion which denies entirely the existence of
evil. God the Creator is good and therefore there can be no evil in
His world. Whatever of evil there is, is only due to man's failure to
see the entirety of things. Evil is an error of mortal mind--only that
and nothing more. In spite of the manifest absurdity of the underlying
principle, if people can only be brought to persuade themselves that
there is no such thing as evil or suffering, then many of their
discomforts disappear, all of their symptoms grow less and a sense of
well-being results. It is, indeed, surprising how many even physical
ills will be relieved by this state of mind if sincerely accepted. It
is the highest possible tribute to psychotherapy and the curative
influence of mind over body.

Another phase of this revulsion of feeling has been the institution of
a church movement that would make sufferers realize once more all the
consolations there are in religion. The sufferer is brought to a
renewed lively sense of the presence of the Creator in the universe
and of His care for His creatures. The great purpose of suffering in
making people better and stripping them of their meanness and
selfishness is brought out. Anyone who has ever had called to his
attention the difference between two brothers, one of whom has been
chastened by suffering above which he has risen by character
development, and another who has enjoyed good health and prosperity
all his life, will realize how much of good suffering means in the
world. Pain is not in itself an evil, but a warning, and most of the
trials of life can rather readily be shown to partake of this
character. A man who can be made to submit himself, then, to the will
of the Creator and be persuaded to acknowledge that somehow we must
try to work out our part in the great scheme of things behind which
the Creator stands, is somewhat like the soldier ready even when tired
and worn out, to go in on a forlorn hope, because he has confidence
that he is executing a part of the plan of his general for his
country's welfare, though he does not know how, and he is quite well
aware that it is going to cost him much in pain and suffering, and
perhaps his life.

There is no doubt that an abiding sense of religion does much for
people in the midst of their ailments and, above all, keeps them from
developing those symptoms due to nervous worry and solicitude which so
often are more annoying to the patient than the actual sufferings he
or she may have to bear. While religion is often said to predispose to
certain mental troubles, it is now well appreciated by psychiatrists
that it is not religion that has the tendency to disturb the mind, but
a disequilibrated mind has a tendency to exaggerate out of all reason
its interests in anything that it takes up seriously. Whether the
object of the attention be business, or pleasure, or sexuality, or
religion, the unbalanced mind pays too much attention to it, becomes
too exclusively occupied with it, and this over-indulgence helps to
form a vicious circle of unfavorable influence. While many people in
their insanity, then, show exaggerated interest in religion, this is
only like other exaggerated interests of the disequilibrated, and
religion itself is not the cause but only a coincidence in the matter.

Clouston, in his book on "Unsoundness of Mind" (Methuen, London,
1911), put this very well when he said, "It is true that religion,
touching as it does, in the most intense way the emotional nature, and
the spiritual instincts of mankind, sometimes appears to cause and is
often mixed up with insanity. But in nearly all such cases the brain
of the individual was originally unstable, specially emotional,
over-sensitive, hyperconscientious, and often somewhat weak in the
intellectual and inhibitory faculties and, if looked for, other causes
will usually be found." He had said just before, "To talk of
'religious insanity' as if it were a definite and definable form is in
my judgment a mistake."

On the contrary, there is now a growing conviction that a deep
religious feeling, a sense of dependence on and trust in the Almighty,
will do more than anything else to keep people from those neurotic
manifestations which so often are seen in our day and are growing more
and more frequent as life becomes more strenuous and more attention is
paid to the material side of things, to the exclusion of the
spiritual. How true this is may be judged from expressions that have
been used in recent years by well-known specialists in nervous
diseases and in psychology. These have included men who were often not
believers in religion themselves but who recognized its influence for
good for others. Such expressions are to be found in the writings of
men of every nationality. Not infrequently, in spite of their own
religious affiliation, they acknowledge what a profound influence
certain forms of religion have over people. These testimonies have
been multiplying in our medical literature in recent years, because
apparently physicians have come to appreciate much better by contrast
the influence for good of religion over some of their patients, since
so many of the sufferers from nervous diseases they see have not this
source of consolation to recur to.

