Embodied Selves: An Anthology of Psychological Texts, 1830-1890

By Jenny Taylor; Sally Shuttleworth | Go to book overview

3. Double Consciousness

THE CASE OF MARY REYNOLDS

Robert Macnish, The Philosophy of Sleep ( 1830), 3rd edn. ( Glasgow, W. R. M'Phun: 1836), 187-8.

The case of the young American woman Mary Reynolds became one of the most famous instances of double or divided consciousness during the nineteenth century. Macnish's extended quotation of S. L. Mitchell's description of 'A double consciousness, or a duality of person in the same individual' ( Medical Repository, 3 ( Feb. 1816), 185-6) was widely cited in later discussions. These actively reinterpreted the case, arguing that Mary awoke to her 'second state' possessed of a mature consciousness, and emphasizing the dramatic difference in the personalities of the two Marys: the first quiet and sober, the second loquacious, witty, and and fond of practical jokes. See, for example, W. S. Plumer, "Mary Reynolds: A Case of Double Consciousness" in the American journal Harper's New Monthly Magazine, 20 ( 1860), 807-12.

A case was published in the Medical Repository, by Dr. Mitchell, who received the particulars of it from Major Ellicot, Professor of Mathematics in the United States Military Academy at West Point. The subject was a young lady, of a good constitution, excellent capacity, and well educated. 'Her memory was capacious and well stored with a copious stock of ideas. Unexpectedly, and without any forewarning, she fell into a profound sleep, which continued several hours beyond the ordinary term. On waking, she was discovered to have lost every trait of acquired knowledge. Her memory was tabula rasat1--all vestiges, both of words and things were obliterated and gone. It was found necessary for her to learn every thing again. She even acquired, by new efforts, the art of spelling, reading, writing, and calculating, and gradually became acquainted with the persons and objects around, like a being for the first time brought into

____________________
1
A reference to Locke's famous description of the new-born infant's mind as a blank sheet of paper.

-123-

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Embodied Selves: An Anthology of Psychological Texts, 1830-1890
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgements v
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction xiii
  • List of Illustrations xix
  • Section I Reading the Mind 1
  • 1. Physiognomy 8
  • 2. Phrenology 25
  • 3. Mesmerism 49
  • Section II The Unconscious Mind and the Workings of Memory 65
  • 1. Associationism and Physiological Psychology 73
  • 2. Dreams 102
  • 3. Double Consciousness 123
  • 4. Memory 141
  • Section III The Sexual Body 163
  • 1. Defining Womanhood 169
  • 2. the Uterine Economy 184
  • 3. Masculinity and the Control of Sexuality 209
  • Section IV Insanity and Nervous Disorders 225
  • 1. Moral Management and the Rise of the Psychiatrist 231
  • Section V Heredity, Degeneration, and Modern Life 285
  • 1. Nervous Economies: Morbidity and Modernity 293
  • 2. Concepts of Descent and Degeneration 303
  • 3. Inherited Legacies: Idiocy and Criminality 322
  • 4. Childhood 335
  • 5. Race and Hybridity 352
  • 6 Sex in Mind and Education 373
  • Notes on Authors 389
  • Select Bibliography 413
  • Index 423
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