Bauhaus-Universität Weimar

Hugo Münsterberg. His Life and Work
Münsterberg, Margaret
less they can be brought into some causal connection. 
This can be done only by considering each isolated phenom¬ 
enon as the accompaniment of a physical brain process ; 
for the brain processes, like all physical phenomena, can 
be explained in their causal connection. 
For a hundred years “the simple scheme of the physi¬ 
ology of association has given a most decided impulse to 
the progress of psychology.” The association theory 
recognizes the “path of least resistance” once established 
between brain centers stimulated at the same time. Recog¬ 
nition of the “switch-board” function of certain brain 
cells, which do not themselves receive sensory impressions 
but transmit impressions from one center to another, has 
further strengthened the association theory. This account 
of the psychical processes, however, was found not to be 
enough to explain the full complexity of mental life with 
its variety of vividness and clearness, its suppression and 
inhibition. It has been recognized, finally, that the cortex 
is not only the recipient, but also the starting point for 
motor processes, that the centrifugal processes, issuing 
from the brain, are fully as important as the centripetal 
processes leading to the brain. A unified arc of sensory 
and motor processes as a means of the organism’s ad¬ 
justment to its surroundings is a biological necessity. 
Further, the vividness of sensation elements can be ex¬ 
plained by the opening or closing of motor channels, in¬ 
asmuch as those ideas are vivid that find the motor chan¬ 
nels open while the opposite ideas are inhibited through 
the closing of the channels for the opposite action. The 
part that not only the motor activity, but the whole motor 
setting plays in mental life is of the utmost importance 
for the understanding of psychotherapy. In the infinite 
complexity of mental life, with its manifold sensation 
elements and motor activities, the freedom of man, in the 
psychological sense, must be conceived as the “unity of an 


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