George W 1856-1940 Jacoby.

Suggestion and psychotherapy online

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removed completely from many things still consid-
ered "wonderful."

Having cleared up the meaning of the startling
effects of suggestion, I proceed to explain the differ-
ence between hypnotic suggestion, waking sugges-
tion, and auto-suggestion. In the course of the
work are discussed interesting instances of sugges-
tion produced by sense deceptions, by the power of
persuasion, and by the simple tendency to imita-
tion. Furthermore, I show^ that, even in the state
of hypnosis, the will of the person suggesting cannot
enforce obedience if the person acted upon is not
susceptible to the suggested idea. I also distin-
guish between suggestion under normal and under


pathological conditions. As illustrations I shall use
interesting examples taken in part from the obser-
vations of others, and in part from my own experi-

The second division of the book treats of the
practical application of suggestion as a curative
agent — psychotherapy.

Kant, in his celebrated treatise, " On the power
of the mind to master one's disordered feelings by
the mere exercise of w^ill," voiced the principle that
it is possible to control disordered processes by
means of suggestion. I shall show the great im-
portance in psychotherapy of distinguishing be-
tween disturbances of a functional nature — those
which take their course without perceptible organic
change — and those of an organic kind; for, w^hile
suggestive therapeutics finds a fruitful field in
"psychic infection" — the infusion of foreign sal-
utary conceptions in the mind of an individual with
a central nervous system of enfeebled energy — it
encounters much more difficulty in arousing con-
cepts that w^ill beneficially influence the course of
organic disease. Cases of outspoken psychosis, on
the other hand, are not at all susceptible to sugges-
tive treatment. Fractures of bones, cancer, tuber-


culosis, etc., it is hardly necessary to say, cannot be
cured, or even materially improved by suggestive

It is true the associated "abnormal feelings" may
be removed by suggestion in such instances, though
the organic alterations themselves remain. Therein,
psychotherapy, as I shall show, proves a most val-
uable adjuvant to the surgical, medical, or other
treatment which may have been undertaken. It
will be demonstrated in detail how important in all
such cases are the personality of the physician, and
his ability to influence and to obtain the unlimited
confidence of the patient, and how, on the other
hand, Christian Scientists, prayer healers, char-
latans, hypnotizers, and other laymen, lacking
knowledge of indication or contra-indication, such
as is needed to make psychological means of treat-
ment effective, bring these means into discredit.

Dercum, writing of the psychotherapeutic more-
ment in America, savs:

"This is an age incontrovertibly of fads, an age
when the unessential, the intangible, the weird and
mystic are pursued, when high-sounding words and
phrases take the place of ideas, when metaphysical
vaporings replace scientific observations, and trivial


nothings the solid truth, when wretched common-
places inspire admiration, when worn-out platitudes
become strokes of genius, and when the imbecilities
of hysteria become the final words of wisdom and
of morals/'

My aim in this book has been to present all that
which will tend to neutralize such a state of mind
among the public.



A. Psychology as a Natural Science

To understand suggestion as an influence on the
mind we must have a knowledge of mental activity,
and that, therefore, will receive our attention first,
even if only an outline of the subject be presented.

Psychology, the science of mental processes, was
studied for centuries in a speculative way, without
any consideration of the material substratum of
those processes. In all that time the dogma that
body and soul were unconnected with each other
and that the soul continued to exist independently
after the disintegration of the body persisted un-
waveringly. It was supposed that feeling, perceiv-
ing, and willing, the faculties which constitute men-
tal activity, had absolutely no relation with activities
of the body, as, for instance, breathing, digestion,

and muscular action.



Even at present this view is wide-spread, not only
among the larger masses of people, but to a great
extent among philosophers, and even among nat-
ural scientists. This opinion, which creates an
antithesis betw^een body and soul, and which as-
sumes that bodily and mental activities functionate
according to different laws, is designated as dualism.

