A portrait of Joe Slater (btwos.visual-test.fr).
Joe Slater was locked up in a state psychopathic institution in the winter of 1900. After experiencing some auditory and visual hallucinations Joe ended up killing another man, which resulted in alienists evaluating his sanity. It was his strange ravings and continued hallucinations that resulted in him being committed to the institution. It is very interesting how Joe’s auditory and visual hallucinations, as documented by HPL in “Beyond the Wall of Sleep,” are very similar to the symptoms of schizophrenia.
While the occurrence of schizophrenia has been documented as far back as 2,000 B.C., it was not formally recognized as a specific mental disease until 1887 by Dr. Emile Kraepelin. Kraepelin was a German psychiatrist whose theories actually reviled Freud’s in the early part of the 20th century. However, the word schizophrenia was coined by Eugen Bleuler in 1911, which was used to describe the separation or division of mental functions among personality, thinking, memory and perceptions of reality. Thus, while the mental disease of schizophrenia was recognized in HPL’s time, very little was known about its formal diagnosis and treatment. However, with that being said, it is interesting how Joe Slater does appear to be experiencing the symptoms of schizophrenia.
Emil Kraepelin (from Wikipedia.org)
In Beyond the Wall of Sleep, Joe Slater experienced a number of hallucinations or conditions (depending on your point of view). A sample of some statements or experiences of Joe’s are provided below:
“a big, big cabin with brightness in the roof and walls and floor and the loud queer music far away.”
Joe was screaming his desire and need to find and kill a certain “thing that shines and shakes and laughs.”
“jump high in the air and burn his way through anything that stopped him.”
“green edifices of light, oceans of space, strange music and shadowy mountains and valleys.”
“some mysterious blazing entity that shook and laughed and mocked him. This vast, vague personality seemed to have done him a terrible wrong, and to kill it in a triumphant revenge was his paramount desire.”
Finally, Joe had the feeling of “soar[ing] through abysses of emptiness, burning every obstacle that stood in his way.”
Joe Slater experiencing some of his hallucinations in the backwoods of New England
While we will come back to this entity that did Joe a “terrible wrong” in an upcoming article, these comments made by Joe are very indicative of symptoms of schizophrenia. For example, Joe heard “loud queer music ” or “strange music” as well as heard the entity laughing at him. Hallucinations involving sound, particularly voices is one of the most common symptoms of schizophrenia. The strange visions described above may also be indicative of schizophrenia.
In addition, Joe exhibits strong paranoid delusions, which are also symptoms of schizophrenia. Such delusions are frequently associated with the belief that others mean to do the person suffering from schizophrenia harm in some manner. Based on Joe’s testimony to the alienists, some unknown entity did Joe some type of great harm; so great is this harm that Joe admits he wants to kill this entity that laughs and mocks him.
While not a lot is known about the detailed biochemical, genetic and other mechanisms that can trigger schizophrenia, more is certainly know now relative to HPL’s time. With that said, based on the data collected by the alienists in Beyond the Walls of Sleep, Joe Slater does exhibit signs of schizophrenia. However, is this the only explanation to Joe’s behavior? Is it indeed possible that Joe’s mind was in contact with an entity from beyond Earth or even beyond our dimensions? Maybe it wasn’t the entity itself producing schizophrenia in Joe. Is it possible that Joe’s mind could not handle the extraterrestrial communication through his mind and the symptoms of schizophrenia manifested as a means of Joe trying to cope with these circumstances? Next time we will review the information and evidence that indeed Joe was the recipient of mental communications from beyond Earth. Thank you – Fred
Illustration of Joe Slater – An Unfit Vessel? (stoicdecay.blogspot.com)