In America we have a number of such testimonies. In his "Self Help for
Nervous Women" Dr. John K. Mitchell of Philadelphia, who may be taken
to represent in this matter the Philadelphia School of Neurologists,
to which his father has lent such distinction, said:

It is certainly true that considering as examples two such widely
separated forms of religious belief as the Orthodox Jews and the
strict Roman Catholics, one does not see as many patients from them
as from their numbers might be expected, especially when it is
remembered that Jews as a whole are very nervous people and that the
Roman Church includes in this country among its members numbers of
the most emotional race in the world.

Of only one sect can I recall no example. It is not in my memory
that a professing Quaker ever came into my hands to be treated for
nervousness. If the opinion I have already stated so often is
correct, namely that want of control of the emotions and the
over-expression of the feelings are prime causes of nervousness,
then the fact that discipline of the emotions is a lesson early and
constantly taught by the Friends, would help to account for the
infrequency of this disorder among them and adds emphasis to the
belief in such a causation.

Prof. Muensterberg, who may be fairly taken to represent the German
school, but whose long years of residence in America have made him a
cosmopolitan, is quite as positive in his declaration of the place
that religion may hold in making human suffering less. In his
"Psychotherapy" he devotes considerable attention to the subject. The
religious discipline, that is, the training of human beings from their
earliest years to recognize that there is a higher law than their own
feelings and that they must suppress many of their desires and take
evil as it comes as a portion of human life, is of itself, he insists,
an excellent preparation to enable the individual to bear up under the
physical and mental trials of life and to make many symptoms that
would otherwise be almost intolerable, quite bearable. It is from
earliest years that this training must make itself felt, and Prof.
Muensterberg insists that from early childhood the self-control has to
be strong and the child has to learn from the beginning to know the
limits to the gratification of his desires and to abstain from
reckless self-indulgence. A good conscience, he says, a congenial home
and a serious purpose, are, after all, the safest conditions for a
healthy man, and the community does effective work in preventive
psychotherapy whenever it facilitates the securing of these factors.

Self-denial has always been one of the main elements of religious
training, and indeed was declared a chief source of merit for the
hereafter. The modern psychotherapeutist, however, preaches
self-denial almost as strenuously as the religious minister of the
olden time, only now not for any religious merit or reward, but
because it makes life more pleasant and by that much happier. When men
and women have learned to deny themselves in their younger years, it
is not hard to stand even pain when they grow older, and pain is
inevitable in every human life and the training to stand it is
therefore worth while. Pain borne with equanimity is lessened by
one-half if not in its intensity then at least in its power to
disturb, and since religion will do this it possesses an important
remedial value. Here is where religion is particularly valuable and
the passing of it from many minds has thrown them back on themselves
and left them without profound interests, so that they occupy
themselves overmuch with the trivial incidents of life within them and
disturb the course of many of their functions by giving exaggerated
thought to them. Religion adds a great purpose to life and such a
purpose keeps men and women to a great extent from being disturbed
about trifles.

Of course, it would be too bad if religion should do no more than
this. This, however, is the only phase of it with which we are
concerned here. We may think very strongly with Prof. Muensterberg,
that it would be quite wrong to assign to it only this place in life.
He says: "The meaning of religion in life is entirely too deep that it
should be employed merely for the purpose of lessening the pains and
aches of humanity and the dreads that are so often more imaginary than
real." He insists that "It cheapens religion by putting the accent of
its meaning in life on personal comfort and absence of pain." He adds,
"If there is one power in life which ought to develop in us a
conviction that pleasure is not the highest goal and that pain is not
the worst evil, then it ought to be philosophy and religion."
Present-day movements, however, tend to subordinate religion to
this-worldliness rather than to other-worldliness, and by just that
much they take out of religion its real significance. We are here on
trial for another world is the thought that in the past strengthened
men to bear all manner of ills, if not with equanimity, at least
without exaggerated reaction. It has still the power to do so for all
those who accept it simply and sincerely.






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