This speculative psychology, which lacks any
positive basis, and which, starting from random as-
sumptions, passes on to endless mistaken theories
regarding the processes of the soul, has to-day been
replaced by an empirical psychology which, above
all, proceeds according to inductive methods of in-
vestigation — that is, it starts from observation alone
and sets up doctrines only after close study of a
large number of uniform experiences. Foremost of
those doctrines stands the fundamental law that
mental processes, like all other evidences of vital
action, must be regarded as functions of certain
bodily organs. To be specific, mental processes
are functions of the central nervous system.

The one great reason for which empirical psy-
chology to-day must be classed with the natural
sciences as an exact discipline is this: It has be-
come a physiological psychology, whose tajsk, as.


Wundt points out, is the investigation of that which
we designate as inner experience, as contrasted
with objects of outer experience, which belong to
the domain of natural science. This inner ex-
perience is made up of our perceptions and feel-
ings, thoughts and volition. Wundt says: "Man
himself, not as he appears from the outside, but as
he is directly represented to himself — that is the
actual problem of psychology."

It is the task of psychology to recognize facts,
and by demonstrating their causal relationships, to
explain them. Investigation may be carried on not
only by means of observation under conditions as

furnished by nature, but also by means of experi-


ment — that is, under conditions produced artifi-
cially. Equal causes under equal conditions must
produce equal results. If, therefore, any experi-
ence arising from a natural happening is properly
interpreted, then the same experience must result
when the same happening is artificially imitated.
Where the result of the experiment differs from the
natural experience, it is clear there exists a source
of error which must be excluded by means of
further experiment.

Further, it is always most essential that observa-


tion and experiment should not in any way be
obscured by previously formed opinions. Empirical
psychology must be unprejudiced in investigation,
as must all exact sciences. Only that conclusion
can be decisive which is found in each single case,
irrespective of any teaching of metaphysics and
of any and every philosophic-theologic system. A
recognition of these principles has made scientific
methods of study dominate in psychology, and now
the site in which the laws of mental life are being
investigated has been removed from the library to
the laboratory.

B. The Organs of Mental Activity

The facts detailed here are the products of em-
pirical or physiological psychology, results obtained
through the study of mental processes by means of
observation and experimental counterproof.

The organs which make up the nervous system
bring us into physical and mental association with
the world about us; they keep us informed con-
cerning all that takes place in our environment;
they transmit to all parts of the body the influence
which the outer world exerts upon it, and also give
a variety of information regarding processes and


conditions within the body itself. Finally, they put
into action every function and enable it to take its
course in a proper manner.

Mental activities also are nerve processes. Such
a nerve process is made up of the reception of a
stimulus, the conduction of the excitation caused
by the stimulus, and the response to this excitation
or the reaction. The reaction may consist of move-
ments which may be observed without difficulty, or
it may take place without being directly observable.
If a particle of dust is blown against the cornea of
the eye, involuntarily the eye closes; if ammonia
fumes reach the mucous membrane of the nose, a
sneeze follows; if the hand accidentally comes into
contact with a heated object, it draws back instinc-
tively. The closing of the eye, the sneezing, and
the withdrawal of the hand are reactions respec-
tively to the excitations mentioned.

On the other hand, the aspect of a rare flower
may lead me to examine it more carefully. Con-
sequently, there remains a more or less distinct
impression, a memory picture which, of course,
cannot be observed by any other person. I am
able to represent to myself the appearance of the
flower, and to recognize it when I see it again.


The production of reactions in consequence of ex-
ternal stimulations is one of the fundamental mani-
festations of life, and is inherent in all organisms.

A nerve process, however, exists only if the re-
action to an excitation occurs through differentiated
nervous elements. Plants and animals of a lower
grade lack nervous formations, yet even in them
may be noticed reactions to excitations, as, for
example, the closing up of leaves and flowers with
the approach of darkness and their reopening on
the return of light, the contractive movements of
polyps, etc. The majority of excitation responses
among low^r organisms remain hidden, but the ex-
citation may be followed by noticeable movements
or changes in form. Such movements, though at
times they appear to be purposeful, always are de-
pendent on physical or chemical causes. They al-
ways take place with the same conformity to natural
laws, even when the same conditions are artificially,
i. e.y experimentally, produced — just as iron filings,
for instance, change their position as soon as a
magnet is brought near them.

