By McKENZIE John G
First released in 1999. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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Extra resources for Nervous Disorders And Character: A Study in Pastoral Psychology and Psychotherapy (International Library of Psychology) (Volume 108)
Mental processes, however, are always the experiences of a subject that is capable of knowing the processes experienced, and indeed capable of modifying those processes. The self is conscious of itself as subject ; it is not merely an object like a piece of matter ; it has initiative, the capacity for self-direction and self-control. Matter behaves ; but as far as we know the behaviour is not an experience. We can study the processes involved in suffering, but suffering is essentially an experience of a self ; there are cognitive processes ; but knowing or cognition is essentially an experience of a subject who knows what it is experiencing.
Take an illustration. I had a woman sent to me by her doctor who was full of apprehensiveness and anxiety. She had not long been out of the hospital where she had an operation on the fallopian tubes so as to prevent conception. She had one child, and the birth was so difficult that she was warned to have no more children. After a lapse of eleven years she became pregnant ; as soon as she knew she became very distressed. The pregnancy was terminated, and the operation performed successfully, and during her stay in the hospital she was perfectly free from anxiety.
What is cause and what is effect here seem difficult to estimate. Not seldom a patient is treated for glandular disturbance but the symptoms do not yield to the treatment. The same patient may respond almost at once to psychotherapy. Dr. Harrow, in his Glands in Health and Disease, 2 says : " It may not be amiss to point out that the psychic factor in the treatment of hyperthyroidism cannot be ·overlooked. " 1 See An Introduction to Psychological Medicine, by Fraser, Harris and Rees, page 197· 2 Page 3-5· 20 CHARACTER-STRUCTURE AND PERSONALITY-DISORDERS There are, however, too many unsolved problems in the field of glandular therapy for any enthusiast in this branch of medicine to speak of " a chemistry of the soul " ; and just as the administration of drugs can alleviate definite psychological conditions, so it would seem that the application of psychological principles can help to alleviate the emotional upset caused by a disturbance of the glandular balance.