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Lethbridge Herald Newspaper Archives

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Lethbridge Herald, The (Newspaper) - October 25, 1910, Lethbridge, Alberta HE .GMT OF Contradictions in the Actions of Those Who Rah Risks Lead the Psychologist to Deny Bravery and Cowardice 0. lr TMfe Ofc. AU rivkto rwrrvd.) GEOUP of men dug and burrowed infer the dank of a moootain. wielding the reaistieec ,ma: that bit away yard after yard, dragging off the debris, splasi and moiling in 'the yellow aoil. sinking tfc-> abaft ever deeper and deeper. Above them the rtata at each trembling like a KT Bg thing aa the men gnawed into men knew the threat the awttntalo's and stJil thefr worked om without pause. it. dav the- moBStWtts wolcn, iney CJMI laboriously undermined descended upsa thein with a mighty, roar, crashing them, grinding lato an ia- antmate pulp of clay. The yellow sofi cottapwd the tnnriel and tfee mottntato soothed tbe to Iti tide with the Uvea of those who had made it r But withm an boor of the disaster delving at the renewed-, obstacle, teaiiag into the monntaia' as driving tba tunnel-farther and further! Week by week the work went on, and though, the mowrtaln'stni shuddered aadteeanbled and the other men wel! knew the vengeance -that-bad the first grottp, though the armlttiche-stfll -extermination, they dug- --and burrowed not to be explained by popular notions of bravery aad cowardice, The corpotsTs regiment had been through two months of campaigning, a test by fire which in those days was sufficient to markr-it aa a veteran fighting The.-corporal had received his promotion for conspicuous .gallantry and judgment shown during tinws'that tried men's souls. He had been wounded, had rescued; a wounded officer, had witnessed the heart breaking accuracy of Confederate sharpshooters when his company melted away about him. had par- ticipated _in; terrible scenes of carnage and slaughter. ThroBgh. It he had done his pan: as a brave man. On this particular day tbe corporal's regiment was Then are the policeman and the fireman, civic servants who constantly perform their duty at the risk of limb or life. They are brave men: almost all of them have proved it" repeatedly. But occasionally when one of these men is brought face to face with a situation which lies'beyond his experience or compre- hension he yields to fear. A practical joker In a New York station house dormitory drove a strong, able bodied comrade to the verge of distraction by cleverly devising a series of what seemed to ue supernatural manifestations. The policeman would any tangi- ble danger, but he quailed at the suggestion of a ghostly threat A fireman with a" notable record'for bravery went weak and flatly dlsobeved orders when he was directed to carry from a burning building a all very well for Horatio to hold the bridge, he says, but before listing Horatio outright as a brave man he like to know what Horatio .would have done in the middle of a crowded theatre-, .when the cry of was raised, or how he would have behaved stretched under a.tropic sun for hourij while the bullets of unseen foemen kicked the dust Into his The Vulnerable Point. r The psychologist holds that all men have some point or points at which they are vulnerable to fear. In the ly It lies .In some forgotten Incident of The pyschologist waits be shown'any man who insensible to fear in one of "its the 'the unfortunately, still "universal "brain "Ctoe of thoie who passed bis days beneath tain's seen his feflowe ground Into earned Me. bread- ii momentary life was a daily tempting- -and jnockiBg who chanced to rated railroad :at the hOTir when thV army of the employed flooding the- and the man was slowly forced .'pressure.from hetdnd until he stood-at tbe very; When the man'saw that the tracks lay Jnst beneath him. wbea he .felt his _own helpJesaijew against the pressure at his back, svben he made aware that a inch ,was all that kept him ftom being hurled forward, he was seized with the panic grip of terror-..