The earliest beginnings of differentiated conduct-
ing tracts are found in the coelentera, or plant
animals. In the Medusae, for instance, there al-


ready has been formed a double nerve ring, con-
sisting of cells and fibres which emanate from
them; the fibres take their course to the muscula-
ture, to the sensory organs, and to the feelers, or
tentacles. Excitation at any point produces con-
traction of the muscles, and thereby a movement
of the animal. The stimulus applied to the sen-
sory organs of the Medusa sets up an excitation
which is transmitted over the nerve fibres to the
nerve cells. From the cells the excitation passes
on to the muscles, and they contract. That process,
in its entirety, is known as a reflex.

A reflex differs from the reaction process which
we have noted among the lower organisms, in that
the reflex is not dependent on any differentiated
tracts to conduct the stimulation. A reflex con-
sists of the transmission of a stimulation to a nerve
cell by means of a nerve fibre, and the resulting
production of a movement without any interposi-
tion of consciousness and will. As true reflexes in
man, i. e., movements which are entirely inde-
pendent of the will, Hermann and other physiolo-
gists admit only the contraction of the pupil upon
sudden illumination and the ejaculation of seminal
fluid at the height of an orgasm. Other reflex



movements, such as the closing of the eyelids when
the cornea is touched, the withdrawal of the hand
from a hot object, the upward jerk of the leg when
the patellar tendon is tapped, etc., may be more or

Diagram of reflex arc.

A. With two neurons, an afferent and an efferent neuron.

B. With three neurons, an afferent, efferent, and a connecting neuron.

a. A sensory surface, h. An afferent neuron,

c. An efferent neuron. d. A muscle or gland.

less suppressed by force of will. Even those move-
ments w^hich are consummated apparently auto-
matically, respiration, heart action, digestion, and
the like, may be altered by the same influence. Of
what significance that distinction is in suggestion
will be shown later.

Reception of stimulations takes place in certain
organs which are called sensory apparatus, or or-
gans of special sense. Vision is transmitted through
the eye, hearing through the ear, feeling or touch
through the skin, smell through the nose, and taste









'^K'*sB^R^ - ^"T^^

- Vv^


Three different types of nerve cells.


through the tongue. To describe the process more
definitely we may say that the nerve structures in
the organs named transmit to the centre, the brain,
specific sensory impressions of the stimuli which act
on them. Through the eye only visual stimuli,
through the ear only auditory stimuli, can transmit
impressions. That is dependent on what is known
as the law of specific sensory energy.

Having recognized the unusually important role
which is assigned to the nerve structures in the re-
ception of sensory impressions, and in psychic action
as a whole, we must consider the formation of those
nerve structures. In all the animals of high organ-
ism, man included, those structures consist of nerve
fibres and nerve cells. These cells, as described in
1833 by Ehrenberg, are microscopically small for-
mations, and each has one or more prolongations
or processes. The form of the ner\'e cell is de-
pendent on the number of those prolongations.
Nerve cells with one prolongation usually are club
or pear shaped. Those with two prolongations are
spindle-shaped, and those with more than two have
various irregular forms. Seen with a low power
of the microscope the cells appear as a granular
mass, cell protoplasm, having in its centre a glob-



ular or egg-shaped body, the cell nucleus. The
prolongations or nerve fibres emanate from the sur-
face of the nerve cell and
form tree-like branches,
for which reason they are
called dendrites (^BevBpov
— tree).

