Home >> New International Encyclopedia, Volume 14 >> Murcia_2 to National Hymns >> Muscle Reading

Muscle-Reading

movements, subject and involuntary

MUSCLE-READING. The intuition of a person's thought by physical contact. Every complete mental process tends to 'issue' or 'ex press itself' in movement ; the psychophysical organism is essentially a motor organism. In many eases these expressive or concomitant movements are involuntary, and unknown to their performer. It is often possible, by close attention to them, to get an inkling of the object or direc tion of the agent's thought. Some persons, in deed, have a peculiar aptitude for this 'muscle reading,' or (as it has been wrongly termed) 'mind-reading,' so that they are able, by taking into account all the objective indications pre sented by the agent, to reproduce in somewhat surprising detail the course of his thought.

Muscle-reading was nmch in vogue a few years since as a drawing-room game. On the stage, it is customary for the `mind-reader' to lay the hand of the subject upon his forehead, o to take the sub ject's hand in his own. By minute observation of the subject's involuntary movements, of his trem or or flush of excitement. etc., it is possible for the reader to guess, in many instances, the number of a watch, the place and character of a hidden object, etc.; the subject, being completely unaware that

he is giving any suggestion. and the suggestions themselves being unnoticeable to the audience. With the most successful mind-readers the process of observation has become habitual and therefore partly unconscious, so that they are unable to explain their modus operandi, even if they desire to do so. Their extreme fatigue. at the conclusion of a performance, indicates, how ever. that their attention has been 'under great strain.

This appreciation of unconscious movements and of vasomotor changes in the subject is sir& eient to explain all the feats of mind-reading that are on record. surprising as some of these may appear. Consult: .lastrow, Fart and Fable in Psychology (New York, In00) ; Prey-en Dic EH;liirung des Gedankentesens (16) ; and ine teenth Century, xx. sr; ; Forum, xi. 192; Popu lar Reimer .11withly, x. 4.19. xxi. 634.