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88. Various Conditions During Sleep

Various cases of «abnormalities» occurring during the sleep are often observed among the Tungus. I have already shown that, according to the Tungus hypothesis, during the sleep the soul may be absent. Only one of the components of the soul may be absent, for the total absence of the soul would put the person in a condition of definite danger. On the other hand, it is supposed that the spirits may enter the body during the sleep. Whence we have three cases, namely, (1) the soul is absent and travels elsewhere; the experience of the soul may affect the body which speaks («body»-«mind»-«life») even while the person remains asleep; (2) the soul is absent and the spirit enters the body, which speaks being induced by the spirit; (3) the soul is present and spirit enters the body, which speaks for the spirits, while the body is asleep, and the soul is «mastered» by the spirit. In all these cases there would be the phenomenon of speaking, singing, even moving in the sleep, - now generally regarded as an «incomplete sleep». The latter cannot be regarded as an abnormality, until it becomes harmful for the health.

Among the Tungus one can frequently observe these cases. About the same ages and sexes are affected, as in the case of possession by the spirits.

The subject affected by this condition may sing during the sleep, or speak for himself or on behalf of the spirit. The Tungus sometimes speak foreign languages, e.g. Buriat, Russian, Manchu, Chinese. In some cases they speak these languages only in the sleeping state, while they cannot speak them being awake. This constitutes one one of the great puzzles for the Tungus who have only one possible explanation; namely, the spirits are speaking. This phenomenon is very interesting, and thus I have used all possible occasions of observing it in sleeping persons and especially in shamans during the performance, which, as will be shown, is not very far in its nature from the condition here discussed.

First of all, it must be kept in mind that the spirits, at least some of them, are believed to speak only certain languages (vide supra). Secondly, the knowledge of alien languages is very common among almost all Tungus groups. Thirdly, the perception of what the persons asleep say is not always perfect, and the imagination of the listeners makes the necessary completion. But it is a fact that some persons, who do not speak foreign languages, do speak them in their sleep and sometimes not very badly. The only possible explanation is that the study of a language does not follow the only way which may be easily seen by the observers from the outer manifestations of the progress made by the person.

I shall now permit myself hypothetically to discuss this question with all possible reserves as to the further application of my reconstruction. There is one remarkable fact, namely, the children of pre-school age, and those of low school ages may learn a foreign language in a few months, after which they can speak quite correctly and with a correct «accent». Some adult persons may learn to speak a foreign language in a few years, while for others this is absolutely impossible. Lastly, there are adult persons who cannot learn them at all [493]. I cannot go into the details of all variations and possible psychological conditions which have nothing to do with the relative ability for studying a language.

Children learn a language by the simple method of imitation, in which they do not reason, but try to speak as clearly as possible for making themselves understood. If the process of imitation is not hindered by inhibition, the learning does not take a long time [494]. Then in schools study comes from books; unconscious imitation is nearly banished and instead of it a new method is introduced, a foreign logical method, implying study by memory and practice in words, «rules» of grammar [495], etc., where everything is expressed in a rough and deeply conventional form of an imperfect graphism. The process is thus artificially made very slow. The student is prevented from working «unconsciously». More than this, he always keeps in his keeps in his mind: the longer he studies, the better he may know [496]. In addition thereto, if there is a conventionalized «school language», then it is practically impossible to learn a language.

With those who do not go through this «schooling», as it is with the Tungus, who marvellously quickly learn languages, there are other inhibitory conditions, namely, the interethnical relations and the relative shyness of the Tungus — they do not want to offend the hearer's ear by speaking badly, and they believe that they cannot learn a foreign language, just as foreigners cannot (superiority complex) learn the Tungus language. However, since the Tungus meet with the foreigners and listen to them, they unconsciously learn their language, but very often believe that they cannot speak. In the state when the logical thinking is in force, they cannot speak, but as soon as the «logi-cal» (adopted and approved by the ethnical group or unit) way of thinking is eliminated, they can speak. Such an elimination occurs at the time of sleep, when the existing ethnographical complex does not hinder practical application of what the persons actually know by the process of unconscious assimilation of facts (and foreign languages too). Indeed, if the person knows no language at all, he or she cannot speak [497]. Moreover, I want to emphasise that the well known phenomena like «the speaking of various languages», as known among some Russian sectarians, also «twelve languages of twelve disciples», and so on, are not in the line of the phenomena discussed above. In the case of the Tungus speaking alien languages we have a real knowledge of languages. The situation is sometimes complicated by the fact that these are not persons who speak them, but spirits without the introduction of whom the persons cannot speak [498]. Howsoever, this is the Tungus solution of the complex puzzle produced by the conflict between the ethnological complex of a logical control of the psychomental complex and a successful solution of the problem of studying foreign languages, while European observers consider it as «hysteria.» The difference between the two is not very great.

I have dwelt so long on the phenomenon of «speaking languages», because the above analysis permits us to understand many other similar phenomena in which the mind of the subject is left free to express itself without being bound (within certain limits) by a restraint of free self-expression with inhibitory conditions of the ethnical milieu, of the given ethnographical complex and especially of the social group of juniors and generally of clan members. From this point of view there is a great similarity between the condition described in the previous section and that described in the present section. In both cases we have a situation in which the person permits himself to speak more freely than it is allowed, i.e. the subject obtains a special occasion of relaxation, in both cases the subject attracts, consciously or unconsciously, attention to its personality. Namely, in the first case the whole performance may occur — and I suppose it is so in most cases - under the control, at least partial, of the consciousness, while in the second case the subject is in a state of incomplete sleep, and may actually forget everything which happened in the «dreams», the control being confined to that of the ethnographical milieu unconsciously accepted.