-He conMTsbt'see or, hear whether'the train was coming, but be was sure that it amst be. He aad threw Ma weight wildly backward. An Incoherent stream of pleading, -of -iniprtcfttioii. of prayer babbled from Ms stiffened. He lost sem- Kahce of a man and became nothing bttt a criaging, spineless, pitiable creature who songht to thrust those about him orer the edge if birt he might-win bact a Wt further from tbe So he "continued nati! some of the office workers combined to Jam him away toward tbe resr aid This man presented of thV most commbii and atih most startling of nature impervious to "fear In' certain forms and hyperseMitlve to .it In others.. At .work.hi-the accepting every risk of the crumbling nvrantate without a be was an .admirable ftgnre. Crouching on the elevated plat- be iraa a nerveless wreck of selfishness. In the view, was this a bttre man ot a-oowatdl The Iron Worker's Ride. There is another man, an iron worker, wfco recently afforded a sffll more atrUdug contrast In bit behavior. He was known among Ma fellows as with a re- markably dear head aad an ice packed cottage, la an employwftt where heads and cert courage are the first This man was at work on a New sicyaenLper. The steel baam caaatrnction. had been carried to the floor and the QAZTOW beaiM heing lifted from the street level to that height The mac bad occasion to ascend m a beaut was about to start and he singly cKmbad on board. Dttrbig tbe whole iscent be stood upright foothold without hoMinf to a oappott, arac folded and looking about. him idly like enjoys -new. gasped, and shuddered and their eyes as he drew higher sod higher above the abyss, it seemed ae .If tbe man nonet be mad to take such wild chances, aa if be mat fewtlus be seised wtth or be shaken off by some moreaent of, tae beam. Bat be then, qoits a.t bis ease, antQ the floor was reached, when he calmly walked to tbe bod? of the. structure amd stepped ot. He saw nothing reaarkable in the feat fellov workers regarded it ss qaite a racial matter, thoogh perhaps not all of woold hare aaade a pmcttce ascending in Just: tfeat Some few days later this same man had an oppor- tunity to take an aatcaaobfle ride with a. cliaaffenr friend. They rolled Into New Jersey and struck one of the straightaway cMUXtxy zoads that lace the coast atMfiw Hfce smooth, flat in the -early morning. Ke one else was abroad at that hour. The toaity was not lost upon the chasffenr, who opened up his throttle and let his powerful machine out to best' In. the of their. passage, in.tbe icaen. ccaceotradoa of gaiding .the SaahJtog car, the irlvtr neither heard saw .what .was passing ba the seat beside him. It was not onto, he slowed up for a railroad crossing that he soticed hk friead the Scon worker. The mas bad aiippefl partly off tbe seat and bad so that he could grip the outside with both EM this position be had strnk bis head in his arme to sfaat oat tbe blur of road, fences and trees that streamed past him. Aa the chaaffeur, alarmed by his upparant brought the car to a stop he wrenched himself wlai a spasmodic effort from seat and to the grownd. His face was chalk color, his jaw tara? slack and bis Umbs trembied lently. "Whfif s the chauffenr in amaze- ment. "Go stammered; "go en. Walking is good enough for me." No thins could Induce Mm to enter the machine ftgain and he stock doggedly to his announced Inten- tioc. In this man speed, attained by the antomo- bfle, some Ifty miles an awakened a panic fear. It .was something lie could not control. 'When argued Wtth he repeated a familiar to all investigators of the psychological pateoomena of terror, "It is irttoager than. I am." Was this rasa to be classed aa a brave man or as a etward? A War Story. Major General Sickles tells a of a.-corporal in a regiment whose during a-day long- a startling contradiction, Into ibk Open. Swabbad atchttd U Fired It. the Htfl of Bnlktt Aawt Hita pcwted on the left of a slight rise, along which for a nxfle or.inore.a general engagement was in progress. Suddenly from the woods opposite burst a body of the enemy, a gray" cloud tipped with sparkling points, of ateeL It swept across the intervening space, "that moat thrilling of military n bayonet charge. Up the slope it came in the face of a up "to the federal lines. The corporal was crouching, musket ready, when a big Confederate plunged out of the smoke and bore down on htin. The corporal had one glimpse of the long, glittering blade that threat- ened, and with the squeal of a frightened shoat he turned and ran- His lieutenant saw cursed him and cut at him, bat the man was beyond holding and plunged into the thicket toward the rear. He was caught a few days later and court-mar- Hailed at The testimony was plain and there was every prospect of a brief trial with a band- age and an execution squad at the end, when an officer from a field battery -upset the proceedings. Tbe officer's battery had been posted on tie right wing during the same engagement He told of .a strange corporal who bad staggbJed out of the thicket aad bad taken his place on tbe battle line. One of the was in a very exposed position and afl of its men had picked off by sharpshooters. Three teams sent oat to dreg it- off had been shot down. Meanwhile its assistance was badly needed. The strange corporal walked alone Into the open, swabbed the gua, served