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154. Disequilibrium Of The Psychomental Complex

By the term disequilibrium» of the psychomental complex I designate a condition of this complex which, on the one hand, cannot satisfy the need of the ethnical unit for a necessary cognition of the milieu and the establishment of relations with the milieu which may assure the survival of the unit; and on the other hand, the lack of working balance in the psychomental complex itself. The first condition, as a case of disequilibrium, may be understood only from a historic point of view, i.e. when the same unit is compared at two different moments. In fact, such a disequilibrium may occur only when there is a change in the conditions of milieu, or when there is a sudden negative change in the ability of cognition, Such a condition of the psychomental complex may produce the impression of a great stability of a complex well balanced within itself.

It may be supposed that after migrations, when the old psychomental complex cannot satisfy the needs of a new adaptation to the new conditions of the milieu, a great number of ethnical units perishes through a direct extinction, disintegration, absorption and assimilation. The same would happen in the case when the ethnical unit is put in a new interethnical milieu, but the way of its perishing may be different, namely, through the change of the psychomental complex under the influence of a milieu to which the old complex is not adapted, while the cultural complex, as a whole, is not sufficient for an effective resistance. This is the most common case among the Tungus groups here discussed, especially in the past. The same effect may occur in case of the diffusion of a new element and a complex which is only a particular form of interethnical pressure. Indeed, when the pressure is gradually increasing, the unit has time for adapting itself. It assimilates a new element or even a complex and produces at the same time the necessary modifications and adaptations in the old complex. However, if the mechanism of self-regulation fails to operate, an introduction of new elements may be quite fatal for the existence of the unit.

The case of a sudden change of the ability of cognition may occur in case of a partial destruction of the thinking elements, due to a war with the neighbours, or to their extermination in the process of an internal struggle (the particular case of «revolutions»). A substitution of anthropological types, which possess different ability, may also occur (this is a rather slow process, so that usually there is a sufficient period of time for readap-tation) and an influx of alien elements incorporated in a too great number. When such an incorporation takes place without affecting the differentiated groups of the thinking apparatus, more lowering of the average may occur, while should it take hold of this apparatus as well, the effect may assume a form of ethnical collapse of the former unit. Such cases are observed among the Nomad Tungus.

Disequilibrium of the psychomental complex may also occur because of a defective self-regulating mechanism. In fact, if it is in a state of disfunction, two cases may occur, namely, the efficiency of the psychomental complex may be below the needs of the unit and it may be above these needs. In the first case the effect will evidently be a retardation of the cultural adaptation in general, and thus a reduction of the interethnical value of the unit; but if its working capacity sinks below the needs of maintaining the functioning of the cultural complex in general, a general reduction of the cultural complex may result [738]. In the second case various situations may occur, e.g. the disruption of the specialized group from the mass of the population; a change of the direction of adaptation, e.g. in the form of a confinement of oneself to the problems of secondary importance from the point of view of the adaptation of the unit as a whole; in the form of a psychic condition of general dissatisfaction among the thinkers, due to the conflict between the reality and the theoretical imagination; and other forms. The general effect is the same as that in the first case, namely, a loss of adaptive power of the unit, as a whole, with the reduction of its inter ethnical value, although in the last case the unit may produce the impression of great «brilliancy». However, such occurrences will remain within the range of fluctuations of the psychomental complex and after a certain period a temporary disfunction will be removed, the internal equilibrium being preserved. Thus a disfunction of this mechanism may occur without any important change in the normal psychology of the ethnical unit, or without any change of the interethnical pressure, but only as a defective condition of a continuous readaptation and adjustment.

We have seen that the psychomental complex depends on inherited conditions as defined by the constitutions and the behaviour, i.e., from the functional point of view, on the physiological complex. However, the latter may smoothly function only in case the conditions of the milieu do not go beyond the limits within which the physiological complex was formed.