The occurrence of speaking and generally, of expressing one's self in the sleep is likely to take place in the case, when introduction of spirits, as described in the previous section, is disapproved, and when the subject knows that such an act is impossible, as well as in the case when the subject is too shy for figuring half-consciously as «possessed» by the spirit. In these and similar cases, the inhibition will be so strong that only with half-dormant consciousness, as in sleep, the subject can find a way of self-expression. Indeed, in the matter of sexual relations, especially when the subjects are bound by their social position, such occurrences are very likely to happen, and they cannot be regarded as hysterical manifestations, as it has already been done by some authors [499]. These are as much natural as sexual dreams symbolized or not, «sublimated» or not. The difference is that the Tungus are liable to an incomplete sleep which, as such, cannot be regarded as an «abnormal» and «pathological» condition. In so far as incomplete sleep is concerned, it is likely that the subject will speak (or sing) of such things, facts and feelings which are inhibited in a «normal» state. Since the Tungus young unmarried persons are not restricted in their sexual life, where tragedies rarely occur, the sexual element is rarely represented, while «social oppression» (seniors versus juniors), spirits, and other similar matters are more frequently the themes. By this I do not want to say that the sexual complex does not appear at all. It does manifest itself in words and even in quite frank movements of the body, but the sexual complex cannot be generally considered as causa prima of this condition, being in other cases manifested in «sublimated» and «symbolised» forms.

It is evident that such a condition, rarely occurring, is not harmful at all, but if it does not leave the subject to have complete rest during the sleep, the condition may become harmful, as it is with self-introducing spirits, «classical hysteria», etc. In this case the Tungus usually decide to have recourse to home means, and to the help of the shaman, for in all similar cases the spirits are held responsible for the conditions, and treatment is not very difficult.

493. Hindrance for study of a new language apparently is also found in the fixed chains of conditioned reflexes.

494. Here I have in view a frequent occurrence, when adult people restrain children from quick, unconscious imitation and learning, e.g. by producing the feeling of superiority of the parents' language and of hate for an alien language, etc., which in most cases is not a conscious act on the part of the parents.

495. I do not need to point out that there is nothing more artificial and unnatural than the present grammar composed in imitation of the Latin grammar, nearly two thousands years old. It is a rare case of blind imitation and ethnographical conservatism which may he understood only from the peculiar psychomental complex of those who «specialize» themselves in philology and from the very beginning accept a series of postulates. This is a well known fact to all those, even among philologists, who critically approached the problem. Let me add that the failure of creation of new grammars is another complex phenomenon of an ethnographic order. But this question will lead us too far from «well established truths», so I may run the risk of being misunderstood.

496. An interesting instance of how the study of a simple alphabet may be retarded is given us by the Manchus. Their alphabet contains 38 «letters», but the Manchu teachers succeeded in creating about fifteen hundred syllabic combinations which were studied in the schools not less than three years, for the Manchus did not guess that they could read sound after sound. The learning to read Manchu actually takes no more than, for instance, to read German for Germans.

497. This is not typical of the Tungus alone. I have observed cases when the Europeans were surprised that in their dreams they can speak foreign languages much better than when they are awake, — speech runs fluently and it is correct. When they are awake their «tongue» makes false movements, they cannot remember «words» and rules of grammar. In the Freudian system this is explained, as many other things, by a desire of speaking well, etc., while actually in the dreams these persons simply have no inhibitions of a «logical ethnographical order». In this way Freudianism maintains many other «prejudices» and gives them a quite scientific appearance, at the same time by justifying the existing ethnographical complex retarding necessary changes of the complex. Leaving aside the practical (legal, medical, educational, etc.) importance of Freudianism, I must say that its retarding influence on the deepening and progress of science will be still stronger felt in the future.

498. Some travellers in Siberia have noted the fact of speaking foreign languages in the sleeping state or in that when spirits are introduced. These facts produced a great impression on the travellers who were inclined to explain them as phenomena of hysteria. Of course, many of them did not know that foreign spirits do speak foreign languages, when these languages are known to the affected persons (and to the shamans).

499. Among others I have here in view the case related by W. Jochelson (The Yuhaghir and Yukaghirized Tungus, Vol. I p. 32) when a Yakut woman fell in love with an occasional visitor and expressed herself in a sleep too frankly. The situation was simple: the healthy, strong woman is sexually excited by a stranger, wants to think and even perhaps to tell the stranger in her incomplete sleep the fact which certainly is not a secret for her. The stranger may now her feelings; the husband regrets her being attacked by the spirits (abassy), and our observer refers to the case as hysteria. Every one, who makes observation, both among his own people and other ethnical groups, comes from time to time in touch with similar occurrences, the only difference being the form. We are unable to notice the forms to which we are accustomed as sharply as those to which we are not accustomed. Since I have the occasion of mentioning this investigator's observation, I want also to point out that he, as well as many others of his time, were inclined to see too much «sexual» complex, so that more «sexual» than other cases were recorded. However, «arctic hysteria» has nothing to do with most of these cases, both sexual and asexual.

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