Crile reminds us of a fact that is often noticed by surgeons. If patients under ether are handled roughly, especially in the intestinal region, respiration quickens and there are tremors and even convulsive efforts which interfere with the surgeon’s work. The conscious mind cannot feel. It is asleep. But the subconscious mind, whose business it is to protect the body, is trying to get away from injury. The body uses up as much energy as though it had run for miles, and when the patient wakes up, we say that he is suffering from shock. The subconscious mind which is not affected by ether, has been exhausting itself in a vain attempt to get the body away from harm.
=A Tireless Servant.= When the conscious mind undertakes a job, it is always more or less subject to fatigue. But the subconscious after its long practice seems never to tire. We say that its activities have become automatic. With all its inherited skill, the subconscious, if left to itself, can be depended upon to run the bodily machinery without effort and without hitch. The only things that can interfere with its work are the wrong kind of emotions and the wrong kind of suggestions from the conscious mind. Barring these, it goes its way like a trusty servant, looking after details and leaving its master’s mind free for other things. Having been “in the family” for generations, it knows its business and resents any interference with its duties or any infringement of its rights.
No man, then, comes into this world without inheritance: he receives from his ancestors two goodly sets of heirlooms, the instincts and the mechanism which carries on bodily functions. This is the capital with which man starts life; but immediately he begins increasing this capital, adding memories from his own experience to the accumulated race-records.
No more startling secret has been unearthed by science than the discovery of the length and minuteness of our memories. No matter how much one may think he has forgotten, the tablets of his mind are closely written with records of infinitesimal experiences, shadowy sensations, old happenings which the conscious self has lost entirely and would scarcely recognize as its own. Many of these brain records, or neurograms, as Prince calls them, are never aroused from their dormant conditions. But others, aroused by emotion or association of ideas, may after years of inactivity, come forth again either as conscious memories or as subconscious forces, or even as physiological memories,—bodily repetitions of the pains, palpitations, and tremors of old emotional experiences.