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Unformatted text preview: singing and boasting of his greatness of
power. Indeed, is he the same individual? No wonder the ancients regarded such insanity as a possession by
an evil spirit. We of a later day who deal with this disease on the whole are inclined to the belief that some
internal factor of a physical kind is responsible, some neuronic shift, or some strange, visceral endocrinal
While self-hate in this pathological aspect is relatively uncommon, in every person there are self-critical,
self-condemning activities which sometimes for short periods of time reach self-hatred and disgust.
McDougall makes a good deal of the self-abasing instinct which makes us lower ourselves gladly and
willingly. This seems to me to be an aspect of the emotion of admiration and wonder, for we do not wish
ordinarily to kneel at the feet of the insignificant, debased; or it is an aspect of fear and the effort to obtain
conciliation and pity. But the establishment of ideals for ourselves to which we are not faithful brings with it a
disgust and loathing for self that is extremely painful and leads to a desire for penance of any kind In order
that we may punish ourselves and feel that we have made amends. The capacity for self-hate and self-disgust
depends largely upon the development of these ideals and principles of conscience, of expectation of the self.
Frequently there is an overrigidity, a ceaseless self-examination that now and then produces miracles of
character and achievement but more often brings the breakdown of health. This is the seeker of perfection in
himself, who will not compromise with his instincts and his human flesh. There seekers of perfection are
among the noblest of the race, admired in the abstract but condemned by their friends as "too good,"
"impractical," as possessors of the "New England conscience." One of the effects of a Puritanical bringing-up
is a belief that pleasure is unworthy, especially in the sex field and even in marriage. Now and then one meets
a patient caught between perfectly proper desire and a...
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- Spring '11