Whereas several proc-
esses or nerve fibres serve
for the conduction of an
excitation to the nerve
cell, the propulsion from
the nerve cell is effected
by means of only one proc-
ess, which is called the
axone, neurite, or axis cyl-
inder process, and which
may be clearly differen-
tiated from the other proc-
esses, it being the only
one which can be directly
followed into the nerve.
To prevent the passage of the nerve excitation from
one nerve fibre to an adjoining one, the axone is
completely surrounded by a tubular sheath, the

The "psychic" cell.
(Ramon y Cajal.)


function of which may be understood more clearly
by comparing it with the insulating sheath of the
wires in an electric cable.

The nerve cell and all the processes or nerve
fibres which pass from it are parts of a whole, a
nerve unit, first conceived
as such by Ramon y Ca jal,
and for which Waldeyer
has introduced the name
''neuron/' The processes
belong to the cell just as
the extremities do to the
body, and one cannot be
separated from the other
without suffering injury.
If the nerve process be
severed at any point be-
tween its end branches
and the nerve cell, con-
duction is interrupted and excitation can no longer
be transmitted to the organ or part of the body
in which the nerve process terminates. A muscle
becomes paralyzed, in other w^ords, is no longer
able to contract, when all of the nerve fibres which
lead to it are divided. Moreover, just as the

a 6 c

The stages of growth of a

"psychic cell."

(Ramon y Cajal.)


motor nerves fail to excite actions in muscles after
division of their nerve processes, so do the sen-
sory nerves, the nerves of feeling, fail to accom-
plish their function when division of the nerve
fibres, or pathological conditions in the nerve
tissue, make conduction of an excitation to the
brain impossible. Function, however, may be
completely restored if a new nerve fibre grows from
the stump which still is connected with the nerve
cell, or if the divided nerve ends are united arti-
ficially by means of a suture.

The integrity of the nerve cell with which it was
connected is essential to the new formation of a
destroyed nerve fibre, for a nerve cell which has
been destroyed cannot be replaced.

The brain is the central organ for all bodily
and mental functions. According to Donaldson,
the human brain is composed of about ten per cent
of supporting tissues, blood-vessels and blood com-
bined, and ninety per cent of neurons. The cell
bodies of these neurons make up but two per cent
of the entire volume of the brain, while the remain-
ing eighty-eight per cent is made up of nerve fibres
and their sheaths. These nerve fibres, axones,
therefore, are mainly responsible for the size of the

The principal constituent elements of the gray substance of the


(After Ramon y Cajal.)



brain. In men its average weight is about 1,375
grams, and in women about 100 grams less. It is
usually assumed that mental endowments vary pro-
portionally with the weight of the brain. Still, it
is an incontrovertible fact that in some persons of
conspicuous mentality the brain has been of low
weight, while, on the other hand, individuals with
litde intelligence have been found to possess very
heavy brains.

Furthermore, science has not yet arrived at a
definite conclusion as to whether extraordinary va-
riations in the fissures and convolutions of the
brain may be of special significance in indicating
higher grades of mental processes. How old that
theory is, is shown by the fact that Gall contended
that brains rich in convolutions are an attribute of
mentally superior persons. But that belief is not
supported wholly by the facts. Gambetta, for in-
stance, had a brain of very simple build and very
poor in convolutions. It was said to weigh 1,160
grams, but later that figure was raised to 1,246,
which is well below the average in weight. An-
other fact which upsets the theory is that brains
extremely rich in convolutions have been found in
persons whose mental qualities were by no means


above the ordinary. Neither the weight of the
brain nor its wealth of convolutions, therefore, can
serve as an absolutely dependable gauge of the
mental qualities of the person.

The brain as seen from the right side, showing convolutions and fissures.

Notwithstanding the great variations in the ar-
rangement of the fissures and convolutions of the
brain, which at first view seem to be quite irregular,
there is a certain positive law of disposal, so that
in the majority of people the location of the fissures
and the convolutions may be determined with cer-


tainty. Many investigators, including Lombroso,
assume that typical peculiarities occur in the fis-
sures and convolutions of criminals — in fact, that
there are "criminal brains." Others, notably Wal-
deyer, deny this, and say the same deviations may
be found in non-criminals.