it sighted it and fired it, unmindfnl of the hsU of bullets about him. A few minute? later a division of Confederate cavalry swept down from the flank, and the battery, with the regiment sup- porting It was engaged In "a wild hand to hand fighf around tie guns to save them. That they had been saved, the officer, declared, was largely due to the desperate courage of the strange Corporal, who rallied tbe men and wielded a clubbed musket like a demon nnchalned. It appeared that- this strange corporal was the same one -his-post-during the bayonet charge. Peril in Toil. Wbea gnestJoned the corporal admitted that he had fonnd bis way back to the battle line- and bad tried to do bis duty. As to his cowardice in tbe face of tbe big Confederate, he could not explain it He said that It was the sight of the bayonet. He had never been threatened wita one before, and there was something about ttat thin, steel wedge and the thought of har- ing it plunged into him that carried him away in u irresistible flood of abject terroi "Was this a brave mas or a coward: The question might be raised a thousand i day on the vast industrial field where rueu do battle with the forces of nature. It might be raised at any .--..-f us. we h'ave.: all a of about our .mental persons somewhere; prob- ably to mis the metaphor, We may suppress our.weaknesses, if we do we are brave. Shunning all popular phrases as the scientist does. calling them false generalizations that have" neither truth nor-meaning, it hard to pin him down on the matter of bravery and; cowardice. But thrust into a corner he will say that the brave man must be'the one who is not governed by fear in certain situations which are arbitrarily accepted as" vital tests of a man's worth. Centuries of usage have defined these .situations. It Is agreed, for Instance, that, one w.ho shirks duty on the-llne'bf. battle, 'who'shields hiinself behind a woman, who quails before a weaker, who dodges danger at the sacrifice of others, is a. coward. It is agreed that one whovleads a charge, who risks his life to save another's, who faces a much .stronger oppo- nent, who defends and protects the Is a Drave man. Mean psychologist' having .gone so far. with the popular view, smiles wisely and declares chat in each and every Instance he is almost sure to find a. startling contradiction -somewhere.'- The cowardly soldier who runs panic stricken from tbe field may stake his life without hesitation next day to save a.comrade from drowning. The brave captain who heads a forlorn hope may be turned to a Jangled, helpless bunch of nerves to-morrow while crossing a rough bit of water In an open boat. Such apparent Incongruities, says the psychologist, are met with every day and support. suspicion of such wide differentiations -as bravery and cowardice. There may be one contradiction or many, but no character is imiformly strong or uniformly weak. Dr. Tom A. .Williams, a well known neurologist and psvcopathologlst of "Washington. D. C.. one of the few American members "of the Societe" de Xeurol- ogle. of .Paris, .discussed the psychology" of fear-and newspaper reporter recently. After mak- ing dear.bis" scientific unwillingness to accept abso- lute distinctions between cowardice and 'bravery he showed how it may happen that a man. otherwise de- cidedly indifferent to danger, shows.weakness In some one situation. What Bravery Msansv 'It we are to use the word 'brave' at all it tntist be in a purely relative sense." said Dr. Williams, "There can .be-no white. ,.no black, except in ,so -man meets or fails to meet the popular notion. Carefully speaking, there are every variety of mind and count- less peculiar characteristics which may govern eacb mind. The scientist would be very conservative employing such classifications as 'brave' and 'cow- because he. knows how, difficult it Is to draw a line of division. child suffering from a very contagious disease. Like the elephant, whose weakness Is dread of a The Man Was Beyond Holding and Plunged Into tbe Thicket Towards the Rear "But sreneral purposes, the existence of such a line." it at once becomes apparent that bravery of the dangers Incident to life. There is the man works In. tbe cartrid-e fac- The man who screams'and turns pale at sight" oTa tory ftt the mixing of fulminate. He is placed in an by himself and-his business Is to deadly and least'dependable of ex- The slightest Jar, the least awkward rnove- this the e com- fee is familiar enough; so Is the man who will not or cannot approach a spider. Pear of cats, dogs or horses Is commonly met with. Fear of great heights, of persons malformed, of certain sounds, of silence, of Investigator finds examples of. these and