James Hyslop

Prof. James Hyslop

The Borderland of Psychical Research
Publisher: G. B. Putnam's Sons
Published: 1906
Pages: 425

Chapter 11: Hypnotism and Therapeutics

 - James Hyslop -

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          THE PREVIOUS chapter illustrated the influence of normal mental actions on the body in general and without going into specific cases where it was striking or remarkable. We come in the subject of hypnotic and therapeutic phenomena to the facts of unconscious influence of mind on the body. The chapter on, secondary personality established the fact of unconscious mental action, and we have now to examine its parallel influence upon physical conditions, showing that it can produce such effects as well as simulate the existence of independent personality. It should be remarked, however, that the causal action of consciousness on the physical organism is in no case voluntary and intentional, except in the phenomena of purposive volition, and this action limits its influence to muscular or motor phenomena. Even this involves processes of which we know nothing directly, and the only thing that we do know is the fact that the mind's fiat is so directly obeyed that we at least appear to be consciously and directly effective in action on the body. But in the other instances of causal influence the mind does not consciously and purposely produce the effect observed. It is the result of reflex functions. It is thus in a measure unconscious, though the effect is the consequence of a state of normal consciousness. This fact exhibits the bridge between the action of primary and of secondary mental phenomena upon the body. It illustrates also the facts which suggest the limitations of such influence.

I shall not go into the history of hypnotism, as that is an old subject and not of importance at present. I have time only for considerations of practical importance, and the most urgent one of these is the total misunderstanding which the general public has about the nature of hypnotism and its influence. It cherishes a perfectly inexcusable illusion regarding that influence. This is because the scientific man did not at once investigate the phenomena and control the public judgment about it as science has done in physical phenomena, such as electricity, magnetism, meteors, and similar facts. The conception of the public has not gotten beyond the ideas of Mesmer and unscientific men of that time. Mesmer was wholly unscientific, and did not investigate his phenomena with the view of understanding them rationally. He no doubt did some effective practical work with hypnotism, but he undertook to explain his facts by magical and miraculous agencies. The assumption of a fluid passing from the operator to the subject or patient was, at least at that time, nothing more or less than something "supernatural," though it was not supposedly personal in its nature. The theories of Odylic force originated from this conception of the phenomena. There may ultimately be discovered some reason to suppose that fluidic agencies are associated with the phenomena, but I see no reason as yet to believe it, and I make the concession here only to divest myself of bigotry in the interpretation of the facts, as we know so little about them. Whether a fluidic theory of interpreting the facts be true or not, the use made of it in the early history of the subject was such as to alienate scientific minds and to create the conception of magic in regard to its phenomena, and that conception of them has not been sufficiently eradicated as yet.

It was the influence of Braid, of Manchester, which modified the views of scientific men regarding hypnotic phenomena. After the French Academy of Science had repudiated the facts and refused to investigate the claims of the mesmerists, Braid took them up and showed that hypnosis was not due to any necessary transmission of force or fluid from the operator to the subject, but to "suggestion," which has come to be the descriptive term for indicating the source of the phenomena. It removed the idea that the cause was external to the patient, and placed it in the patient's own mind. Consequently, owing to analogies of the phenomenon with sleep, he abandoned the term Mesmerism, which was saturated with the associations of fluidic agencies and magical influences, and adopted the term hypnosis, from a Greek word meaning sleep, to denominate the nature of the phenomenon. Among scientific men that conception of the fact has prevailed ever since, though it has not wholly explained the phenomena.