Unfortunately, at the present time it is impossible to speak of the conditions of the physiological complex disturbed by the change of general conditions. However, there are certain facts indicating that the physiological functions may show important deviations in case of such changes. Continuous deficient nutrition — one of the common occurrences — produces important changes in the physiological behaviour, as manifested in an arrest of the growth process, in the lowering of the production of useful energy, and in a general reduction of biological activity; it seems to have quite a definite influence upon the determination of the sex in children. On the other hand, overfeeding which does not exceed a certain limit produces its effects in the sense of the increase of biological activity, while an excessive over-feeding may also result in the decrease or this activity. The same is true in reference to the supply of solar energy, not only in the form of heat, but also in other forms, such as light — a complex phenomenon — and rays of electrically charged particles, also air and water. Although the elasticity of the physiological complex, considered in earthly conditions, is relatively great, it deviates from the optimum only within the limits typical of the region when the organism appeared as a by-product of a long adaptation. It is evident that in the adaptation of human ethnical groups the cultural complex is only a further extension of the possibilities of milieu, a complex, the volume of which, as shown, depends first of all on the density of the population. As shown, it possesses also certain limits of variations, although much less stable ones than those of the primary milieu. Indeed, in the process of reaching an adapted form the physiological complex depends on the cultural complex with its deviations from the optimum characteristic of a given adaptive form. Naturally, the cultural complex is only one of the conditions of the milieu which cannot be omitted from the consideration of the conditions responsible for the existence of the physiological complex. This becomes perfectly clear when ethnical units (and groups) find themselves under the conditions of disfunction of the cultural complex, as it happened, for instance, with several European groups during and after the last war [739].

It would now be superfluous to insist upon the fact that any change in the physiological regime of any populatio has its effects upon the psychological complex. Not to speak of specific chemical ingredients found in the food, which may greatly influence the physiological and psychological behaviour, the most common ingredients, such as salt and fat, have a direct influence on the behaviour. Since individual behaviour depends on these conditions, the population composing ethnical units cannot be indifferent to the individual changes in behaviour.

We are much more familiar with the conditions and effects of starving groups which may sometimes produce quite opposite social reactions; namely, (1) a dull indifference and concentration of attention on an immediate search for food, and (2) revolt against a real or an imaginative cause of starvation. Both of them will not be normal for a smooth existence of the unit and they will be responsible for a temporary disfunction of the psychomental complex. However, not only a change in the supply of these common and important ingredients of the food regime can be responsible for a disturbance of the psychomental complex, but also a lack of some much less important ingredients, and even a change of the form to which the unit is adapted may produce their effect. The experiments with various prohibitions, particularly with that of alcoholic drinks, show that in a few years the unit may feel the effects in the form of either a decrease or an increase of criminality, of a change of interests etc. Indeed, such revolutions in the food regime also have their social effects and the latter also affect the psychomental complex [740].

Finally it should be noted that the psychomental complex may be affected by mass psychoses due to imitation. We have already observed that among the Tungus some ideas or a complex behaviour of individuals may appear which may be imitated. I do not enter now into the discussion of the question in what conditions these ideas and imitation may appear. Indeed it is very likely that these ideas and harmful imitation are impossible, when the unit is perfectly stable [741], when it has not been previously brought to a state of instability, e.g. by an unfavourable change in the chemical regime; but since fluctuations of conditions are common and the Tungus include all varieties of the classical types of characters, the disturbing influence of imitation is possible, if not probable. When a certain group of the population is affected, a mass psychosis of different extent results [742].

The conditions pointed out above, namely, (1) the disfunction of the psychomental complex which cannot master a newly created situation of the unit; (2) the reduction of the thinking apparatus; (3) the defectiveness of the self-regulating mechanism; (4) physiological-psychological disturbances, and (5) psychoses, are conditions which may be produced within the unit by the unit itself, without any outside influence. However, in the life of ethnical groups, disturbing influences produced by the interethnical milieu are perhaps more common than those produced by the internal influences.

