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Emanuel Swedenborg: A Study in Morbid Psychology

  • Hubert J. Norman (a1)

“Let us examine,” says Swift, in his “Digression concerning Madness” in a Tale of a Tub, “the great introducers of new schemes in philosophy, and search till we can find from what faculty of the soul the disposition arises in mortal man of taking it into his head to advance new systems, with such an eager zeal, in things agreed on all hands impossible to be known; from what seeds this disposition springs, and to what quality of human nature these grand innovators have been indebted for their number of disciples; because it is plain that several of the chief among them, both antient and modern, were usually mistaken by their adversaries, and indeed by all except their own followers, to have been persons crazed or out of their wits; having generally proceeded in the common course of their words and actions by a method very different from the vulgar dictates of unrefined reason; agreeing, for the most part, in their several models, with their present undoubted successors in the Academy of modern Bedlam … Of this kind were Epicurus, Diogenes, Apollonius, Lucretius, Paracelsus, Des Cartes, and others; who, if they were now in the world, tied fast, and separate from their followers, would, in this undistinguishing age, incur manifest danger of phlebotomy, and whips, and chains, and dark chambers, and straw.” So wrote the greatest satirist in his pungent and acrid way; and there can be little doubt but that, had he lived to become acquainted with some of Swedenborg's later writings, he would have classified him among that miscellaneous group of “others.” It may seem to some a work of supererogation once more to state the facts which lead to this conclusion; but it is hoped that they will realise that in this recapitulation the object is not to asperse the reputation of a great man, but, by setting forth the story of his life, to show why it was that so great a change was wrought in him, and why he turned from the scientific pursuits of his earlier years to the visionary speculations of his later days. By undertaking such a work a writer is certain to incur the odium of those who rigidly maintain their unshaken belief in the sanity of their prophet; that is regrettable, but regrets will not alter facts.

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(1) Maudsley, .—“Swedenborg,” in Body and Mind.
(2) Tafel, .—In Preface to Swedenborg's The Brain.
(3) Gorman, .—Christian Psychology, p. 482.
(4) Trobridge, .—Life of Emanuel Swedenborg, p. 106. (London, 1912.)
(5) Harrison, .—The Positive Philosophy of Comte, Introduction, p. ix. (London, 1896.)
(6) Nisbet, .—The Insanity of Genius, p. 225.
(7) Tafel, .—Documents concerning Swedenborg, vol. i.
(8) White, .—Emanuel Swedenborg, vol. i, p. 113.
(9) “U. S. E.”Emanuel Swedenborg, pp. 9 and 19.
(10) Wilkinson, J. J. Garth Dr.Emanuel Swedenborg, p. 80. (London, 1849.)
(11) Maudsley, . —“Swedenborg,” in Body and Mind, p. 207.
(12) White, . —Emanuel Swedenborg, vol. i, p. 200.
(13) White.—Ibid., vol. i, p. 225.
(14) Maudsley, . —“Swedenborg,” in Body and Mind, p. 263.
(15) Feuchtersleben, .—Medical Psychology, p. 287.
(16) Maudsley, .—Natural Causes and Supernatural Seemings, p. 227.
(17) Swedenborg, .—True Christian Religion, No. 779.
(18) Swedenborg, .—Spiritual Diary, No. 153.
(19) Swedenborg, .—Ibid., Nos. 991, 992, and 2650 (1748).
(20) Swedenborg, .—Ibid. (1749).
(21) Swedenborg, .—Ibid., Nos. 3810, 3765.
(22) Swedenborg, .—Arcana Cælestia, No. 5863.
(23) White.—Emanuel Swedenborg, p. 320.
(24) de Boismont, Brierre.—On Hallucinations.
(25) Clissold, Rev. Augustus.—The Prophetic Spirit in relation to Wisdom and Madness, p. 84.
(26) Maudsley, .—Brain and Mind, p. 255.
(27) Hobbes, Thomas.—Leviathan, p. 47 (edition of 1904).
(28) Kant, Immanuel.—Dreams of a Spirit-Seer, p. 84. (London, 1900.)
(29) Lewes, .—History of Philosophy, vol. ii, p. 458.
(30) Clodd, .—Pioneers of Evolution, p. 50.
(31) Maudsley, .—Natural Causes and Supernatural Seemings, p. 227.
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Emanuel Swedenborg: A Study in Morbid Psychology

  • Hubert J. Norman (a1)
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