The popular conception of the phenomena is not hard to understand. The superficial appearance of them is certainly disturbing to the habits and conceptions of normal science, especially in the field of therapeutics. To see a few passes made over a man's face, followed by an apparently passive obedience to every hint made to him, is not what we observe in the normal man. With the normal person we require either to persuade or force him when we want him to act. Persuasion may be accompanied by a certain amount of resistance, as force implies a large amount of it. The rational man does not obey suggestions passively. He reflects on them and decides for himself their reasonableness, and obeys or resists according to his judgment of their rationality. But the hypnotic subject obeys without reflection or without thinking of the rationality of the suggestion, or he even acts against it. He seems to be as clay in the hands of the operator. He apparently has no mind or will of his own, but acts like a machine directed by a mechanical force. The impression, therefore, is natural that anything whatever can be done with the subject by the operator, and if the performances of public hypnotists be taken as the standard, this view would be apparently correct. The fact is, however, that public exhibitions are too often mere pretences and frauds. There is never any assurance that hypnotism is practised by such people at all. They have trained subjects whom they often do not hypnotize at all, and no conception of the phenomena should ever be formed from such performances. Yet even in instances where the phenomena are genuine they are as much or more striking than public illustrations often dare be, and give the natural impression that the hypnotized subject is under the absolute domination of the operator. The absurd actions, like making faces at a person, crawling on the floor, fishing in an empty tub, repeating absurd phrases to a door, etc., are apparent indications of passive subjection to outside influences.

Still more puzzling are cures of various maladies or the production of physiological effects by suggestion. The cure of headaches, of pains, the production of insensibility, of ecstatic mental states, etc., look so much like magic that it is no wonder that the popular imagination regards the phenomena as miraculous. In ordinary medical practice the rules affecting it are based upon a long observation of coincidence and sequence in the phenomena of therapeutics. At first we knew no more about the causal influence of calomel, of quinine, of arsenic, of strychnine, of magnesia, etc., than we know of suggestion. But in the course of long observation we have come to know and expect certain invariable consequences following on their use. It is the same with the relation between all other elements of the materia medica or pharmaceutic products. We have become so familiar with their causal agency that we do not wonder at them, though we may have done so at first, and besides they represent the influence of physical causes, with which we are more familiar than with the mental. We know what to expect of them. But hypnotic suggestion appears to us in our ordinary experience of causal agency as nothing less than thaumaturgic or magical. No wonder it was and often is classified with the "black art." To pass one's hands a few moments over a man's face, and then remove a severe pain or cure an apparently dangerous disease by simply saying to him that he will wake up without the pain or will recover in a few days from his illness without further attention is to do apparent violence to every familiar principle of causation. We are not accustomed in ordinary normal life to have such marvellous consequences follow a word. We have to resort to more strenuous methods to accomplish our results. Hence, when we can remove pains and cure diseases, or make a subject perform unusual acts by a mere word to him, we seem to be reproducing the phenomena which appeared to he miraculous in the earlier history of men. There seems to be no limit to such agencies when they are viewed by the common observer, and hence hypnotism stands for something apparently supernatural, and, measured in terms of the ordinary conceptions of causal relations, this judgment has its excusable characteristics.

But in spite of superficial appearances this conviction of magical powers in the use of hypnosis is an illusion. No less so is the belief that the agency is wholly from without. It is not any thaumaturgic and miracle-working genius that effects the result, but mainly, if not wholly, the action of the subjects own mind. He cannot be hypnotized without his own consent. After long practice in submission to hypnosis it may appear that the subject's consent is not necessary, but in no other circumstances does it seem possible. All the cases reported of involuntary hypnotizing within my knowledge are explicable by silent suggestion in which a look indicate what the operator has in mind and no verbal statement is made or passes introduced. At first the consent of the patient has to be obtained to effect any result whatever, and as the susceptibility to suggestion increases it may be easier to effect hypnosis many instances of it may occur in which the superficial evidence is for hypnosis without consent. The consent, however, need not be formal and voluntary. It may be the simple result of the consciousness that the operator is thinking of this result. Many cases of such attempted effects show effective resistance to the "influences," and, taken on the whole, in all but the alleged telepathic instances of producing hypnosis - and these are very rare - the evidence is slight for any external agency whatever for the production of hypnosis, at least of a magical type. The rather crucial experiment of Braid in this matter is worth quoting.