The disturbing influence of the interethnical milieu on the psychomental complex can be direct and indirect. In the first group various forms of pressure may be included, especially a military pressure, which must be clearly perceived and, when necessary, opposed. In fact, any danger of this kind requires a great nervous and mental effort and, as such, it produces its effect upon the psychomental complex which is deprived of its normal smooth functioning [743].

A still more disturbed condition is created, when opposition is to be formulated and the unit must enter into a war. Indeed, directly and indirectly it endangers all members of the community, which reacts upon the psychomental complex. Among the Tungus the period of wars has ended long ago, but in the past -i.e. before the stabilization of the Russian and Manchu control over the territories occupied by the Tungus which took place only in the seventeenth century — this was a common occurrence.

Alien pressure on the territory with its partial occupation may also have had an indirect influence upon the stability of the psychomental complex. In fact, the occupation of a part of the territory by an alien group imposes a readaptation of the cultural complex either of one of the populations, or even of both of them. If there is a readaptation of the cultural complex, and moreover with a sudden change, a disequilibrium of the psychomental complex is very likely to occur, for such a change requires an especially great effort of the unit. In case of loss of population there may be only a slow loss of the former complex, and a psychomental disequilibrium is not likely to occur, if no essential change in the initial tempo of variations is connected there with [744]. The loss of population is therefore dangerous only when it is connected with the change of the tempo of variations. However, a defected unit may also manifest various signs of a disequilibrium produced by the fact of the defeat and the loss of hope for the future. This is much more dangerous in the sense of producing psychomental disequilibrium for leading ethnical units or those which may soon become so, than for, so to say, ordinary ethnical units. These phenomena may be observed among the Tungus groups too, namely, among the Manchus who failed to meet Chinese pressure.

Alien pressure may be manifested in an introduction of certain cultural elements which may directly and indirectly produce their effect upon the stability of the psychomental complex. The most common case is that when the actual cause of the instability is due to the acceleration of the tempo of variations. In fact, the introduction of a new technical invention which imposes a corresponding readaptation of the social organization - i.e. the creation of new professional groups and their subsequent further change do create a new attitude towards changes in general, the essential of which is the weakening of traditions and «rationalization». In consequence thereof, any other cultural element may be subject to a new re-rationalization, which may not always be satisfactory for maintaining the existence of these elements. In such a state several Tungus groups have been found which had adopted modern firearms and came into new relations with powerful ethnical groups.

Still clearer are the cases when new ideas are introduced and accepted. They may produce a real revolution in the psychomental complex.

A consecutive loss, at least a temporary one, of functional efficiency is therefore a common occurrence. It is especially true of those ideas which come into conflict with the existing complex. For instance, the penetration of a new religious system, of a new social teaching, of a new artistic fashion may produce a sceptical attitude toward the formerly existing complex, so that the latter, as a whole, will fall under suspicion and will cease to function as an adaptive phenomenon. The history of mankind gives us a great number of such instances, but one of the most interesting ones, which is being recently observed, is that of the socialistic teaching that affected in various degrees, one after another, the ethnical groups, or at least some parts of the groups. Such was the case among the Tungus with the introduction of Buddhism and Christianity. The introduction of Buddhism has even resulted in an increase of psychoses, which began to spread over the Tungus groups in the form of mass and individual psychoses as a secondary reaction on the new ideas. However, there is nothing particularly Tungus in it. The case of psychoses, especially mass psychoses, by which ethnical

groups are affected one after another, is well known from the history of mystic teachings which periodically spread over mediaeval Europe. There may have been especially favourable conditions, perhaps physical, physiological in their nature, which facilitated the penetration of these psychoses, but this supposition is even superfluous. For instance, during the last great war the psychosis of fear of enemy spies was quite common, but it was due to the general psychic instability during the war and, at the beginning of the war, not to any special physical conditions, which were created much later. Something of the psychopathological order can also be seen in the recent spreading of sexual exhibitionism and manifestations as expressed in nudism, American dances (adapted Negro complex), etc. which have affected almost all countries of the world after the Great War. No doubt, mediaeval mass hallucinations, mania or persecution (spies), mass sexual exhibitionism and other similar phenomena do not leave the psychomental complex, as a whole, undisturbed. The role of simple imitation in all these cases is evident, and the imitation itself is subject to the same regulating mechanism as any other cultural phenomenon.