ptaer strange morbidities on every hand. strength from doing things aiat-will almost certainly mean a terrible death. He is'absolutely for- bidden to carry metal about bis person. Yet he re- alysls of moctal phenomena and their causes? He de- sents this rule and will evade it if he can deceive the clares, first of all. that there is no such thing as a inspectors -set to waicn-hinr. He apparently 'Ignores brave maa or a coward. the tbe dangers "surrounding him. H-; Is'brave "to point of utter recklessness. But would la an Irrational tendency to terror from some one source, tions which he confronts he does nor know enough R) be afraid. That Is. he Is one. with an abounding sense of his own physical efficiency, quite confident of his bodily ability to meet and overcome all ob- stacles. Dangers which would be appalling to a mind more perceptive or Imaginative slide by him. un- noticed. Physical risk is no more to him than the It is part of solve with his 5t does not trouble bim in the "Again, there Is the bravery of the man who sees dangers, recognizes them and fears them, but who by constant association becomes inured to them. I should think that the large majority of workers In dangerous employments .belong to, this class. When first placed'ln the threatening situation their-.impulse-Is probably panic. -If they yield'to it- they are to .stand flrm..the riftxt .time. If they overcome It they arr thereby laying the fouiid.i- tion for a habit And habit is the greuf; ali to such men. _ J Batched and prev-nted literally Who, then, is the brave man and who the coward? And wua: Is the answer of the psychologist? What says the mau who is Interested in the scientific an- What means Is that the popular classification according to bravery or cowardice will not stand close' examination. The words Ue Qualified. It "Once well grounded in the habit of plying their trade In spite of impending dangers, these men may accomplish apparent prodigies of valor. They labor under avalanches. Juggle explosives, dangle on slender ropes over an abyss. The unaccustomed observer cotues upon them so engaged and mawels at their bravery. It U bravery undoubtedly bravery to which the men have brought themselves by Uablt and practice. They know the dangers., but they ignorn them, sometimes going to the point of utter reckless- ness in their cool disregard of the chances. It would be interesting to know In how far the blunt necessity of existence governs the development of such bravery. Of course the need of bread an" large factor In the mind of a the terror Inspired by the risks of bis _._r. "Again, there is the bravery of the understands the dangers That threaten .him. ates their nature, and who.-without-hnvlng the ad- vantage'of dulled perceptions or.sensibilities, dellbef ately them for the accomplishment of pose; The more threatening situations he could proach wlthcnt showing .fpur. 1. suppose, the braver A fruitful point-for inquiry here, if It approached, would .how ranch bravery of this class. Ig the product of the shame, of being afraid. Military heroes, as we may be" certain, are very generallv Influenced by this feeling. They tuny be terror strlfken at finding a revolver levelled at them polntblank. but the possibility that they may show weakness and thereby be stumped as ccwardi is present as an bverwelghlng consideration. Fear of Ignorance. "Broadly speaking, we are afraid of what we do not understand. Our-attitude is, still that of the savage. Matters that He outside our experience or our knowl- edge terrify us. To the extent that by reason or mental control we can overcome our tendencies to yield to the fear awakened by such matters we to be called brave. "Tet here once more the difficulty of generaliza- tion Is encountered. From a thousand.and one.causes It may be that individual may be'forced-to yield to fear in k given situation quite against his .power of reason and resistance. Careful have been conducted along this-.line, and sometimes the cause has been discovered. In other cases it lies far back in forgotten passages of childhood, when through thf gestures or words of others or through, personal experience the Individual gained the- vivid Impression of fear from that situation, it is eaay to imagine a man having received predisposition to'ter- ror from the sight of another torn by a bullet Placed on the firing line-of a battle and seeing a comrade killed at his side, this man would be very. likely to go to pieces. But it would not be fair-to him-a coward He might readily prove a aero In some other situation. "One case from my own .practice ajay. be illustrate how an abnormal psychosis may be induced. A woman came to able to enter a street car without being seized with a violent sensation of suffocation, followed by .the Irra- tional. madness and Ruch. a sensation usually brings. She suffered from 'bis whether or not the car was crowded. The problem was a psycho- logical one and after careful Inquiry I discovered the cause. Following a wearing Illness she had gcine shopping one {day. Very. tired'and with weakened heart action, she had home', in which was jammed to the steps.