A hypnotizer had claimed that he could induce mesmeric sleep in his subject without her knowledge or consent. Braid doubted it, and brought the man to his house and afterwards brought the subject, who had no knowledge of the man's presence. She sat within a few feet of him in another room, the door between them being slightly open. The mesmerist worked for some three-quarters of an hour to induce hypnosis, but he failed. As soon as the subject learned that he was present and trying to hypnotize her, that is, as soon as she became conscious of the man's presence and efforts, she at once went into the mesmeric sleep, proving that her own mind was the chief instrument in the result. The well-reported telepathic instance of Pierre Janet seems to be an exception to this view, and I shall not deny that exceptions may exist. I am not concerned for the absolute universality of the inability to hypnotize without consent, but with the rule in all normal cases. The instances that seem to be exceptions are so only by virtue of the fact that the stage of their development, which illustrates this effect without apparent consent, follows on a long experience with suggestion attended at first with consent, and so they may be brought under the rule, and the case possibly made universal.

When the patient's consent is so necessary to the result it is apparent that all the magic supposable in the phenomena is in the subject himself and not in the agent or operator. This latter person may be an important factor in the majority of cases, but that he is not absolutely necessary is sufficiently proved by the simple facts of somnambulism, which is one form of hypnosis, and of auto-hypnosis, which is perhaps a form of spontaneous somnambulism, if I may thus interchange terms, though less frequent than what ordinarily is called somnambulism. These facts, which are wholly phenomena of the subject without external influence of the hypnotic kind, evince beyond question the fact that the hypnotic state is not a magical effect from without, no matter how important the intervention of an operator may be for multiplying illustrations of it.

I have dwelt upon this fact that the operator does not have the magical power popularly ascribed to him that I may remove the fear of hypnosis as a subject of investigation and therapeutic agency. The absurd fear of it is due to this false assumption of its nature and of the power of the person who induces it. It is true enough, nevertheless, that it involves influences which can be abused. That I do not question. But it is not because of any magic or thaumaturgy about it. This may be a reason for refusing consent to its application in certain cases, but it is not indicative of any power superior to the subject's will and capable of subjecting the individual to complete dominion. The use of it ought no doubt to be restricted to scientific and medical purposes, but this liability to misuse hypnosis on the part of some who practise it is not an evidence of dangerous power, but only of one which should be used like all others whose misuse is subject to danger. Eradicate the idea that the power is magical and there will arise a method of limiting the abuses to which the practice of it is exposed.

Another illusion of the popular mind which is closely allied to the one just explained, and is perhaps only another form of conceiving it, is the idea that hypnosis is any influence of one person over another in which the person influenced appears as a passive servant of the other. I often find the assertion, when speaking of any person who has apparently been under the influence of another's mind, that "he was hypnotized." This way of thinking and speaking shows no conception of what the psychologist and scientist mean by hypnosis. The external appearances of hypnotic phenomena no doubt suggest that of domination and the influence of one will over another. But the normal influence of one mind upon another is one of intelligent suggestion and persuasion, in which the mind influenced is as much a factor in the result as the other, and in fact is more the primary factor, as the adoption and execution of the suggestion is a free act. In true hypnotic phenomena this freedom is less apparent, if present at all, because the process is subconscious. But the influence in normal life of one mind upon another is not of the nature of hypnosis in any proper sense of the term. Nothing automatic is involved, and nothing subconscious that is not also subconscious in all the spontaneous acts of the subject. Hence it is an entire illusion to suppose that the ordinary and normal influence of one mind upon another is hypnotic and vice versa. We may ultimately trace connections between them, but the distinction is clear to those who examine the facts with any care. One might add also, that if they were the same there would be no excuse for fearing hypnosis, as the normal influence of one person upon another is not only unavoidable, but is also necessary for civilization itself. But the slightest examination of the phenomena will show that hypnotism is a wholly different fact from the normal communication of ideas and influence upon other minds, though both may finally be shown to contain common elements. Thus far I have tried to show what hypnosis is not. We have now to attempt the examination of what it is. The simplest conception of it is that it is artificially induced sleep. Of course, spontaneous or auto-hypnosis and somnambulism are not externally and artificially induced, but they represent the same subjective mental state, as is proved by their suggestibility. But for the sake of making clear what the majority of instances are, it is well to associate the condition with the method of producing it, and as this method is some artificial process, which is precisely the phenomenon that suggests its magical character, it serves well to define, if not the condition, certainly the circumstances associated with the phenomena. The subjective state is so like somnambulic sleep, though possibly not identical with normal sleep in many of its aspects, that the public can best understand its nature by that comparison, and regard it as less anomalous and less to be feared than is customary.