I have not directly observed the spread of such mass psychoses among the Tungus groups, with the exception of the above mentioned «spirits», particularly connected with Buddhism, as the latter was adopted and understood by the Tungus. It is difficult to say at which moment «olonism» began to spread among the Tungus, but its gradual spreading may now be observed. When it assumes very distinct forms and affects numerous groups of the population, it may produce a real disequilibrium of the complex. The same is true of hysteria. However, in this case, as in similar cases, the individual susceptibility to these conditions is first to be considered. If the number of susceptible individuals is great, then the unit may be affected much stronger than when the number of such individuals is limited. But this must be accepted only with reserves, as a probable supposition, for in the presence of phenomena of mob psychology whose duration may be short or long, even well-balanced individuals act as if they were with the crowd and thus affected by the mass psychosis. Apparently there are some deeper causes behind these phenomena than the simple mechanism of imitation [745].

738. Such an occurrence is common e.g. when the unit partially loses its organized system of transmission of the complex, when this group loses its efficiency, e.g. owing to a strong «professionalization», interference of other groups etc., when the grouping of types of similar reactions is petrified, but the process goes in a cyclic way, and so forth.

739. Although periodical famines, due to climatic fluctuations, may greatly affect units, the latter may become more or less adapted to the periods of abundance and starvation, sometimes resulting in great irregularities of birth-death ratio; so their influence is much less effective than that of a sudden change of an usual equilibrium.

740. For instance, such was the case of the Tungus, when after the prohibition of selling alcoholic drinks in Russia (at the beginning of the Great War) there was an interference with important ceremonies, like weddings and partly with shamanism. This created a kind of psychic unrest. Still stronger was the effect upon the Russian population, both physiologically and socio-psychologically. Seemingly the population of the United States was still more affected, when prohibition was enforced. 741. In fact, I. Pavlov has failed to produce neurosis in the well-balanced type of dogs, while he was successful with other types. Here it should be noted that types well-balanced, from the point of view of the mechanism of conditioned reflexes, and strong, are those which formerly were called «phlegmatic» and «sanguinic», although their behaviour differs, while badly-balanced types are «choleric» and «melancholic» types which produce weak reactions. Cf. Physiology of Higher Nervous activity, in Priroda, 1932, Nos. 11-12, p. 1151et seq.

742. A great number of similar facts are collected by V. M. Bexterev, cf. his Collective Reflexology.

743. One day I observed the psychic state of a Tungus unit which intended in entering into an armed conflict with another group. It was due not to an accidental loss of psychic equilibrium, but to a continuous and long condition of disturbed psychomental complex, justified by reference to the past and rationalized in reference to the violation of a certain practice -marriage. Vide SONT, p. 221.

744. This is a special case, when the ethnical unit not only loses its territory and population, but also suddenly changes its tempo of variations. In such a case, because of the inertia of movement, energy has no application, no discharge, and a psychomental disequilibrium is almost certain. This is exactly the case of units, the movements of which are impeded by interethnical pressure. Since this usually occurs during or after a war, the unit is liable to a continuation of an internal war between the differentiated units, to an internal struggle, to a psychic condition of «defeat», sometimes «revolution», and a great movement and readaptation of the whole psychomental complex. Quite wrongly this is often explained as only due to the loss of the war.

745. An interesting case is that of sudden changes in the psychomental complexes during the so-called revolutions, when opinions change suddenly and decisions most inconsistent with the safety of the unit are taken, and the unit is generally deprived of the ability of acting in the adaptive sense. The leading of the masses, in such cases, does not present a great technical difficulty if the tendency of the psychoses is understood or, better to say, guessed. It can be done by individuals who are not particularly prepared to such leadership, but who are naive enough to imagine themselves to be «leaders», while the real leaders of the ethnical unit are rejected.

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