- "The bad air and her weak condition were sufficient to produce suffocation, hysteria and fear of Impend- ing death. Never afterward, though physically re- covered, could she get on a car without having a re- turn of those sensations. sach a situation Tvas enough to reawaken all the keen distress she had suffered. "I can observe'another Illustration in myself. I have always been about with horses a great deal, have ridden them since childhood "and am quite familiar with their nature and habits: And yet to this day I cannot mount a horse without a fear that the animal is going to fall'with me In such a way as to break my leg. I cannot account for the feeling. I have never had such an accident, but although I can control It I cannot shake it off. I.might offer a contrary example aa to my feeling in regard to snakes. Before spend- ing- some years In Africa 1 was greatly afraid of them. When I learned to know them and reason taught me exactly what they could'and could not do I lost all such fear. "So It Is that though, fear usually springs fro-m whatever is strange to ns and may frequently eliminated by gaining familiarity and understanding, there are sometimes matters Interwoven-In oar psycho- logical processes which will make cowards of us all In the proper circumstances. The emotional accom- paniment of a certain Is technically known as the be literally stronger thai we are. "How powerful the physical result may grow to be Is strikingly shown In another case that came under my observation. This was of a young woman who was employed as a counter of bills in the United States Treasury. She was an expert and the act of counting had long -since become entirely mechanical. While her fingers were busy and accurate her mind was free to harbor any other matter that presented. of the Victim. "It so chanced that this young woman had some trouble with another counter, who sat at her right and behind her as she worked. The quarrel preyed npon her, and as she worked she was constantly aware of the other woman's presence. After a time she was conscious of a tendency 10 turn her bead and look over her shoulder at the other. Presently she had to make an effort to avoid doing so. She had to strain the muscles of her neck; then of her shoul- der; finally her whole right arm and hand were under tension. The outcome was what was diagnosed aa an aggravated attack of writer's cramp. Whenever the young woman attempted to use her right hand, even for cutting her meat, the ninsctes contracted painfully, her shoulder was hunched and her head was turned to the aide. She was absolutely unable to resist. "The explanation was that the mechanical move- ment of the hand In counting had become so associated with the constant strain to avoid looking at the other woman that any such movement would call the strain into play and the contraction of the niusdes would follow. "It is not difficult to see, therefore, how the recruit on tne .oring might have a psychosis baaed upon a bullet wound, and how, if his neighbor were shot down, he might take to his heels willy nllly. Ona vivid experience might have been enough to moke him liable to a severe emotional shock ai.the repeti- tion of the experience. Including panic, "Questions of bravery do not always depend upoa brain capacity. An obvious example of the man who habitually confronts many dangers without any re- sulting lear Is the sailor. His Is a hazardous occupa- tion, but whether or not be regards it in that light he accepts the risks calmly and conSdentiy. Put bJm ashore, however, and take him away from his harbor front haunts and he sees an enemy In every strangee, a trap In every house, while the city streets are filled with terrors for him. Here all is the unknown, the ure, who has never become water wise, and put Mm la a boat He may be a much more intelligent than the sailor, but he is no leas terrified with the nnac- cusromed. "Fear of the water is very common. I have known men of intellect wno could reason.-with themselves Into a perfectly rational attitude toward venturing afloat, and yet who became abject cowards, if you like, while crossing on a ferry. "The psychopnthologlst's derived from the study of the casual Ideas aiul history of morbid iv Juv-Uicss to remove ;