But the scientific man wants a more technical definition of it, even though he recognizes that it is an artificially induced sleep. With him it must be defined by what it is as a mental condition and not by any of its accidents or associated causes. To the scientific man it is a condition still allied to sleep, but it has characteristics which distinguish it, generally at least, from normal sleep. These vary much with individuals. In some the condition can hardly be distinguished at all from such sleep. In others there seems to be no resemblance but the suspense of normal consciousness. But in all cases perhaps the fundamental characteristic that distinguishes it from sleep is the excessive liability to suggestion. This is the tendency to respond more or less automatically to suggestion, or to ideas indicated to the subject. An automatic condition of the organism so often prevails that this fact is one which may well serve, if not always it may generally, for a criterion of what the condition is. Just what this automatic state is it is difficult to define accurately, but it represents in general the functions of reflex action, namely, response to stimuli without regard to the rational adjustment to the real circumstances under which the subject is placed. The suspense of normal sensory processes gives rise to this condition, which is regulated and held in cheek by normal life. Once suspended, however, the inner mental habits are maladjusted. This, however, is not as clear an account of the condition as is desirable. We might call it a state of automatism but for the fact that this has to be defined and is often used so equivocally that a whole chapter might be devoted to it. It is certain that special inhibitions are cut off in the hypnotic state, though the statement of this fact does not clarify the matter for the layman. We may, however, indicate that our normal mental states are a system of coordinated functions acting in harmony. That is, a large system of different functions are so adjusted that they act in unison with reference to the same end, which is adjustment to our normal environment. But in hypnosis we are cut off from the exercise of some of these functions, or as psychiatrists would say, certain functions become dissociated from those with which they are coordinated in the normal life, and we act according to the impulses of those which remain effective.

Hence the appearance of automatism or mechanical actions not representing the natural or rational adjustment of the person to the present situation.

But I shall not enter into any technical explanation of hypnosis, as that belongs to more scientific treatises and it is not necessary for the purposes of this work. It should be said also that we really know very little about the phenomenon. Many are the theories which pretend to explain what it is, but students of it have got little farther than to ascertain various adjuncts, physiological and psychological, of its occurrence. But exactly what it is as a mental condition is not known beyond its real or apparent alliances. It will have to be investigated much more than it has been before it is perfectly understood, and we may never know as much about it as we do about the normal conditions of the mind.

The fundamental difficulty connected with it is this. We know directly only what is accessible to the introspection or observation of our normal consciousness. We do not know directly what goes on in the minds of others. This we have to infer from their actions, a fact explained in the previous chapter. Now in most of the forms of hypnosis we are not normally conscious of ourselves or of what we are doing, and so our own condition is subject to introspection. The condition of others, as remarked, has to be inferred and is not directly known. But we have ultimately in all our investigations to interpret and understand things in terms of our own conscious knowledge, that is, the introspective results of our own experience and reflection. As we cannot introspect our own hypnotic states and have to infer those of others, we have no terms in which to represent them intelligibly to our own personal 'knowledge. The consequence is that we can say nothing about hypnosis except what is indicated in its alliances and associations or its effects resembling states that are known. This makes the investigation of it an exceedingly difficult task and one that must be extended over a long period of time. If it had not utilities associated with it we might well ignore its investigation, but it has already demonstrated its importance both speculatively and practically, and we can hardly escape the obligation to give it scientific attention, hoping that time and patience may accomplish something of what they have done in other difficult departments of human knowledge. Some of its physiological accompaniments are known, but little has been done to study its psychological character. The investigation of it has been largely in the hands of medical men, who are seldom trained in psychology either of the analytical or experimental type, and hence the temptation is to concentrate attention upon its physiological connections, when it is its psychological character and associations that will probably throw more light upon its nature and meaning than any other facts.

The reason for demanding the most thorough investigation of the phenomena, I think, will be apparent in the practical results of hypnotic therapeutics, to which I wish now to give some attention. The importance of hypnosis as a practical agency is embodied in its utility as a therapeutic possibility.