To the cortex of the brain in man and mammals
we relegate all activities which are executed with
forethought and consciousness. The cortex con-
tains a number of regions which differ functionally.
Association fibres which pass from one point in the
cortex to another, connecting them, increase in pro-
portion to the increase in the number of these
regions. Innumerable fibres diverge from the cor-
tex to deeper parts of the brain. Some of those
turn back and re-enter the cortex. Under the cor-
tex lies a large layer of white brain substance con-
sisting only of such nerve fibres and containing no
nerve cells.

Investigations by Broca showed with certainty
that all the regions of the brain cortex were by no
means of equal value. Previously Gall had recog-
nized that circumscribed destruction of the cere-
brum, especially in the frontal region, produced a
peculiar type of disease which manifests itself by


the inability of the sufferer to give expression to
thought concepts by articulate speech, although
no sign exists of paralysis of the muscles of speech
or general intellectual weakness. Half a century
later Broca determined that the third frontal con-
volution was important for articulate speech, and
that in all right-handed persons — that is, in about
ninety-eight per cent of the people — only the third
frontal convolution in the left half of the brain
was organized for speech, while in left-handed in-
dividuals the corresponding part of the right half
of the brain exercises that function.

Other facts to be mentioned in the same connec-
tion are these: Hearing becomes disordered when
the cortex of the temporal lobe is affected; vision
is interfered w^ith when the cortex of the occipital
lobe is destroyed; smell is linked with the lower
frontal lobe, and tactile sense with the convolutions
of the Rolandic fissure and the parietal region.

\Miile we have no positive data in regard to the
cortical localization of the sense of taste, it may be
stated that each of the so-called five senses, as well
as other perceptions which make up or influence
our psychic life, has its seat in more or less sharply
defined areas of the brain cortex.



In addition to the experimental and clinical in-
vestigations, the developmental or embryological
studies of Flechsig have contributed much to the
discovery of these centres and of their localization.
Flechsig^s view is that the entire brain cortex con-
sists of a number of centres.

Zones and centre of the brain according to Mills, External aspect.

While the lower portions of the brain are alread f
formed at birth, the cerebrum of the new-born
child contains only a few completed nerve conduc-
tions. These bind together the exclusively sen-
sory parts of the interior of the body with the seat
of consciousness, the cortex of the hemispheres.
Following birth one sensory conducting tract after











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the other develops; first the one for smell pushes
its way toward the cortex, and last that for hearing.
All the regions of the brain surface which physi-
ology associates with the sensory impressions are
nothing more than the areas in which lie the end-
points of sense conductions in the cortex of the

Zones and centre of the brain according to Mills. Inner aspect.

cerebrum. The largest sensory centre is that of
tactile and muscular sensation. It is in the pos-
terior central and parietal region, bordering on
the region from which most of the voluntary move-
ments are incited. It contains the termini of all
conductions which are transmitted by tactile sen-
sibility and by the organic sensations, including
the sense of posture of all organs and parts of the


body — the termini, therefore, of all those conduc-
tions which bring one's own body within the sphere
of one's consciousness. Flechsig calls this centre the
" sphere for bodily sensations," or somsesthetic area.

Only about one-third of the cortex of the cere-
brum of man is directly connected with the con-
ducting paths which transmit sensory impressions
and incite muscular movements; two-thirds are re-
garded by Flechsig as organs of thought, "psychic"
centres. A month after birth the latter organs still
are completely undeveloped, whereas the sensory
centres already are entirely formed.

These "psychic" centres constitute an appara-
tus which combines the activity of our sense cen-
tres into a higher entity. They are centres for
association of visual, auditory, olfactory, gustatory,
and tactile impressions. They comprise the actual
frontal lobes — that part of the brain which lies
behind the forehead immediately above the eyes —
a large part of the temporal and occipital lobes, a

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Online LibraryGeorge W 1856-1940 JacobySuggestion and psychotherapy → online text (page 2 of 18)