Home >> New International Encyclopedia, Volume 13 >> Meleager to Mexican War >> Mental Constitution

Mental Constitution

minds, elements, feeling, mind and personality

MENTAL CONSTITUTION. The typical character which serves to give the mind its unity and individual significance. Mental constitution is determined, first of all, b2, the manner of the assembling of the elements which go to make up conseionsness. Every normal mind comprises manifold elements and diverging tendencies—sen sations, feelings. yolk ions—which ordinarily work together to form its bent or habitual way. By dint of natural proclivities, due to inheritance or environment, it achieves a kind of integrity and social effectiveness which we recognize as personality: a mind is thus, as we say, well or ganized. operating to consistent and coherent ends. Not infrequently, however, minds are de ficient in organization. The weak-willed, inat tentive person suffers front lack of cohesion of mental elements: his interests vary with etieh that conies to him through pereeption o• bodily feeling: lie is never certain of his in tentions, never 14MA:tilt in his attitude toward things, never thoroughly self-possessed. On the other hand, there are minds in which the inter nal suggestion is so powerful as to dull percep tion to all not falling within a certain field of interest. so destroying the mind's plianey and powers of adaptation. Snell minds have, we strong prepossessions; they are biased, nar row; in cxtrane form they are afflicted with fixed ideas and monomania. A third type of aberrant ennstitution is found in bi-centred or multi-centred minds. 110re the personality breaks up into two or wore selves, or cores of interest, about each of which gather elements con genial to itself. Such personalities are usually deficient in stability and in breadth and rich ness of mental content. They exist incipiently in

the normal mind,and where the transformation is gradual result in healthy alterations of character and in the broadening of intelligence: in a :no re lively form, though still subject to the domina tion of one supreme self, they may give the dra matic creations of the novelist; but in extreme eases they result in exaggerated transpositions of thought and feeling, partaking of the nature of insanity.

Apart from these more general variations, minds are characterized by differences in the form and trend of their presentations. One per son, for example, thinks largely in visual images; another's thought takes shape in internal conver sations; while yet another is more keenly con scious of his attitude toward things, the way he will act in their presence or the way he imagines that they feel. Again, presentations in the same field of sensation may vary in quality, different minds having different characteristic modes of perception; so a landscape always appeals to the artist :esthetically, to the agriculturist or promoter by its practical possibilities. This is not clue merely to difference of interest, but to an actual variation in the quality of the presen tation. The variation appears again in powers of memory and imagination, where there is al ways in evidence a natural selection of elements due to the mind's aptitude. Herein lies the chief factor of individuality, the mind's com plexion or characteristic style of thought and feeling, serving to throw it into relief against that background of qualities common to all con sciousness which in mankind we term human nature.