This is a well-recognized fact, but the public is so deluded in regard to its nature that physicians have not been able either to practice it or to discuss it publicly in the way they might otherwise desire. I mean, therefore, to give a number of illustrations of its efficiency as a curative agency in various forms of disease, at least of a functional nature.

We must remember, however, that the use of hypnosis as a therapeutic does not indicate to us what the real causes are of its influence. All that we know is that, in certain cases, where all other agencies failed, this appears to have been successful. It will require much more investigation and statistical result to justify any assurance in regard to the nature and limits of its efficiency. But sufficient has been established by competent authorities to urge its extension in the field of medicine. The first thing in regard to its claims is that we should have evidence enough that the use of it has actually been effective, directly or indirectly, and I think the endorsement of such men as Moll, Kraft-Ebing, Bernheim, Liebeault, Janet, Wetterstrand, Ochorowics, Tuckey, Bramwell, and hundreds of others suffices to remove from me the duty of any preliminary proof of these claims. I may, therefore, illustrate for the general reader the kind of troubles in which hypnotic suggestion has been efficient in curative processes.

I shall start with instances which involve disturbances not exactly classifiable with insanity, but which either belong to the phenomena of alternating personality or are closely allied to it. The first instance will be one told me by Dr. Boris Sidis in his practice. I have to narrate it from memory.

It is a case of lost personal identity. Such phenomena are of comparative frequency, though they may not last long. The present case had completely lost all knowledge of his identity, did not know his own name, could not give any hint of his home or whereabouts, and in fact would have been confined in an insane asylum by any other person. Dr. Sidis proceeded in his treatment of the case upon the theory that prevails in hallucinations, as discussed above, namely, that often present states of consciousness in abnormal conditions are due to secondary stimuli. He therefore assumed in this case that he might excite the resurrection of normal memories in the man by using certain stimuli. He therefore asked the man to tell him the first things that came into his mind when he, Dr. Sidis, played on the piano. This was done and notes taken of what the man said. The man did not consciously recognize anything that he said. They appeared to him simply as thoughts aroused by the music. In the course of a number of experiments Dr. Sidis came to the conclusion, from the nature of the statements made under this sort of stimulation, that the man was expressing stray experiences in his normal life, not then recognizable as such, and in one case a name and incident were mentioned that led to inquiry. It referred to the sale of a wagon and horse in a certain town. The inquiry showed that the man had sold such a vehicle and animal in the place. Continuing the investigation in this way, Dr. Sidis found a sufficient number of incidents, really memories in the man's mind, which he resorted to suggestion under hypnosis to remind him of, to establish the fact that these were his normal experiences, and that he would recall them as such when he awakened. This succeeded, and by associating his new and abnormal experiences in his waking state with these unconsciously recalled memories he succeeded in connecting the abnormal life sufficiently with his latent but unrecognized memories of the past to begin the process of fusing the two memories together; and when once a link of connection was established there was little difficulty in ultimately getting the man to recall much more, and finally his name and normal memories generally. In this manner the man's personal identity was restored, and probably this synthesis of the secondary with the primary personality would make it extremely unlikely that any recurrence of the abnormal condition would repeat itself.

The next instance is also one which has to be described from memory. It is a case of Dr. Pierre Janet's. He found a patient suffering from hallucinations, and suspecting from the nature of them that they might be traceable to some earlier shock, made inquiries to ascertain whether any fright or shock could be remembered. But the patient could recall none such. Bethinking himself of the fact of automatic writing, which had been suggested to him by his acquaintance with Mr. Frederic W. H. Myers, he resolved to see if the patient could do any automatic writing. He soon found that she could, and when suggestion was applied the patient wrote out an account of a fright which she had had once in her life. But on reading the account herself she could not recall it. Her parents, however, remembered the incident very clearly. Taking this discovery as a clue, Janet unearthed one hallucination after another until he reached the one caused by the shock, and by means of hypnotic suggestion he eradicated this and cured the patient. He had found that the hallucinations with which she was afflicted when the patient came to him would not yield to any suggestion until he had discovered the primary instance of it associated with the original shock. Of course, one of the chief incidents of interest in the case is the method of discovering the cause of the trouble, the unconscious narration of it through automatic writing.

