There is a method in his madness, and the rudimentary idea in my mind is growing. It will be a whole idea soon, and then, oh, unconscious cerebration! you will have to give the wall to your conscious brother. I kept away from my friend for a few days, so that I might notice if there were any change. Things remain as they were except that he has parted with some of his pets and got a new one. He has managed to get a sparrow, and has already partially tamed it. His means of taming is simple, for already the spiders have diminished. Those that do remain, however, are well fed, for he still brings in the flies by tempting them with his food.
These little updates give us an insight into Seward's methods, rather the lack of them. He seems more interested in his patients as subjects in his next medical paper over helping them relieve their anxieties. Granted, this novel is set at the dawn of modern psychology but still books were being published in the 1890s that were rapidly changing the field. Among them were William James' The Principles of Psychology
. Christian Von Ehrenfels published On Gestalt Qualities
and founded Gestalt psychology. You can read an excerpt from Von Ehrenfels work HERE
. Did Seward read any of these books? It doesn't seem so. I also wonder how many contemporary books of psychology that Stoker read. He may have deliberately ignored them since they did not fit in the framework of his piece. Seward must remain oblivious to the danger in Renfield after all. But his lack of philosophy or codified method of practice is rather disturbing. It makes me wonder how he managed to become a doctor at all. In what field?
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