“Yes,” he replied, “the habit is comparatively new, although in Paris, I believe, they call the drug fiends, ‘heroinomaniacs.’ It is, as I told you before, a derivative of morphine. Its scientific name is diacetyl-morphin. It is New York’s newest peril, one of the most dangerous drugs yet. Thousands are slaves to it, although its sale is supposedly restricted. It is rotting the heart out of the Tenderloin. Did you notice Veronica Haversham’s yellowish whiteness, her down-drawn mouth, elevated eyebrows, and contracted eyes? She may have taken it up to escape other drugs. Some people have—and have just got a new habit. It can be taken hypodermically, or in a tablet, or by powdering the tablet to a white crystalline powder and snuffing up the nose. That’s the way she takes it. It produces rhinitis of the nasal passages, which I see you observed, but did not understand. It has a more profound effect than morphine, and is ten times as powerful as codeine. And one of the worst features is that so many people start with it, thinking it is as harmless as it has been advertised. I wouldn’t be surprised if she used from seventy-five to a hundred one-twelfth grain tablets a day. Some of them do, you know.”
“And Dr. Maudsley,” I asked quickly, “do you think it is through him or in spite of him?”
“That’s what I’d like to know. About those words,” he continued, “what did you make of the list and the answers?”
I had made nothing and said so, rather quickly.
“Those,” he explained, “were words selected and arranged to strike almost all the common complexes in analyzing and diagnosing. You’d think any intelligent person could give a fluent answer to them, perhaps a misleading answer. But try it yourself, Walter. You’ll find you can’t. You may start all right, but not all the words will be reacted to in the same time or with the same smoothness and ease. Yet, like the expressions of a dream, they often seem senseless. But they have a meaning as soon as they are ‘psychanalyzed.’ All the mistakes in answering the second time, for example, have a reason, if we can only get at it. They are not arbitrary answers, but betray the inmost subconscious thoughts, those things marked, split off from consciousness and repressed into the unconscious. Associations, like dreams, never lie. You may try to conceal the emotions and unconscious actions, but you can’t.”
I listened, fascinated by Kennedy’s explanation.
“Anyone can see that that woman has something on her mind besides the heroin habit. It may be that she is trying to shake the habit off in order to do it; it may be that she seeks relief from her thoughts by refuge in the habit; and it may be that some one has purposely caused her to contract this new habit in the guise of throwing off an old. The only way by which to find out is to study the case.”
He paused. He had me keenly on edge, but I knew that he was not yet in a position to answer his queries positively.