The Hanna case, again by Dr. Sidis, and mentioned briefly under Dissociation, illustrates a similar method of treatment and involves the synthesis of secondary states with resurrected memories which proved to be deposits of normal experience. I can give only a brief account of it. It is reported in detail in Dr. Sidis' work on Multiple Personality.

The Rev. Hanna had a fall from a horse which rendered him unconscious. He was taken up for dead, but in about half an hour apparently recovered consciousness. But closer examination discovered that he was not conscious of anything whatever in his past life. He had lost the knowledge of even his own language, to say nothing of the ancient languages which he had studied at college. He was found to have as little knowledge as a new born babe. He did not even know what the sense of hunger was, and had to be taught it as a child by feeding him. He recognized no objects whatever, and words had no meaning to him. He gradually acquired new meanings for words as his daily wants and habits suggested them. But in the course of this order of things Dr. Sidis found that he was having two types of dreams, and he was asked, after he had progressed sufficiently in the recovery of language, to tell the nature of these dreams. "They are of two kinds," he said. "One is unlike the other; in the one kind the pictures are weak, and I cannot easily bring them up before my mind clearly; the other kind I can easily see and feel clearly again, as though they were before me. The picture dreams come in the morning; they are not like the other dreams; they are too strong and plain."

"It turned out," says Dr. Sidis, "that the dreams characterized by Mr. Hanna as 'clear picture dreams,' and which we may term as vivid ones, were really experiences that had occurred in his former life. He, however, did not recognize them as such and considered them simply as strange dreams of his present life."

Taking this fact of a subconscious and unrecognized connection between Mr. Hanna's abnormal state and his former normal life as his cue, Dr. Sidis proceeded to use suggestion for connecting them consciously, and by various forms of inquiry he ascertained additional instances of resurrected memories in an unconscious way and worked with them to restore the man to his normal state. A part of the method employed was a novel one. It was to place Mr. Hanna amidst new and exciting scenes for the purpose of creating new curiosity and to help awaken him from the lethargic condition of his secondary state. This was effected by bringing him to New York and taking him to brilliantly lighted restaurants and to the theatres. Gradually with this and hypnotic suggestion, associated with constant reminders that certain incidents of his experience belonged to a past life, the man was completely restored to his normal condition and the two personalities fused together. The story of the man's actions and mental behavior during this secondary state and the novelty of his cure reads like a romance. The most interesting features of it cannot even be summarized here, as they would absorb too much space. They are well worth the reader's curiosity.

It is not hypnotic suggestion or the use of hypnotism that is the most interesting or the most important aspect of these instances. It is the accompanying use of psychological analysis and the application of its principles of association and dissociation that are the significant features of the therapeutics applied. One might even minimize the importance of hypnosis in the cases, if only for emphasizing this novel employment of associative synthesis in the restoration of functional normality. It is, of course, probable that hypnosis was as important a factor in the results as any other agency, but it is apparent that it is not the only agency. It may have had its work limited to the discovery and development of the facts which rendered associative synthesis applicable. But whether so or not - and we are still ignorant of its exact relation to the matter - the important thing to remark is the place of normal and abnormal psychology in the understanding of the real difficulties and their remedy in the use of functional agencies of the mind. There is no reason why this means should not be employed on a large scale. It is probable that many similar instances are languishing in the insane asylums for lack of the knowledge to understand and treat them rightly. Dr. Morton Prince in the investigation and discussion of his remarkable case, summarized in a previous chapter, the case of Miss Beauchamp, remarks that she is one of a type that would have been placed in an asylum and become incurable but for the study and treatment of the trouble from the knowledge of association and dissociation of mental phenomena. The Ansel Bourne case, also discussed previously, is one that would have suffered from the same neglect or maltreatment had it fallen into the hands of physicians who had known him in his normal state. He was thought insane, and naturally enough, by the physician who was called in to examine him after his sudden awakening in Norristown, Pa. He was actually adjudged insane when he returned from his abnormal condition! The fact is that a better knowledge of psychology in matters of subconscious mental action and secondary personality would lead to a better criterion of insanity and save many a victim both the humiliation and the expense of the rude methods which so many of our public institutions apply in the treatment of the insane. I do not speak here of organic mental disease, but only what is called functional, which often simulates the organic in its symptoms. A more accurate knowledge of psychology would lead to measures and means for distinguishing more carefully between the two types and to separate methods of treatment. Hypnotic suggestion would be only a part of this method. It would probably serve first to aid in the discovery of facts which would lead to correct diagnosis and then act as a supplementary agent in the therapeutics applied; the synthesis of primary and secondary experiences being added to its agency in effecting cures. I have no doubt that many cases confined in asylums might thus receive effective treatment, which become incurable under present methods when psychological analysis is not employed as a useful instrument. Indeed, I may refer to one case of Dr. Sidis in this connection. A lady was brought to him who had been confined in an asylum for two years with what was diagnosed as hemiplegia. He found on examination that her trouble was only amnesia, or defective memory, amounting to secondary personality. He easily cured the case by hypnotic suggestion and his methods, and apparently the cure was permanent.

I shall turn now to some other types of functional troubles. Dr. Bramwell quotes the details of 115 cases, including such troubles as hysteria, neurasthenia, obsessions, alcoholism, and various others, where the therapeutic agency was hypnotic or normal suggestion. I quote one illustration for the sake of its clearness.

"Mlle   , aged 23, after an accident at 15, suffered from sickness, headache, constipation, vertigo, spinal neuralgia, muscular weakness, insomnia, nocturnal terrors, etc. Treatment: Drugging, electricity, washing out of the stomach, etc. Result, nil. Hypnotized: recovered. No relapse."

The narrative of hundreds of such cases with varying and more striking details make instructive reading for those who have it in their power to help in the organization of careful inquiry and the enlarging of facilities for the proper application of such methods. To enforce this I may refer to Dr. Bramwell's summary of the 228 cases of neurasthenia which Baron Von Schrenck-Notzing collected, and which were subjected to hypnosis and its therapeutic agency. The first table represents the instances to which hypnosis was applied. The table omits 8 cases from the whole number, 6 of them not having the stage of hypnosis mentioned and 2 having been treated without hypnosis and by normal suggestion.

I. Hypnotic

70 cases, 31.8 per cent. slight hypnosis induced. 
134 cases, 60.9 per cent. deep hypnosis induced. 
16 cases, 7.3 per cent. no hypnosis.

II. Therapeutics

72 cases, 31.6 per cent. recovered. 
84 cases, 35.8 per cent. much improved. 
72 cases, 31.6 per cent. no improvement.

Therapeutic suggestion had an effect in 68 percent of the cases, though less than one-third of the whole number recovered completely. Of chronic alcoholism Dr. Bramwell reports 76 cases in his own practice, with the following results. I quote his statements.

"Recoveries. - Twenty-eight cases recovered: by this I mean that the patients ceased drinking during treatment; and that, so far as I have been able to learn, they have remained total abstainers up to the present date, or to that of the last report received. Although the earliest of these cases has now passed ten years without relapse, I will not describe the patient as 'cured,' for it is possible that the disease may return: one of my patients relapsed after eight years of total abstinence.

"Of the above 28 cases, 17 were males and 11 females. The average age was 40. Average number of hypnotic treatments, 30. Average length of time since recovery, 3 years.

"Cases improved. - These numbered 36 - 26 males and 10 females. Average age, 39. Average number of hypnotic treatments, 32. Average length of time since treatment, 3 1-3 years."

There were 12 failures, 10 males and 2 females. A characteristic of them was that they would not cease drinking during the treatment. But 64, or 81 per cent., showed the influence of therapeutic suggestion, while 34 percent seem to represent more or less permanent cures.

The application of hypnotic treatment to vicious and degenerate children shows remarkable results. They could be made clear only by lengthy quotation of instances. I shall quote only one illustration of it as a sample.

"Miss   , aged 13, March, 1894. Bad family history. Before the patient was born her mother suffered from melancholia. The child herself had been mentally peculiar from infancy; she was perfectly untruthful, deceitful, insolent, and dirty in her habits. She had been addicted to self-abuse since the age of 7. On several occasions she had stolen money from servants and others - sometimes considerable amounts. She had been expelled from school, and had to be kept at home. She was strong, healthy, and well-grown, with nothing abnormal about the head or palate.

"After consultation with Dr. Savage, the patient was hypnotized three times a week from March to May, 1894; this was followed by marked improvement, and the treatment was repeated at intervals during the next two years. Complete recovery took place, and up to the present date (1903) there has been no relapse."

Another case of striking interest. 

"Miss    aged 22, April, 1895, had suffered from fits of violent passion since early childhood. She was so little able to control herself that her mother often feared she might kill her sister, and she still (1895) often came to blows with her younger brother. She had always been intensely selfish, and could not see why she should do anything for others. She admitted her defects of character without shame, and said she heartily enjoyed quarrelling and setting others by the ears. She consented in the waking state that I should try to alter her character, and I suggested during hypnosis that she should give up quarrelling, and take a pleasure in helping others. A complete change took place: she became affectionate, good-tempered, and helpful. Even when ill there was no trace of her former irritability. Up to the present date (1903) there has been no relapse."

Dr. Bramwell reports 12 such cases, Dr. Lloyd Tuckey a number of others, and Berillon and Liebeault and Wetterstrand do the same, and sixteen less well-known men have had the same experience.

Liebeault mentions 77 cases of enuresis nocturna, 45 boys and 32 girls, the trouble dating from birth, with an average age of 7, the youngest being 3 and the oldest 18 years of age, in whom hypnotic treatment yielded 56 recoveries, 9 improvements, 8 failures, and 4, seen but once and not returning, were supposedly cured. Cullerre reports 24 cases of the same trouble, of which there were 21 recoveries.

These are samples of the results in juvenile degeneracy and reflex troubles, and it is apparent from uniform experience that a better knowledge as well as better facilities for the use of suggestion might lead to a wide extension of hypnotic treatment for similar difficulties. There is no reason but conservative stupidity that prevents the more effective organization and application of suggestive therapeutics to cases of the various kinds illustrated. In this country the whole subject, in so far as the public is concerned, is left to charlatans for its knowledge and use of hypnosis. The reputable physician, though he often uses it, has to be careful not to be too well known regarding his practice of it. He will not see that it is adequately investigated from its psychological side and that it is in the hands of the best men for all purposes to which it can be applied. In Europe the subject seems to have been placed under better recognition and control, and the liberty of the individual in this country has tended to set up that discrimination between charlatan methods and scientific agencies which corresponds to the social and intellectual distinctions in the Old World, hypnotism flavoring of quackery and magic. I speak, of course, from the standpoint of public conceptions. The scientific physician recognizes the value of therapeutic suggestion and often enough uses it, but the knowledge of its nature and its place as a specific in the treatment of various diseases are not the subject of such scientific investigation as they deserve. The subject still wants that accurate knowledge which characterizes most other fields of physiology and psychology.

I am not here defending hypnosis and suggestive therapeutics as a universal specific. I am far from regarding them as such. The failures in their application are proofs that we have not yet the right to attach so large a faith in them. In fact, it may not be best for man to have any universal specific but morality. However this may be, suggestion is not more than one of the agencies which are our resource in such maladies as I have illustrated, and all that I should contend for is that it be the subject of a more patient scientific investigation from the psychological point of view than is usual in medical institutions. It has demonstrated its usefulness beyond all doubt, and whatever the humanities and economies of civilization demand, it is one of the agents that the organized treatment of functional diseases cannot intelligently ignore. The proper use of it may put an end to some of the follies that infect large numbers of the community in their well-meant but criminal or insane application of "metaphysical" methods.

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Contents | Preface | Chapter 1 | Chapter 2 | Chapter 3 | Chapter 4 | Chapter 5 | Chapter 6 | Chapter 7 | Chapter 8 | Chapter 9 | Chapter 10 | Chapter 11 | Chapter 12 | Chapter 13

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